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  Kayaking with a laptop
  Posted by: Waterbird on Apr-25-13 11:26 AM (EST)
   Category: unassigned 

Hypothetical situation: You go on a two-week working vacation for which you need your laptop. In the middle of your vacation you take four days for kayak camping. Which is the safest place for your laptop?

1) In the trunk of your car at the launch.

2) In your kayak, even though you don't need your laptop while you're camping.

Is there something waterproof I can put the laptop in? I hate the idea of leaving it in my car.

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Messages in this Topic


  If the hotel you were staying at
  Posted by: Reefmonkey on Apr-25-13 11:33 AM (EST)
before your kayaking trip is the one you will be staying at after your kayaking trip, or you can practically swing by it after your kayaking trip, I would ask the hotel staff if they can store it for you for those 4 days, and give it to them in a padlocked secure case. That would be the safest option.

I have checked out of hotels around the world, and asked them to store luggage for me for a few days (my scuba gear for 7 days in Africa), rarely have I ever had a problem. There are some that might be loathe to take the responsibility for a laptop (I just hid mine in a larger suitcase and didn't tell them about it in Japan) but providing it in a secure case could overcome their concerns.
  Excellent suggestion.
  Posted by: ezwater on Apr-25-13 5:00 PM (EST)
  both have their risks
  Posted by: kayamedic on Apr-25-13 11:34 AM (EST)
condensation on the river can wreck a computer..even if it is double dry bagged.

But if you have dough Pelican makes a computer case. The O ring keeps out condensation and you can add dessicant pouches inside.

Now will it fit in the hatch?
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Apr-25-13 11:34 AM (EST)
to each his/her own. but I cannot imagine taking a backcountry trip and having to devote some of that time to work.
  read again
  Posted by: kayamedic on Apr-25-13 11:43 AM (EST)
the OP is taking a camping trip in the middle of a work trip..

Under number 2. OP just wants item safe; not using it.
  Well he did call it a "working vacation"
  Posted by: Reefmonkey on Apr-25-13 11:51 AM (EST)
I'm not sure exactly what that is. It sounds like a vacation where you still have to do some work. I have had business trips where I got to do some play, in Japan, Germany and France, and in Spain, but that is different. Company paid for my flights over and all hotel expenses except for those during days I might have extended my trip to sightsee, and the days I was working were not counted against my vacation days. A "working vacation" sounds more like you are taking vacation days and traveling on your own dime, but still have to get some work done during at least some of those vacation days, which sounds like a bummer.
  Posted by: jcbikeski on Apr-25-13 11:59 AM (EST)
I hear similar from many on things related to work and technology. People put down the idea of bringing any way to communicate or do work. I agree it's best not to, but people need to understand the many varied situations others are in. Imagine you have a good paying job you enjoy and that puts a roof over your head and food for your kids, but the nature of the job means you're needed quickly for the next six months. The ability to work or check in may be the difference between not going anywhere at all. Life is full of compromises and you need to do what it takes to get out and enjoy life while still being a responsible person. I've mostly avoided being in this situation but I fully understand those that are.
  that's why I said "to each his/her own"
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Apr-25-13 12:24 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-25-13 12:26 PM EST --

I would avoid it like the plague. If it meant the difference between eating and not eating, obviously I would choose eating.

One of my beefs with electronic technology and social media is that it makes it easier to stop trying to avoid work. I'm not convinced everyone assesses "need" to the degree they can,but of course I'm placing my own value on a work-free vacation. I put a lot of thought and pre-planning into avoiding such situations, whether the "need" has just been expanded from a matter of convenience, and FWIW I would find it pretty unpleasant to be on a trip with someone else who did their work during the trip unless they absolutely had to.

I'm not judging the OP, I misunderstood their question.

  On the other hand . . .
  Posted by: Waterbird on Apr-25-13 4:28 PM (EST)
This isn't a case of "I'm so glued to my work that I can't even take a vacation without my laptop." It's the opposite: I enjoy the outdoors so much that I take frequent trips and bring my work with me. I probably spend more time in the outdoors than people who take nonworking vacations. Plus these trips pay for themselves. What's not to like?
   try reading my post again
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Apr-25-13 4:30 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-25-13 4:30 PM EST --

...because you missed this last line:

"I'm not judging the OP, I misunderstood their question."

I guess we both goofed!

  Not judging, just said its a bummer
  Posted by: Reefmonkey on Apr-25-13 4:48 PM (EST)
if he has to do that.

For me on vacation, my smart phone is usually good enough if something comes up, and the hotel business center if I need a real computer. Though now that I have a tablet, I take that on vacations with me a lot.
  you need to apologize about 3 more times
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Apr-25-13 4:57 PM (EST)
It's obvious a nerve was struck. I'll never say anything negative about taking electronics for work on vacation ever again.
  mea culpa, my poor reading
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Apr-25-13 12:27 PM (EST)
  Posted by: Waterbird on Apr-25-13 4:10 PM (EST)
No hotel involved. Only two options are the car and the kayak.

Being able to work on the road allows me to take multiple trips each year. I always struggle with how to keep unused items (bike, other gear) safe while I'm out kayak camping.
  So other than the 4 days of kayak
  Posted by: Reefmonkey on Apr-25-13 6:03 PM (EST)
camping, where are you sleeping?
  but better than not going at all
  Posted by: jcbikeski on Apr-25-13 11:43 AM (EST)
Personally I would make sure I'm fully backed up then keep the laptop hidden in the car. If the data is safe but someone steals my car the laptop would not be high on my list of concerns. You just want to hide it well enough than they don't casually break in and grab it.
  I've done both, but usually truck it
  Posted by: Glenn_MacGrady on Apr-25-13 12:12 PM (EST)
I have taken my laptop in my canoe in a waterproof camera bag on day trips just because I feared break-ins to my van. However, the vast majority of time I leave it in the van. I carry so much stuff of value to me in my van that the laptop just goes into the break-in risk pool. Plus, my Voyageur waterproof camera bag finally broke after 25 years.

I now have a new laptop, which will stay at home, and I'll travel with my old one, which will always stay in the van when I'm paddling.
  If in the car
  Posted by: carldelo on Apr-25-13 4:19 PM (EST)
you might tuck it in with the spare tire, if you have one. On some cars the spare is under a panel under a carpet in the trunk. But what about the temperature inside a car in the summer? In the NY area, I'd worry about cooking the bits.

How about shipping it home before the kayak trip? Wouldn't work if you need it afterwards, though.

In the old days you could ship it to yourself care of general delivery at post office so-and-so, then pick it up later with ID. Or put it in a coin locker at a bus or train station.

How about pawning it and buying it back after the trip? OK, I'm officially out of ideas....
  checking here
  Posted by: suzanneh on Apr-25-13 5:13 PM (EST)
And see if someone here is close to where you are starting from and can leave a packed bag and pick up at the end of the trip. I wouldn't want to leave it in a locked hot car nor take it in the kayak. Even if you buy a good protective case you then give up space in the kayak for it.
  Could you
  Posted by: mjamja on Apr-25-13 5:52 PM (EST)
1. Mail it to yourself at general delivery.

2. UPS or Fed Express it to your next destination with signing required so you pick it up at their main office.


  Other options:
  Posted by: Reefmonkey on Apr-25-13 6:20 PM (EST)
Greyhound bus terminal rental lockers (if they still have those post 9/11)

Rent a storage unit. I used to store my apartment furniture over the summer so I know you can do it month by month, and small storage units can be as low as $19 a month.

See about renting a PO box at a Fed Ex Office or a little mom and pop Mail Depot kind of place.

Any friends or family nearby?

In short, I would do anything BUT leave the laptop in the car or take it in the kayak with me. I would not trust even the best waterproof box to keep a laptop dry in a small boat, and leaving your vehicle unattended for several days somewhere that you obviously aren't leaving it in a trusted friend's garage (or else you'd just leave it with the friend), you are taking a really big risk.

Other option - decide either that this trip isn't one you are going to take your laptop on, or this trip isn't one you go on a kayak camping trip. Of course it's your laptop, you may not be too worried about the cost of replacing it, but if you decide to leave it in your car or take it with you, make sure you have backed up all your files in a cloud or an external hard drive that you leave at home, because chances are, you'll need it.
  Those are my worries
  Posted by: Waterbird on Apr-25-13 10:17 PM (EST)
I take too many trips to fool around with FedEx etc.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned is the risk of loss of personal data---identity theft, loss of privacy and so on. Some people have their entire work and personal lives on their laptops.

I'm thinking that with the laptop in the kayak I at least have some control over its fate, whereas I have no control at all over my car at the launch. The more I think about it the riskier it feels to leave it in the car.

My hatches have always been watertight.
  double drybag it anyway
  Posted by: kayamedic on Apr-25-13 10:37 PM (EST)
This is no time to invite Murphy to go with you.
  Personal data worries? PGP or TrueCrypt
  Posted by: somalley on May-06-13 2:45 PM (EST)
If you've got sensitive data on your laptop, it should be encrypted. Use PGP, TrueCrypt, or something similar to render the data useless to anyone who steals the unit. Or if you're really paranoid, spring for a hardware-based encryption system.
  Posted by: Waterbird on May-04-13 4:44 PM (EST)
So I put the laptop in the hatch inside a couple of plastic bags (not drybags). Not a drop of water got inside the hatch.

However, I concluded that the laptop was an underused hassle and I will try not to take it in the future. One concern was that I was storing food in the other hatch. I wondered if some bear was going to tear the whole kayak apart and gnaw on the laptop. No signs of any animals, but why cause yourself that anxiety if you can avoid it?

[I know I shouldn't store food in the hatches in black bear country. I usually hang food but got lazy this time.]
  Posted by: CEWilson on May-04-13 9:51 PM (EST)
Pelly makes waterproof laptop cases, but yeah, if under used, home may be safer, depending on home perimeters.
  Ha! That's true!
  Posted by: Waterbird on May-04-13 10:24 PM (EST)
Your house is at risk just as well when you're out in the puckerbrush for a week.
  back-up and encrypt
  Posted by: RubricOfRuin on May-05-13 5:30 AM (EST)
regularly back-up your data and have hardware-based full disk encryption with separate encrypted folders for personal things (banking etc). I'm not in the least worried somone pinched my laptop - not only data is useless, it is also boobytrapped to call me back if the idiot tries to switch it on connected ot the net. Though encryption to the standard I use is illegal where I live, frankly, I could not care less.
  safest place
  Posted by: jonsprag1 on May-05-13 7:45 AM (EST)
is back at your office--that way you can enjoy your vacation without distractions
  Posted by: magooch on May-05-13 10:22 AM (EST)
Personally, I would be much more concerned about my vehicle than I would be about the contents. If the parking was less than secure, I would try to find a better place to park. No paddling adventure is enhanced by having to worry about returning to a break-in, or vandalism to your car.

I realize that pretty much eliminates a heck of a lot of paddling opportunities, but that seems to be the way the world is these days.
  Pelican Case
  Posted by: paddletothesea on May-05-13 3:40 PM (EST)
Google it.
waterproof laptop case!!!
  How far is your launch from a town?
  Posted by: timothy585 on May-05-13 5:00 PM (EST)
I've done this before and usually I'll spend an extra $30-$40 for cab ride from and back to town. I sleep MUCH better at night knowing my car and equipment is at a much safer location, i.e. airport lot or even a 24 hour major convenience or grocery store, than sitting at a launch. This is easily done of course if you are not hauling the canoe on top of the vehicle you want to leave in town. But, if then, it's not that bad. Unload your equipment at the launch...have someone watch it while you drive back to town, park somewhere safe and take a cab back to the launch. Now if you're launch is 30 miles from the nearest town...well, I dunno.

Nothing is ever 100% guaranteed, but I just don't like leaving my vehicle at an unattended launch for days...

  Pelican laptop cases are good
  Posted by: WestCoastPaddler on May-05-13 5:58 PM (EST)
I often take my laptop when kayaking (and I don't care what others think about it -- if they would rather be inside working, that's their business -- me? I'd rather be working on a picturesque beach somewhere instead of in a stuffy office).

I use one of the Pelican Laptop cases (it's a bit older than the current models) and have never had any issues. Mine is similar to this case:

I also use a Watershed waterproof bag for carrying extra batteries, mouse, etc.

  River nerds...
  Posted by: pamskee on May-06-13 12:59 AM (EST)
The techno hubby needs to stay in touch (we have our own biz)so he usually has nerd foof along. Pelican has kept the electronics safe and we haul the travel guitar in a Watershed bag. We've left items in the care of outfitters or innkeepers with satisfactory results. Don't leave stuff in a hot car.


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