One of the things I hate carrying but always carry extras of “just in case” are batteries. And while they can be recycled, usually they end up in bin in a trail town and we can get through quite a few.
My camera needs AA as does my GPS device, ah but my head torch needs AAA and the kids headtorches need those funny flat ones that are like the hearing aid batteries but a bit bigger. Oh, and I need a USB battery pack for the phone. And Hazels phone. And AA batteries for her camera too.

And it will suck if your camera runs out of juice half way along the trail, or one of the kids has a working torch but the others don’t. And what if you slip and break an ankle and your phone has just died! So we make sure we have plenty of batteries.

So as part of our goal to get to Zero Waste on our hiking trips, we’re slowly changing what tech we take with us, and how we keep it powered up and useful because in reality that dead camera is just useless weight in your pack.

  1. No more Camera.
    With the improvement of the cameras on a smartphone, and as we now have 3 in the house (a consequence of contract upgrades), we don’t feel the need for a dedicated camera.
    Actually that’s not entirely true. If we ever used a setting other than point and shoot and actually knew what the other settings did, then we might move back to a dedicated camera. The type that could be charged via USB and have all the bells and whistles (surely thats a feature in 2018) to take the kinds of pictures that you stop at for a few seconds while flicking through instagram.
  2. There’s an app for that!
    In the past, we’ve put a GPX file of our proposed route onto our Garmin GPS and used it as a back up. We also use it to record our daily mileage, or how far we’ve been since the last break. It’s also been used for Geocaching along the trail which at times is great to get the kids moving. The problem with this is that it ends up being on all day, and gets through AAA batteries quite quickly. Ultimately we’ll upgrade it to a newer one which again would be charged by USB (Can you see a theme developing).
    In the short term we’ll use the Garmin for local fun and games, but we have the Geocaching and OS Maps Apps on the phones and they do the same things that we use the GPS for. Anyway we’ve never relied solely on the tech for navigation as we always carry a map and compass.
  3. I have seen the light!
    Simply put, as our head torches get lost/broken we’ll upgrade them to rechargeable ones. I think this seems to be standard these days as the cost of that tech has come down

We currently have one USB power block but will probably need a second. If we’re away for a prolonged period I may look into those portable solar panels to keep topped up but how good are they in the UK? Another option would be the stove from Biolite that uses the heat from cooking to charge a usb device, a very cool but quite pricey option.

So next time we go hiking we’re relying on our smartphones for photos, geocaching, gps, communications and whatever else they can do. I think we’ll leave one switched off in the pack for emergencies until we’ve got our power up options sorted out, but we’ll be leaving the cameras and gps behind, as well the spare batteries, and the extra just in case batteries too.