Ash K. Casson
Many of us love camping; the great outdoors; the wilderness; being at one with nature; getting away from it all. There's just something so utterly rewarding about getting out there, putting up your tent, building a little campfire, cooking your food on the fire and so on. Or at least, that's what I'm told.
Personally, I can't stand it. I love the warmth and comfort of my bed fartoo much to really appreciate what it is people love so much about camping. I'm one of those people who camp for one unavoidable reason and one reason only; attending a music festival. I put up with the arduous task of assembling that thin sheet of material that's supposed to keep me warm and dry as I sleep. I put up with sleeping uncomfortably and freezing cold in the middle of a field that only days earlier belonged to cattle for purposes including sleeping, eating and toileting on. I put up with huddling around a campfire in the cold and midgie-laden campsite with an inevitably-short mobile phone battery life, knowing someone in a stall is going to charge me at least £5 for a little electricity should I want to charge it back up to find out how non-existent my signal is.
But if, like me, you also find yourself out in the middle of a festival campsite for a few days this summer, either loving it or hating it, there's some technology that could very well come in handy. This is based on my own experience of what's useful once you're out there, rather than what advertisers tell you what you need. I shall dispense this wisdom with you thusly.
First of all, and this is a big one: you're going to want a portable powerbank. What is this, I don't hear anyone ask? It's a high-capacity portable battery. You charge it up before you go, and it dispenses power as and when and to whatever device you need it to. Personally, I used mine to charge my mobile phone and my electronic cigarette (there wasn't a chance that was running out of power out there), but anything chargeable could benefit; e-book readers, digital cameras, torches and so on. One thing to keep in mind if you're thinking of investing is the power capacity. It is measured is mAh, as are the batteries they charge. For example, they mostly range from 5,000mAh up to 50,000mAh. Most smartphone batteries range from 2,000-3,000mAh so bear this in mind when choosing which to buy. Price-wise you're looking between £10 and £40 depending on make and capacity. They are a worthwhile investment given that poor smartphone signal leads to increasingly poor battery life while you're out there.
Should the next item be included in 'technology'? Absolutely. A headlamp is a true essential for festival goers in my opinion. The tech part of this comes from the much-brighter LED variety over traditional. But I can just use the flash on my phone to navigate my way back to my tent at night you may be thinking, and you'd be absolutely correct in this assumption. However, when you wake up at 4am and need to get up to go to one of the famously-delightful festival portaloos, the hands-free nature of your headlamp is going to be the best thing that ever happened to you. You can thank me later.
A good camera. Sure, your smartphone has a great camera, but unless you're right at the front of the crowd, those pictures and videos you take of your favourite guitarist smashing out an "epic solo" over the waving hands of those in front of you, zoomed in, blurry and badly-lit is going to look dreadful when you later upload it to Facebook. Smartphones just don't have the lens quality needed to snap the best shots.
Lastly, and this one is a little pricier but nonetheless magnificent: the BioLite CampStove. This little number comes in at around £80 but discards the need for a bottle of gas to get your water heated. You simply fill the chamber with twigs and light it. The heat firstly powers a fan which then increases airflow and, using a thermoelectric generator creates both heat and usable electricity. It claims to heat a litre of water in four minutes and the excess power created by the generator is sent to a USB outlet that can charge your mobile phone or other USB-powered device. Genius, right?
So whether you're a master of the great outdoors, at one with nature and in your element, or - like me - grinning and bearing it for the sake of live music, get your tech ready and enhance your camping experience. Then go home, have the most enjoyable shower you've had all year and remember just why you love your bed so much.