There used to be a time when you went into the hills and mountains to get away from the complications of life—like the boss, the noise of traffic and the tedium of urban life. It was a simple activity. You put on your boots, stuffed a backpack, and took the first train into the wilderness and hit clean air, the sound of chirping birds, the rustle of leaves in the wind and the soft dew on your face.
You still do pretty much the same thing, but be careful: Don’t forget to pack that wide-brimmed hat with a mosquito net, a torch, clothespins to hang your clothes to dry, cameras, walking poles, carabiners and a climbing rope, sleeping bags, water bottles and cooking gear. The world of hiking just got more complicated. And more exciting with all kinds of wild gadgets and gizmos.
Hi-tech: Camping is more than just pitching a tent.
We’ve handpicked five gadgets—from the simple to the sublime—so that the journey is, in fact, riotously better than the destination.
What’s the biggest problem you’ve faced on your camping trips? Getting bitten by mosquitoes and almost being persuaded to abandon the outdoors, isn’t it? The Design Go solution is a neat one. Just place their tiny device called Bite Relief on the bite and go “click” on it a couple of times. The device has quartz crystals that spew out a low-intensity electric current that immediately neutralizes the sting. It works like magic and is great for people who don’t like the mess of anti-mosquito creams and gels. Bite Relief works on other bug and insect bites as well.
Price, approx. Rs670. Available at large health and wellness and adventure gear stores.
There’s nothing like the Timex Expedition WS4 series to make you a serious outdoor enthusiast. The oversized, wide-screen watch has a temperature sensor, digital compass, an altimeter and a barometer that records activity and can display it in all kinds of graphs to play around with—which, admit it, is the number one priority for gizmo owners. Although I suggest you opt for the bold orange version (model T49761), the one I own is a quiet, unassuming black (T49664). Get this right: I am not chicken; the orange version wasn’t available when I got mine!
Price, approx. Rs9,995. Available at all Timex stores.
You went into the hills and had cold sandwiches wrapped in cling film? Tsk! Try the Booster+ 1 stove that comes with a screw-type white fuel (isobutane) canister. A single fuel bottle can whip up quite a storm and the stove, pump and fuel bottle weigh just half a kg. The stove, with its legs unfolded, looks like an alien pod, quite fascinating in the outdoors, really. And if you are good, turn out some wild quail in the wilderness. The stove has two settings—preheating and pressurized, to save on fuel. Isobutane is not easily available in the market for a refill, but you can do some jugaad and use kerosene (preferred) or petrol to refill the bottle that works quite as well.
Price, approx. Rs8,000. Available at all Wildcraft stores (www.wildcraft.in).
You’ve packed the sexy carabiner and the hydration packs for your outdoor expedition. But what if you get lost? Where’s the handy all-in-one survival kit? Coleman has a bright orange 5 in1 survival whistle that is just right for an emergency. Its principle feature is a shrill—I mean it!—whistle that can be heard for miles, a compass with a handy luminous dial, a signalling mirror, water-proof matches and a fire-starter flint. It comes with a lanyard that is handy when it comes to ensuring that kids have it on them at all times. As gizmos go, this is reliable, as it doesn’t depend on batteries for performance.
Price, approx. Rs200. Available at all good outdoor gear stores and HyperCity stores.
Power at hand
This is a dream device and one I am hoping someone will gift me for Christmas. The BodyGard self-powered emergency kit is a hand-cranked emergency power unit that can be used to recharge just about any electronic device you’ve taken into the outdoors—from GPS to mobile phones and laptops. In fact, seriously, maybe I can use this in the city too. The device includes an emergency flashlight, backlit FM radio, panic button that sets off an alarm, motion-activated alarm, compass, signalling mirror and a storage compartment for those pills and matches. Crank it up and there’s instant eco-friendly electricity on tap.
Price, approx. Rs2,400. Available at http://thinkgeekin.tarazz.com/gadgets/travel-outdoors/9d6f/
Arun Katiyar is a content and communication consultant with a focus on technology companies. He is a published author with HarperCollins and has extensive media experience spanning music, print, radio, Internet and mobiles.
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