It’s been a long winter, but, with trees and flowers in full bloom, spring is finally here. With any luck we have a long, hot summer in prospect, and that means camping season. You can head off into the wild at the drop of a hat, if the weather looks right. More people go camping every year than jet off to foreign climes. It’s an affordable way to escape your daily grind and find a little adventure. For the tech-obsessed, the idea of being without your Android could be enough to put you off, but fear not, you can take it with you and enhance your trip with the right camping gadgets and apps.
We’ll kick off with some gadgets that bring your creature comforts to the great outdoors, and then we’ll move on to round up the best Android camping apps in the Play Store.
If you’re going to take your smartphone or tablet camping with you, then you’ll want to be careful how you carry it. Your standard everyday case probably won’t deal with a dip in the river, and tablets can shatter if they’re packed in a rucksack that gets dropped or bumped.
Anyone taking a tablet or a netbook will want the right luggage. You’ll struggle to find a tougher solution than the Pelican ProGear S140 backpack. It combines the crushproof and waterproof credentials of a case with a comfortable backpack that has all the pockets and features you need to carry your gear and keep it safe.
You can also find a few waterproof cases at OtterBox. They offer an affordable way to pack your smartphone and other precious items, like your wallet and keys, safely away and protected from the elements. Some of them are crushproof too.
There’s no doubt your Android smartphone or tablet can prove really useful on a camping trip, but you have to have a plan to keep that juice flowing. If the battery expires and you didn’t prepare, then you’re left with dead weight.
A spare battery is an obvious place to start, assuming your smartphone has a replaceable battery. If you took your car, a charger that plugs into the lighter socket is a must. You could get a cheap one, but the Cellet Elite Charger is worth a little extra.
How about harnessing the power of the sun? The SunVolt Portable Solar Power Station from Gomadic is basically a solar panel in its own neoprene carry case. It works best if you buy the high capacity battery pack with it. If you have a fixed camp and plenty of sun then you can leave it to charge up while you’re off exploring and then re-juice your Android gadgets at the end of each day. It is quite big, but you’ll find that smaller solar charger devices struggle to collect the power you need.
What if your battery is dead, there’s no sun, and you desperately need to make a call? Check out the SOS Charger. This clever device was born through Kick Starter and it combines a 1,500mAh battery with a hand crank. Wind for five minutes and you should have enough juice to make a call. It has a standard USB port so it will charge anything, it’s really portable, which makes it perfect for camping, and it gives you a workout.
There’s nothing better than good tunes around the campfire at night, but what if you forgot the acoustic guitar? The Rukus Solar is definitely worth checking out. It’s a Bluetooth stereo speaker system with an internal battery and a solar panel to keep it juiced up. There’s an always-readable, e-ink display, basic controls, and a carry handle, and you stream the tunes from your smartphone or tablet. As an extra bonus the Rukus Solar has a USB port, so it can actually double up as a charger.
On the next page we’ll run through some handy apps to install before you go.