View Full Version : Blogging from the trail

Sunshine Tami Jo
01-20-2011, 14:48
First of all, let me apologize if this info is to be found elsewhere. I've looked, and I simply haven't found what I am looking for.

I want to blog from the trail as much as possible, and I'd like others' advise about what electronic gear would be best to do so. I have a slew of people who would like to follow my adventure from the sidelines.

I am not especially tech-savvy, so the simpler the better, but I am willing to learn. I really don't want to enter long entries on a cell-phone type device. I would much prefer a real keypad, even if it's tiny. I plan on a weekly zero day for a town stop, if that makes a difference. I also want to be able to download lots of photos from the trail. I would greatly appreciate any advice anyone cares to offer.

My trek begins April 1st, A NOBO thru-hike (or as far as I can make it).

01-20-2011, 15:06
I know it will make my postage bills higher, but I am going to keep my laptop in a bounce box for blogging, downloading pictures, etc. I will probably have a smartphone with me on the trail, but doubt it will be used for more than a quick trail journal (or facebook post). We are going to look at tablets after then new Ipad comes out because I do think it would be beneficial for my daughter to keep up on her school work and to have guides, books, etc. on one small device than a bunch of extra weight, but I don't know how feasible this idea is right now. If I find something great that would work for blogging purposes I'll let you know! :)

01-20-2011, 15:21
If you go the electronic route, do be prepared for some significant learning curve, and expense. With respect to the keyboard, I use a folding keyboard; for my next long trip I'm using a Droid X with a Freedom Pro bluetooth keyboard --- so that, as you say, I don't have to enter a lot of text via the cell phone screen.
I type up a daily trail journal entry, and try to take (and upload) a photo for most days. You can have a look at my journals (http://postholer.com/journal/viewJournal.php?event_id=533); all of the during-trip entries and photos for both were written and sent along the way.

You don't have to be super tech savvy, but you do need some, or someone to help you get started.

After my first long trip I wrote up some notes about picking a smartphone (http://postholer.com/smartPhone.html) for the trail. Over time this will get a bit out of date, but I think that most of the thoughts there still apply.

01-20-2011, 15:36
I plan on writing (short to medium) blog entries from an iPhone. Some other smartphones have physical keyboards, which might be better, but an iPhone is what I've got.

I am pretty tech savvy, but I don't know what there is between a smartphone (sucks for writing a lot, but can be done) and a netbook (A "light" low power laptop, still too heavy and fragile, though I'm sure someone has tried carrying one) that would be appropriate for backpacking. There's iPads, but they're heavier than you think and although well built are certainly not "rugged" by any stretch of the imagination. I wouldn't even think of carrying one on a backpacking trip (even though the one I own is hardly ever not with me at home).

The Amazon Kindle has a keyboard that's bigger than a smartphone, but it's pretty awful for writing, much worse than a good smartphone in my opinion. And it doesn't have nearly the number of options for getting that writing onto the internet once written.

Another option is to hit up public computers (libraries, whereever else you can find 'em) in towns and only write from there. I think that's a pretty common way to go. I'm proficient enough with the iPhone, and don't intend to write anything much longer than this post very often, that I think it'll get me by 90% of the time.

I haven't ever played with one, but there are some small dedicated email devices out there. They're not really much different from a smart phone in terms of keyboard size from what I can tell. But they're cheaper. I can't recall any names, but some searches on this forum will probably turn some up.

I think an iPhone or Android or Blackberry is really the best way to go, they'll give you the most flexibility, and once you get used to the small keyboards you can go "pretty" fast. But it's down to personal preference.

Sunshine Tami Jo
01-20-2011, 18:44
I have a Kindle, which I am planning to bring anyway, but I don't know how I would use it for blogging. Any advice you might have in this regard is much appreciated.

01-20-2011, 19:25
I have a Kindle, which I am planning to bring anyway, but I don't know how I would use it for blogging. Any advice you might have in this regard is much appreciated.

I do NOT recommend this, the keyboard is really not designed for this (punctuation is very annoying in particular) and there are some other disadvantages, but since you asked, here's the high level view.

The Kindle has a web browser in it. It's terrible, but functional. You get to it by pressing Menu, then Experimental, then Web browser (at least on my older Kindle 2)

Most blogs let you somehow post via email. Check your blog for specifics.

Using the Kindle's web browser, visit your preferred webmail site (GMail works), and write your post as an email to be sent to your blog.

That's all there is to it, really. It sounds nice in theory, but the combination of bad web browser and bad keyboard make it really painful. The other big problem I have with this as opposed to smartphones is that on a phone, you can write stuff even when you don't have a connection, and save it to be posted when you do. This method pretty much requires that the Kindle be online while you're writing.

01-20-2011, 20:23
The computer I'm typing this on weighs 17 ounces if that's of interest. Fujitsu UH-900 (http://www.fujitsu.com/sg/services/computing/pc/notebooks/useries/uh900/features.html)

01-20-2011, 20:56
I doubt I'd personally carry one but I can bang out text on my ipad pretty quickly. ATT 3G which doesn't have a good rep on the trail but lots of people make it work.

01-20-2011, 21:15
I did it in towns and saved the weight of electronics. :)

01-25-2011, 22:31
I did it in towns and saved the weight of electronics. :)

Agreed, I remember being pleasantly surprised at the prevalence of internet along the trail during my thru in 2009. There was even a computer in the store at Neel's Gap, 30 miles from Springer. You're in town every couple days and there are lots of libraries and hostel computers available. There were a couple week-long stretches that I remember. but in my opinion not worth the weight of carrying lots of tech gear...

Two friends (a couple) wrote a trailjournal post for every day. The way they did it was to write notes each day on trail, and then type them all up online when they got into town.

01-26-2011, 13:43
"You're in town every couple days and there are lots of libraries and hostel computers available."

This certainly is a viable option, particularly on the AT, but keep in mind that there can be competition for the limited computer resources, and that "town time" is kind of precious.

Like so many things, it's just a matter of knowing the trade-offs and making the best decision for you. Since my cell phone is also my camera, the only delta that I personally add is a folding keyboard, and some (many?) would be happy without that.

I like being able to just completely type up my journal entry at the end of each day while it's fresh. I can type out a more complete picture than I would likely recall later after jotting down some notes at the time. And I think this is overall more time efficient, i.e., I type it up once rather than perhaps take the same amount of time to write out notes (I type faster than I can write by hand) and then have to do data entry later in town.

To be clear, I'm not saying that the (or any other) approach here is "bad" --- again, it's just about thinking through how you weight benefits/costs of each alternative to make the best decision.

01-26-2011, 15:59
I blogged almost daily during my 2009 thru-hike. In my pack I carried my Palm Treo 755p smart-phone and a folding bluetooth keyboard. (http://picasaweb.google.com/affreeman1959/ATADayInTheLifeOfAThruHiker#5515276456199106178) The keyboard weighs ounces, and a single pair of AAA batteries lasted for the entire 6 month hike.

I also kept a netbook computer in my bounce box, and used that when in town to upload photos from my digital camera. Contrary to what a few fellow hikers from the class of '09 think, I did NOT hike with the computer in my backpack!

01-26-2011, 21:47
Blogging from the trail can be done a several ways:

I carried an iTouch which allowed me to keep an electronic journal (and listen to music). It had a wireless connection so when I got into towns I would just email my journals directly to my blog. This was easier to do in the south then the north, but I was able to keep my online journal updated on a weekly basis.

A lot of my friends carried peeks (http://www.getpeek.com/). These operate like blackberries/iphones without the phone aspect. you can email your blog daily. Downside: costs $20/month and requires you to carry an extra charger.

A cell phone with internet connection would work also.

Of course....there's always the hand written journal that you could transcribe to your blog when you reach towns or send off to a friend/family member to transcribe for you but that seems like a lot of extra work.