Hi-tech camping

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, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

It's been a strange summer in terms of weather. The cooler weather is attracting more people to try out camping (and leaving the comforts of air conditioning at home) but for those of us that spend a lot of time with our tech gadgets, becoming one with Mother Nature might prove to be a bit of a challenge.

Fortunately, there are some pretty interesting products out there that can let you enjoy the outdoors without completely abandoning the comforts of technology. First up is the Champ Skybox Multi-Function Emergency Radio (RCEP600WR). It is the Swiss Army knife of radios and an absolute must to take out into the wilderness.

It supports AM, FM and the NOAA weather radio which alerts you to weather problems. It also supports Bluetooth, so if you are sick of what is on the radio you can play what is on your phone through its speakers which, although not the greatest, get the job done. The unit can charge your cellphone (or anything that has a USB connector) and it has a built-in light that can become a flashing red beacon in times of extreme emergency. To top it off, the unit can be powered by a regular wall plug, solar panels that are built-in to the top, or the old-fashioned hand crank in cases of extreme stress.

Having used it, I can say it does exactly what it says it does. It also includes a convenient carry handle and is light enough to travel easy with you. Or you can stick it in a backpack. It even tells you the temperature and allows you set an alarm clock, although perhaps that is one thing that could stay unused. You just never know when you would need the other services it provides, but you'll be happy that they are there.

On or off the camp site, if you're a chronic sleepwalker or middle-of-the-night-fridge-raider then you know the benefits of a night light. Lights that have been using automatic sensors to detect low light in a room to turn on at the right time have been around for years, but the technology has gotten cheaper and better thanks to cellphones. The Champ 2-in-1 (model RCEP300NL) not only works as a great auto on and off night light, but as a flashlight too.

Everyone knows that when there is a power outage, people lose their minds. Knowing where there is a flashlight or candles (and matches) is imperative when it's dark outside. The great thing about this combo unit is that not only will you be able to see it when the power runs out (as it uses a rechargeable battery), but you can also use it as a flashlight to find whatever else you might need in the dark.

Of course, while you are out camping you might want to do something fun to help pass the time. You likely have lots of room on the camp ground which is perfect for the Helo TC remote-controlled helicopter. This fun toy is not just any ordinary RC chopper however. This one is actually controlled by your smartphone! You can use either an iOS or Android phone and control this little helicopter with your finger. While it is not really much different than the other RC helicopters out there, controlling it with your phone is rather fun and does offer a few extra options.

So the way I see it your next camping trip could go either way. Either you can load up with some of the latest technology gadgets or completely go without technology at all. I'd like to think I could go completely without but then that just wouldn't be me. You can definitely still be one with nature and yet still have some of the comforts technology provides. Now if I could just find an app that zaps mosquitoes, life would be close to perfect.

Syd Bolton is the curator of the Personal Computer Museum and the manager of Information Technology at ACIC/Methapharm. You can reach him via e-mail at sbolton@bfree.on.ca or on Twitter @sydbolton.

 

 


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