For many people, late summer is the perfect time to go off the beaten track and explore, whether that’s by hiking, cycling or a combination of the two. And with the right gadgets you can be sure that you’ll love to go a-wandering, no matter where you’re headed.
If you like to listen to music, podcasts or ebooks when you’re roaming, or if you just fancy some music while you swim in a lake, waterproof headphones are a great idea: sets such as the X-1 Surge Mini (£35) are 100% waterproof to a depth of 12 feet, but don’t forget to buy a waterproof case for your iPod or phone: you can pick up a universal waterproof case for less than £10, although make sure you check the specs carefully: water resistant and waterproof are very different things, and the former is only designed to protect your device against accidents, not deliberately going underwater.
If you’d rather drink water than swim in it, a refillable water bottle is a great investment. £14 gets you the leak-proof, durable Kleen Kanteen, while the £6 Snugpak is designed to be clipped to your backpack. If you’re on a city trip with a messenger bag, the Memobottle (around £22) is shaped like a book rather than a bottle so it won’t make your bag all bulky. And of course, don’t forget the humble Thermos (from around £8), which is as good at keeping soup warm as it is at keeping water cool – a useful skill given the vagaries of the British weather.
If you have fond memories of the Swiss Army Knife you might be interested to see its latest incarnation, the Victorinox Expedition Kit. At £135 it’s a lot of money for a knife, but then it’s a lot of knife for the money: not only does it have the usual blades and screwdrivers but it also includes a digital clock, a barometer, a compass, an altimeter and a thermometer. And of course you never know when you might need to get a stone out of a horse’s hoof.
If you’d rather take even more technology with you, the Earl Backcountry Survival Tablet ($299, around £205) will start shipping in the second half of 2016 after smashing its fundraising target on Kickstarter. It’s an Android-based, ruggedised tablet with GPS, weather sensors and radio communication to ensure that you always know where you are and what’s coming, and that you’re never out of contact with the outside world. It’s a bit of an overkill for a walk round a park, but for more serious expeditions it could be a very valuable travelling companion. The use of an E-Ink screen and a built-in solar panel means it should last for ages too, although unfortunately E-Ink’s slower updating does rule out a game of Angry Birds after the day’s travelling is over. If it’s even half as good as the Kickstarter campaign promises it could be really clever.
Fancy a tent that’s as techy as a tablet? The Heimplanet Cave inflates like an airbed, weighs just 5 kg and looks like it came from a spaceship. At £480 it’s a little on the expensive side, but the structure is puncture-proof and it’s actually quite affordable by inflatable tent standards