This blog post is about my preparation for working outdoors, and primarily focuses on the items in my backpack for this year.
When strolling along seafronts, walking through fields or along old paths, becomes the daily commute, there can be benefits.
When typing a document, answering an email or on a Skype call from a hill or seafront with a great view, with a fresh breeze and the sound of waves for background noise, it can have a positive impact on life.
I’m fortunate to live in such a beautiful location, but that wasn’t out of luck, but making it happen. I realise many others are not so fortunate. As with previous years, I intend to spend time enjoying my surroundings, even during the working day.
However it isn’t all sunshine and views. Finding suitable seating, dealing with sun glare, making sure your skin doesn’t burn and access to water and toilets can be an issue. Lugging around a heavy backpack or running out of battery power is also no fun. Being able to actually perform multiple office related tasks, can be a struggle.
The weather in the UK is still too cold for me to work outdoors, and it will be many months until all this ‘kit’ sees proper outdoor use. In the meantime I’m adapting some of my skills now based on my new purchases, rather than trying to ‘wing it’ later.
This post is not meant as a guide, just covering my preparation and experience, which I hope you find interesting. I will publish another post later in the year, covering any additional changes and experiences.
The type of work
My work will include basic office requirements, such as email, docs, spreadsheets etc, but also photography. This kit is primarily aimed at outdoor working, but I will at times take a cut down version with me when travelling.
The type of outdoor conditions
Warm weather, and preferably over 17 degrees Celsius when being outdoors for long periods. When working outdoors, I’ve found it is less about finding benches / seats, but more about shade, toilets and water supply. I have been known to even take an old cushion old with me, to enable me to sit at some locations!
In the past I have burnt myself when choosing the wrong location, and working in 25-30 degrees Celsius has been demanding at times. It is no fun to venture to a distant location, only to find inadequate working conditions! I have a few favourite locations, which I use based on different weather conditions, but I’m definitely looking for more this year. I’ve learnt from the past, and will be taking better care of myself this year whilst out.
What’s currently going in the backpack:
- Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7”
- Second mobile phone (for internet)
- Bluetooth keyboard
- Anker Astro E4 13000mah battery recharger
- Spare shoelaces
- Lap-It (light folding lapdesk tray)
- Canon PowerShot A490 Camera
- 2x Spare AA batteries for camera
- Camera Tripod
- 2x USB cables
- 2x Water bottles / containers
- Sun lotion
- Plastic carrier bag
- Tea towel
- Baseball cap
- Packet of tissues
- Lunch container, with optional freezer block
Notable changes to this year’s kit:
- The tablet and bluetooth keyboard have replaced a laptop.
- The battery pack (Anker) has replaced two laptop batteries.
- I purchased a light tripod.
- A water container that I can hang from the backpack (but I will carry another one as well).
So in reality, based on my experience and needs, I’ve maximised the space, and have taken advantage of the removal of bulky items. It is still a heavy backpack, especially when loaded with food and drink, but I know I can carry it.
Further ‘possible’ upcoming changes
I’ve not being carrying a small first aid kit, which I know is a mistake, and I will probably purchase one shortly. Secondly as I’m not going to use a laptop, I probably need a way to secure the tablet to my ‘lapdesk’. Perhaps a different case and velcro, but undecided.
I almost brought a Chromebook to replace my old laptop, but instead opted for the Amazon Kindle HDX 7″ tablet, and a bluetooth keyboard. I’m curious to see how the auto-brightness copes with sun glare, but I’m also willing to make a small ‘hood’ to help.
I didn’t like the sound of the ‘shake to wake’ feature in a newer Anker battery recharger model, so opted for an older push button model. I will then be able to recharge a mobile phone and the tablet whilst out.
The camera is actually a ‘downgrade’, but I will cover the reasons in another post. I might be tempted to take my old Canon PowerShot G6 out with me at times. I gave my heavy tripod to charity, which I never took out, and instead brought a cheap and light alternative.
There will be a lack of WiFi locations in most locations I will be visiting, so I will be using a couple of UK mobile phone providers. Rather than taking a MiFi only device out with me, I will be ‘tethering’ from a second (not primary) mobile phone.
The tea towel and plastic bag
It is one thing to sit at a bench (if you can find one) any enjoy a view for a short while, but another to sit there for an hour or more without shade! I’ve learnt shade is important, and sometimes the best shade doesn’t have great ground cover. So therefore the tea towel is a welcome addition.
Every so often a plastic bag comes in handy, such as being used for my rubbish until I find a bin.
I’m really push my comfort zone with a few of these changes, but with technology advances and reduced pricing, I’m looking forward to enjoying some stunning outdoor working environments later this year, whilst being productive. For now, I’m staying in the warm!
I welcome feedback and to read about your own experiences.