Camping with your Mac

After having just returned from the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee I wanted to share a few tips about what to bring if you plan to bring your Mac (and iPhone for that matter) on a camping trip.Moisture is the enemy of all electronics.

http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/photos/stylus/62004-bonnaroo_logo_01l.jpgAfter having just returned from the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee I wanted to share a few tips about what to bring if you plan to bring your Mac (and iPhone for that matter) on a camping trip.

Moisture is the enemy of all electronics. When in the great outdoors it's essential to keep your PowerBook/MacBook in a cool, dry and safe place, especially during those dewy early morning hours. I keep my MacBook Pro packed away in a quality bag and locked in the car. It's much drier than sitting in a tent and harder to steal. Remember to vent the car periodically during the heat of the day to keep temperatures down and to keep your bag out of direct sunlight.

Bring batteries galore. If you're going to be tenting and without access to reliable power, batteries are going to be critical. I brought two fully-charged MacBook Pro batteries and that barely got me through two days. If I had my druthers I would bring five fully-charged MBP batteries so that I didn't have to worry about charging them. The problem is that this gets pricey at $130 a pop. If you purchased one of Apple's new fixed-battery MBPs changing batteries isn't an option, so you'll have to start looking for an outlet after about 7 hours.

Pictured above are some of my road-trip stalwarts that I don't leave home without. Starting in the upper left corner and going clockwise:

  • Kensington 120 watt notebook DC power adapter ($99) with the Mike Gyver's MagSafe adapter ($80) is great for keeping your MacBook charged while driving. I reviewed both in August 2007.
  • FastMac's IV iPhone battery ($80) is still the best of breed and the included LED light comes in handy when camping. I gave the FastMac IV a Best In Show award at Macworld Expo in January 2009.
  • If you're a dual iPhone family and driving long distances, a dual-USB 12-volt USB charger is practically a must -- along with a second 12-volt outlet. The Dual-Port Car Charger (minus dock cables) costs $12 from RichardSolo.
  • I brought 2600mAh Solar Battery Charger (about $24 on eBay) as a backup, but didn't end up using it on this trip.
  • CableJive iStubz ($15 for two) compact dock cables for charging and syncing iPhones and iPods. Pictured in a clear organizer pouch (US$6-10) from Tom Bihn.
  • A 3G card from a reliable provider is critical if you plan to actually get online with your computer. Don't rely on AT&T's craptastic 3G network to be reliable in places in the woods like Manchester -- especially during a festival with 80,000 people at it. My favorite is the Verizon Wireless USB760 Modem ($50 plus 2-yr. agreement of $40 or $60/month) which slaps into my MacBook Pro's USB port and allows me to get online using OS X's built-in driver in the Network Control Panel. Also pictured in a clear organizer pouch (US$6-10) from Tom Bihn.
  • A white Photon Micro-Lite II keychain flashlight ($8 on Amazon) on a lanyard is critical for any outdoor activity after dark. It will help you avoid puddles and stumps and possibly help you find your car keys. It's a no-brainer, get one for everyone in your party.
  • A Nitecore D-10 flashlight ($60 from 4Sevens) is probably my best upgrade from last year. It's 130 lumens and runs off lithium AA batteries which are much cheaper than the CR123 batteries required in other flashlights.

What are your must-have Mac travel accessories?

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