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As summer draws to a close, we think about the role of tech in our experience of the ‘Great Outdoors’. Taking a look at the useful, the useless, and the DIY, we think about how current consumer trends in camping and outdoor gear reflect the complicated nature of our desire to ‘get away from it all’.
Camping has always been a chance to get back to the bare essentials, but walking into a camp store today means coming across a dozen products that you never knew you needed. From electric smore-makers to 3D-HD-video-recording binoculars, we take a look at some of the most useless camping gadgets currently on sale.
Sharing some of our own recent camping experiences, we also look at the things you do need, and how to build some of them yourself (See below for links to instructions for a DIY camping lantern, alcohol-burning stove, and pocket-sized oil lamp).
Sellers of camping gadgets face a tough challenge marketing electronic gear to outdoorsy-people, but the reality of the way we ‘escape’ to nature is not so straightforward. We might long to ‘get lost’, but we want the option of being rescued with the help of our GPS tracker. And the thrill of biking up a mountain may only be complete for some when they know they have beat their friend’s best time. We weigh up the different degrees to which people feel that a ‘digital detox’ is necessary – and how less technology is perhaps more realistic than no technology.
More than anything, camping forces us to think more carefully about the technologies we rely on, and the costs of that reliance.
This episode also features a brief shout-out to the new iPhone X… but only to say that we’ll be keeping track of the OLED screen and stories of its attempted repair. Here’s a clue: we’re not optimistic about it.
(PS: It’s National ‘Talk Like A Pirate Day’ – Don’t miss Janet’s pirate impression at 13.47).
- Outdoor camp stove with USB charger
- Ordnance Survey: 20 Useless Bits of Camping Gear
- Hongkiat: High Tech Camping Gadgets
- UK Camping stats
- Instructables: ice-cream bucket camping lantern
- The soda-can stove
- Instructables: Pocket-sized oil lamp
- Outdoor tech
[Feature Image by Flickr user Kiril Rusev]