Camping with your Mac - 2010

Camping with your Mac - 2010

Summary: August is here and that means that it's time for the inevitable - the summer vacation. Here are a few items that can make traveling with your Mac a little more convenient.

TOPICS: Apple, Hardware

August is here and that means that it's time for the inevitable - the summer vacation. If you're like me, you can't go anywhere without your computer and tend to bring it everywhere. In order to do so, you need some accessories to both protect your gear and to help you get where you're going at the same time. Last year I posted a piece about camping with your Mac and this year, I give you the 2010 edition.

People define "camping" many different ways, from driving to a state park with the family and sleeping in a tent (my version) to parking a luxe RV at a posh beachside escape. In my case, bring two small children and my tech requires a certain level of protection.

Normally, I simply slide my MacBook Pro into the sleevecase in my Spire Torq backpack (read my May 2007 review) and I'm done. Camping is different though, especially when you throw children and a small vehicle into the mix. My backpack usually lives behind the passenger seat a) for accessibility and b) because our car is usually packed to the headliner. This wouldn't be a problem except for the fact that my backpack sits directly under my daughter's car seat. A sleevecase simply doesn't provide enough protection for my MBP when it's a mere few inches away from little feet.

Enter the Pelican HardBack 1090CC ($95) a 15-inch, hard shell notebook case that's watertight, crushproof, and dust proof. Pelican has a pedigree of creating extremely rugged cases for industrial applications and this one is like Fort Knox for you MBP.  The anodized aluminum latch and o-ring seal keep everything dry and an ingenious Gore-Tex membrane vent automatically balances pressure if you change altitude. It also features a molded foam liner and memory foam inserts that prevent my MBP from sliding around. The HardBack is so tough that I'm comfortable with my three-year-old standing on it -- with my notebook inside.

Because I'm a gadget junkie I also bring my iPad just about everywhere -- and I need to protect it from the elements when traveling. For it, I like the Otterbox Commuter case ($65) which provides just enough protect without adding too much heft. It's strong enough to protect my iPad from minor trauma without impinging on any of its ports and buttons. Like other Otterbox cases it consists of a silicone skin overlaid with a hard plastic shell, it even comes with a screen film -- but I never got around to installing it. If you need even more protection or use your iPad in industrial applications, check out their more protective Defender case ($90).

Boy Scouts taught me to be prepared and traveling is no exception. In fact, it's a test. Forgetting a key cable or adapter while traveling can leave you up a river without a proverbial paddle. The issue here is that more tech usually means more cables, adapters, dongles and accessories -- it's inevitable. I used to just toss my various adapters into my bag but this makes it impossible to ensure I've got the right adapter (mini DisplayPort anyone?) when I need it. If this sounds like you, get the Cable Stable DLX from Skooba Design ($40). It's a handy zippered binder with a combination of mesh pockets and an elastic hold-down grid to hold all your gear, it's super-convenient and eliminates the "snake pit" of cables that end up cluttering your gear bag.

CampWhere ($5.99, App Store) is a handy little iPhone app that provides information about every type of public campground imaginable, including national parks, national forests, state parks, state forests, state recreation areas and county and city campgrounds. The CampWhere app allows you to search campsites by automatic geo-location or campsite name. Each campground listing contains contact information, geo coordinates, number of sites, current weather and facility and hook-up information. If you're spontaneous and prefer not to reserve campgrounds in advance CampWhere is an indispensable app.

So there you have it. While it's definitely better to go completely "off the grid" when on vacation and/or camping, it can be hard for many people to do. Hopefully a couple of these items can help make your next camping/travel adventure (with your Mac) a little more convenient.

Topics: Apple, Hardware

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  • Go off the grid

    Go off the grid. Play with your children. Who knows you might find going back on the grid difficult.
    • Agreed

      Why do you need all this crap to camp? Kinda defeats the purpose.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • You call that camping?

    I know we all love our computers, but isn't the entire puirpose of 'camping' but to turn all this hi-tech stuff off, and enjoy our natural surroundings, without all the technology? Taking a digital camera along is one thing, but other than for downloading pitcures out of my camera (if I happen to fill up my memory card), I never have wireless service nor any internet connection the places I tend to go, so I can leave the laptop at home, at least for a few days...
    • RE: Camping with your Mac - 2010

      Like you, the primary purpose of taking a net/notebook is to dump cameras. I find that after a week or so of taking and dumping pictures and editing out the losers I need to change the batteries in the camera and in the computer. I can be out for two weeks this way. Right now the batteries are smaller, lighter, and less expensive than a solar charger.
  • RE: Camping with your Mac - 2010

    Leave all that stuff at home. Wake up with the birds. Go to sleep with the crickets.
  • RE: Camping with your Mac - 2010

    Even if you accept that you "have" to take a device camping, which is debatable, why would you have to take both a mac and an iPad? you got serious problems boy.
  • If you are going fishing

    there are cheaper boat anchors.
  • Rephrase the headline...

    I agree with the comment2 above, don't take anything with you. Spend some time with your kids.<br><br>This article should be in general, i.e. anyone WHO NEEDS to travel with equipment. Not about holidays with your family. Bit sad to be honest!!!
    • Yes, but......

      @johno@... you know nothing, really, about Jason and his family. And yet, and yet y'all are quite willing to tell him, moralistically, how to live his life.

      Didja know that you can play scrabble on an iPad at night in a tent? With your family? Or would this activity also meet with your stern disapproval?
      • RE: Camping with your Mac - 2010

        @godsfault "you can play scrabble on an iPad at night in a tent"...?<br>Don't you see the irony of that line....the purpose of camping is to get outside, experience the outdoors! - not sit in a tent and stare at a screen.<br><br>BTW: did you know you can play scrabble on a scrabble board outside in full sunlight without having trouble seeing the pieces. ...or have the board shutdown from overheating... why it even will run for an unlimited time without needing recharging.<br><br>Get real.... there's a place and time for everything, camping is one for non-technical items.
      • Did you also know...

        @godsfault <br><br>That that big analog telescope thing gathering dust in the attic works pretty well at night too? It requires no batteries, and has 1000x the resolution of any comparable app on the iPad. :) <br><br>Seriously, camping is a time to escape civilization. If anything the most tech I would take with me is my Zune, a camera, and a large enough SD card to store all of the pictures I took. I can always sort through them later. Seriously though, Facebook, ZDNet, MacWorld, etc, will be here when you get back. Go enjoy the outdoors the way they were meant to be enjoyed.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • RE: Camping with your Mac - 2010

    Geez, what a bunch of stuckups! If the man wants to take his iPad to pull location information or view satelite maps, who are you to tell him he's wrong?

    I just got back from two weeks across the country, and my iPad was indispensable. Plus, with the 1600+ pictures I took, there isn't a big enough card to hold them all, since I use a D70 shooting RAW format, so I needed my Mac to store them all. I'll spend the next two to three weeks sorting them all, since I spent the last two obtaining them. I sure needed the Mac's storage capacity.

    Every family does it their own way, and who the heck are you to presume to tell anybody how to do it unless they ask?
  • RE: Camping with your Mac - 2010

    I would never go camping with a Mac, they are too flimsy and cant handle knock and drops