Wondering what to pick up your outdoorsy tech savvy sweetheart for Valentine's Day, something beyond, or besides, dark chocolate truffles dusted with sea salt and red roses? Tech Talk researched around Taos for a few gifts ideas sure to make February 14 a memorable day for you and your outdoorswoman (or -man).
Goiyo Perez at Mud N Flood Mountain Shop, 103 Bent Street, said he recommended the SPOT Satellite Messenger. "This is a wonderful gift for the wilderness hiker," he said. It is a small handheld device that has a global positioning system chip that can figure out where you are and transmit that data to communication satellites around the world. You can customize how your location and messages are delivered, and an emergency notification protocol to a rescue coordination center should you need help. SPOT also features a two-way communication technology so you can reply to or send a message from anywhere in the world.
Jason Murtha at Taos Mountain Outfitters, 113 North Plaza, said a gift for anyone who skis and hikes in the backcountry is the Pieps DSP Sport Avalanche Beacon. It is a lightweight device, simple to operate, and features three antennas to pinpoint search accuracy and a smart transmitter to aid in fast recovery. Murtha said the device has a comfortable harness style carrying pouch and easy access for fast removal in an emergency.
If you're searching for a bright light so your sweetheart can find their way in the dark in any situation, Petzl makes a headlamp that can light up the forest trail, and instantly adjusts brightness to read a map. With 750 lumens of power, the Petzl NAO + allows the user to create custom lighting profiles, consult their smart device to track in real time the remaining battery life and then adjust the headlamp performance to conserve remaining power. You can special order this headlamp from both Mudd N Flood Mountain Shop and Taos Mountain Outfitters.
The Taos News hiking columnist, and author of the "Taos Hiking Guide," Cindy Brown said she'd "love to have a new lightweight handheld system or watch. I have some great GPS apps on my phone but they really run the battery down." Brown added she'd "also like to have a solar charger for the phone and or GPS."
Tech Talk suggests the Finnish-made Suunto Traverse sport watch. It is a GPS outdoor watch with navigation functions for hiking, a battery life of up to 100 hours and handy features like sunset/sunrise times and a storm alarm. It weighs 80 grams and features a real-time "breadcrumb view" of your hike, helpful if you left your copy of "Taos Hiking Guide" in the car, with the compass. There is also a route-planning feature available on the Suunto Movescount website with topographic maps. You can find the Traverse sport watch online at the Suunto website, suunto.com/en-us.
For a lightweight handheld system the Garmin Oregon 650t could be the ticket. It features U.S. topographic data, and a worldwide base map and map detail that include national, state and local parks and forests with terrain contours, elevation information, trails, rivers, lakes and points of interest. It is available on the Garmin website, garmin.com/en-US, and on Amazon.
A simple backpacking solar charger that can hang from your pack to charge is the Jetsun 16750mAh Portable Solar Power Bank. It features a waterproof solar-power panel and dual USB ports that can easily power two devices. You'll want to leave the house with the device charged from an outlet, as relying on the bank's solar charging capabilities while hiking in shaded areas or overcast conditions is not recommended, and it takes time to charge in full sun. The Jetsun is available on Amazon.
There are many tech devices on the market now to enhance your outdoor experience. We'll be testing some of them after the snow thaws and the rivers run in the spring. Let us know if there is something you think needs to be on the Tech Talk radar and we'll check it out. Happy Valentine's Day, Taos!