Tech Tips – High Tech Tools for Your Camping Trip + 10 Must-Consider Mobile Travel Apps

This long week-end let us pause first and offer our sincere thanks, gratitude, appreciation and respect to all of our veterans, active duty service personnel and their families for continuing to fight for our freedoms – Thank You! And so, with Memorial Day upon us that means one thing, summer is here. With the hot, sunny (hopefully) summer season that means camping for many of us and so to celebrate that we’ve got a special feature to share with you that will introduce you to  5 very cool, high tech tools and travel apps that you can use on your next camping trip along with 10 must consider mobile apps that you will find handy for business or pleasure travel.

camping apps and tools - camping apps and tools

The days of going without showers, phone service and spending 20 minutes pitching your tent on weekend camping trips are over. Modern technology has taken some of the “roughing it” out of camping, but at the same time has made the experience more fun and efficient. Here are five items to consider before heading for the hills.

NEMO Helio Pressure Shower

Forget hanging those heavy bags of water over your head and relying on gravity to dump water on you with those so-called “camp showers.” The NEMO Helio Pressure Shower features a foot pump that allows you to determine the pressure and amount of water you use. The hand-held nozzle works and looks exactly like those that come with most kitchen sinks.

The 11 liter (2.9 gallon) tank is covered by black-welded fabric that allows the sun to heat the water inside. The Helio is also perfect for washing dishes, cleaning camping gear and even bathing the dog. They are relatively affordable too, costing only $100.

Heimplanet Tent

Germany-based Heimplanet has made pitching a tent as simple as pulling it out of the bag and inflating it. The Cave is a geodesic inflatable dome that is ready to use in a minute or less. There are no parts to put together and guylines are unnecessary for stability. The Cave has been tested to withstand winds of 120 kilometers (75 miles) per hour. The Cave is a bit pricey (especially since it will be shipped from overseas). But those who camp several times a year should still consider it.

Roadpost Satellite Phone

The deeper you travel into the woods, the weaker your cell phone signal will get until it disappears completely. That is not the case with satellite phone technology. Iridium satellite phones by Roadpost can pick up a signal from virtually anywhere on the planet at anytime. Iridium technology was tested in remote areas of Northern California, and yielded a 99.2 percent connection rate and only a 1.1 percent call drop rate. Roadpost offers both daily and monthly plans for which you can rent the equipment.

BioLite CampStove

Technology now enables you to cook your fresh catch and charge your cell phone all with one nifty device. The BioLite Campstove uses twigs, leaves and some electronics to produce and maintain a flame. A fan, which is powered by an internal battery, keeps the flame going for upward of 20 minutes. The battery, after an initial charge from shore power, is subsequently charged by the flame itself. All excess power accumulated in the battery can then be used to charge most USB devices. The unit weighs only two pounds and fits right in your backpack. It costs around $120.

Eton Scorpion

This handy device is an AM/FM radio, weather radio, LED flashlight and a charger for your devices all-in-one. The Scorpion not only has a solar panel to charge USB devices, but also features a hand crank to produce electricity the old-fashioned way. No batteries or external power is ever needed.

So, what about mobile apps for the vacation planner? There’s thousands to select from but here’s 10 to consider:

  1. The TripIt trip planner helps you organize, plan and store all of your travel plans in one spot. Create a master travel itinerary with hotel, dining and shopping destinations, and access your itinerary planner on your mobile device – even share your updates on the road with friends.
  2. Roadside America’s app is your one-stop shop for travel tools and guides to unusual attractions, tourist traps, weird vacations and road trip ideas. Have you always wanted to see a smiley face water tower or a giant bowler hat? This is your place for all the information. While you’re at it, make sure you are getting the best gas prices across the country with the Gas Buddy app, which will help you find cheap gas wherever you are.
  3. Download apps for Groupon, Living Social and other deal sites, where you can receive up-to-the-minute offerings at local restaurants, retailers and service providers. If you’re interested in finding the most memorable dishes or the best burger in your town, you can find whatever you’re craving and see what’s good at any restaurant by downloading this visual guide to good food at Foodspotting. Read reviews, get customer ratings, see screenshots and more, wherever you go. Or, download Bitehunter, which aggregates all the daily deals and provides up-to-the-minute details on discounts, restaurants and happy hours.
  4. Camping under the stars this summer, even in your own backyard, can involve countless hours of nighttime activities. GoSkyWatch Planetarium for your iPad is an easy-to-use astronomy app that lets you point your device at the sky and identify and locate stars, planets and constellations.
  5. Waze – sure, Waze if perfect for iPhone, however, there’s no reason not to have this amazing free mobile navigation and maps service on the app… a must!
  6. TuneIn Radio – I like staying in touch with some great music. TuneIn lets me enjoy my local faves while I’m away and I can also tune in to my almost commercial free music as well
  7. Gmail for iPad – don’t miss any important emails from the boss or an important client! I always make sure that I have all my email forwarded to a trusty gmail account just in case!
  8. Amazon Cloud Drive – is storage space an issue on your iPad? IF so, be sure to setup your iphone and ipad to auto upload all your vacation pics to the cloud
  9. Swarm (was Foursquare) – ya I know, I may not want to check in all the time but actually, checking in to all the places you stop on your vacation is a great way to build an archive of places you may likely forget about. Square is also a great app for getting local tips and favorites from the local crowd
  10. Hotel Tonight – imagine driving into a town late at night and wanting a comfy bed. Use Hotel Tonight to score some sweet last minute deals on awesome 4 and 5 star hotels – a really nice iPad app here!

Do you have a must-have app that you won’t go any place without? Please do tell us about it below or share a tweet and mention us @geojobegis

memorial day

Thanks to all our veterans! Have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day.

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GEOspatial Evangelist & CMO

Geographer, GIS professional, writer, and fan of all things mobile.

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