High Tech Camping

Paula LaBrot

After our 1973 June wedding, G (husband, George) and I left Chicago to drive to Alaska in our yellow VW convertible. My bridal shower had been a bit offbeat. I didn’t sign up for china or glassware. Our registry was for camping equipment!

We got down sleeping bags that zipped together…whoo! whoo! A little propane stove…super hi tech. A kerosene Coleman lantern with two mantles…what luxury. And a minimalist we’re-so-purist tube tent. Off we went with our dog, Blue, camping all the way up the Alcan Highway, a packed-down dirt road in those days.

What an adventure! Looking back from 2019, though, we were really primitive. Today’s camper has a myriad of high-tech camping equipment to make an outdoor experience super comfortable and super connected. If you are planning a camping trip this summer, here are a few items that blow my mind.



Tents with solar panels and/or photovoltaic fabric that has solar threads woven into the fabric to collect solar energy. These tents can generate power for cameras, phones, laptops, speakers, and even small appliances. Inspiredcamping.com reports some tents even have heating elements embedded in the tent’s groundsheet, triggered when the temperature falls beneath a certain level. In the words of Puck, “I am amazed and know not what to say!” Lost campers can send out a text message that will trigger a “glow” effect on their tent, helping them geo-locate their home in the wilderness. The tents include battery packs that are charged by Mr. Sun. The bigger the battery pack, the more power they can store.



This amazing little device was developed by two guys, Alec Drummond and Jonathan Cedar, two awesome fellows whose mission is to bring energy everywhere to help solve the problem of energy poverty in the world. Thegrommet.com reports: “It turns twigs, leaves, and other biomatter into usable electricity and cooking heat, courtesy of a thermoelectric generator. The energy created can charge your devices via the integrated USB port, and an internal fan helps to produce a cleaner, more efficient burn that emits less smoke.” Put a few twigs into this portable, woodburning stove and you’ve got smokeless flames and a light to cook by, if necessary, while producing usable electricity to charge your device. Four fan speeds control the heat of your fire. Its onboard battery can also store electricity for use later. It is truly a remarkable, clean energy, smart, off-the grid-campfire/energy source. And it weighs only two pounds.



GoSunChill (gosun.co) makes one of the coolers you can buy that do not require ice. The Solar Cooler is essentially a portable, compact refrigerator, powered by the sun, by your car battery, or a power bank. Solar Cool Technologies claim it can hold a steady 42° F (5.5° C) for over 24 hours, depending on how often the lid is opened, and can also go as low as 14° F (-10° C) if needed. It has USB and 12-volt outlets on the side. For those who camp with a blender, plug it in.



I detest mosquitoes and love my morning shower. One of the best ways to keep bugs off you at night besides old-fashioned, low-tech, but highly effective mosquito netting, is to keep a fan on yourself.

The Opolar Portable Travel Mini Fan works on USB or AC. You can re-charge it on a power source, like a BW Distributers Solar Powered USB Charger or an X-DRAGON Portable Solar Charger.

What could be more appreciated on a camping trip than a hot shower? Advanced Elements has a five-gallon solar shower that offers a temperature gauge and its own little shower hose. The company also provides lots of solar lights you can hang up and personal GPS trackers in case you get lost or buried in an avalanche.

Other necessaries you might want to bring along are: Socks and mittens that heat up to keep your feet and hands warm; solar backpacks that keep your phone powered; and satellite phones that work almost anywhere; marvelous UV water filters that purify water from any source; and portable speakers that can blast your music through the outback (not recommended).



There are a lot more choices for campers today than when G and I traveled up that great northern adventure road back in 1973. While you can now stay connected in the great outdoors as much as you can indoors, our camping adventure had no cell phones or heated tent floors, but we enjoyed the disconnect and the magic of just each other in the wilderness. We had those sleeping bags that zipped together, and a big, wonderful foot-warmer, our dog named Blue.

Enjoy your camping this summer.

Vamos a ver!


Paula LaBrot

Paula LaBrot is a 30-year resident of Topanga, a futurist with a special interest in the uncharted waters of cyberspace. plabrot@messengermountainnews.com

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