Backpacking in the 21st century

Backpacking in the 21st Century – Technology in the Wilderness

“Getting away from it all” means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. For some, it may mean getting away from screens. For others, it just means looking at the screens you want to, instead of the screens you have to, surrounded by all the natural beauty you can find.

Since everyone seeks solace in nature differently, we’re looking at some of the most tech-forward camping gear out there. Some of this gear makes the camping experience more streamlined. Some reduce the environmental impact of backpacking. And some of it’s just plain cool, and that’s worth mentioning, too!


Having clean drinking water is important. That means both purifying water from microbes, and cleansing it of dirt. There are plenty of ways to do one or the other. Boiling water will kill germs,

and there are plenty of chemical purification tablets. There are also filters that can remove dirt or germs. But if you want to do both in one compact, high-tech package, LifeStraw is one of the coolest ways to go. The filter lasts for up to 1,000 gallons of water, and part of the purchase price goes to their nonprofit Safe Water Fund.


Most people need to at least keep their GPS or phone charged when they’re camping, in case of emergency. But if you’re a tech-loving camper, you’ll probably be doing a little more than that. You may be carrying more than one backup charger, but a great option to consider is a solar-powered charger. It may not do fast-charging, but it does provide a more sustainable option, and it looks really cool.


GoTenna Mesh is a mesh networking device that helps you stay connected to your group, even when you’re off the grid. Even in areas without cell service or WiFi, you can share your location and send text messages privately with other people on your network. Not only is it great for traveling in remote locations, but the private network lets you text and drop pins even in situations where cell towers are overloaded. Think big state fairs, conventions, or even during natural disasters.

Another option is Garmin, whose compact GPSMAP 66i offers mapping and communication through satellite communication. (It’s worth noting that this is a more expensive option if you already have a phone, and it can require a subscription.)


Camp Stoves have grown light years, to become a low-key high-tech arena of camping goods. Consider Jetboil, whose backpacking stoves are twice as efficient as most others out there, with tighter flame control, less pack weight, and carefully-engineered heat flow to boil water in as little as 100 seconds.

It isn’t just cool, it’s also important. With wildfires taking off across the West Coast, starting a campfire can be dangerous, especially if you aren’t using a designated campsite or a pre-existing fire pit.

Of course, you don’t want to rely on just one way to cook your food. If you can start a fire safely, UCO’s Sweetfire fire starters are an awesome, renewable replacement for traditional tinder, made from a sugarcane by-product called bagasse.

First Aid

Most people don’t think “high tech” and immediately go to “first aid kit.” VSSL is trying to change that. Their compact, waterproof first aid kit is built for the outdoors, with the essentials you need to treat cuts and scrapes, burns, and more. The whole package also comes with a built-in compass and doubles as an LED flashlight, helping you save valuable pack space and weight.


Most people who spend time camping are familiar with pocket multitools. You may even have an old standby that you love. Having the right accessories to supplement your knife can make a huge difference to a handy camper. But there’s more to versatile tools than the fun-sized variety. The EST tactical shovel is an incredible survival tool that can help you in any situation. Attachments and edges of this shovel include a camping axe, saw, hunting spear, wire-cutter, ice pick, and more.

Author Bio: Derek Edwards is a budding outdoorsman and adventurist located in southern California. Recently he celebrated National Public Lands Day in Joshua Tree National Park. Following along his adventure over at his blog Outdoor with Derek.

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There is a whole new way to backpack that allows you to bring some tech along with you! Here's a peak as some of the best new camping gear!

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