There’s no greater joy than being among the splendor of nature. But just because you’re in the elements doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the comforts of home. Technology is changing the way people explore the outdoors, and with this arsenal of gadgets, the phrase “roughing it” has all new meaning.
Below, we’ve collected a variety of products to help you stay connected—both to nature and your social networks. Whether you’re capturing a gorgeous drone shot or tracking your steps, these picks make for essential companions to the modern outdoor-lover.
Our lives are dominated by technology, and the prevalence of smartphones, laptops, and autonomous cars is only going up. Before our AI overlords enslave humanity for good, get out there and experience the majesty that nature has to offer. Just be sure to respect local and federal laws if you do bring a drone into a National Park.
DJI Mavic Pro
Drones have changed how people capture video, allowing operators to reach new heights and inaccessible locations. But these machines are large and bulky, making them a pain to travel with.
The DJI Mavic Pro is small enough to fit in a vest pocket without compromising on hardware or quality. Equipped with a 4K stabilized camera, 3-axis mechanical gimbal, and a range of 4.3 miles, the Mavic Pro is a flying powerhouse about a fraction of the size of its competitors.
Garmin Fenix 3 HR
This isn’t your average smartwatch—or even your average activity tracker. This is a wearable is designed for people who spend more time outdoors than in a boardroom.
The Fenix 3 HR’s bread and butter is its ability to feed you smart notifications, measure your heart rate, track your runs, and even help you navigate the treacherous canyons of Utah’s Zion National Park.
It’s packed to the gills with sensors, too, including an altimeter, barometer, and even a compass to ensure you’re always on the right path. If you hike as often as you eat, the Garmin Fenix 3 HR is the gadget that should be strapped to your wrist.
When the zombie apocalypse hits, the Anker PowerHouse is what will keep your arsenal of gadgets powered up. And, yes, it will even keep your mini fridge nice and frosty.
While it’s not the most portable gadget in the world, the sheer size of its 120,000mAh battery means you don’t need an outlet, like, ever. And the PowerHouse’s Battery Management System (BMS) will ensure there will be no unexpected explosions. (Ahem, Samsung.)
Whether you’re camping in Yosemite or surviving a power outage, the PowerHouse is a multi-purpose device designed for any scenario.
Going off the grid doesn’t mean you can’t communicate with friends and family. Using smart protocols and VHF radio waves, goTenna allows smartphone users to send messages off-grid—no cell service required.
By creating its own ad hoc network, goTenna allows users to send private one-to-one messages with other goTenna users. Groups are supported, too, with features for offline maps and even location sharing.
It’s like having a smarter walkie-talkie—but without the annoying chirp noises. In the great outdoors, goTenna says the range for communication is about four miles, perfect for your next hike up Half Dome.
LaCie Rugged 2TB hard drive
Recording all that drone footage means you need somewhere to store it. And seeing as you’ll probably be outdoors, you need a hard drive rugged enough to survive a rigorous hike.
With the word rugged right in the name, the LaCie Rugged will protect your important data from drops, dust, and water, making it perfect for all-terrain use. So what if it looks like a piece of construction equipment. $139
UE Roll 2
Chirping birds, rustling leaves, and a calming creek combine for a soothing soundtrack under the stars. But when you’re powering through a ten-mile hike, a more upbeat playlist seems more appropriate. With the Roll 2 from Ultimate Ears, blasting your favorite tunes on the go has never been easier.
The ultra-portable Bluetooth speaker promises up to 9 hours of battery life, the ability to pair with 8 Bluetooth devices, and a rating of IPX7, which means it can be immersed in liquid up to 1m for up to 30 minutes. Whether you’re lounging at the beach or hiking among the Sequoias, the Roll 2 is a wonderful companion and perfectly suited to the outdoors.
Leatherman New Wave
Not everything you take into the great outdoors needs to be electronic. The Leather Man New Wave is the type of device that’s necessary for everyone’s gear bag, whether you’re constantly taking stuff apart or simply opening up a fresh beer.
The 4-inch, 8.5-ounce New Wave sports several tools, including needle-nose pliers, regular pliers, wire cutters, a wood and metal file, a diamond-coated file, a bottle opener, a can opener, and more. If something needs fixing, the New Wave is your go-to.
Speck smartphone case
They’re not the most attractive cases on the market, but if durability is what you’re after, you can’t go wrong with Speck. The company has been in the business of making smartphone cases for years, so it knows a thing or two about a thing or two.
The combination of rubber and plastic means your precious device will be protected from the elements, whether you’re at a nearby park or at the base of Mount Rainier. The Wirecutter recommends Speck’s Presidio Grip, while other outlets say Speck’s CandyShell model is the way to go.
Anker PowerPort Solar Lite
When you’re navigating the Pacific Crest Trail, power outlets aren’t exactly common. So, why not let Mother Nature be your source of power? With Anker’s PowerPort Solar Lite, you can charge your mobile devices using nothing more than the sun.
The Solar Lite is built using industrial-strength PET polymer and a rugged polyester canvas, offering weather-resistance should you encounter rain or snow. As a bonus, the Solar Lite can be combined with the Anker PowerHouse, so you’ll always have a source of power no matter where you are. (Unless you’re on the dark side of the moon, then we can’t really help you.)