Have we ruined camping by trying to find camping spots with reception? Are we forgetting what camping is all about? Have camping gadgets gone too far? In this piece Justin discusses where it's all going and if you should be concerned.
"I can't get reception"
With mobile phone reception pushing further and further inland it's almost possible to make a phone call anywhere. Add satellite reception and you've almost got 100% coverage. Is this really a good thing? On one hand i'd say no.
I believe that camping should be about getting "back to basics". However, is my definition of "basic" antiquated?
There are a number of times where you really want mobile coverage. Getting reception means you can access help a lot quicker than before, this could even lead to saving lives. You can easily contact people if they get lost and you can check weather updates and more. Clearly, being able to use a mobile phone improves your chances of survival and reduces some of the risk involved with long range hiking or adventuring. Or is that part of the excitement?
Some camping gadgets have come a full circle. Batteries used to power all our devices, like phones, torches, cameras etc. However, the trend now is towards self-reliance. Wind up and solar technology is leading the "charge" (pun intended). We expect our gadgets to now work without having to continuously run back to home to charge them up. I believe this is a good thing. Solar power is now getting the level of efficiency that whole villages can run basic devices from only a small array. Wind up technology means we will always have light and access to a radio.
What is basic camping
There was a time when basic camping meant, shelter, a sleeping bag and some food. Now we have iPads, light weight synthetic sleeping bags, high powered headlamps, night vision and high tech lightweight tents.
Basic it seems is over. Or is it? Some say this is simply progress.
Why would you want to sleep on the ground, why would you want your basic shelter to blow away and why would you want to not eat just because you can't start a fire? Camping gadgets are designed to help in these situations and thus help us enjoy camping more. I don't think these gadgets detract from the experience, I think they enhance it!
Of course there are limits. When does camping simply become moving your house from one spot to another? The very essence of camping is to enjoy, get in touch with and embrace the great outdoors, not colonise the area and move on. The perfect camp is a minimal impact camp where it's difficult to tell if you were even there. These's no point in going camping if all you’re going to do is setup a TV and a playstation and not move.
No doubt chainsaws, multi tools, special tents and solar power for "advices" make camping easy, but let's not get too carried away. It's still fun to chop down a tree, it's still fun to stare into the fire for hours and it's still fun to sit around and talk.