Tech Tools for Outdoor Travelers
By Karen Berger
Check out these gadgets to charge your batteries, get you from here to there, send emergency messages, monitor the weather, and photograph the adventure.
Olympus Stylus 1030 SW Waterproof Digital Camera
If you’ve ever dropped your camera down a scree slope, dunked one in a stream, or collected a graveyard of crushed and broken ones, you’ll appreciate the ruggedness of the Olympus Stylus 1030 SW. It’s shockproof, waterproof, freeze proof, and crush proof.
So go ahead and drop it, dunk it, ice it up, or step on it—all within limits, of course. The camera’s 10.1 megapixels promise super-sharp images and many cool features, including a pressure detector that records the elevation of where you took the photo. $400. www.olympusamerica.com
Garmin’s Forerunner 305 GPS Personal Trainer
The Forerunner 305 looks like a watch, but it’s a GPS device combined with a personal trainer. It tracks your time, speed, and distance, and if you use the wireless heartbeat monitor, it will even monitor your heartbeats per minute.
The GPS function also tells you where you are, so that if your group ventures away from base camp on a day hike, the unit monitors your distance. When you’re ready to return, the “go home” feature leads you back to your tent. $300. www.garmin.com
Freestyle Audio Soundwave 2 GB MP3 Player
If you’re one of the millions of people who likes to ski, snowboard, surf, or hike while your favorite soundtrack plays in the background, you’ll want an MP3 player that can handle the shocks of your active outdoor life: falling, bumping, and being dropped, submerged, or rained on.
This model’s controls are so ergonomic you don’t even have to look to adjust them, and its sound is clear, even under water. The rechargeable battery is good for 18 hours, and, perhaps best of all, the unit weighs in at less than 51 grams (a little more than 1¼ ounces). $120. www.freestyleaudio.com/products.php
Solio Hybrid 1000 Solar Charger
Solio’s hybrid chargers power electronic devices, including cell phones, iPods, GPS units, and digital cameras. The rugged Hybrid 1000, with a built-in solar panel, recharges both its internal battery and your devices via power from the sun, though it also recharges from a standard wall socket.
Before you leave on a trip, charge it and keep it handy for when your batteries run out. A charge lasts up to a year. It even comes with a carabiner for easy access. $79. www.solio.com
Sony GPS-CS1KASP Image Tracker
Digital photography makes it possible to shoot scads of pictures without worrying about wasting film. But have you ever arrived home and forgotten where many of them were taken?
Try the image tracking function of the Sony GPS-CS1KASP. Compatible with most digital still cameras and camcorders, it’s a two-ounce device that lets travelers record the time, date, and location of each shot.
Download the images and data to your PC, and the software synchronizes the photos with latitude, longitude, and time readings from the image tracker unit. Google Maps offer virtual pushpins to identify where each shot was taken. $150. www.sonystyle.com
Spot Satellite Messenger
With the Spot Satellite Messenger, you can send a help message to friends and family, a 911 message to emergency personnel, or an “all’s well” message, every 10 minutes, telling the folks back home exactly where you are and allowing them to track you via Google Maps.
This lightweight option to a personal locator beacon provides coverage in North America, Europe, and Australia, as well as large areas in South America, North Africa, and northeast Asia.
The Spot Satellite Messenger floats, it’s waterproof, it functions in extreme temperatures, and it weighs less than 8 ounces. $170. Annual service subscription: $50. www.findmespot.com
Bushnell ONIX400 GPS
This handheld, waterproof GPS with SafeTrack battery conservation combines a traditional navigation system with satellite access to real-time XM radio (more than 170-channels), XM weather data, and satellite photographs of your location.
The Bushnell offers up-to-the-minute, local information for any location in the United States, including forecasts and warnings overlaid on maps on a 3.5-inch, 320x240-pixel, full-color LCD screen. $500. Monthly service subscription: $17. www.bushnell.com