Tech is trending for outdoor activity - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Tech is trending for outdoor activity

CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - Summer is coming, and as school lets out and you venture outdoors there's a host of new apps and gadgets to choose from designed to enhance your experience.

When web designer Andy Wright heads out for a paddle or hike, he doesn't unplug entirely.

"A lot of the apps and technology that I use are things that make things a little easier when I'm away from everything else, but hopefully not too easy," Wright said.

Andy isn't alone. According to outdoor industry association (OIA) research, 70% of consumers use technology for outdoor activity.

"They want to be more comfortable outdoors," Christie Hickman with OIA said. "Others want it to be more social and have the ability to share those experiences with others. For some it's about tracking their performance, and others it's just really about enhancing their overall experience."

And companies are responding to consumers with gadgets like special housings for smartphones to turn them into underwater cameras and even an electric skateboard that can hit speeds of 22-miles per hour.

"This summer we're seeing trends that merge technology in the outdoors," GearJukie.com Editor in Chief Stephen Regenold said. "Things like LED lighting built into tents, drones, different functions with cameras from GoPro and Garmin, and a whole assortment of items that link to your phone."

Apps can also turn your smartphone into a guide. The Salomon City Trail app helps you find the best trails in cities you visit. Roots Rated has information on different outdoor experiences across the country.

"Even the national park system has apps out that help people, visitors to the parks, enjoy their experiences," Hickman said. "For instance, Yellowstone has an app that predicts when the geysers will go off."

As more people are putting tech in their packs, there is no shortage of products promising access to voltage from solar panels to battery packs and even a new take on the old hand crank.

"The CrankCase is an innovative iPhone case with simply a crank on back, so if you run out of battery you twist the crank and power your phone back up," Regenold said.

But Regenold points out it's important to not rely entirely on tech tools. "There are drawbacks to bringing technology into the wilderness: your GPS can run out of batteries, your app might crash and then you could be lost, so knowing traditional techniques, map and compass and general wilderness best practices is always a must before you head outside."

Regenold notes that even though tech is trending, there is also big trend towards artisinal, made in the usa, handmade goods, everything from knives to clothing to backpacks. He calls it the Etsy generation in the outdoors.

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