Technology You Need in the Himalayas (and Some You Don’t)
It can be the hardest part of packing for an adventurous trip: deciding which items of technology to bring. Will you have time to read? Is an e-reader best, or an actual book? What if you lose your phone? Should you have a back-up camera? Will there be Wi-fi? If so, should you bring your laptop? How will you update Instagram daily while you’re on top of a mountain?! The Himalayan region can be a bit of a challenge for people who love their technology. But it’s also a great place to embrace several days without a connection to the outside world – as long as you have your necessities, that is.
Here are some points to consider before tossing all the tech you own into your backpack.
Think about your charger
Your phone isn’t going to hold its charge as long as it does at home. For one, you’ll be taking loads of pictures. (If you want the best possible viewer experience, you’ll be taking 360 shots). The cold is also going to affect your phone.
Most treks offer places to charge at teahouses, though you will need to pay a small fee of 100 to 200 rupees to plug in in many places. Make sure to put your phone in battery saving mode and try to bring a back-up battery. Since some teahouses experience lots of power outages, don’t count on charging every night.
An adapter plug
Different hotels and teahouses can accommodate different plug types. I brought three kinds of converters and found that my regular standard American charger worked in some outlets, while none of the chargers worked in others. Bring the lightest universal charger you can find. It is best to find one without removable pieces, as these are easily lost. Something along the lines of the Pors-Ela International Travel Power Adapter is a good choice.
Bring a GoPro. They’re great for taking time-lapse and action shots. They’re even better if you can attach it to your hat or set it on a tripod.
Don’t rely on the Wi-Fi
There is a surprising amount of Wi-fi available along many trekking routes in Nepal, and often it’s in the places you’d least expect it. Still, realize that the connection may be very slow and it may cut in and out. Appreciate the Wi-fi when you have it, but don’t rely on it or plan to do important things (like Skype interviews!) until you’re back in the city.
Bring a light, portable speaker that you can attach to your pack when hiking. Music can keep you motivated through the tough parts. Earbuds are not recommended as you need to be able to listen for porters trying to get around you, as well as donkeys that will happily shove you aside if you aren’t paying attention. This can be dangerous on narrow paths. A speaker will keep you moving safely. In Nepal, don’t worry about disrupting your fellow trekkers: many porters blast music too!
It’s worth investing in a phone with a great camera that is also waterproof, or getting a waterproof case for your existing phone/camera. This is especially important if you use your phone as your primary camera. Your phone is likely to get wet, either because you get caught in a monsoon shower or if it falls in the snow or mud.
Aside from your boots, your camera is the most important thing you’ll bring on your trek. If you want to pack lots of technology, make it camera-related. You’ll be taking pictures in arguably the most beautiful region in the world, so will want to get the best possible shots.
Things to leave at home
Don’t bother toting a laptop or tablet. They’re cumbersome, too heavy, and will get jostled around a lot. If you’re worried about entertainment, bring a book, then trade it for another at a teahouse when you’re finished. Most have bookshelves in common areas. It may sound like a good idea to bring your Kindle, but at the end of the day you’ll be so tired that you may be surprised by how little you read. A book and a deck of cards will ensure you have entertainment and automatic friends.
Enjoy the company of other hikers, relish the solitude, and don’t sweat trying to check in with your friends every night. Just let them know to expect sporadic contact and amazing pictures when you return.
Article by Dani Bailey.
Top image: Chris Hobcroft/Flickr