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Taking a break from the hectic bustle of modern life for a trip out to the wilderness can be relaxing, fun, and therapeutic. But it's essential that you're prepared and know what you're doing when camping off the beaten path because it can be quite dangerous otherwise. The gear you bring with you on a camping trip will go a long way to making your stay in the wilderness a safe and pleasant one, so you'll want to make sure you have all the items you need that can provide food, water, warmth, navigation, and communication.
Modern tech has made it easier to have these essentials on you while out in the great outdoors. In many ways, it's safer than ever to camp out in even the deepest parts of the wilderness, thanks to devices that can keep you in constant touch with civilization and the proliferation of rechargeable USB accessories, like lights and batteries. Backed by our own hands-on testing, as well as that of reputable outdoor equipment reviewers like GearLab and Bob Vila, here is some of the camping tech that can help you stay safe in the wilderness.
Garmin inReach Mini 2
Technology has made it possible to stay connected to the outside world, even from the middle of nowhere. If you're going deep into the wilderness, satellite communicators are an essential piece of tech you'll want to have on your person because they don't need to be in range of cell towers. Instead, they use satellites that are always in orbit, making them a reliable source of communication and a way to use GPS to keep track of your location.
The Garmin inReach Mini 2 is a great option if you're shopping for a satellite communicator. After testing the product, the outdoor product review publication GearLab called it "the best two-way texting satellite device on the market." GearLab notes its long battery life as one of its biggest assets — in its 10-minute tracking mode, the device can last two weeks on a single charge. You can also pair the communicator with your phone, allowing you to text your contacts as though you were using a cell signal (satellite subscription is required).
The rugged device also allows you to send 24/7 interactive SOS messages and can provide detailed weather updates. Plus, it has a digital compass and a TracBack routing feature that can lead you back to your campsite, vehicle, or any other point of origin. One downside is the device's relatively small screen — but it's meant for emergency communication and GPS navigation, not high-res gaming. You can purchase the Garmin inReach Mini 2 for a retail price of $349.99 on Amazon.
ThorFire LED Camping Lantern
Having a reliable light source is paramount to your safety in the wilderness. Being able to see what you're doing at night will prevent accidents and allow you to find essential items in an emergency. They can also be helpful in keeping track of fellow campers if you get split up in the dark. The ThorFire LED Camping Lantern is a good device to bring to your campsite for several reasons. It can be hung from a tree or tent pole to give you 360-degree illumination, with either its 125-lumen setting or low-light mode.
The lantern can easily be powered by USB, but perhaps its most important asset is that it comes with a hand crank that will let you physically recharge the light whenever you need to. In fact, it's one of the top-rated hand-crank flashlights on the market. One drawback, however, is that it's not waterproof, as noted by Common Sense Home in its hands-on review. As long as you're in dry weather or keeping it inside your tent, this shouldn't be that big of an issue. The ThorFire LED Camping Lantern is available from Amazon for $20.
Mr Heater Portable Buddy
If you're camping out in colder weather, staying warm needs to be one of your top priorities. Not only will you want to make sure you bring a well-insulated tent or sleeping bag and that you're wearing the proper clothing, but you'll also want to bring a portable heater as well. If there's any reason you're unable to start a campfire, a heater can be a literal lifesaver in an emergency.
Mr Heater makes a line of reliable heaters and torches that can be used in various applications. The Portable Buddy made by Mr Heater is a great option for camping since it's relatively small and lightweight. It also has a foldable handle that makes carrying it around a cinch. The Portable Buddy is powered by propane and has different heating settings that range from 4,000 to 9,000 BTUs. This allows it to cover up to 225 square feet, which should be enough for your tent or outdoor campsite. One of its biggest advantages is its safety features, which include an oxygen depletion sensor and automatic tip-over shutoff.
The product runs on a one-pound propane bottle that can power the heater for roughly three to six hours. It can also be connected to a larger tank for extended use, though in its hands-on review, Bob Vila notes you'd need a sold-separately connector hose. The publication also says that lighting the device can be a little tricky and takes some getting used to. You can find the Mr. Heater Portable Buddy on Amazon for $146.56, though it's currently available for half that.
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
While it may not be filled with tiny transistors or advanced lithium-ion batteries, LifeStraw's filtration tech has made its brand of personal water filters a must-have for many campers and hikers. If you're ever stranded and in need of a water source or planning an extended stay in the wilderness where bringing your own water supply isn't feasible, a LifeStraw Personal Water Filter will let you safely drink from any lake, creek, or other water source. Its advanced membrane microfilter can quickly remove nearly all bacteria, parasites, microplastics, sand, and dirt, and its straw design lets you drink directly from the water you're filtering. Plus, it's durably built, easy to clean, BPA-free, and tested by independent labs to ensure it's safe and healthy. Its lightweight, slim design also makes it ideal for taking with you on a hike.
However, after its hands-on testing of the product, GearLab criticizes its lack of storage. While this isn't an issue when you're filtering water in real-time, you may want to stock up on more for later. LifeStraw makes larger filters if that's the case, though they'll cost you more money. The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter costs less than $20 on Amazon, and you can purchase a four-pack for $40.81.
Anker Solix F1200 (Powerhouse 757)
One piece of tech you'll likely want to have at your campsite is a large power bank that can charge the rest of your devices. A good option is the Anker Solix F1200, also known as the Powerhouse 757, which is a 1229Wh-capacity, 1500W battery. In our hands-on review of the Powerhouse 757, SlashGear found both its capacity and quick charge capability to be impressive. However, while it can charge larger appliances like hot plates and refrigerators for several hours, this likely won't be enough for an extended camping trip. If you're looking to power appliances of that nature in the wilderness, you'll want to use a gas generator that you can continually and quickly refuel. The Anker Powerhouse 757 can be recharged with solar panels, but they take a while.
The Anker Powerhouse 757 is still a great way to keep smaller, important devices charged and ready to use, though — including phones, radios, satellite connectors, LED lights, and other camping tech that can help you stay safe in the wilderness. It has 13 ports and can charge multiple devices at once. Plus, it has an easy-to-read LED screen, a lifespan of 10 years, and a five-year warranty. The Anker Solix F1200 has a list price of $1,399, and you can bundle it with solar panels for an additional $300.