How Geeks Can Survive the Outdoors

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camp-out-colorado-lost-campingIf you’re anything like me, you don’t leave the house without your phone or tablet in tow. This includes vacations — even camping trips. That’s right, even in the middle of the woods I want to be able to check my Twitter and Facebook accounts.

However, before you make the trip you’ll want to make sure that you have everything you need to survive the wilderness. And to help you out, I’ve created a list of 5 things below that I think all geeks should have before attempting to survive a weekend in the great outdoors.

1. Make Sure You Have Internet Access

The first thing you need to do before you leave for your trip is to make sure you’ll have internet access. Thankfully, there are several options to choose from.

  • USB – You can pick up a USB modem, which plugs into the side of your computer. These will cost you $15, but can cost you much more if you go direct through an internet provider. Keep in mind if you travel to a different country you’ll want to be able to swap out the SIM card.
  • Tether – You can use your phone to tether the internet to your laptop or tablet. Keep in mind that this can cost you extra money, as many ISPs will charge you extra for the data.
  • Satellite – Satellite internet is another option, but it is extremely expensive. Going with satellite internet can set you back $1k-$30k, plus the monthly costs of about $50.
  • Wi-Fi – If you stay at a campground, you’ll find that some of them have wi-fi access. You’ll want to call ahead or check their website to be sure. If that’s not an option, you might check around to see if there are any coffee shops or bookstores you can sneak off too for wi-fi access.

Keep in mind that you’ll want to double check the coverage maps. You don’t want to plan on mobile access only to get out in the woods and find that you don’t have it.

2. Don’t Forget the Charger

The worst thing that can happen is for you to have all of your ducks in a row only to forget your charger and then run out of power in the middle of nowhere. So don’t forget to pack your charger.

Now clearly, if you’re in the middle of the woods you won’t (likely) have access to an electrical outlet. So what you’ll want to have instead is a solar powered charger compatible with the gadgets you’re taking with you. You can get a solar powered laptop charger too, but these can be expensive. Expect to pay $250-$500.

Another option is to use an AC/DC converter that plugs into the cigarette lighter of your car. This is the most cost effective option.

3. Make Sure to Bring Protection

Being out in the woods, surrounded by rocks, trees, cliffs and water, you’ll want to make sure that you bring protection.

Not that kind of protection. Protection for your phone or tablet.

For cases, I suggest using Otterbox. It’s a beefy case that will protect your device much better than your run of the mill case. If you’re going to be around a lot of water, you should invest in a waterproof case. These vary in price from $5 to $60, so be sure to read the reviews before picking one up.

And if you haven’t already, be sure to have a screen protector put on your gadget. Especially if you’ll be out in a heavily wooded area. It’s just too easy to walk next to a tree or bush and have a branch come out of nowhere to scratch your screen.

4. Must Have Apps

One of the best things about being a geek in the middle of the woods is having tons of information and resources at your finger tips. Anything from weather to survival tips can be accessed from your phone or tablet using one of the following apps:

  • Weather App
  • MyNature Tree Guide – This apps helps you identify trees and plants so you can avoid eating or touching the wrong thing. It’s a little expensive at $7, though.
  • Compass – So you know which way you’re going.
  • Knot Guide – Learn how to tie over 100 different knots.
  • Army Survival for iPad – Learn how to survive.
  • Coleman Cooking & Meal Planner – Search by meal, ingredients and cooking method.
  • Park Specific GPS – You can get a park specific app for the park you’re visiting. This will help you track and explore the park.

These are just a handful of apps that I’ve found with a little bit of research. There are many more out there, some free and others paid. Do some looking around and I’m sure you’ll come up with some (more) useful apps to try out.

5. Know Where You’re Going With GPS

Even if you plan on just going to a park or campground, I suggest bringing a GPS with you. You can use an app for your phone or tablet, of course, but it might be a good idea to bring an actual GPS just in case your phone or tablet loses it’s charge.

These can get expensive depending on the features you want it to have. They can be waterproof, have cameras, auto routing to base camp, tracking capabilities and more. For a GPS you’ll spend $50 to $600 depending on what you want.

What Gadgets Do You Recommend Using Camping?

There you have it. Those are my recommendations for how geeks can survive the outdoors. But what about you? What are your favorite gadgets to take camping?

About the author: Hi, my name is Matt. I’m the co-owner behind, a site that answers your questions about internet access. If you have any questions about accessing the internet while camping, I’d like to help you out. Just let me know in the comments below and I’ll answer ASAP!

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