A big challenge facing photography on multi-day wilderness kayak tours is having the ability to recharge your camera. This is not a problem on our Orca Waters Base Camp kayak tours because we have a camera recharging station but on longer expedition style kayak tours it is more challenging.
The camera recharging stations at our base camps consist of solar panels, 12-volt deep cycle batteries, and AC/DC power inverters. With this set up cameras can be charged via USB cables or with a regular 110 volt plug-in wall charger. Please bring your own charging cables and if you are visiting from outside North America ensure you have a North American plug adapter if using a plug-in wall charger. The amount of power generated by the panels and stored by the batteries is limited but generally more than sufficient for charging cameras and our guides’ safety communication devices. However, there is not enough power to charge larger electronic like tablets and laptops.
We do not carry recharging equipment on our expedition style kayak tours. However, with careful use of your camera and a few accessories this is not a problem, even on our longest kayak tours. The first thing to consider on longer kayak tours is how best to conserve your batteries. The two main culprits for batteries draining quickly is excessive use of the LCD screen, and reviewing and deleting photos. Simply using your viewfinder (if your camera has one) and turning off your LCD screen can save a lot of power. Reviewing and deleting your photos at home after your trip also saves a lot of power. This last method may mean your memory card fills so bringing additional memory cards is a good idea.
The methods above may not be enough in themselves for our longer kayak tours. While we recommend bringing extra batteries on any length of tour, it is even more important on our longer expedition kayak tours. Another consideration are portable power packs. These portable power packs work great for smaller cameras that can be charged with a USB cable. For larger SLR that generally require more power there are large power packs available. We are limited on how much we carry on our expedition kayak tours but as long as the power pack is no larger than a paperback book it should be fine. Whatever you decide to use we recommend trying them out at home first to know how well they charge your camera before relying on them in the wilderness.
We have personally used portable solar panels on longer kayak expeditions to recharge portable power packs; however, because we are often kayaking to our next camp during the best times to use a solar panel, we find extra power packs are more convenient for the length of our kayak tours. There are many makes of portable power packs available; one popular brand is Goal Zero.