ASK COREY: How Do You Charge Equipment in Remote Locations?

by Corey Rich

In June I am heading down the Grand Canyon for a 16-day rafting and canyoneering trip, and I’m wondering what gear I should bring (I have a Nikon D610). Would you recommend using solar power to charge your batteries, laptops, etc. How do you charge equipment when in a remote location? —Luke Walker


This is one of those questions that I get asked a lot, actually. As you know, I also took a rafting trip into the Grand Canyon with some of my best friends several years ago. I was with Tommy Caldwell, Beth Rodden, Josh Lowell, Peter Mortimer, Dan Duane and Chris McNamara. It was a pretty special trip because we had a month on the river to explore the untapped climbing potential on the Grand Canyon’s walls.

It was a fairly complex project. We were shooting motion content for a REEL ROCK film and a spot on NBC, as well as still photographs for ads for Marmot and a number of editorial publications, including Men’s Journal and Alpinist magazine. Bottom line: we had a lot of electronic equipment with us.

The great thing about rafting down the Grand Canyon is that weight isn’t much of a concern. For instance, I think we brought something like 100 beers per person—excluding Beth :-)! Because weight isn’t a concern on a huge raft, the sky’s the limit in terms of what gear you could bring.

In terms of charging equipment, normally I will use a small 1,000-Watt Honda generator. It’s cheap, relatively small, and it will generate a good amount of consistent power.

However, because we were in the Grand Canyon, a wilderness area in which motorized equipment is forbidden, our options were limited. We considered using solar panels. However, this was in the winter time. The sun was low, and never actually shined onto the canyon floor for much more than a few hours a day. Solar was out.

Instead we ended up using marine batteries, which are giant 100-pound batteries used for boats. We hooked the batteries up to a number of cigarette-lighter converters and charged all our electronics off of those and for transport we used ammo boxes which helped to keep the batteries dry and protected.. We had three marine batteries for over 20 days on the river. And we were all surprised to discover that we only made it through just one and a quarter batteries after nearly a month of constant charging.

Have fun on your trip and good luck staying plugged in!

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1 comment

Dave Katz April 26, 2014 - 7:55 am

Pretty cool tip. I thought this might be possible, but wasn’t sure how. Last November I documented a 24 day trip down the Grand but didn’t bring a laptop. Just borrowed a ton on Canon batteries and SD cards from friends and was able to shoot lots of video, time lapse and big RAW panoramas plus HDR and was able to charge and fit it all with what I had. If I do the trip again, and needed to review footage nightly or had big clients, I would probably do what you did. Thanks for sharing!

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