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Electrical device you are most likely and least likely to eliminate

Glenn MacGrady

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Who among us is electric free on a canoe trip? Are any of us brave or comfortable enough to go electric free like our ancestors?

Well, this topic doesn't require such a grand sacrifice. Just name the electrical device you are most likely to want to always keep taking on an canoe trip and the electrical device you are most willing to eliminate.

I don't take that many electric devices, but I suppose the one I'm most likely to want to keep is one of my oldest: my headlamp. I don't usually make fires when I'm alone, so I need some form of light at night. Also, I've long been addicted to reading to get to sleep, and I find a headlamp to be much more useful and safe for that purpose than flames or handheld flashlights. A headlamp is also very small and lightweight to pack.

The device I'm most willing to give up is my compact electric shaver, which I used to always use as a form of ritualistic morning discipline. But now that I've become bearded for the past few years, I don't need that anymore. Sort of a cheat answer, I suppose. Maybe next choice would be my phone. Most of my tripping was done before I ever got a cell phone, and I don't recall ever really needing to use one while on trips since I got one.
 
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With power banks getting better i seem to be replacing battery powered devices with rechargeable stuff. Got a solar powered camp light/globe its called a lucy light. i got rid of a candle and battery powered camp light. Huge weight difference, i even use it on multi day back packing trips.
 
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I need my headlamp and InReach. The InReach is primarily for emergencies but it's great for determining portage sections / halfway points / trip-and-a-half segments.

I take my phone but it stays powered down and lives in a ziplock. I could easily be without it.

I can hear the booing and hissing, but I like having a watch - mine's an automatic Seiko SKX - not electronic but I wouldn't knock someone for wanting to wear a basic quartz watch. They can function as a rudimentary compass in an emergency situation.

We're picking on electricity, though. Shouldn't items that require a carry-in fuel source be lumped in there, too?
 
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I keep the phone with me to use as the camera and video. It generally stays in airplane mode as we do not have reception all the time. At camp I will turn it on so that it will update Life360 and let the family know where I am if it can connect. I keep Avenza maps on the phone for use. My headlamp and a garmin watch.
 
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PLB always.. GPS maybe . ( yes in the 10,000 Islands or the Everglades). Oh yes a headlamp cause the dark forest trees don't move on the way to the outhouse.
 
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Most of the time the only electrical devices I take is a headlamp which I will usually have even for a day trip. For multi-day or overnight trips I usually have a backup headlamp and a transistor weather radio. If I have a cell phone it is in a waterproof case which is in a waterproof bag and is turned off. It is there for emergency use only and so as not to have to leave it in my truck.
 
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I'm with pblanc. I can't tell you how many wilderness search reports include the subject's lack of having a reliable source of light (a cell phone does not count as a relisable llight source for travel). When comes down to what is necessary, other tha a compass and a fire starter, a headlamp is the one other thing always permanently residing in my pack. A cell phone may or may not come with me, often as an afterthought if not forgottten.

I most often have a small camera with me. A REAL camera. I do not consider a cell phone to be a primary camera, although many many people do, I know. I would be a rare day when I use a cell phone to take any photo, if I do it dioes not stay in there long. I still process, crop, and edit significant or important photo images from my real camera on a computer after I get home.

When I am on a SAR incident, of course I have a radio and a GPS. SAR personnel are expected to be proficient with GPS and radio at all times and are so trained. But when I run a wilderness guide training course, my students are not allowed to use a GPS during general land navigation field training and cerrtification, but they are introduced to it during a special separate course only after they show proficiency with map and compass navigation.

The rules on my Yukon canoe race trips have always required continuous use of a SPOT device, and for efficient preplanned race routing, I always have dual GPS units in operation to guide me.
 
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SPOT, a single headlamp, P&S camera, and my wrist watch are the only electric devices I take.

I'd gladly give up the SPOT but I don't think my mom could handle it.

So ignoring the SPOT the camera would be the last thing I'd give up and it would be a toss up between my watch and headlamp for a typical mid-summer trip in the north.

Alan
 
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Headlamp is probably the most important piece of electronic gear that I have always carried.....in fact, I carry a second as a spare. I also carry a Luci Light. The one piece of electronics that I have gotten rid of is a small battery operated AM/FM/WB radio which became redundant when I started carrying an "Inreach mini". With the in reach, I can download fairly accurate localized weather reports from that.......and yes, I carry a cellphone now.......I put it in airplane mode, but it allows me to use the keyboard on it to send non-emergency messages thru the mini as either a text or email to family members to keep them happy. When I took youth groups out, their families could follow the trip online and I could send a quick group email every couple days to keep the "moms" happy. Though I still use map & compass for navigation, I do download electronic maps to my phone for back up. Where I get the most use out of the phone though is with the camera......it takes better photos than any of my point and shoot cameras. I keep it in a waterproof case in my PFD pocket and get get a lot of those quick "candid" shots. A couple of my tripping buddies are professional photographers, but most of their gear is put away in waterproof bags or boxes and they miss out on a lot of photo opps.....particularly wildlife shots. They have even started carrying their phones just for those type of encounters. I also download books on to my phone for late night reading in the hammock.....I used to carry a couple of paperbacks....Thankfully, I have never had to hit the emergency button on the in reach , but a couple of years ago, a buddy of mine took a bad fall and hurt his back. I was able to contact the outfitter via e-mail and arrange for a tow across Seagull lake the following day, saving us about 3-4 hours of paddling big water.

Mike
 
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Headlamp for me too is probably the last thing I'd give up. Also I'm so used to having a watch that I'd probably have a hard time giving that up and it's been decades since I've had a wind-up watch. Most easily left behind would probably be my cell phone or hearing aids. I've started using the cell phone to take pictures more, but fumble with getting touches and swipes to register on the screen and have trouble viewing the screen in sunlight. Got hearing aids a couple of years ago for high frequency hearing loss but don't wear them on the water if swimming, either intentional or accidental, is likely and can get by without them in conversations. I hadn't realized how much they amplify nighttime cricket sounds until a couple of months ago when I had them along but wasn't wearing them during the day and then after we set up camp decided I might as well wear them while sitting around chatting after dinner. What had been a soft background chirping sound of crickets and frogs suddenly became a loud cacophony.
 
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I have a wrist watch, a camera and a headlamp. My phone is off and stashed in a waterproof case.
I learned pretty quick that computing stuff and GPS just takes my head out of the place that I want to be.
So, I'm least likely to give up the wristwatch, and I've already dumped the GPS.
 
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I'm glad to see I'm not alone in being so attached to my wrist watch. It's just a $20 Timex and I'm sure I could get by fine without it but I'm so used to it. I most appreciate it when mentally calculating travel time. If I know I've been paddling for 3 hours and I can see by the map that I've covered XX miles then I know that if I keep up the same pace I either will (or will not) reach point Y by the time I want to camp.

And if I want to wake up extra early it has an alarm setting.

Alan
 
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... I can hear the booing and hissing, but I like having a watch - mine's an automatic Seiko SKX - not electronic but I wouldn't knock someone for wanting to wear a basic quartz watch. They can function as a rudimentary compass in an emergency situation.
...

I don't wear a watch in civilization since clocks are everywhere, but I do when I'm on the water. I have a pretty good idea of my cruising speed and I make time/distance estimates to be sure I know where I am, e.g., I should pass that duck shaped point around 12:45. If I don't, maybe I'm on the wrong lake.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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I forgot about my electric watch and it's alarm function, but I would still eliminate it before my headlamp. I need light. I can tell the time from my GPS or phone.

My GPS is very important to me whether on overnight or day trips in the U.S. I'm not a Canadian wilderness paddler, so I find the street maps, topo maps and satellite photos I have loaded into my Garmin GPS to be really all I need, although I do have paper maps for many places. In fact, there are no useful topo maps for some places like the Sparkleberry Swamp, where using breadcrumbs on a mapping GPS is essential to knowing where you are and how to get out.

I have dashboard mounts for my Garmin GPS on my most frequently used canoes to keep it right in front of me, and I keep the GPS on permanently while paddling because I like to watch my visual progress with pinpoint accuracy. I get about 40 hours of on time with lithium batteries.

GPS and maps.JPG

My GPS is also useful when wheel portaging for miles on roads.

GPS on portage.JPG
 
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Hmmmm, I’ll need to split my response based on a day trip or longer trips with camping required.
Day trips I can do without anything but my Nikon DSLR, it’s bulky, heavy and relatively fragile, but I wouldn’t want to leave it home. Most easily left home is my cell phone.
For longer trips with camping, I guess I need to differentiate between solo and group trips.
Solo I bring an Inreach to appease MDB. I like to have my GPS to log and relive the trips. Cell phone again can be left home. My Nikon MUST be in my pack, or hanging around my neck.
Also need my headlamp, but even that I could do without.
Group trips, I must have my Nikon. Anything else is likely carried by someone else…
 

Glenn MacGrady

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I can do without anything but my Nikon

My Nikon MUST be in my pack

I must have my Nikon

SG, you can still get a mechanical Nikon, which would free you up for another electrical device. Does film still exist?

I, too, much prefer my Nikon over my phone for taking pictures. A viewfinder—a device surely remembered by the geezer group here—is so much more convenient in the sunshine than a washed-out, fiddly touchscreen.

Here's a blurry photo (because taken with my phone) of my Nikon, which, in a canoe, I keep attached to myself with a finger ring in use and store in a quick opening, waterproof Pelican box in front of me. No need for a waterproof camera.


Nikon.jpg

Pelican case.JPG
 
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Glenn,
For many years I used a Nikon FM2, which you may guess by the model name is a fully mechanical, fully manual 35mm SLR film camera.
That series of Nikon is still in demand even today.
For 20 years before that, I used a Pentax MX, another fully manual, fully mechanical SLR film camera.
I also used to develop my own transparencies as well as bulk load my own film canisters, partially cause I’m cheap, partially a control thing, and partially because it the only way to get a particular film type.

Oops, I didn’t answer your question.
I don’t know if Nikon still makes and sells the FM series of film cameras, but I doubt I would switch back to film. Digital is just too versatile and convenient. I remember I used to bring 3 rolls of 36 exposure film for a weekend. While i still am careful about composition and exposure, but my memory card holds over 5,000 hi res pics.
That’s hard to argue with
 
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