On-going roadtrip - gadget related thoughts so far

So, I am currently on a month long roadtrip, going up the east coast of Australia from Melbourne to Cairns in a converted campervan (imagine a Tarago with the back seats removed to put a bed in there). There are two reasons for taking this trip. The first, I haven’t been outside of Melbourne since immigrating to Australia 25 years ago (no, I do not count the airport stop overs to Sydney every time I go on an overseas trip nor the one day business trip to Brisbane two years ago) and the second, most of the gear I am taking with me is what I plan to take with me on a year long, around the world trip.

The gadgets I brought with me:

- laptop (won’t be bringing this for next trip)

- Maha C9000 (won’t be bringing this for next trip)

- 2 * car chargers

- laptop brick powered by a car charger

- normal laptop brick (ie. plugs into a wall)

- USB car charger

- a simple and old point and shoot digital camera, AA powered

  • HTC One S (my phone along with GPS, modem, life line to the outside world)

Let’s just say, my preferred choice of power source was going to be the car’s cigarette lighter for the whole trip.

As for the torch related gear I packed:

- H502c

- H51c

- SC51w

- DQG AA in NW (it’s my keyring torch, so it’s always with me)

  • 16 duraloops/eneloops (packed 8, but was surpised to find another 8 in the laptop bag - didn’t realise they were there)

During the first two hours of the trip, the USB car charger died on me. Why did it fail? Probably because my phone is such a battery sucker when using it as a GPS that the USB car charger simply overheated and crapped itself trying to charge it for two hours straight. I have since been able to power the phone whilst driving due to the fortunate fact that the laptop brick that I brought along with me, also has USB output. Having said that though, constantly using the car chargers did result in one of their fuses blowing out. So, just to make sure that the other one does not conk out on me, I bought some replacement fuses whilst on the road. In all honesty, I was kind of surprised I was able to find something like that in a small town, but that small town also happens to be right next to a mining operation. Again, lucky me.

In regards to torch usage, that’s been minimal at best, until I hit Queensland (two days ago). It’s Spring time here now and in the southern states, it is also daylight savings which means there is usable light even up until 8.30pm. Also, not to mention that most of the caravan parks I stay on are well lit enough that a light isn’t really that needed. However, when I have needed to use a light, the most used light has been the H502c. For close-up tasks when cooking or preparing for bed and late night trips to the loo makes it a perfect light for me. The other lights have seen minimal use and have only been used for comparison sake (ie. if I found them as useful as the H502c).

So, what can I take from this? I definitely should not have soley relied on charging my phone with car chargers. I will be taking along an Xtar WP2 on the next trip along with four 18650 cells. This would also mean I will also take an 18650-based light with me, possibly my Eagletac T20C2 for its throw. My preferred AA charger will be a Duracell CEF23 - it’s the infamous AA/AAA charger that also happens to have a USB port. Both of these chargers can be used to charge my phone should I not have easy access to a power point. Also, this time, I’ll bring a wall charger for my phone.

I would probably still pack 8 duraloops/eneloops with me despite not having to replace any of my batteries yet (it’s only been two and a half weeks into the trip so far and I made sure that all the cells were fully charged before the trip).

As for the torches/headlamps. I’m only willing to let go of the H51c and replace that with an Eagletac T20C2. It’s hard for me to let go of the SC51w when it’s such a small, bright and versatile torch despite not getting much action during this trip. I don’t even think I would use the T20C2 much at all either, but it will be a “just in case” torch and it also seems that I still have plenty of room in my backpack for it. Another contender for an 18650 torch is the Catapult v1, only because it can double up as a club if need be, oh yeah, and it’s a better thrower as well. :slight_smile:

It is always interesting to see how much of what we thought we really needed we didn’t actually need while traveling. I tend to overpack myself.

I hope you really enjoy what seems like a really long overdue trip. If you can, post some pictures. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would like to live vicariously through you. Lets face it, most of use are never going to travel across Australia for a month.

Here’s to hoping that the next week and a half are just as fun as the last two and a half.

Due to friends and family wanting to keep tabs on me, or something like that, throughout the next year, all my experiences are being written on a blog. The address for that is http://rod911.livejournal.com. More walls of text along with pictures to boot.

In preparation for this trip, I was thinking for getting a multi-tool but didn’t in the end. There has been an odd occasion where I have needed something, but I have been able to use either that pair of scissors or nail clipper to fix it.

I believe I should have a multi-tool with me. Any recommendations?

Can’t go wrong with a leatherman wave.

Also, bring duct tape. Never know when you’ll need it to wrap a hose, or whatever else.

Duro’s correct, you can’t go wrong with the Wave or any Leatherman really. Just find the one that has the tools you want and know you made the right decision.

+1, although the Surge is also very good, if a little bigger and heavier. It’s very strong with good sized blades too. It also has a great pair of scissors. If you are traveling only by car, the weight would not be an issue.

Perhaps a small roll kit with dedicated knife, pliers, 6” shifter, a few screwdrivers etc might be a worthwhile consideration. Multi tools are great if you can only have one thing, but a small well thought out and put together tool kit is much better.

I really like to carry an old rabbit trappers tool when camping. It’s great for digging small holes, hammering in tent pegs, and pulling them out. Not very heavy or big to store.

A good hatchet and small folding pruning saw are part of my kit. When I am seriously going bush I carry a small chainsaw and accessories. Not only a great timesaver preparing wood for a fire, it can come in handy clearing fallen timber from bush tracks too.

A decent post hole shovel is very handy too, although in a pinch the trappers tool can do a lot of digging if necessary.

Leathermans are expensive outside the states, not sure about oz, but I get the impression most things are expensive out there. Exduct has the ganzo line of multitools that have been recommended to me before, but personally I would suggest stretching to a leatherman, just lanyard it to your pack/person with a lobster claw and get in the habit of re-attaching it after every use.

Tyingitalltogether on YouTube is a good resource for lanyard knots, be careful though, its addictive….I’ve just bought a rook of different coloured 550 paracord to make some more adventurous lanyards, the ones I’ve made so far have attracted attention and been usefull. I’ve got a simple knot on my van key, ideal for pocket identification/getting hold of it when hands are full and a longish square knot cord on my house keys that terminates in a clip, the clip fits my rucksak I take on expeditions, not much use day to day, but I never risk losing my edc key set when on the bike/out for a hike.

Oh, be sure to keep a post running on here of your trip, even if its only a summary and link to your blog. It’ll help serve as another diary and keep us all in touch with you, even if we’re mainly slightly jealous of your freedom.

I did a Georgia-Wyoming car tent scenic trip in 2011 and am planning Georgia-Oregon in 2013.

Interesting to read others thoughts.

Joel

Looks like I’ll be pulling the trigger on the Wave. EBay has decent prices as some of them are comparable to Amazon pricing. Therefore, is it safe to buy a genuine Leathetman from eBay?

Got home today from said road trip and what did I find waiting, but my new Leatherman Wave. I honestly thought it’d be bigger, but it’s just about the right size for me.

I’d need to unpack and eat dinner.

Thanks for the suggestions gents. I will definitely also continue to update my blog as I ready for the world trip, so keep on visiting my blog for updates.