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Technology on Our River Trips

Being “unplugged” on a river trip doesn’t mean you have to forgo technology fully. I love to unwind before bed by reading a few pages on my Kindle, and to capture memories with my phone camera. Below is my advice for bringing technology on a NWRC river trip.

Charging Electronics

NWRC does not provide charging capabilities for electronic devices. If you think that you’ll want to charge up your devices during the trip, we recommend bringing an external power bank and charging cords. There are many options out there that can fully charge a cell phone 2-5 times. That should be plenty for our trips if you turn your phone on airplane mode. Just don’t forget to fully charge the power bank before the trip!

We don’t recommend bringing solar panels to charge electronics. There isn’t a great place to have them out during the day, and there isn’t always reliable sun at camp. We’ve found that they are more trouble than they’re worth for the length of our trips, and that a good external power bank is more than enough.

External battery for charging small electronics, and a Sat-Texting device

Being in Touch With the Outside World

None of the rivers we run have any wifi or phone service on them. If you need to be reachable on our trips, you’ll have to bring along a satellite texting device or rent a satellite phone.

The guides on the trip do carry a communication device, but it is reserved for emergency use only. They do not check in with the office every day, so there is no reliable way for the office to get ahold of the trip.


Our trips all travel through federally designated wilderness areas. Flying drones is prohibited by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, so please leave them at home.


Cell phones have morphed into some great cameras. Many folks bring their phone on the trip just to use as a camera. We will have day bags for each person that you can put a phone or a camera. If you want to have your phone out a lot during the day, we suggest you purchase a waterproof case to protect from splashes.

Some people prefer to bring their more traditional cameras on the trip. If it is fragile we suggest having a hard-sided water proof case, such as a Pelican Case, to help protect it.

Phone camera photoshoot!
Phone camera photoshoot!

CPAP Machine

If you use a CPAP Machine at home, bringing it on a river trip is possible with a little pre-trip preparation. You’ll want to figure out a portable battery that works with your machine, and test it to make sure it will last as long as you need it to. The only option used to be a car battery, but in the last few years, there have been more compact battery options out there. Please reach out to the office and let us know if you plan on bringing a CPAP setup. This way, we can plan to have a secure dry place in the raft to keep it during the day.

Respecting the Wilderness Experience of Other Guests

Many people come on our trips to enjoy time away from technology. We ask that you consider other’s wilderness experience while using technology. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Making calls on a satellite phone away from camp.
  • Use your satellite texter in your tent area, instead of in the chair circle.
  • Listen to music with headphones instead of a speaker, unless the whole group wants music
Capturing those special moments on the river
Capturing those special moments on the river

Have any additional questions that we didn’t cover? Let us know in the office!

Originally Published: | Updated on | Categorized under: River Equipment

Post Author

Courtney Sweeney

After a good decade running rivers and chasing snow out west, Courtney landed in Baltimore. Odds are you’ll chat with her if you call the NWRC office, she loves using her river knowledge to make awesome trips happen. When not on the phone, you can find her exploring the east coast rivers or dominating at an adult recreational volleyball league.