Telecom kit, from mountain rescue to adventure travel
Telecommunications for Travel and Wilderness Medicine One evening last year, when checking into the lodge Dochula Pass, Bhutan, 3150 meters, I was struck by a spectacular clear view of the Himalayas, a cozy fire, and a plate of dhal. One thing stood out on my two-week tour of Bhutan: it was the only night without cell phone and internet service. In this age of telecommunications, in the most remote corners of the globe we stay connected: in remote villages in Haiti; at 5200 meters in Gorak Shep, Nepal; atop 5895-meter-high Mount Kilimanjaro; anywhere above tree line on Mount Hood. I travel a lot so sometimes I have to stay connected. Here are my favorite space- and weight-efficient telecom and electronic devices for expeditions, medical relief projects, and mountain rescue missions.
- Although my Apple iPhone works all over the world, I also carry an inexpensive Samsung phone which accommodates two SIM cards and holds a charge for a two weeks with limited use.
- Asus T100 notebook is my favorite option for using a tablet with a keyboard mostly because it has durable flash memory andit’s inexpensive.
- Coghlan’s Portable Power Pack provides cell and computer power via a battery you can charge via USB plug, a small solar panel or a dynamo (which is a hand crank). Although I still carry backup lithium AA or AAA batteries as backup.
- Suunto watches have long been my pick for adventure travel—I’m love my Vector after 14 years and three factory refurbishes. The new Ambit2 is USB-rechargeable wrist-top GPS with surprising accuracy. For a full size GPS, our team uses Garmin Map62.
The trusty 14-year-old Suunto Vector, atop Kala Pattar, Nepal.
- I love the superbright Gemini Xera 950-lumin headlamp for all-night rescues in foul weather; I use the lightweight 2-cell battery. The tiny featherlight Princeton Tec Vizz uses AAA batteries producing 165 lumens—I carry as backup for rescues and as a primary emergency light for mountain bike and ski backpacks.
- For short callouts with no notice, I may rely on my iPhone for images, but for documenting rescues and training, I use the compact Panasonic DMC-ZS5.
- Radios come ultra compact now—our team still used ICOMs. But check out the Yaesu VX-3R VHF/UHF radio clocking in at 4.6 ounces (although FCC regulations prohibit certain uses and a license is required).
- It’s hard to beat reliable, compact chlorine dioxide purification tablets. But for instant, group water disinfection, the SteriPen worked like a charm on a recent Everest Base Camp Trek.
Quick, easy, battery-operated SteriPen, Denbouche, Nepal.
- Finally, my favorite avalanche beacon is the Mammut Barryvox, although the Backcountry Access Tracker 3 may be my next one.