E-Readers for backpacking?

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drm
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E-Readers for backpacking?

Post by drm » September 10th, 2012, 9:24 am

Although I use a 2 pound tent, a one pound 850 down fill sleeping bag, I'm not what anybody would consider an ultra-lighter. My core gear is UL, but I bring a lot of extras. I bring a lot more clothes than I really need, but won't go into that now.

I also always bring reading material. While it is possible to find very lightweight reading material and one of the most hardcore ULers I every hiked with brought reading material, I often bring whatever I'm already reading at home, which is sometimes quite heavy. I don't want to stop reading what I'm already into and start something else to save the weight, particularly since I often won't finish it during the trip.

It occurred to me that an e-Reader might be a good solution. One of the smaller Kindles comes in at 13.9 ounces. More than a small paperback I imagine, but less than what I carried last weekend by far. Battery life seems adequate. And then I wouldn't be faced with trolling the library for a paperback, which is a problem since libraries prefer long-lived hardbacks.

So does anybody have experience with them? Any durability issues? They say that they have a huge selection, but as a library user, I rarely pay for reading material, so I'm not sure I'm going to like that, even if it doesn't exactly break the budget.

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Re: E-Readers for backpacking?

Post by justpeachy » September 10th, 2012, 9:42 am

I work in a library and help people with their e-readers on an almost daily basis, so although I don't own one myself I have experience with a lot of different kinds.

If you're a library user then you still have e-books available to you. If you're an Oregon resident you can download e-books from Library2Go. The selection is not as good as the print selection in the library because many publishers are scared out of their minds about people checking out e-books for free and therefore won't license their titles to libraries. That said, there are still MANY good e-books to be had if you're willing to put some time into searching. And of course if you want to buy e-books then the sky's the limit!

There are two kinds of e-readers: the color tablets like the iPad and the Kindle Fire, and the B&W low-contrast e-readers. The tablets have more bells and whistles, so if all you want is to read e-books then you probably don't need one of those. That said, if you want to read in your tent after dark, those color tablets will work better because their screens are basically like an iPhone screen or a computer screen. The B&W ones don't have that backlight so when you're reading in low-light situations you'd need to provide the light. The B&W ones are easy to read in full sunlight. The color tablets are not.

I do NOT recommend getting some cheap e-reader that no one has ever heard of. I always cringe when people bring in some cheap Literati that they bought at Grocery Outlet for $40 (I kid you not). If you just want a simple e-reader I would recommend the Kindle Touch or the Nook Touch. They are lightweight, compact, and relatively easy to use. Both have the capability to download e-books on the device straight from their respective e-book stores. And both are compatible with library e-books, by the way, although the process of downloading/transferring library e-books is a little easier/faster with the Kindle than the Nook.

All devices are fairly durable, within limits of course. Definitely get a case for whichever one you get. It's worth the extra few ounces.

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drm
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Re: E-Readers for backpacking?

Post by drm » September 10th, 2012, 9:52 am

Thanks for the info, Cheryl. I wasn't even aware that libraries provided e-books. I'm in Washington and a part of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. I will look into what they have and how it works. They have an app to install for downloading e-books, but I guess I need to buy my reader first.

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turtle
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Re: E-Readers for backpacking?

Post by turtle » September 10th, 2012, 10:39 am

Dean,
I've carried a Kindle keyboard, an older model, for a year or so in a padded nylon sleeve with a resealable baggy for water and shock protection. I carry it in my clothes bag or a protected pocket in the pack. It weighs about 10 ozs. on my scale. The screen isn't back-lit so a headlamp is required for reading after dark. Upside is the screen is very clear even in bright sunlight. Books published before 1923 or so are in public domain so they can be acquired for very little or free. For example I got all of Mark Twain for $2.50. I think the E-reader isn't a book so much as a portable library. The battery has lasted up to three plus weeks as long as I keep the Wi-Fi time to a minimum. The Kindle I have officially requires me to send it back to Amazon to replace the battery; something to consider when you buy an E-reader.
Summer breezes caressed me, my legs stepped forward as though possessed of their own appetite, and the mountains kept promising. Rebecca Solnit

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jdemott
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Re: E-Readers for backpacking?

Post by jdemott » September 10th, 2012, 10:42 am

One important difference between the color and B&W e-readers is battery life. The B&W models, like the basic Kindle, employ a technology that uses very little power, while the color displays draw a fair amount of power to provide the illumination that allows you to read them in the dark, etc. The latest B&W Kindle (Paperwhite) has a light for reading at night and is advertised as having a battery life of 8 weeks, whereas the battery life of a color tablet would be measured in hours. For backpacking trips longer than one or two nights, extended battery life would be a big plus.

There are lots of free and inexpensive e-books available online as well, although they are generally out-of-copyright works. Libraries are the best source for more current works if you don't want to pay.

The Kindles seem very durable, but I think a case or cover is worthwhile to guard against blows directly to the face of the screen (which is probably the biggest risk of damage).

Whether you are backpacking or at home, one of the nicest things about the e-readers is that you have not just one book, but potentially hundreds of books, with you all the time. So you can take your favorites along on a trip and decide which one you want to read when you get there.

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Koda
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Re: E-Readers for backpacking?

Post by Koda » September 10th, 2012, 11:35 am

Are ebook files proprietary to the device, or can I buy any ebook and read it on any device?
lightweight, cheap, strong... pick 2

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Re: E-Readers for backpacking?

Post by justpeachy » September 10th, 2012, 12:20 pm

Koda wrote:Are ebook files proprietary to the device, or can I buy any ebook and read it on any device?
There are several different e-book formats. EPUB, for example, can be read on just about any e-reader except a Kindle. Amazon has a proprietary format that only works with Kindles or Kindle apps (i.e. if you installed a Kindle app on your iPad you can read Kindle books with that.) It's a major headache to have all these different formats out there!

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Koda
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Re: E-Readers for backpacking?

Post by Koda » September 10th, 2012, 5:50 pm

justpeachy wrote:Amazon has a proprietary format that only works with Kindles or Kindle apps
that's really too bad, pretty much limits your choice of what device to buy once you invest in an ebook collection your committed to the device brand forever.
lightweight, cheap, strong... pick 2

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Re: E-Readers for backpacking?

Post by hlee » September 10th, 2012, 6:42 pm

I always take my Kindle Fire hiking. But then, I'm not concerned about weight or anything. I just want to be able to sit down and read at any time if I choose. If I hike somewhere and find some nice spot to sit and have lunch, I enjoy being able to kick back and read, and have choices for whatever I'm in the mood for. I have a skin and a nice case to protect them. I don't own a lot of nice or expensive things, so I treasure my Kindle.

I also have some helpful apps on there, a birding app, some topo maps... there's others that would be useful to, I just haven't had the ambition to get them all on there.

Hannah

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Re: E-Readers for backpacking?

Post by Dustin DuBois » September 10th, 2012, 6:46 pm

I use my smartphone for reading ebooks but for that to work on a weekend backpacking trip or something, I would need extra batteries and/or a good solar charger. Especially since I also use my phone for taking pictures =D.

The e-ink devices would definitely be the best option for trail-side reading, due to the significant battery life that's been mentioned already.

I'm trying to win a Nook right now but if that doesn't work out then I'm probably gonna get a Kindle and I'll definitely take it hiking with me as I read like a fiend. They have light pouches that make them "splash proof" and help protect against scratches, as well as harder cases (more weight).

A clip on light or a headlamp would work fine for some sleeping bag story time, if the device doesn't have a built-in light (not constant back-lighting, just a switchable LED).

--

Amazon does have a proprietary format but it's not required to use it on the device, at least. You can use a program called Calibre to manage your ebook library (I have a -large- one) and convert books between formats (not all books will let you, I think - due to Digital Rights Management).

Basically, if you want to shop Amazon's ebooks - get a Kindle. If you want to shop Barns & Noble's ebooks - get a Nook. Either should let you read a few other ebook formats so you can get books from Other sources and read them on there. Just, those two are competitors so they don't like to play nice.
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