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Off Piste: A Ride Across America, Part 5 of 5

A look at the tech accessories that kept us in touch with HQ during our 3,700 mile motorcycle ride

by Graham Hiemstra in Travel on 18 October 2013

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At the conclusion of our five-day recap of our recent cross country motorcycle trip, we shift our focus from the gear that enabled us to escape the daily hustle to that which helped us stay within reach. While the thought of "hitting the open road" and escaping email was certainly freeing in the trip's early stages, in reality being entirely offline for nearly two weeks wasn't really an option. The move was to bring along enough tech to keep us in touch, while at the same time allowing for frequently drained batteries. After all, what's the use of being out of town if you can't unplug a little bit?

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To avoid the always unsettling move of asking the bartender to charge your phone, we sourced a couple compact chargers and a waterproof camera bag to document it all. As we dodged in and out of cell service through the Appalachians down to the bayou and up through the Southwest's no man's land deserts, it was a relief to not think about "likes" or flagged emails. But thanks to our tech selections, the breaks were brief and the threat of missed messages never built up to a point of stress. Below are the few tools that helped keep the balance in check.

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Lowepro DryZone DF 20L

Quite possibly the most essential piece of luggage, the Dryzone DF 20L camera bag from Lowepro kept our DSLR gear safe and sound through every type of weather possible. The roll-top closure with end buckles kept moisture out even in zero visibility rainstorms and offered easy access during quick stops. Once open, the wide-mouth main compartments removable padded camera case allowed enough room for multiple DSLR bodies and lenses. Looking back on the weather we encountered, without the DryZone DF 20L, our camera gear wouldn't have likely survived the trip. Find more info from Lowepro.

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Bushnell SolarWrap Mini

Unfortunately the iPhone doesn't share the battery life of our beloved Motorola Razr. To address this, we relied on the SolarWrap Mini charger from Bushnell for nightly top-ups. Due to its compact size, the solar charger fit perfectly on the top of our Twisted Throttle drybags. It requires roughly 10 hours of sunlight to reach a full charge and, while this was an issue in the Northeast, thankfully most of the Southern states delivered more than enough direct light. When not in use, the charger compacts to the size of a roll of quarters for easy storage. Find more info from Bushnell.

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Jackery Air

In the past we've relied on power-packs from Mophie. On this trip we decided to try something new; the Jackery Air portable charger. Roughly the same size as an iPhone 5, and notably more elegant in design than most chargers, the slender aluminum Jackery Air is considered the world's thinnest power bank. The lithium ion battery weighs just 5.44 oz and provided enough juice to power a dead phone to 100% battery. Jackery even claims the Air can hold a charge for up to six months without losing power. Find more details from Amazon.

Images by Hunter Hess and Graham Hiemstra. For more images from the trip see the slideshow. And visit parts one through four to see the entire series documenting our 3,700 mile motorcycle ride across the country.

Off Piste encourages exploration. With each feature we'll introduce the people, products and places that make life outside the city possible and life in the city more down to earth.

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