The more I think about the “work from the woods” idea I mentioned before, the more I like it. I’m going to start putting together an equipment list, buy the stuff I need, and request test units for the items that will be useful for a review. I expect I’ll be able to take the trip sometime in May, which should give me plenty of time to assemble my gear, carve out a good week to do, and have a fair chance of avoiding a week of stormy weather. (Although who knows? Working in the rain would be horrible for connectivity and solar power, but it might be sort of hilarious.)
I hope to get your input on good locations to spend a week, the equipment that is practical to bring, and what is the least expensive search & rescue choplifter operating in the Hudson Valley.
The basics seem fairly easy: a good backpack, a warm sleeping bag, and a small, light tent. (I have also considered one of those nifty Hennessy hammocks in lieu of a tent.) I already have a set of indispensable silk thermal underwear, which is both warm and easy to pack.
I have a good multitool and a small camp hatchet with a fiberglass handle that should take care of any tool needs. I don’t intend to build a shelter or anything, which would probably be illegal in most of the area wilderness anyway. I’ll probably need to grab a length of strong cord for hanging up food and securing my tent or hammock.
Food and water is a concern. The last overnight trip I did in October was through a notoriously dry section of New York; the only water was standing and stale. There’s no way I can pack in enough water to last a solid week, so I’ll have to filter water from local sources. Surely in May the creeks will still be running in most areas. I’ve never been on a trip of sufficient duration to require locating and purifying water, so any advice you guys can offer there is welcome.
As for food, I’ll probably stick to the standard fare: light, dry beans; high-calorie, low-volume snacks like chocolate and whisky; and other generally bland but edible foods. I absolutely adore food, so I’ll probably end up packing in some unnecessarily varied treats just to keep myself entertained. Except for hiking in and out to the campsite, however, I don’t plan on expending a ton of energy throughout the week. My caloric deficit will be that of the average blogger.
It’s my intention to work while I’m out there, which for means I’ll need a computer with a decent keyboard, a web browser with connectivity, an RSS reader and a way to format and upload images. It’s that last requirement that tends to be a tricky one. I could do almost everything I needed with a decent smartphone and an external keyboard, but image editing is usually right out. And I’d prefer a proper laptop, frankly.
I could take my Macbook Pro, but it is heavy and relatively power hungry. It has the advantage of being my home computer, so I’d have everything I normally use close at hand. Still, I don’t think it’s a very good option.
I have considered one of the Fujitsu Windows laptops with the ridiculous battery life—many models get up into the eight-to-nine-hour range using Wi-Fi. I would expect that using an EVDO or UMTS modem will cut into that fairly heavily, as well. I could also use something like the Eee, I suspect, although the battery life on the Eee isn’t all that spectacular, frankly.
Finally, I could try to use a smartphone with an external keyboard. It would be light and relatively power-sipping (although perhaps not so power-sipping when used for hours at a time over 3G).
Of those options, the standard laptop with a long battery life seems the best option, although I’m totally open to debate on that point. Perhaps the most important requirement will be the ability to charge a second battery outside of the computer itself.
See, my plan is to charge everything with a solar roll. Something like the SolarRoll from Brunton, in fact. But since even the largest roll they sell can only trickle charge a battery, I’ll need to keep one battery charging while I use the laptop. That may take a little fancy jiggering to make it work, especially if there is no proper charger available and I have to figure out how to charge the batteries directly from the panels. That’s beyond my current ability as a tinkerer, but I’m sure there are loads of people who could tell me how to rig the whole thing up. Perhaps even safely!
Connectivity will have to be 3G. I don’t see any other way around it. (Even if I could afford a satellite data box, I doubt I could afford the data rates.) The last time I was up in the Valley on a trail I was pulling down five bars on my phone, as was my hiking buddy. As long as those towers have a 3G cell—very probable on the CDMA carriers—I should be fine. This will be a deciding factor in my choice of location, of course, and I’ll be sure to check with the carriers before I go traipsing off for a week. I’d like to avoid renting a car, too, so I’ll likely be sticking to one of the mountains that can be reached by the trains of the Metro North line. There are tons of good trails around New York City, although I’m open to other location suggestions.
The final question will be what odds and ends products to take out to be reviewed. I’ll have to be pretty limited in my selection, since the laptop, solar roll, extra batteries, shelter, clothing, food and water will already make for a heavy pack. (Not to mention the space I’ll have to make for a whole carton of cigarettes and a few sheets of Pork Roll Ups.) But I’ll have a lot of free time on my hands, too, especially since I’ll need to save the laptop’s battery power for working, not entertainment. I’ll be packing the Kindle and doing a bit of reading, I’m sure, so there’s that. Maybe I could try to set up snares are capture some food.
Also, before it gets said in the comments: Yes, I know the point of camping is usually to get away from all the tech. I agree! But this isn’t a normal camping trip, so the normal rules don’t apply. Spare me the sermon this once knowing that I am normally of the same persuasion.
Image Source: Kruggg6