Webcitytravel.com posted an article on their blog about flashpacking – basically backpacking with money and tech toys. Flashpacking doesn’t typically refer to the outdoor type of backpacking – more of the “touring-Europe-and-staying-in-hostels” style of “backpacking” but it’s an interesting idea for outdoor enthusiasts nonetheless. It got me thinking about the concept in terms of flash-hiking and how it’s becoming more and more common (minus the money part of course – what good is money in the great outdoors?).

So what makes a hiker a flash-hiker? It’s really all about the gadgets you bring with you on the trail and probably the most common electronic item you’ll find people using on the trail is a digital camera. Bringing along a digital camera on your hikes is a great idea because you never know what you’ll encounter and these days they’re making cameras smaller and more compact meaning they won’t weigh you down on the trail. I always make room for a camera on day hikes and especially multi-day backpacking trips so I can share trail photos with friends and online here at tripleblaze.com.

The second item most flash-hikers rarely leave home without is a GPS unit of some sort. A GPS unit can keep you on the right path when hiking but honestly for me it’s also about entertainment (I’m a real data geek at heart). Bringing a GPS along for the hike is also a great way to document your trip and when paired with your digital camera you can do some interesting things with geo-tagged photos when you get home to your computer. Marking landmarks and finds along the trail with GPS waypoints is the digital equivalent of staking your country’s flag at the North Pole.

Some flash-hikers might choose to bring along other electronics like MP3 players or – *gasp* – portable DVD players but old school hikers will argue these items are antithetical to the natural experience. In many ways I have to agree – being outdoors is about immersing ourselves in the sights and sounds around us and an MP3 player or video device blocks our senses. Teenagers may disagree and it seems like the younger generation has truly mastered multi-tasking such that they probably can pay attention to birds singing AND John Mayer singing at the same time.

The next time you head out the door for a hike, consider packing the digital camera and a GPS unit to help document your adventure. Then head back here to tripleblaze.com and share your trails with the world!

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