Prepare, so you can go with the flow
As with many trips, we spent time preparing before we left. This trip was a different experience for us, however, since it included not only car camping to and from the river, but also canoe camping.
We are experienced car campers as well as a Scout family so we have developed a pretty good system for remembering our 10 outdoor essentials. This time was different. This time we were also using a canoe to transport our gear for a portion of our trip, and we were collecting data for our participation in the #GO On a Trail campaign. This meant that there were special considerations we needed to remember to make sure we had a successful trip.
When using technology outdoors for extended periods of time, there are some essentials questions you need to take into consideration.
How well is your device protected? Does your case protect your screen from blowing dust and/or sand? Does your case protect your device from the accidental drop into water? Will it allow your device to float or will it sink?
How will you charge your device while you are away from electricity?
How do you protect your battery packs and charging cables from the elements?
If you are using your device in the winter when the temperatures are colder, how are you keeping your device within the optimal operating temperature (32F - 95F)?
When you are using your device in the warmer months, how are you protecting your device from heat and direct sunlight?
Do you need to have cellular service to complete your tasks or is there a way to collect what you need locally and then submit once you are back in 'civilization'?
We ended up purchasing special waterproof phone cases that not only allowed us to protect our devices from water, but also kept them within easy reach with lanyards so data collection could happen safely on the river. Our battery packs (one was even solar) and charging cables had their very own dry bag that was attached to the canoe. We also used apps like GLOBE Observer, Google Science Journal, and the camera to collect our data locally while we were in the field. Once we returned to civilization, we were able to upload data to the appropriate locations.
By taking the time to think about the purpose behind bringing our technology into the field (collecting visual representation of the Louis and Clark Trail), we were better able to prepare for successful data collection. We were also able to take steps to ensure that our technology performed the way we needed it to while out in the field. When you take the time to prepare, you allow yourself the opportunity to be in the moment and go where the science takes you.