Cool Camping Gadgets from CES

Eton FR500 Solarlink AM/FM/Shortwave/Weather radio

Eton FR500 Solarlink AM/FM/Shortwave/Weather radio

With a hat tip to Rohit Bhargava at the Influential Marketing Blog, comes this cool multipurpose radio that is used by the American Red Cross. If it’s useful enough for the American Red Cross to handout during emergencies then it’s probably worth considering for the campsite, too. The American Red Cross FR500 Solarlink, by Eton Corporation, covers all the bases with AM/FM/Shortwave and NOAA weather bands. It also incorporates a digital alarm clock, flashlight, an emergency beacon, and an emergency siren.

Powered by three AA batteries, or an internal NiMH battery, the FR500 Solarlink is rechargeable via its integrated hand crank and solar cells. A USB port allows the FR500 Solarlink radio to recharge other devices. It’s a bit heavy at 2 pounds, but it’s rugged and built to withstand outdoor use. It is smaller than a sheet of notebook paper, at 7 3/4″ wide by 8 1/2″ high and 2 1/2″ thick. The FR500 Solarlink retails for $80.

K2 Wind and Solar Charger

Kinesis K2 solar and wind powered charger

Kinesis K2 solar and wind powered charger

Last month I talked about the new Energizer® solar charger that was debuting at CES, but when I was perusing some of the CES coverage at, I came across this interesting solar and wind charger by Kinesis Industries.

The design certainly looks functional, although specifications are nonexistent on the company’s website. Kinesis claims the K2 has the largest rechargeable battery capacity in its class – assumedly a NiMH battery – and can recharge a cell phone five times before the K2 itself needs a recharge.   The K2 retails for $100.

ETX-LS Automated Telescope

The $1,300 Meade ETX-LS does all the work for you

The $1,300 Meade ETX-LS does all the work for you

The kids have been showing an interest in astronomy lately and it is something that I think would be a lot of fun on family camping trips, too. Unfortunately, I know next to nothing about astronomy, or telescopes. Fortunately, though, Meade Instruments® has the ETX-LS automated telescope for people just like me.

The ETX-LS has an integrated GPS and electronic compass module so that it knows exactly where it is when you turn it on. It also knows where all the cool stuff in the sky is, with an internal database of major celestial bodies and a CCD camera that keeps the ETX-LS aligned on an object as it travels across the sky. The bottom line is that if you want to look at Mars, just enter it on the handheld remote, press a button and it turns itself to Mars. It’s astronomy for Roy!

The ETX-LS has a 6-inch mirror with magnification ranging from 20X to 400X. It weighs 30 pounds and is powered by eight C batteries. It retails for $1,300.

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16 thoughts on “Cool Camping Gadgets from CES

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  3. Thanks John, these new LED products are really nice – a lot less power consumption.

  4. I use this light as a camping light although I bought it mainly to use as a worklight. It provides a HUGE amount of light and operates for about 5 hours on rechargable batteries. It is a perfect worklight – it may be a little pricy for just camping.

  5. I saw the Kinesis K2 at the show but after looking at their site I found out that its actually going to be released as the Kinesis K3. Differences are better durability and can be charged through the wall as well as wind/solar. Hopefully it will be released soon because I’m interested.

  6. Hey! I love it when companies act more like people and less like companies – looking forward to following up with them myself.

  7. Glenn over at Oakleigh ( contacted me to reveal these Eton radios DO have an ipod input. I’m impressed with their customer interaction exhibited in reading these comments and then following up with me. They have a social mission and good price, too. I’ll have to hit them up for one of these on payday.

    I knew my gadget geekery couldn’t be postponed for long…

    Dan’s last blog post..Jamaican Tri-Tip and Gravy

  8. Hi Kim – good to hear that they don’t feel that heavy. Probably still a bit much for backpacking, though. I’ve been looking for a weather radio since the Grand Canyon floods last year. I wish that I could have gone to CES, but I was just in LV last month and I can only handle that place in small doses 🙂

    • You should check out the new Eton Scorpion. Much smaller but still packs the necessities:
      solar panel
      hand crank
      AM/FM/NOAA weatherbands
      LED Flashlight
      USB Charger
      AUX input
      Aluminum Carabiner
      Splash proof
      Bottle opener
      2.5″ x 6.5″ x 2″ (WxHxD)
      Retails for $50.00

  9. I saw those Eton radios at CES! They are really great because they are solar powered and I really like the flashlight. I was able to pick a few of them up and it looked heavy but it seemed pretty light to me!

  10. Camping just won’t be the same now that these babies are on the market. How lucky we are to see this cohesivness of nature and technology! I like the idea of keeping that solarlink radio in the car.

    shawna’s last blog post..Cross Country Skiing