Sunday, 24 February 2013

Bibbulmun Track Kit: An Outback Office

Another week laid low with some pesky chest complaint left me with the opportunity to put together this little piece exploring how I’ll be blogging on the Bibbulmun Track and keeping everyone back home up to date on my progress.

Google Nexus 7

For a while, it seemed as if I was searching for a mythical device; All I was seeking was something light and portable that could perform all the tasks I required for blogging whilst on the Bibbulmun Track; essentially, uploading pictures to Picasa, and using blogger when in range of Wi-Fi. Enter the Nexus 7!
The merits of this tablet as a tool for backpacking, with its GPS signal, have been blogged about by many, including this post from Chris Townsend; "Nexus 7 Tablet for Outdoors" so I’m not going to repeat what has been said eloquently already. Realistically, as I'll be away from a power source for a number of days, using it in the field would be limited so I'll be restricting use for when I hit the towns. What, for me, really brings it into another dimension is the next item.

IVSO® Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard Case For Google Nexus 7 Tablet

For posting to my blog, the official Blogger app is such a disappointment I have to use the blogger website (come on Google, get your act together!).  My first concern was typing on the touch screen keyboard, that pops up on the Nexus’s 7 inch screen, leaving scant space to view what you are actually typing! I have been saved by this wonderful Bluetooth keyboard!

This little beauty has literally revolutionised using this tablet!
An added bonus is that the keyboard is quite robust, and doubles up as an excellent protective cover! This can be purchased at Amazon.

Micro USB Host Mode On The Go OTG Cable for Nexus 7

The addition of a Micro B USB Cable means I am able to connect my camera easily, and upload photos to Picasa when I have a Wi-Fi connection. As soon as it is all hooked up and the camera is switched on, I am  automatically taken to my gallery, to view the images, where I have the option to upload my photographs to my Picasa  and Facebook account! Job done!

Using the same lead, I also have the option of using a wireless mouse; a luxury, but with a keyboard, it feels more of a natural thing to do, and I may well add it to the kit.

Canon PowerShot Camera

I flogged my SLR a couple of years back, just too much weight to be lumbering around, and half the time it stayed safely in my pack. At least with the PowerShot, it is easily to hand, attached to the chest strap of my rucksack. I can even take the odd photo of myself along the way, as it is light enough to be stuck on the end of my walking pole with the aid of the Stickpic.

SPOT GPS Messenger

I’ve spoken before about this nifty little gadget. A month doesn't go by without me reading a news story on the internet of someone who has been rescued, thanks to the Spot. Besides being a lifeline in case of emergencies, the tracking system will be updating every ten minutes while I am walking. Using the excellent Social Hiking website, my progress can be viewed, LIVE, on one Google map! For more on Social Hiking, visit
Custom messages of my whereabouts will be sent by sms and email to my designated contacts, and there is also the option to post them to my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Garmin 60 GPS

I’ll be using the GPS to keep a track of the route. I doubt it’ll be used for navigating, but it’s there in case I do stray from the well marked track. One thing the Nexus cannot handle is uploading logs from the Garmin 60, or at least, I haven’t found a solution yet, so the task of uploading accurate track information will likely have to wait until I have finished. It remains to be seen whether it’s memory can cope with a track log nearly 1000 kilometres long, though!


UPDATE: The app for Garmin Connect doesn't support my GPS, sadly but I can download the track off the GPS into Garmin Connect using an app called "Sports Tracker Uploader".

The track is uploaded as a ".tcx" file, though and this doesn't seem to record the distance in Garmin Connect. To fix it I just exported the file from Garmin Connect as a ".gpx" file and re-uploaded it, and all the information appears! A bit of a pain but that seems to work. At least I know I can now save the GPS data without fear of running out of memory! And when I'm home, I'll be able to transfer all the data to Social Hiking.


So how much is my "Outback Office" going to add to my backpack? Well, I'm not going to include the Spot and batteries (190g), Camera, batteries and charger (490g), and the GPS and batteries (435g), as I always carry them, and I class them as essential items. The charger for the Nexus and the keyboard is the same used for both my phone, Kindle, and Petzl headtorch, so I haven't included the 85g this weighs either:

  • Nexus 7 Tablet: 320g
  • Keyboard: 215g
  • Micro USB Cable: 10g
  • Wireless Mouse: 65g
  • TOTAL: 610g

610g extra would likely make an ultralight hiker topple over with a coronary, but it's not a back breaking amount. It will all be put to good use to bring the journey to those that are interested.

Finally, as a testament to the equipment, this post was created, in its entirety, using my Outback Office, and images taken from my mobile phone!