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Gear up: Must-have travel gadgets for the tech-savvy outdoor enthusiast

Enhance your appreciation of the outdoors with innovative tech that makes hiking and camping smoother, safer and even more enjoyable

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Hitting the trail for a camping trip can be a welcome escape from the daily grind of public safety. But for the tech-savvy outdoor enthusiast, even a nature getaway requires the right gear. While venturing out into the wilderness means embracing the raw beauty of the world, there’s no denying the benefits of having some well-chosen gadgets at your side.

This article explores the perfect blend of appreciating the outdoors and utilizing innovative tech to make your camping adventure smoother, safer, and even more enjoyable. Even on a camping trip, staying prepared and connected can be essential. Tech gadgets can not only enhance your off-duty experience but can also be discreet assets in unexpected situations.

As an avid hiker and tent camper, I understand the importance of keeping your backpack light. That’s why I recommend having three different options for each of my recommendations:

Option 1: A lightweight, ultra-portable version for hiking trips

Option 2: A heavier alternative good for car or RV camping

Option 3: A cutting-edge product with extensive features (mostly overkill but fun to have)

The essentials for every adventure

It doesn’t matter if you are going on an overnight camping trip, or a week-long hiking adventure, these are the essentials everyone should carry.

Health monitoring watches and devices

One of the biggest hidden dangers for hikers can be physiological issues. As we age, our bodies’ tolerance to stress can change, and we may not anticipate how we’ll react to factors like unexpected heat or over exertion. Smart health monitors can be lifesavers on the trail by helping you recognize potential problems before they escalate into serious situations.

Solar-powered chargers or battery bank

Another common concern for outdoor enthusiasts is unreliable device battery life. Whether it’s forgetting to turn off location services on your phone or simply underestimating your phone usage, a full battery can dwindle quickly in the wilderness. A portable power bank or solar charge can recharge your devices in case of emergency, keeping you connected and providing peace of mind throughout your camping trip.

Multi-tools with outdoor functions

Anyone who’s spent time outdoors knows the arrival of Murphy’s Law. A broken tent pole, jammed sleeping bag zipper, or tangled tow rope can spin a relaxing getaway into a frustrating scramble. A well-equipped multi-tool is a camping essential, offering a compact solution for unexpected repairs and fixes, and potentially saving your trip from an early end.

Emergency survival and medical

While low-tech, a small first-aid kit and a personal locator beacon (PLB) are essential for any trip.

Navigation and communication tools

Being stranded is never fun, especially if you are with your family, on a scouting trip, or church group. A recent study by Yosemite National Forest Search and Rescue showed that 4,661 people per year became lost while hiking. Don’t be one of the statistics.

Handheld GPS devices and satellite messengers

Take it from someone who has been lost while hiking with the family. Never rely on just your cell phone as your sole GPS unit. Stand-alone GPS and satellite messengers are essential safety devices for emergency communication when off the grid.

Two-way radios

For families with children, two-way radios can be a game-changer on camping trips. They offer a sense of freedom and independence for kids all while keeping them within earshot. Even for adults, radios are an essential tool for maintaining communication, especially when venturing apart from the campsite or hiking in remote areas with unreliable cell service. In these situations, radios provide a dependable way to stay connected with your group, ensuring everyone’s safety and peace of mind.

Campsite innovation

I switched from ultra-light backpacking to luxury backpacking a few years ago and will never go back. While minimizing weight remains important, strategically incorporating creature comforts can significantly enhance the overall enjoyment of your outdoor adventure.

Smart lanterns

Say goodbye to messy fuel and unreliable lighting. LED are incredibly easy to use, lightweight and compact for easy packing, and boast extended lifespans compared to traditional gas lanterns. But the benefits go beyond practicality. Many LED lanterns offer a variety of lighting modes and double as portable power banks.

Portable water purifiers

A portable water purifier is my must-have for any camping trip. Running out of water is never good. Lightweight and essential, a portable water purifier ensures safe drinking water wherever I am.

Waterproof bluetooth speakers

I was hesitant about incorporating portable speakers into my camping experience, but I’ve come to appreciate their value. During demanding hikes, carefully chosen music can provide a significant morale boost. Plus, it is fun listening to music around a campfire.

Capturing the moment

Photos are a fantastic way to capture the beauty of the landscape and the experiences you have on your hike. Thanks to better technology, we have more options than just the heavy DSLR cameras or inferior point-and-shoot cameras.


Ditch the phone and save your cell batteries for an emergency. Digital cameras are smaller and lighter weight than ever before.

Portable Drones

For outdoorsmen seeking an elevated perspective, drones can be a fantastic tool. These versatile devices capture stunning aerial footage and imagery and open new ways to explore your surroundings. Before deploying a drone, always research and adhere to local regulations regarding drone usage in your area.

Comfort meets technology

Who says comfort can’t be high-tech? This section explores innovative gadgets that elevate your campsite experience. From perimeter security solutions to smart apparel that adapts to the environment, these tech-driven upgrades let you focus on relaxation and enjoying the outdoors.

Perimeter sensors and alarms

Feeling a sense of security is essential for a relaxing camping trip. These perimeter sensors and alarms offer peace of mind, allowing you to enjoy the outdoors without worry.

Smart apparel

While the majority of smart clothing options are currently available through retailers other than Amazon, there are still a few options out there.

Now you have packed your bags, prepped your gear, and chosen the perfect trail. With the right tech companions by your side, you’re ready to create unforgettable memories in the great outdoors. Remember, the goal of technology is to enhance your experience, not overburden yourself. Strategically select the tech that complements your camping style and needs. If you get overwhelmed, stick with the non-tech options.

Now get out there and explore something new!

Bonus: Where should we camp next books

Not sure where to pitch your tent, park your RV or go for a hike. Check out these books from Where Should We Camp Next.

A 50-State Guide to Amazing Campgrounds and Other Unique Outdoor Accommodations
National Parks: The Best Campgrounds and Unique Outdoor Accommodations In and Around National Parks, Seashores, Monuments, and More

Joshua Lee is an active-duty police sergeant for the City of Mesa (Arizona) Police Department. Before promoting, Joshua served five years as a patrol officer and six years as a detective with the Organized Crime Section investigating civil asset forfeiture, white-collar financial crime, and cryptocurrency crimes.

Joshua is a cryptocurrency, money laundering and dark web consultant for banks, financial institutions and accountants. He also serves as one of Arizona’s subject matter experts on cryptocurrency crimes and money laundering.

Joshua holds a BA in Justice Studies, an MA in Legal Studies and an MA in Professional Writing. He has earned some of law enforcement’s top certifications, including the ACFE’s Certified Fraud Examiners (CFE), ACAMS Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) and the IAFC’s Certified Cyber Crimes Investigator (CCCI).

Joshua is an adjunct professor at a large national university and a smaller regional college teaching law, criminal justice, government, technology, and English courses.

Contact Joshua Lee.