I have had some people ask how I am going to charge my digital camera and transfer pictures home. Well the fact is you can’t transfer pictures home. I mean really how do you email 32 gigabytes of images off some slow hotels internet connection. With how inexpensive memory cards are these days your best option is to buy enough memory to last the hole trip. If you start running low you can always go online to order a card and have it mailed ahead to a food drop. A 32 gigabyte card is only $43 from Newegg.com. A few 32 gigabyte cards and you should be good for most the trail if not all. Charging camera batteries, yes it is possible but really a battery charger that has a car adapter is $10(off eBay) and weights about 7oz. Add to that a 12 volt solar panel at $150+ and 12-18+oz.. That is $160+ dollars and 19+ ounces! That is a lot of weight and a lot of money. For this trip I purchased a new camera so I would have the ability to film HD movies. So I was starting from scratch, my old camera was a Nikon P90 and I had 12 batteries. So I hopped on eBay and found batteries for my new Canon G12. Not only did I find batteries for $6 with free shipping, they are rated for 1700mAh which is a huge improvement over the 1050mAh battery that comes with the camera. I purchased 17 spare batteries and at $6 a piece that is only $102. Not to mention three batteries only weights 4.5 ounces. 4.5ounces is a lot less then a charger and solar panel and I will have 4 batteries on me. Yes 4, 1 in my camera which I would need if I carried a solar charger anyways and 3 spare. Really if you want to charge batteries by solar you would want 3 or 4 batteries to make sure you had power during long stretches of shade and cloudy days when your batteries would take a lot longer to charge.
So my idea is to ship bubble envelopes that are pre-address and already have postage on them to our food drops to mail my dead batteries home. I will mail one battery in every drop and them mail the dead ones home at the next drop. I will probably start the trail with 3-4 batteries to make sure I do not run out of battery power. I will be mailing them home to my dad who can then charge them and put them in the food drop boxes a month or so ahead of me. This is the best solution for the money I have came up with.
For music we are bringing Sandisk Sansa Clip MP3 players. These wonderful little MP3 players weight in at less then an ounce and at $35 for a 4 gigabytes from Newegg.com they are very inexpensive in case we break one. 4 gigabytes isn’t a hole lot of music so we purchased 16 gigabyte Micro SD cards as the MP3 player has a memory card slot. These cards can be picked up on Newegg.com for $25. 20 Gigabytes of music for $60 weighing less than an ounce is some great entertainment when your feet are killing you.
The major problem with most if not all MP3 players is the fact you can’t change the battery. My way around this is to build a solar USB charger. $5 solar cell from China off eBay and a few little parts soldered together and I will be able to charge my MP3 player in a couple of hours of sunlight. I’m not to worried about going a few days without music so If I have to go a couple of days with out music I’m ok with that. To see hot to make the solar USB charger search for my post about building one.