Take a walk on the wild side with gadgets for the great outdoors
Standard mobile devices are fine for urban dwellers, but when you get beyond the suburbs, into the great outdoors, a new class of gadget - or at least some careful protection - is required.
For a start, it's well worth considering taking a portable battery, so you don't run out of power just when you need it. Try the Powermonkey Discovery (HK$590, powertraveller.com a solid, well-built portable battery that supplies an iPhone 5S with a full charge.
If you are off-grid for weeks at a time, look for the Goal Zero Yeti 1250 solar generator kit (HK$14,000, goalzero.com a heavyweight option for base camp or the boot of a car.
For those at risk of getting wet in adventure sports there are a number of gadgets that come with their own protection.
A great option for either an iPhone 5/5S, iPad Mini or an iPad Air is the Lifeproof nüüd (HK$748, HK$928 and HK$1,098, store.apple.com and while the Sony Xperia Z1 and Z2 are waterproof, and the new Samsung Galaxy S5 is water resistant, for the outdoors it's worth adding something like the Otterbox Defender (HK$460, otterbox.com.hk to either the 5S or latest iPhones, which will protect a handset dropped onto rocks. It happens.
If properly protected, touchscreen gadgets are well worth taking on hiking trips, if only for the ViewRanger app viewranger.com After downloading the requisite maps for a few dollars, ViewRanger uses your phone's built-in GPS sensor to pin-point your every move - with no data charges. Free stargazing apps, such as Star Walk, SkySafari and The Night Sky, can be invaluable if you're camping beneath the starry sky. Similar technology powers the Garmin Fenix outdoor GPS watch (HK$3,129, expansys.com.hk which has a built-in altimeter, barometer and compass to stop you getting lost on hikes.
The usual choice between a waterproof, drop-proof compact camera, like Panasonic's Lumix DMC-TS5 (HK$3,690, panasonic.hk and a bulky D-SLR often vexes walkers, but there is another option. Two accessories out this year make smartphones worth considering. The aluminium olloclip 4-in-1 (HK$578, store.apple.com/hk - the latest version of the clip-on lens for the iPhone 5/5S - offers the option of choosing between wide-angle, fish-eye and two macro lenses.
It weighs only 23g, and can be stored in the top pocket of a jacket.
Photographers taking a D-SLR off the beaten track should carry a super-lightweight tripod, such as the aluminium Vanguard Alta Pro 264AT (HK$2,676, price.com.hk Weighing in at only 2.1kg, it makes professional photography and video possible, however deep you are in the wilds.
You can comfortably carry your D-SLR far from the city in the Booq Python Pack (HK$1,498, amazon.com It has padded compartments for up to two cameras, four lenses, a tripod clip on the front - plus room for a couple of smartphones in pouches on the shoulder straps. There's a clandestine slip pocket between the straps that's ideal for an iPad - and even some room for a 15-inch MacBook Pro laptop, too.
Simply add a look-at-me, bright-red shower cover, which stows away in a side pocket, and you've got the perfect temporary home-from-home for all your electronic gadgets and gizmos.