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  1. #1
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    Default Any writers on the trail?

    I'm planning a NOBO thru-hike starting in March 2011. I'm a writer, and I can't go 6 months without being able to write; solitude usually produces the only decent drabble I ever come up with. I'm pretty obsessed with my upcoming thru-hike, so I'm been spending weeks trying to figure out how I can lug some kind of word processor (that's light and has a workable battery life) with me. I'm also trying to find some kind of portable charger (solar powered or something) so I can keep feeding my theortical machine some juice. Does anyone have expereince or wisdom that they wouldn't mind imparting on me with regard to this issue? Anything to recommend? Journals are not good - I need to go back and see my work, and I can't haul a hundred filled notebooks with me (I'm 5 feet tall and already busting my but to shave as many ounces as I can.) Please help!
    Thank you very much in advance - I'm so pleased to have found this community!

  2. #2
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    A PDA with a portable keyboard could work and you could get a solar charger that weighs under 6oz.

    http://www.rei.com/product/800146
    Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.
    -Edward Abbey

  3. #3
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    I think solar charging will get there but still is at a stage where you really need to do some research and testing to ensure it is going to get the job done. First step is obviously using devices that draw less current, and there have been lots of improvement on that end. For effective solar charging at a light weight, I would look for something really thin and flexible, like a placemat, and have it on the top or back of you pack when hiking. Are we there yet? i don't know. Still alot of crap on the market.

    As keyboards go, how light are they? What PDAs work with them? Cool idea.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cobrastryke View Post
    ........ I can't haul a hundred filled notebooks with me .........

    That's what bounce boxes are for.

  5. #5
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    You can get PDA keyboards that weight less than 6 ounces. Some PDAs have word processors on them and I think you can even put books on them.
    Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.
    -Edward Abbey

  6. #6
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    Exclamation Writers

    I thought everyone on the trail are writers!

  7. #7
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    Default

    How about a pen and a little notebook?

  8. #8
    Registered User Hikes in Rain's Avatar
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    The old analog word processor. I use that one, too. Hardly ever fails, and it can take a lot of abuse in the pack and still function fine.

  9. #9
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    Some good information on solar recharging here:
    http://www.brunton.com/catalog2.php?subcat=500

    You can drill down and find alot of technical information.
    Solar panels seem to weigh in at 10 oz per 10 watts of output.
    Replacing batteries in town might still be lighter, but maybe not cheaper.
    Not sure. Solar power is expensive, but so are batteries.

    Those PDA keyboards are way cooler. Run on 1 AAA.
    It would be way cooler if your typing could recharged a AA.

  10. #10
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    Default Would you be able to use a Kindle?

    Would you be able to use a Kindle? The latest version weighs 8.2 oz and lasts a month on a single charge. The charger is a micro USB cable 1.8 oz, which might be the same as your cell phone, so it would serve double-duty. The keyboard would be a compromise but maybe it would be adequate? Of course an additional benefit is that you can bring 3,000 books with you. You can download the entire Thru Hikers Companion which weighs 11.6 oz, so it is worth using a Kindle just on that basis.

  11. #11
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    I'm a published fiction writer. But all I do is journal while I am hiking. That's about all I have time for, esp when it comes to big mile days these days. Eat, sleep, hike.







    Hiking Blog
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    Shenandoah NP Ridgerunner, Author, Speaker


  12. #12

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    In addition to the brunton I've found these: http://www.powerfilmsolar.com/rollab...e-products.php
    (waterproof rollable solar panels)

    Not sure about weight though. There is weight listed on amazon, but oddly the longest is listed at .6 lbs and the shortest at 1.8 lbs...

    Solar tech seems to be making leaps and bounds of late, anyone know of anything else like this? I'm very interested in using my android with a mini keyboard to write with, and of course it'd function as a mp3 player. Battery life isn't spectacular, but a solar panel weighing less than 10 oz would be worth it to me.

  13. #13
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    If your NOBO thru-hike is on the AT, then I suggest that you not worry too much about battery power, other than taking one or at most two extra batteries for your device. Just recharge when in town, that was all I ever needed on the AT, and I write a relatively long journal entry every day on the trail. I liked a solar charger on the PCT, at least in California, and I'm waffling on using one on the CDT, but for the AT --- no way, and not just because options to recharge are more prevalent, but also because there's less clear view of the sky on the AT, I think a solar charger wouldn't deliver enough power to be worth the hassle, weight, and cost of such a unit.

    Rather than a PDA, you might consider a smartphone; that's what I do, and with some caveats it's worked well. More (of my) thoughts on this topic are here.

    +1 on the folding keyboard, a bluetooth keyboard with a couple of AAA batteries isn't too heavy, mine has held up very well, and it makes it so much better (for me at least) to type up entries of reasonable (some might say unreasonable :-)) length onto a device that I would already be carrying anyway.
    Gadget
    PCT: 2008 NOBO, AT: 2010 NOBO, CDT: 2011 SOBO, PNT: 2014+2016

  14. #14
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    Default too modest, Blissful

    [QUOTE=Blissful;1051302]I'm a published fiction writer. But all I do is journal while I am hiking. That's about all I have time for, esp when it comes to big mile days these days. Eat, sleep, hike.[/QUOTE

    I know you'll be busy with those novels once you get back. You are way too modest...

  15. #15
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    I saw a charger in some geek magazine where you could strap it to your wrist and keep a handheld video game going. Not sure if it could generate power for anything else but your wrist will be going up and down quite a bit all day long. Might be worth looking into.
    Pain is a by-product of a good time.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by fredmugs View Post
    I saw a charger in some geek magazine where you could strap it to your wrist and keep a handheld video game going. Not sure if it could generate power for anything else but your wrist will be going up and down quite a bit all day long. Might be worth looking into.
    Now thats a good idea.
    Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.
    -Edward Abbey

  17. #17
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    Start with two small notebooks.When one fills mail it home, start on the other and buy a replacement backup. Repeat as needed.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  18. #18

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    Anyone here know Pat Conroy? ("The Water is Wide," "The Lords of Discipline," "The Great Santini," "The Prince of Tides," "Beach Music," and the latest - "South of Broad.") He's a writer. . . he literally writes every single thing he's ever written the old fashioned way. . . he writes with pen and paper, in longhand, every day. He's written some of the most beautiful fiction ever published, and they are whopper books too, by the way.

    If you take a notebook you can also make small illustrations (who really cares if you're not an "artist" - they are for you, aren't they?), write as much or as little as you feel like doing and do it whenever you want to, never worry about low batteries, and then, when that notebook is "done" mail it home and start a new one.

    Try it - you may find that you like it. Lots of people did it a long, long time ago.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cobrastryke View Post
    I'm planning a NOBO thru-hike starting in March 2011. I'm a writer, and I can't go 6 months without being able to write; solitude usually produces the only decent drabble I ever come up with. I'm pretty obsessed with my upcoming thru-hike, so I'm been spending weeks trying to figure out how I can lug some kind of word processor (that's light and has a workable battery life) with me. I'm also trying to find some kind of portable charger (solar powered or something) so I can keep feeding my theortical machine some juice. Does anyone have expereince or wisdom that they wouldn't mind imparting on me with regard to this issue? Anything to recommend? Journals are not good - I need to go back and see my work, and I can't haul a hundred filled notebooks with me (I'm 5 feet tall and already busting my but to shave as many ounces as I can.) Please help!
    Thank you very much in advance - I'm so pleased to have found this community!
    Here are some links to some stories I have published on here.......
    http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?t=9180
    http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?t=9042
    http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?t=9039

  20. #20
    Trail name (and nickname since I was about 2): Chopper
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    I've got to second (or third, or fourth?) the idea of writing long-hand. I can't really compose on a smart phone or a PDA; when I was with a newspaper, I couldn't really do more than about two or three inches on my phone, and then only in dire emergencies. I think you'd have to be bizarrely prolific to fill up notebooks faster than you could mail-drop them and buy your next one, and I have yet to have one run out of battery life.

    As far as chargers go, I've tried them and haven't have great success. As someone else said, you get so little "pure light" on the AT, and all of the published charging times will be based on "bright sunlight," which they take to also mean unobstructed sunlight. If you're going to get one, I suggest (no, I don't work for them) getting an REI membership, simply for the "no questions" returns policy. I've gotten two different chargers from them, and neither one did what I needed it to do. They took both back, with no questions asked. So you might want to take one out for a few days or a week, and if it doesn't work, return it.

    I hope solar will get to where we need it to get (and I also hope that people can finally develop a new battery paradigm sometime soon, but that's another tech tangent), but IMHO, it's not there now. So, go a little old school and grab a notebook and a few pens. You might be impressed by how easy it is to get your thoughts down longhand.

    And Re: Conroy. Great writer, great guy. Messed up life, but he is as nice, kind and genteel as anyone you'd ever care to meet. New book coming out this week or next, I believe.

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