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Chargers for electronics and inReach question

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Generally I love researching gear. I can spend hours on it, but doing research on portable battery chargers is just putting me to sleep,

I searched and there are some threads on here but many are quite old and I figure there must have been some improvements over the years.

I don't currently use a great deal of electronics, phone and Kindle is about it. What are your go-to's for this?

InReach - this seems to be a good product. Question is about ease of use. For context, when people tell me doing something on the computer is easy, I am often times stumped. I would say that one persons 090 level course in computers in a 400 level course to me. Also, do you folks like this better than the Spot?

Impossible question to answer - could a computer illiterate grasp the use of this thing using the instructions and youtube videos? They make it look easy but I've been tricked before.

Thank you.
 
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Not sure how the latest inreaches are, but mine works best when it is paired to my cell phone. Otherwise, it is hunt and peck, one letter at a time to send a text. If you are capable of downloading an app on your phone, and using bluetooth to connect your phone to the inreach, you will be in business. The other neat thing is you can download topo maps for your phone through the app, and your phone acts like a GPS. You don't need cell service for it to work.

For charging, I bring two portable power banks, small units that don't weigh much. However, I have never needed to charge my inreach in the field, and have only needed to charge my phone if I use it for reading at night or listening to music.

Find a teenager to set you up if you have any confusion.
 
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I don't have a smartphone, when someone hands me one to use I'm lost. I have an InReach (older non-Garmin model). The basic functions are easy to learn. sending messages isn't difficult but the built in "keyboard" is slow and clunky (similar to a mid-90's (not smart) cell phone), if you pair it with a smartphone then you can send a message in the same style as sending a text so if you can do that with a smartphone you would be fine. If you don't pair it then you are stuck with clunky but you are only sending a text not writing a book.

All the other functions, tracking, sending pre-set messages etc, initiating an SOS are simple (if you read the manual!).

The new models are a bit different as they include all the functions of a mapping GPS but the basics are the same as the older models. Just because the new units have additional features doesn't mean you have to use them. If all you want to do it turn tracking on, send and receive a couple of messages each day and know how to initiate an SOS it's really fairly simple.

Overall I find the InReach to be much easier to learn to use than figuring out all the dozens of options that are required to operate the average digital camera, even a fairty basic point&shoot model.

Battery life is good, for basic use a trip of a week or less might not need any recharging, any half decent power bank will suffice for recharging in the field for longer trips or heavy users.

Comparing to a SPOT, my only SPOT experience is with the older one-way devices, while they were very simple to use they were so limited as to be somewhat useless except in a true emergency.
 
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Generally I love researching gear. I can spend hours on it, but doing research on portable battery chargers is just putting me to sleep

I searched and there are some threads on here but many are quite old and I figure there must have been some improvements over the years.

I don't currently use a great deal of electronics, phone and Kindle is about it.

I think there are three/four basic choices for recharging electronics in the field:

Portable, lightweight/fold out solar panels (better be base camped, and better be sunny that day)
A battery pack recharger (better hold a decent charge)
Or, a battery pack recharge with a built in solar panel, or battery pack along with aux solar panels (maybe best of both worlds, depending on weight/space/frou frou cables complexity issues)
Just bring spare lithium batteries (if that is a device option)

With just a phone and Kindle I think you could manage with the simplest of those; a battery pack re-charger, maybe with a small, built in solar panel.

It really depends on your needs/hard to predict future needs; how long a trip and how many electronics you use. My electronics on a trip are limited to a Weather radio or AM/FM radio, (both transistor battery), and a (re-chargeable) digital pocket camera. I fully charge the camera battery at home, and bring a spare transistor battery for the radio. That’s it. The digital camera charge has lasted 3+ weeks on trips, but I am not taking hundreds of photos a day.

My wife and sons carry more rechargeable electronics, including Kindles and “smart” phones. I bought her (them) a rugged lap-top sized battery re-charging pack, with a small built-in solar panel. The small solar panel is nearly useless, unless you are sunny base camped stationary all day and can keep moving it into full sunlight every half hour. The battery pack part, 110V charged at home before a trip, will top off all of their multiple devices for at least a week, augmented with some (weak) solar revitalization.

All of that technology, portable solar panels and battery packs and etc is impressively evolving; I’m sure the battery pack recharger I bought for them several years ago is now a dinosaur in terms of size, weight and function.

Whatever you research and buy today will likely be superseded in a couple years by some technology improvement, so yeah, it is hard to pull the trigger knowing that something better is soon coming down the pike.

I’m still waiting for canoes made of synthetic spider-silk. It may be that you just pull the trigger now on something that suits your current needs, and accept that you may end up buying the latest and greatest in a few years.

Or not. My cell phone is a Nokia flip phone of 10 (15?) year vintage. Can’t kill that thing and it holds a single charge for months. Maybe years; it is a “uni-directional” device, kept turned off and stored in the truck glove box. I have made a total of 5 calls on it in the last 5 years.

And received but one, when I called someone not-at-home, repeatedly, several times, and then forgot to turn the phone off.

What is that beedle-beedle-beedle sound from the glove box? God bless, it’s Anita, calling me back saying “Come stay with us on your way south”. Old friends, best time ever, and every State/Natl/Private Park along my route was booked full up.

None the less I still don’t want to be glued to an I-phone, taking Instagram photos of my Diner breakfast and counting my endorphin-triggering “Likes” and re-tweets.

That shit is antithetical to seeking out a wilderness experience.
 
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We purchased an InReach Explorer+ at the beginning of last season so that we could be contacted in case of a true emergency. I like it a lot. I'm also technically challenged, but have not had any trouble setting it up and using it. I think Garmin Support is very good. I don't pair it with a phone (another battery to go dead, and no coverage usually, anyway), and carry it as an emergency contact device and to get current weather reports. The weather report feature is awesome. After you're out 3-4 days it seems like cheating to have an idea what's coming! On a trip I turn it on morning and evening to check for messages and weather, and occasionally as needed to verify location ( preloaded maps of the US, Canada and Mexico). Using it this way on a 9 day trip, the battery doesn't go below 80%.
 
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Fantastic information everyone - thank you very much!!

I must admit I didn't know about the power blocks till this thread - pretty much seems to be the answer to my situation.

memaquay, you nailed it with the comment about the teenager. A short time back - with Chick's urging - I finally broke down and bought a "Smart TV". When my son returned to college after break I had to call him 3 times to figure out how to find the Netflix series I was watching. Sad but true.

Thanks again everybody!! This board is the best.
 
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On backpacking and canoe camping trips in the Adirondacks, I have been using the Gaia GPS app on my older Samsung Note 5 Android phone for three years now. I have been very satisfied with it. I have had virtually no problems getting a satellite signal, even in deep forest cover. The accuracy is good and I like having my tracks and waypoints available to me on the website after the trip. That being said, last year a friend gave me a Garmin GPSMap 64 unit. I have brought it along on my trips to do some comparisons to the Gaia app. It too worked well, although in some cases, it took a bit more work to use, particularly with inputting the names of waypoints, but I didn't find it prohibitive to using it in the future. It has other features that I have not used but will this year. My phone ends up with me on trips, so in all likelihood, particularly when canoe camping where having an extra items matters little, I will take both. Since almost all of my trips are solo, an InReach Mini would be a good piece of equipment for me to have, particularly because of its communication and SOS features (which the GPSMap unit doesn't have). However, so far the initial high cost of the Mini and particularly the required annual subscription fee has prohibited me from purchasing one. It remains on the top of wish list and hopefully will become a part of my kit once I retire and have more time to spend on trips to the Adirondacks.
 
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If you need power on a trip, in almost all cases it is optimum to simply take a high capacity Li battery pack (or few) to give you sufficient power. Solar arrays sound obvious, but the reality is that to get any amount of real power from them, you need a lot of sun and time, plus a suitable panel will weigh considerably more than additional batteries. A "light weight" solar panel is lighter in both weight and power production, making less than a cell phone charge for many hours in the sun.

Brian
 
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A 10,000Mah power bank (a quality brand like Anker) will charge an InReach about 5 times, that is more charging than I used on my 51 day (plus 6 travel days to get there and back) Labrador trip in 2018. This year in early June I used the InReach for 14 days, when I got home it was at 50% capacity remaining.
 
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