When we first did the PCT in 1996, the only electronic device we brought with us was a watch that had a temperature gauge and barometric altimeter and a 35mm SLR camera. Today, there are many more different devices that a hiker can use. The electronics that we now carry are cameras, chargers, MP3 players, a cell phone and a Spot device.
On this years hike, Ann will be using a Panasonic DMC-LX10, which is an upgrade from her Sony RX-100 I. The LX10 has a number of features that she desired. First of all, it has a very fast and accurate macro focusing. When trying to take close up of flowers, there were many times on the PCT she would have to place her finger next to a small flower to get the RX-100 to focus because parts of the flowers were too small for the camera to read. Also, the LX10 auto focusing is more precise in low light situations. Another Item Ann likes about the camera, is that it has a Leica lens. She says this probably will be the closest thing she will ever have to owning a Leica camera. The LX10 is a heavier camera, but she does not have a problem with that as long as it takes quality pictures. Ann really liked the new Sony RX-100 V because of its sharp images. However, its $1,000 price tag made her decide to go to the Panasonic.
Since Ann has a new camera I get her leftovers, hence I’m going to be carrying her Sony RX-100 I camera. This is the camera she used on the PCT so it has taken more than 20,000 pictures. Yet it is still in good condition, although it sometimes does not like opening or closing. Given I do not take many pictures this should not be a problem. The Carl Zeiss lens, takes quality images and it has a built-in function that finds faces and focus on them. I like its panoramic feature.
For our power needs, we have an Anker external battery. We used this last year on the PCT and found that it would fully charge our Razr smart phone 2.5 times or the Sony Rx-100 3 times. This gave us enough power to get from town to town. In fact, not once did we run out of power. It does take time to fully charge so it was the first device I starting charging in town. I have looked at solar charges, but they are sometimes unreliable and weigh about the same as the battery. This external battery worked so well that two different thru-hikers sent their solar charges home and picked up this battery. The main problem they had with their solar charges was lack of sun, hence very slow charging times. Yes there is plenty of sun in southern California, but once you get north of Kennedy Meadows there is a good bit of tree cover. Solar chargers work best with full sun light.
In towns, we need to charge several devices at the same time. For this job we use an Anker USB charger. It took a while to find a charger that would work the way I wanted it to. Most multi-port wall chargers, will cut down on the wattage with every device plugged in. One device plugged in it, chargers at full power. With two devices plugged in, each will charge at half power, taking twice as long to charge them. With four plugged in, its 25% and four times as long. Also, different devices charge at different amperages, so many multi-port wall charges have dedicated plugs for different devices, i.e. Apple device plug into the top plug and Android devices plug into the bottom.
The Anker 36W USB Wall Charger solves many of these problems. This charger will charge 1 to 4 devices up to a maximum of 36W. This means that four iPhones or three iPad Mini’s can be changed at full power at the same time. As for the port problem, the Anker Wall Charger will since the device that is plugged into it and only deliver as much power as that device can handle. This means you can plug-in any device into any port.
Having a smart phone is very useful for several reasons.
- Contacting people; there will be times we will need to contact people for rides or to check in with family. This can be spotty. Only 70% of the PCT has phone coverage and that 70% is across all cell phone providers. Verizons coverage will be smaller.
- Halfmile’s PCT; this is an excellent app that uses the phones GPS and Halfmile’s PCT data points to find your current location on the PCT. It is accurate to about 5m. It will also guide you back to the trail if you get off. The app also has a lot of information on water sources, towns, and alternate routes.
- PCTHYOH; this app has a lot of very useful information for thru-hikers. Water reports, trail re-routes, trail conditions, local weather, snow reports, and much more. It is an excellent resource to have while hiking.