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Puppy
11-10-2016, 14:45
It will be possible for me to thru hike next year if I do some of my writing/computer related work along the way.

Is there a small laptop that would carry well in a backpack and still function well enough to work a couple hours at a time?

Thanks for any info...

Puppy
11-10-2016, 14:48
Forgot to say... I would need to use internet on it from time to time but not on a daily basis. Basically work on documents and then send them out on the internet when I'm finished. Thanks!

Studlintsean
11-10-2016, 16:09
You could try something like this which will sync with your iphone (or a different brand that syncs to android, samsung, etc). I am sure others will have better ideas but this could probably work.

https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-Bluetooth-Keyboard-Devices-iPhone/dp/B005EOWBKE

Water Rat
11-10-2016, 16:49
If it has to be a laptop... Some people have been known to mail their laptops ahead on the trail. Just bounce box it to the next town. Otherwise most laptops are a bit bulky and heavy.

If a phone and portable keyboard is not what you are looking for, what about a tablet and portable keyboard? That would be a way to access your documents in town, as well as allow you to write when you have time/feel up to it on the trail. You would probably get better battery life out of a tablet than you would a laptop. Keep in mind you might also need an extra power source (such as battery backup). The weight starts to add up when electronics are involved.

You might also look into a mini notebook...but I seem to recall those weigh more than the tablet option and take up about the same space, if not more.

Many find that they are not up to writing after a full day of hiking (day after day), but everyone is different. More power to you if you still have the physical and mental energy! :)

burger
11-10-2016, 17:18
I have a Microsoft Surface that I use while traveling (not backpacking--just when away from home for work or holidays) that's been really great. Good battery life. The keyboard is just so-so, but it works.

But are you taking a smartphone with you? If so, maybe you're better off switching to a "phablet" that's big enough to work with a bluetooth keyboard. That will save you from having to carry the extra weight of a laptop or tablet.

swisscross
11-10-2016, 17:32
iPad air or mini with a blue tooth keyboard.

My daughter uses this combo for her school work.

The Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard is fantastic. Works with the iPad, iPhone, Samsung and more.
The Belkin Qode Ultimate PRO is nice as well. Integrated with a case which is nice. (for iPad air 2)

rocketsocks
11-10-2016, 18:59
A cheap pacer is about 3 pounds.

rocketsocks
11-10-2016, 18:59
A cheap pacer is about 3 pounds.acer…...........

FreeGoldRush
11-10-2016, 19:07
It will be possible for me to thru hike next year if I do some of my writing/computer related work along the way.

Is there a small laptop that would carry well in a backpack and still function well enough to work a couple hours at a time?

Thanks for any info...

I own a business and have had to hike/camp with a computer. I carry a MacBook Air in an Opsack and three data cards (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon). I also have a backup battery that will recharge the laptop once, but have not yet taken the battery on the hike although I have had people meet me up the trail with it. I believe the computer and network cards add 3.5 pounds. I do not carry anything additional, like a laptop case, etc. The computer stays dry but has no protection from bumps and bangs.

Usually there is some service on the AT from one of those three providers, but many times there is not service in low areas far from a road. I've probably only hiked about 120 miles of different sections of the trail between Springer and SNP, so my experience may not be the best indicator. I too want to do a thru hike but have concluded that taking a computer would not be a practical option.

Wise Old Owl
11-10-2016, 22:32
Another ten years it will all be on a watch....and will last weeks on a single charge,

RockDoc
11-10-2016, 22:35
Ah, you are obviously serious about getting back to nature...

Another Kevin
11-10-2016, 22:52
I write when I'm on the trail. Most often, I use a notebook and transcribe the stuff later, but if I plan to crank out a lot of text, I have a folding Bluetooth keyboard that I can use with my smartphone. That's lighter than any computer or full size tablet I could bring, and doesn't make me tear my hair out the way the on screen keyboard of a phone or tablet does.

FreeGoldRush
11-10-2016, 23:01
Ah, you are obviously serious about getting back to nature...

For some of us there is no choice. I'd give just about anything to leave the computer out of my nature experiences. It is known as "my boat anchor". Your sarcasm is entirely unfair. I hope we never meet on the trail.

rocketsocks
11-10-2016, 23:27
I write when I'm on the trail. Most often, I use a notebook and transcribe the stuff later, but if I plan to crank out a lot of text, I have a folding Bluetooth keyboard that I can use with my smartphone. That's lighter than any computer or full size tablet I could bring, and doesn't make me tear my hair out the way the on screen keyboard of a phone or tablet does.audo dictation takes this even a step further...I think there's already a few word smythes here that use it, or so it seems.

Wolf - 23000
11-11-2016, 02:04
Puppy,

If you set on using a computer I would also recommend creating two different profiles on your computer. One while on trail and the second when you are trying to transmit information over the internet or in town.

Windows has many services that run in the background. These services take up power and will reduce your battery life. For example you don't want your computer trying to connect to a blue tooth connection or a wireless signal unless it has some place to connect to. You can also lower your display screen on the trail to help save power. It is simple things like this that can be done that can extend your battery life-span by an extra hour or more depending on the computer.

Wolf

Another Kevin
11-11-2016, 02:47
audo dictation takes this even a step further...I think there's already a few word smythes here that use it, or so it seems.

It's also more disturbing to anyone camped near me.

bigcranky
11-11-2016, 09:01
I have the 11-inch Macbook Air. It's nice and small, doesn't weigh that much, etc., but the battery life isn't that good and there is no way to connect to the internet without wi-fi. It runs all the usual business apps, a real OS, etc. It would easily fit in my pack.

If I were in your situation, I would also look at taking an iPad with a bluetooth keyboard, and have a cellular data subscription. I'd also carry a fairly large external battery so I could keep it charged (but only if you plan to use it more than an hour or so per day). Now that I think about it, a bluetooth keyboard would make the largest iPhone (the "plus" model) almost as usable. The major downside to the iPad/iPhone is running applications and doing actual work, though I think it could be done unless you are working on large spreadsheets or CAD drawings or something like that.

garlic08
11-11-2016, 09:22
Ah, you are obviously serious about getting back to nature...


It's also more disturbing to anyone camped near me.

So far, good humor and snark are tied--not bad!

I don't even hike with a phone, and if I were in a bad mood I'd be snarky about carrying a computer, too. But I respect those who manage to thru-hike while not only holding down a job, but actually running a business. I can imagine a whole different mindset on a hike with an income stream!

Those I know who have done it in past years have used the bounce box system, and/or used computers in town, either public or private. I found it very easy to get access to computers on the AT, sometimes nearly daily in the mid-Atlantic states. I think one span was five days, up in Maine, and a hitch or cab ride could have cut that down to four or less if business was waiting.

DuneElliot
11-11-2016, 09:27
I would find and carry a small tablet/large phone like the Galaxy Note and then carry a fold-away Bluetooth keyboard. That would be the lightest and most convenient option. There are a couple of good Office Suite apps that you can get for free or buy that work with .doc and Excel files. I think you would find that keeping the tablet/phone on Airplane mode you would easily get a couple of hours work done each day for several days.

Wise Old Owl
11-11-2016, 09:30
For some of us there is no choice. I'd give just about anything to leave the computer out of my nature experiences. It is known as "my boat anchor". Your sarcasm is entirely unfair. I hope we never meet on the trail.

This is blogging, I wasn't sure if RD was directing that at you or me... You appear to be new at this and if it helps to understand, develop a cordial thick skin, towards others. I realize those that know me may call me out as a hypocrite based on past experiences, but reaching out to others and being helpful is key. People will post things here they will never say in front of you in person. Here on WB you will see quite a bit more subconscious stuff. You will also see a learning skill that people will be more apt to pick apart what you type vs what people discuss in front of each other. Some here will write things that do not reflect what they really ment or are unclear.

As for the electronics, the voice to text features to phones and tablets are awesome, there is little need for a keyboard today. A good modern 4-5 oz smart phone for taking dictation or notes and photos and a removable battery with additional battery or external charger is about all most need, I would turn off the Bluetooth and other items on the power board and also take a Anker External Battery, the best you can afford.

And the others are right this has little to do with backpacking.


Hope that helps.


Woo

pilgrimskywheel
11-11-2016, 11:39
I think your biggest issue will be with signal service while on the AT. You can generate docs all day anywhere - sending them will be the trick. There is a signal dead zone from the Smoky Mountains to Shenandoah pretty much, then the rest of the way it's hit or miss - usually a miss unless you're standing in a village. Service at the shelters and in the tops: ZERO. My partners and I have even had problems with SPOT signals out there. (Frantic parents, and partners not getting their nightly ping from the kid in the woods, who is definitely x-mitting, come a'runnin!) If you're bringing your work with you, that'll be the tip of the iceberg in terms of your troubles. If you're planning to join the "bubble" then you'll be competing for resources with 20-30+ knuckleheads nightly all who want to plug in, and none of whom give a hoot in Hell about work. In fact, they find it odious. (They're mostly plugging in for their music.) You'll be entering a place where deadlines and attitudes like "I have to...for work!" are unobserved, not respected, and are met with not-so-quiet disdain. I think you'll find that you can quickly become the irksome outsider who brought your work on others vacations, while your trip is defined by an endless quest for power, privacy, and signal. Let's not forget it pretty much rains from the Kick Off until Trail Days - like 90 days of spring showers. And, you'll be surprised that sunshine in the "green tunnel" for charging isn't really happening either. Unless you are your own boss and you sell customized bicycle hats, then one of two outcomes are possible: either your job ruins your hike or, your hike ruins your job! I'm hoping you get to Mountain Crossings and mail your job home. You'll be able to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and everyone around you will too!

KDogg
11-11-2016, 16:00
I thru hiked the AT this summer and had service (Verizon) almost every day. You may have to hunt for a signal at times but many/most of the mountain tops had service. The South was much better than the North. Once we got to NH signal got less and less. Maine had very little outside of town but, quite frankly, we were in no shape to concentrate on much of anything but putting one step in front of the other at that point.

Charging - I had a battery that would charge my phone three times. I didn't have any problem keeping my phone charged the whole way. My phone plus battery was about 18 ounces.

Staying Dry - The battery was no problem keeping dry. It was only used in situations that were completely sheltered from rain and the humidity didn't seem to be a problem for it. I started out with a phone that wasn't waterproof (no waterproof cases available for it) and it crapped out half-way through. Not sure why but definitely seemed moisture related. I used it many times with damp or sweaty hands so that was the likely culprit. I wen't all out on a new phone and got a completely waterproof case. That phone lasted the rest of the way and had no problems with water. When the phone is wet, however, the touchscreen pretty much doesn't work. Your hands have to be dry and you need to be able to dry the screen completely to get it going again.

I did see somebody on the trail who had a laptop with them. They were doing some sort of fundraising for a hiker attempting a FKT. Didn't feel the need to contribute so didn't talk to them much. I don't think there are many laptop options below three pounds. Keep in mind that the given weight for a laptop doesn't include the power brick or any accessories so you'll have to think about this as well.

One last note: Before I hit the trail I thought that I would blog and do Spanish lessons on the trail. Ended up doing neither. Just couldn't concentrate on that stuff on the trail. Lots of folks did blog constantly but most did not. You might try a few practice trips to see if you can stay focused on work and RL when on the trail.

Another Kevin
11-11-2016, 23:36
Ah, you are obviously serious about getting back to nature...

Ever since I first set foot on the AT about fifty years ago. I've brought a notebook and pencil on almost every hike. and write down impressions, field notes, route cards. lists of species observed, all sorts of stuff, really. It's just one of the things I do out there, and I've certainly seen many other hikers with notebooks, or sketch books, or similar ways of recording what might otherwise be ephemeral memories.

Does writing or sketching while on the trail disconnect me from nature? Does it change in some fundamental way if I write or sketch on a small electronic device, rather than a piece of paper?

The two don't feel that different to me. They're both ways of writing it all down. Moreover, I think I feel more connected with the nature around me, rather than less, when I'm observing actively and thinking about what to write, draw or record. Can anyone read my final trail journal entry (http://trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=513096) from the Northville-Placid and tell me that making the notes for that essay, part in notebook and part on smartphone, disconnected me from what I was seeing or hearing (or indeed, tasting, smelling, feeling, and wallowing in)? Arrant nonsense! Writing down my impressions forces me to think about where I am. It anchors me in the place. I makes me see what I am looking at, experience what I am experiencing, take more home with me than, "12 miles today, wow, that was a wet trail."

Traillium
11-12-2016, 00:21
I used a plus-sized phone to do my blogging during my 45 days along the Bruce Trail in Ontario this past Spring. Http://brucetraillium.wordpress.com
I carried two 10,000mA backup batteries, but I don't think I ever started using the second battery. I used the usual power-saving approaches. I also used the phone to take photos and to do some nightly texting with my wife and with friends. I also used a GPS app several times each day.
I did my blogging after I slumped into my hammock. Sometimes I'd fall asleep in the middle of writing, but wake up a few hours later to finish.
I had a few nights where I was without signal, almost always buried in valleys.
A keyboard wouldn't have worked for me. I am sumwot adapt at thummin the virtuous keybored

Wanderingventurer
11-12-2016, 00:50
I will be running a couple of businesses while I thru hike next year. No choice if I want to do it. I will be using a pad, pen, iPhone 6s and an iPad mini, along with an Anaker 10000 charger. So far, on my shakedown hikes, this setup has worked well for me.

Starchild
11-12-2016, 08:08
I looked into a kindle for inputting text, not sure of I found what I needed, but I wanted to be able to make reports on the trail for a week. The long battery life was a plus, not sure if I found a keyboard for the basic model (the monochrome type), but the latter fire ones can take a bluetooth keyboard.

Starchild
11-12-2016, 08:13
I think your biggest issue will be with signal service while on the AT. You can generate docs all day anywhere - sending them will be the trick. There is a signal dead zone from the Smoky Mountains to Shenandoah pretty much, then the rest of the way it's hit or miss - usually a miss unless you're standing in a village. Service at the shelters and in the tops: ZERO.....


I got cell service in the Smokies, I knew the spots and not all shelters had it, but many did if you knew where to stand, and when to pull out your phone while on trail (northern end is better than the southern end). Sometimes there would be notes in the shelter log as to where.

I also got spotty cell service all throughout my AT thru, in that I could get a signal at several places in a day's hike. After a while you get a feel for where to try and come up with methods to make it not frustrating (such as seting a 10 minute timer, let it try, then turn off to reply for the next attempt.

FreeGoldRush
11-12-2016, 11:38
I got cell service in the Smokies, I knew the spots and not all shelters had it, but many did if you knew where to stand, and when to pull out your phone while on trail (northern end is better than the southern end). Sometimes there would be notes in the shelter log as to where.

I also got spotty cell service all throughout my AT thru, in that I could get a signal at several places in a day's hike. After a while you get a feel for where to try and come up with methods to make it not frustrating (such as seting a 10 minute timer, let it try, then turn off to reply for the next attempt.

It is important to distinguish between "getting cell service" and making sure you have the data service you need. As someone who must carry a computer on hikes, I can tell you that many times you have service but may not realize you aren't getting it from the cell carrier you signed up with. As an example, I carry Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon data plans at all times but realized they were roaming (on US Cellular) in Grayson Highlands and my data service had a very small fixed limit per month. After just a couple of hours I had used the roaming bandwidth allocation for the month. Sprint asked for $2,500 per month to get the same bandwidth while roaming, which is clearly insane. Buying US Cellular service was the only option in that area and I ended up carrying four data cards for a short time.

So make sure you are aware of your bandwidth needs and exactly how much bandwidth you are buying when you are roaming on a network other than the one you signed up with. For people using cell phones this doesn't seem to present an issue.

Puppy
11-12-2016, 17:15
Thanks for all the great responses. There's a lot of great information here and I appreciate it!

V Eight
11-14-2016, 14:14
Look for 10" laptops. Many come with 10/12 hours of battery life and weigh around 2.5lbs. I have one I took on a short hike last spring just to try it out in the field. I hot spoted it with my Verizon phone when I could get a single. also brought one of those little lipstick looking recharges with, but did not need it.

Don't stress, you will work something out.

V8