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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Gadget Bag: Safety First

With some lightweight gear that fits into your camera bag, you’ll be prepared to handle most of the small mishaps that can happen in the field

Labels: GearGadget Bag

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The difference between an annoyance and an emergency in the field often comes down to having the appropriate gear and a little know-how to handle the situation. Sometimes a Band-Aid® on a blistered heel is all that’s necessary to make the world right, but at other times, more serious situations require immediate and undistracted attention. Preparedness falls into the interrelated categories of first-aid, communication, navigation and protection. Most of us venture onto the trails for a day of shooting, and here we address some of the items that should be in your bag for that kind of limited adventure. All of the gear in this article takes up very little space and a lot of it is useful for more than emergencies. In short, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have these things in your bag every time you head out to shoot.

REI Hiker’s First Aid Kit
The REI Hiker’s First Aid Kit is a fold-up, four-panel kit featuring 11 pockets for easy access to provisions. It features a zippered nylon case, a first-aid manual that you should read before leaving home and an assortment of remedies for wounds, scrapes, sprains, bug bites, etc., that will accommodate the great majority of mishaps a solo trekker might encounter. It doesn’t take up much room, and you’ll be happy to have it, should you need it. Estimated Street Price: $20.

SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger
The SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger is a favorite in the OP editorial offices. Using 100% satellite technology, SPOT works practically anywhere in the world, including the all-too-common silent areas where cell phones don’t. Press the SOS button to signal a life-threatening or other critical event and thereby notify emergency services of your GPS location and that you need immediate assistance. Once activated, SPOT will acquire its exact coordinates from the GPS network and send that location along with a distress message to the GEOS International Emergency Response Center every five minutes until cancelled or until the batteries are exhausted. In the event of a serious, but not life-threatening emergency, press SPOT’s Help button to notify your personal contacts that you need assistance, but aren’t in mortal danger. The Check-In/OK function allows you to let everyone on your contact list know that “all is well” by sending a preprogrammed message along with your GPS location. Similarly, the Custom Message feature sends your contact list a specific customized message. Finally, the Track Progress feature allows you to send and save your location, and allows contacts to track your progress in near-real-time using Google Maps. Put it all together, and it’s so much more than an emergency device—it’s a full-time communications tool that enables you to stay in touch and inform your friends and family of your status and exact location. Estimated Street Price: $150.

Garmin Rino 110
The Garmin Rino 110 combines a 12-parallel-channel GPS with a 22-channel two-way GMRS/FRS radio so you can stay in touch with other members of your hiking group—and determine your exact location within 10 feet. This compact, 100% waterproof unit allows peer-to-peer positioning within a two-mile range. Using Rino’s unique Position Reporting feature, you can send your exact location to other Rino users in your group, so they can see your precise location on their map page. The Rino 110 holds up to 500 waypoints and 20 reversible routes. It also features a built-in trip computer with speed tracking, sunrise/sunset readout, trip timer and trip distance calculator. Upgrade to a Garmin Rino 130 ($350) and add a barometric altimeter, built-in electronic compass and weather radio that scans for the nearest NOAA weather radio station. Estimated Street Price: $160.

DeLorme Earthmate PN-60
DeLorme’s new Earthmate PN-60 GPS features a fast dual-core processor, a three-axis electronic compass, barometric altimeter and elevation profiles. It displays your position in an elevation-profile view so you can accurately judge the difficulty of the terrain before you. Plus, it provides an intuitive icon-based user interface for easy one-device navigation, and can store 1,000 routes and 20,000 waypoints in its 3.5 GB of internal flash memory. The PN-60 uses a unique system to predict GPS satellite positions for near-instantaneous acquisition, and the WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System)-enabled processor is accurate to within three meters. Included maps display complete detailed U.S. and Canadian topographic and street maps, detailed vector-based maps created from the USGS topographic data and the latest DeLorme U.S. street and trail network (including bodies of water, wetlands, forests, mountains, glaciers, grasslands, rock, etc.). Estimated Street Price: $380. Compasses are cool, even if you never leave home.

Let A Friend Know Where You’ll Be
Always let people know where you’re going and when you plan to return. Simple as it seems, sharing your plans could save your life. If you know the GPS coordinates of your destination and waypoints, so much the better. Precede every extended trek by informing a reliable friend about your destination, route and return date.


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