Goal Zero specializes in portable batteries, totable solar panels and 12-volt lighting hardware. Last March, while preparing to live full-time in our 35-foot motorhome, I picked up one of the company’s Yeti 400 Portable Power Stations ($460) and a pair of Nomad 20 Solar Panels ($200 each). After employing them on a regular basis for over a year, I’m ready to share my thoughts on whether or not the Yeti 400 is worth its asking price.
The Yeti 400 Portable Power Station is designed to be a one-stop portable power solution. Given its compact size, 10.25 by 8 by 8 inches, you’ll be surprised to find that the Yeti 400 weighs close to 30 pounds. Much of this weight can be attributed to its 396Wh ATM Lead Acid Battery and Pure Sine Wave inverter—but its tough overbuilt case gets some of the blame too.
Leaving behind the distractions of social media and email for an off-the-grid adventure can be amazing—until it isn’t. Having your loved ones worry constantly about whether you’ve been eaten by a bear while you’re away, or worse, experiencing a medical emergency when you’re out of cellular range, are both situations that most folks would happily avoid. The SPOT GEN3, a $170 compact GPS locator beacon that can connect with Globalstar’s satellite network from almost anywhere in the world, was designed to address issues like these.
With its being smaller than a pack of cigarettes and weighing just four ounces (four AAA batteries included,) no one can complain about the GEN3 taking up too much space in their pack or weighing them down. Despite its compact size and light weight, the device is still rugged enough to survive much of the punishment it might encounter while you’re on the trail. It’s capable of operating in a temperature range between -22 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, at a maximum altitude of 21,320 feet and, with an IPX7 rating, it’ll still work after being submerged in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes.
Living on the road, like I do, isn’t for everyone. It requires a lot of sacrifices and the willingness to accept near-constant change. When my partner and I moved into our RV, it was easy to rid ourselves of unneeded clothing and furniture, but we couldn’t leave behind the computer gear we need to do our jobs. And suddenly I was on the market for a really small printer.
After using the Canon Pixma iP110 portable inkjet printer for a few months, I feel comfortable recommending to anyone who needs a portable printer. It doesn’t have a scanner, which is fine since I can use my iPhone camera and apps like Scanner Pro, but it’s more than capable of handling the documents, photos, and envelopes I need to print from the road.
We live in an age where belief, in anything, can be difficult—especially where crowdfunded products are concerned.
I’ve been burned several times by kickstarted tech projects over the years. Mostly, the delivered goods underwhelm compared to what was promised. In some cases, a return on my investment never materialized at all. I’d all but given up on crowdfunded gear, but after using their Omnicharge’s batteries for the past few months, I want to believe that this startup is doing things right.
In my opinion, the best personal technology to travel with has a lot in common with a mullet—business in front, party out back. Take my iPad Pro, for example. Its portability and long battery life allow me to crank out articles, plan upcoming projects, talk to my editors, and invoice for my work while I’m on the road. But I can also use it to goof off when I’ve got free time…and sometimes even when I don’t.
After spending a month using it for work and play, I feel that Sony’s MP-CL1A Mobile Projector is just as deep into mullet country as my tablet is. It’s a short-throw pico projector that’s equally adept at pitching presentations in a boardroom as it as at throwing episodes of Better Call Saul up on your cottage wall to watch with friends.
Welcome to the second part of Have Gear, Will Travel’s digital photography special. In part one, I talked about the camera gear, hardware, software, and apps I use to make myself look like a semi-competent photographer. Depending on where I’m going and what I plan on doing while I’m there, the photography gear I jam into my backpack can range from dirt cheap to questionably expensive. All the tips I’m providing today, however, come at the low, low cost of free.
In order to better illustrate these techniques, tweaks, and suggestions, I spent a week in Montana this past November taking in the sights in Bozeman, Pray, Yellowstone National Park, Three Forks, Butte, the ghost town of Bannack, and all points in between. My time there was cold, the landscape was starkly beautiful, and the people I encountered were disarmingly warm. Within the space of a week, the state managed to charm its way to the top my list of favorite North American road trip destinations.
But for now, let’s talk photography. The following rules have worked well for me, and now, I pass them on, like the low-rent inheritance they are, to you.
Some photos turn out great, but most are merely okay. As anyone who has picked up a camera will tell you, everyone shoots both kinds. But let’s be honest: the majority of the photos we capture on vacation fall into the just-okay category. Thumbs make their way into shots. People and objects show up that we failed to notice when composing the shot. The sun can wash your photos out or cast harsh shadows. Not enough sun can turn what should be a beautiful moment into a grainy mess.
The good news is that, with the right hardware and software, most of these issues can either be improved upon or avoided altogether. To help you up your photographic game before your next adventure, I present a two-part travel photography special. In this first installment, I’ll cover the best hardware and software to use, and next time, I’ll focus on putting those tools to use.
These photos are from my recent trip to Montana, which I can say without hesitation is one of the most stark, beautiful places in the United States that I’ve ever had the privilege of visiting. Over the course of five days, my partner and I traveled to Bozeman, Pray, Yellowstone National Park, Three Forks, Butte, Bannack National Park, and Belgrade, with a ton of amazing stops along the way. Along with giving the state my best photographic efforts, I also took some intentionally terrible photos to show you that some of the worst pictures of your next vacation could well turn out to be a few of the best you’ve ever taken.