One of the challenges of being ”off the grid” so to speak, is that we depend so much on technology to do our day-to-day things. For instance, I depend on power sources to keep everyone informed of my progress for the duration of this trek. I could certainly have waited until I got home to do all of this. But for those people who were interested in seeing what I was up to in a semi-real-time basis, this wasn’t really the best option.
For this particular project, I needed enough reserve power to do the following for eight (8!) consecutive and uninterrupted days:
- iPhone for capturing photos and videos
- Apple Watch for tracking GPS progress
- iPad mini with Keyboard for blogging
I purchased a ChargeASAP Flash Pro Plus for the purposes of this trip. It had most of all the capabilities that I desired: 25,000 mAh and it charged all three devices. The biggest downside was the weight. It’s 1.5lbs and because it uses lithium-ion technology it cannot be put into checked luggage on any airline. It went into carry-on luggage (which was preciously scarce since I also needed to say Mass).
Unfortunately, on the first charging of the Apple Watch it went from 100% to 92%. For something that takes 296 mAh, it should have gone from 100% to 98.9%. Uh-oh! I should be able to charge my phone ten times. At this rate, I would be able to charge just my phone once. That’s not going to work.
From my Boy Scout trips I had a small solar panel with a battery pack that could charge my phone every night. Unfortunately, even though we are in the ”dry” season it has been anything but that. Solar panels require sun and I’ve been able to charge the battery pack to about 30%. That’s not going to work for more than a day or two. In the middle of nowhere you just don’t have options. I’m just going to have to beg, borrow, (and not steal).
Fortunately, one of the trekkers brought a folding solar panel that appeared to be able to power a small microwave (not really). I was able to ”plug into” the panel and charge the iPad Mini in just about an hour. That’s remarkable. However, like the problem I was having, he was having as well. Plus, he needed to charge a battery that powered a CPAP machine. This was the whole reason he brought it. So, I wasn’t able to shave off much time from him.
Lastly, one of the trekkers brought two battery packs that were backups for him to be able to read eBooks on his phone. But he wasn’t really doing much reading. So, he just gave me access to the battery backs.
Coupled with the trickle charge I got each day from my own solar panel I was able to make it out of Kilimanjaro with no problems. This didn’t mean that I wasn’t sweating it. I will have to have some better ”plan-Bs” in the future. Clearly, if I hadn’t had these options I would not have been able to take photos beyond the first couple of days. That would have been sad for me.