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Meet Earl: The World’s First Backcountry Survival Tablet

Aside from my trusty headlamp and the occasional GPS unit, I’ve always been of the mind that high-tech gadgets have no place in the backcountry. Not only do most gadgets have trouble withstanding the elements, they also rely on a limited power supply, so if/when the juice runs out, you’re often left with little more than an expensive paperweight, and forced to revert back to non-digital means of navigation and survival. For these reasons, I was extremely skeptical when I first heard about Earl. Why the hell would anyone need a tablet in the woods? It just seems like such a silly idea. Why not just use a map and compass and save yourself a couple hundred bucks?

You might be thinking the same thing, but the truth is, this thing is more than just a high-tech map. Tablets by nature are multifunctional, and Earl is no exception. Although it only weighs 10.8 ounces, this tablet packs in a formidable list of useful features – many of which would otherwise require separate pieces of equipment. We won’t go too in-depth on the tech specs, but here’s a quick overview of what Earl can do:

First of all, this rugged little tablet runs Android 4.1, so it supports a wide range of apps that could potentially come in handy in the wilderness. Stuff like emergency medical guides, knot tying diagrams, survival manuals, and interactive trail maps – they’re all at your fingertips with Earl.

It’s also outfitted with a a range of GPS technologies, allowing you to track up to 20 satellites at once with an accuracy of up to 3 meters. And since it’s also packing a nice, big e-ink display and interactive map functions, you probably won’t miss your standalone GPS unit. Even if you do manage to get yourself lost with this thing, Earl comes with a host of one- and two-way radio tech that you can use to track down help.

And then there’s all the weather functions. Earl comes equipped with a boatload of onboard weather sensors, including a thermometer for temp, hygrometer for tracking humidity and dew point, a barometer for air pressure and elevation, and a mini anemometer that can check wind speed. With that much sensor tech in the palm of your hand, you’re practically a walking weather station.

You’d think that with all these sensors and radios it’d suck power like crazy, but Earl’s ultra-efficient e-ink display helps it stretch the battery life out to 20+ hours on a single charge. And the best part? Even if it does run out of juice, it’s got a pop-out solar panel on the back that can fully recharge the tablet with just five hours of direct sunlight.

And finally, as any proper piece of outdoor tech should be, Earl is designed to withstand even the harshest of conditions. Rugged as they come, this tablet is completely water/dust/mud/shock proof, and carries an IP67 rating, meaning it can be submerged in 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes.

Still convinced technology has no place in the wild? Me either. Check out Earl’s website to pre-order one now, or get a more in-depth look at features and specs.

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