Heading for the great outdoors? The essentials used to be a couple cans of food, a box of matches, and a sleeping bag. However, these days, life in the great outdoors is a lot more complex.

Call it a paradox: most of us go into the wilderness to get away from the hassles of our hi-tech world, however there are some cool tools that make a wilderness hike safer and more fun.

For gadget gurus, there are many “must have” accessory items to choose. The gadgets and gizmos range in price from a few dollars to several hundred. They also range in usefulness from ridiculous wastes of money, to downright handy.

As a frequent hiker, I have tried many gadgets from overnight trips to month-long treks. Here are some quick picks of useful hi-tech hiking tools that won’t lead you astray.

One of the coolest gadgets for hiking, climbing, skiing, or biking, is the new Suunto Vector Wristop Computer .
The Vector is an intriguing combination of a watch, stop watch, compass, altimeter, thermometer, barometer, and alarm. Amazingly, the whole deal fits onto your wrist.

The time mode features the standard stuff … time, day of the week, date, stopwatch, and alarm, while the altimeter mode boasts extreme accuracy with a range to 29,000 feet.

The barometer stores a four-day record of barometric pressure readings and displays the information on a small grid. For anyone with an ounce of meteorological know-how, this information will help predict weather conditions.

The digital-compass feature is easy to use. For mountaineers and backpackers who explore off trail and need an accurate compass and altimeter, the Vector is a great option.

Another great gadget is the Primus Alpine Micro Stove with Piezo Igniter . This backpacking stove is super-compact. You will forget it’s in your pack … and its push-button igniter means it couldn’t be easier to use. No matches, pumping or priming needed to light this propane/butane stove … just turn the valve, click the Piezo igniter and start cooking!
The water boils in four minutes. Primus also makes the same stove with a combination light, for backcountry dining by nice illumination, but it’s much more expensive.
(Alpine Micro Stove)

The Gerber Multi-Lite is a handy multi-tool. It is light, compact and doesn’t include unnecessary tools. Every hiker needs a good, sharp knife at times. The Multi-Lite has two blades. The serrated blade is great for sawing through ropes and cords, while the drop-point blade can be used for all other knife needs. The blades all lock in the open position to prevent accidents, and the tool fits comfortably in the hand.
This tool also has a slim plastic cover with a bright little emergency flashlight. The light isn’t adequate for navigating down a darkened trail, but when you need to step out of the tent at night to heed nature’s call, the light is perfect.

The Multi-Lite (five ounces) isn’t for everyone, especially ounce-counting hikers, but it definitely passes the utility test.

The final handy and economical tool is The VersaBrite flashlight . The compact body, adjustable head, dimmable light, and versatile mounting system make this flashlight useful in any outdoor endeavor.
It is powered from two AA batteries. The light fixture is contained in the head of the unit, attached to by a pin, which allows it to swivel nearly 300 degrees. A strong spring-clip attaches the light to just about anything — shirt, hat brim, book cover, tent flap, etc. The light also comes with an elastic arm-/headband to which the light can be attached.

The VersaBrite is compact at three inches long, and weighs just seven ounces, the light will also burn for more than six hours.

These gadgets are convenient and handy. All will enhance your adventure in the great outdoors without reminding you of the hi-tech hassles of daily life.