JMT Trip Planning: Electronics

So, about 2 weeks ago I locked down the permits for our summer 2018 JMT hike. We will be heading northbound (NOBO) out of Horseshoe Meadows via the Cottonwood Lakes trail, and taking the better part of a month to make our way down to Yosemite (woohoo!) If anyone reading this knows me, you know I like to take pictures and shoot video… in which I talk… a lot! Considering how epic this trip is going to be, I need to make sure that I have plenty of juice to keep my gadgets going so that I can accomplish this… So in this installment of my JMT planning series, I will talk about the electronics I plan to carry, and how I plan to keep them going…

The video above does a good job going over these things, but I’ll recap them here too.

I thought long and hard about how to shoot my videos and take photo’s while on this adventure. What I settled on was simply updating my iPhone, and then just using that. I decided to go with the iPhone 8+ model simply because it had the best camera set-up of the bunch (excluding the iPhone X, which really only offered OIS on the second lens, as well as a slightly improved front facing camera… but at several hundred dollars more.) Given both, my level of experience and the advancements in phone camera’s, I felt this was the best option for me. Not only will the phone take videos and photos, but I have also downloaded several PDF’s with information for this hike, as well as a slew of apps, including Guthook’s JMT Guide and Gaia GPS, then of course a few movies, a few thousand songs, and get this… I can even call and text on the thing too! Score! To do all of this effectively, I opted for the 256GB model, which I believe will be enough room…

Not exactly “electronic-y,” but I am also carrying an Ultrapod Lightweight Tripod, and a WizGear Cell Phone Tripod adapter to help get some great shots while I’m out there too…

Besides my iPhone 8+, I will also be using my Suunto Ambit3 Peak watch (review forthcoming), both of which will require constant power while on the trail. My watch came with a charging cord that I will need to carry, and I have also picked up a USB cable with both, a micro USB and a(n attached) lightning adapter on the opposite end. The micro USB cable will connect to and charge my battery pack while the lightning adapter will charge my iPhone.

To keep these items charged, I decided to use an Anker PowerCore 13,000 mAh battery pack. This battery pack should allow me to get about 4 complete charges on my iPhone 8+ before being drained… and well that’s not quite enough. The first opportunity  we will get to recharge our batteries will be about 10 days in at MTR, so I will also be carrying the Suntactics SCharger-5 solar panel. Being that we will be heading NOBO, the sun will usually be at our back (not in our eyes!), which will allow us a good opportunity to hang the solar panel from the back, or top of our pack, and collect enough rays to hopefully keep the battery pack topped off.

In order to do this, I will make use of the (dreaded) hydration port that is on my Zpacks Arc Haul backpack. I will attach the solar panel outside my pack and feed the cord through the hydration port on my pack to the battery pack, safely tucked away inside from the glaring sun or the pouring rain! (As seen in the photo below.)

These are the things that will keep my batteries going, but there are a few other electronic items worth mentioning too…

I will be relying on my trusty ZebraLight H51 to light my way to the top of Mt Whitney to catch a sunrise, and I will be saving a few puffs of air by using the Thermarest NeoAir Mini Pump to blow up our air pads. Besides this, my son will also be carrying an Anker PowerCore 10,000 mAh battery pack, along with a shorter 6″ USB to micro USB/Lightning cable, however, he will also be carrying an Anker PowerPort2 w/ Dual charging ports so that we can both top off at a power strip (on a single outlet) if need be.

And that’s about it. After much consideration, I feel like this is the best set-up for me to carry to accomplish what I want to accomplish. Of course though, only time will tell… so in time you can bet I will report back on how these items worked out for me. Until then though, thanks for stopping by!

~Stick~

Disclaimer: The items listed above were paid for by me, either at full price, or if lucky, on sale. I am not affiliated with any of the specific companies listed above, however, the Amazon links are linked to my affiliate page, and if you buy something when using those links I could get a little money from that transaction. The statements above are of my own opinion.

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
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12 Responses to JMT Trip Planning: Electronics

  1. Bob (slbear) says:

    Hi Stick,
    I just looked at some solar panels and was starting to do the math after watching a video recently by Neemor on battery packs. I’m planning a 11 day trek to Philmont this summer with supposedly no chance to recharge via AC. I noticed (maybe Instagram) that your son is now going to take a 15W Anker panel. I’ll be curious if you have some comparisons on how quick the Suntactics and Anker charge a standard USB battery pack. The Suntactics has a max of 1.2A and the Anker 2.1A, but like with the wall chargers, unless their technologies are compatible it could be stuck on the standard 1.0A charge rate. The larger panel might be more likely to get up to 1A, but if it won’t go above 1A I would not want to carry the extra weight.

    Thanks for your blog and videos.
    Bob (slbear)

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    • Stick says:

      Bob,

      I do have a small meter that I picked up to put inline and measure the output of the solar panels. I haven’t really used it much though… I can say that I have easily seen 1A with the Suntactics on a mostly clear day and the sun was high (about noon), and this was hear at my home in northeast Mississippi. From what I hear, these solar panels will work even better at higher elevations, so at this point, I feel confident that the Suntactics solar panel will perform as advertised.

      And yes, I also picked up the 15W Anker panel for my son to use… it is twice the weight, but was also half the price (and he wasn’t paying for it…lol!) However, it is basically (listed as) twice as powerful as the Suntactics solar panel… I took it outside with the meter the day it came in, however, it was later in the day (almost 5 pm) and again, a mostly clear sky, and it did get over 1A… I can’t recall exactly how much more, but that it was definitely over 1A.

      So, assuming that receiving technologies are able to recieve more than 1A in, then the Anker panel will charge faster than the Suntactics panel. Saying that, our Anker battery packs can recive up to 2A input, which is what our panels will be charging during the day.

      Anyway, it is supposed to rain all weekend here, but next time it is sunny out I will go out and see if I can get a more specific number for you… Until then, hope this helps some!

      ~Stick~

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    • Bob S (slbear) says:

      Thanks Stick,

      I need to get a USB meter and start testing, so that if I get a panel more than 5W that it will push that current to the battery pack that I choose.

      Thanks for blogging about this. I enjoy you posts and hope to also do the JMT soon.

      Bob

      Like

    • Stick says:

      Thanks for stopping by Bob, and glad to hear that you enjoyed the info! And good look with your own future JMT hike! 🙂

      ~Stick~

      Like

  2. Pingback: JMT Summer 2018 Permits & Plans | Stick's Blog

  3. SparkyHikes says:

    Hope you have a great time! Always liked the detail you go into. Did you do the math on the solar panel versus just carrying a second or bigger USB battery? Conversely, if the panel works well then why not carry a 6000 battery instead if 13000? I’ve only seen solar panels as being useful for long trips between charging opportunities not just 10 days.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Sparky,

      Glad you enjoyed the post… I like to talk! 🙂

      And absolutely, I did the math. My set up, even with the 13,000 mAh battery, weighs less than a 26,800 mAh battery set-up. For reference, the 26,800 battery weighs 17.2 oz on it’s own. For the fastest charge (6+ hours) it would require 2 cords, and a wall plug that will accept 2 plugs. This would put the total set-up weight to right at 22 oz. My set up (solar panel, 13,000 mAh battery and charging cord) comes in at 16.6 oz. So there is a 5.5 oz weight difference… To be fair, I would be fine to eat this difference in lieu of a larger battery pack only, however, the problem there is that the 26,800 mAh battery still wouldn’t get me but about 7 days in… I won’t be at MTR and able to recharge the battery pack until my 10th night in, so I would be a few days short. I could throw in another battery, but then the weight goes up exponentially, plus I would need access to more than one plug/outlet (or carry a bigger, heavier, more expensive multiple wall plug) and this is where it gets a little crazy to me…

      As for carrying a smaller battery to use with my solar panel, I did think about that, but that was before I upgraded my iPhone. My old iPhone 6s had a smaller battery by about 1,000 mAh. My 8+ has almost a 3,000 mAh battery though! I haven’t tried it out yet, but I am thinking that I will get 3 – 4 charges at most with the 13,000 mAh battery pack… Considering this, if we have a couple of rainy, cloudy days the slightly larger battery pack will give me a little room for buffer. A smaller battery pack won’t give that to me.

      Also, for the record, we will be on the trail 20 days, so quite a bit longer than just 10 days.

      Hope this clears things up!

      ~Stick~

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    • SparkyHikes says:

      Lol I knew you’d have run the numbers so was curious to know… curiosity satisfied! I’ll be going through in June as I’m doing the PCT. All the best to you.

      Like

    • Stick says:

      That’s awesome… I won’t be all that far behind you! Good luck on your PCT hike.

      ~Stick~

      Like

    • Stick says:

      Sparky,

      Enjoy your hike… and it sounds like it is unlikely, but maybe we will meet on the trail! Thanks for stopping by!

      ~Stick~

      Like

  4. Very nice brother. It’s good to prepare early. It will be here before we know it.

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