Backpacking With A Voice Recorder

Forum Posting

A Membership is required to post in the forums. Login or become a member to post in the member forums!

Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Backpacking With A Voice Recorder

Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)
  • Author
  • #1309043
    Stephanie Jordan


    Locale: Rocky Mountains

    Companion forum thread to:

    Backpacking With A Voice Recorder

    Ivan Dominguez
    BPL Member


    Locale: Canary Islands

    I always took a tape recorder in my travels as a teenager, and now hear the recording is wonderful. It may be good idea to keep one in my travels.
    Thanks for sharing your ideas, very interesting.

    Stephen Barber
    BPL Member


    Locale: SoCal

    It's always nice for an extrovert to have someone (or something) to talk to, even when alone in the woods.

    Rex Sanders
    BPL Member


    Funny, several personality tests over decades tell me I'm a strong introvert, and (more important) my wife agrees.

    Maybe introverts like talking to someone/something they know well :-)

    — Rex

    Ken Thompson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Right there

    The best conversations are those we have with ourselves. Last time I scored a 100% was on the introvert portion of a personality test.

    David Thomas
    BPL Member


    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    As a introvert, I totally understand the pluses of having a recorder along.

    Would extroverts ever go on a solo trip?

    Stephen Barber
    BPL Member


    Locale: SoCal

    Hmmm. As another 100% introvert, I can't imagine myself talking on a recorder, or listening to myself again afterwards. I go to the hills to escape voices, and to record them.

    spelt with a t
    BPL Member


    Locale: Rangeley, ME

    I usually write my feelings and observations–have kept a private blog for close to a decade now, and paper notes and journals on all manner of things from tea tastings to backpacking trips. I sometimes use my phone's voice recorder function in the car when I have a thought but no way to (safely) write it down. I've considered getting a dedicated voice recorder. This was a useful article. Thanks, Rex.

    Mark Armesto
    BPL Member


    Usually, the audio quality from an on-camera mic is feeble. I use a SONY PCM-M10 with a fur cover to create digital recordings while videoing with my GoPro or other camera. I combine the files using video editing software. Good video dies revs quality stereo sound. Oh, yes; I can record my thoughts, too. It's not ultra light, but worth it.

    Marko Botsaris
    BPL Member


    Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA

    "I always took a tape recorder in my travels as a teenager, and now hear the recording is wonderful. It may be good idea to keep one in my travels."

    Yes, it is always good to remember that different parts of the brain experience, and especially remember things differently based on the mode of experience and recording. If you want a multi-faceted , and even original experience, mix in some other modes.

    I have done a good bit of sketching on trips, and my experience and memory of a particular landscape or scene is totally different than when I take a photo. If I look at a sketch of a particular scene and a photo of the same scene taken at the same time my memory is completely different. The memories get recorded in your brain differently, and both the process and method of recording draws out different details. Sounds weird (but pretty commonplace for people who draw) but when I look at a sketch, and especially while I am doing it, it is like my left hand is touching the scene. So there is even a bit of the tactile in there. A photo has a way of picking up small, sometimes trivial details in a scene that when you are there your brain doesn't want to see, like novelty maps – "New Yorker's Map of the USA" where Manhattan is huge, there are a few other small dots like LA, and the entire Midwest is missing. Somehow when the brain looks at a 2d image it then "sees" those detail. Having recordings from years ago must trigger a ton of stuff. Wish I had a few as well.

    Too bad we don't have smell recording devices. Our memory seems to be wired in a very powerful way for smells – possibly some leftover circuitry from way back in the evolutionary tree. The classic example everyone knows about is when you smell a food from your childhood and it triggers a huge bundle of non-smell memories along with it. I wonder what a bear's sense memory of smells is like? It must be overpowering. I'd love to have a recording (scratch and sniff?) of juniper and sage from one of my trips, or the first time I experienced the smell of a little rain hitting very dry earth in Santa Fe, NM. It is a very particular earthy smell with no name, equal parts mineral, dried plant stuff, and something else totally unidentifiable, but very powerful. I occasionally smell it in very different places, and then I remember walking in Santa Fe in the place I first smelled it, exactly how it looked and the way it felt to me at the time, and not just the smell. Very weird and cool.

    The present experience also depends on memory, and not always in a subtle way. For example, it is pretty well established that under the right conditions if a person eats a food that is tainted, especially for the first time, that food can actually TASTE bad to that person forever after, and I don't mean just lead to bad memories of barfing. The individual will actually report that it tastes bad and is inedible. I guess this would explain a lot about difference in what people like.

    David Moreno
    BPL Member


    Locale: New England

    I also carry a Sansa Clip Mp3 player. I have it 2/3 full of music for crowded or noisy campsites, and use the left over space to speak reminders and notes into.

    I've come across a few beautiful scenic areas on extension trails before that were crowded with people. No real photo ops, so I've left myself a note on the recorder so I wouldn't forget to try again on the way out.

    I've also used it to help remember any problems I experienced with gear, and what gear I didn't use on longer trips. I've found that after 2 weeks of pulling a piece of gear out but not using it, that I can't remember too well if I used it or not. I tend to get oblivious to remembering the little things when I'm out, so I have to take notes to remember.

    So I guess I'd call it a multiple use item for myself, and with very little weight.

    Mark V.
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    Now that this article is two yesrs old, do you have any updates on the recorder you use or how you use it?

    I carry a Tascam DR-40 for nature recording and never thought of taking voice notes until I read this article. I wonder if others are recording ambient sound also, and if they use the same recorder or take two.

    I could see a benifit in two, one small for voice and one larger for sound. Although the weight will start to add up.

    Rex Sanders
    BPL Member



    I’m still using that Olympus WS-802 for recording hiking and backpacking. I lost it between seat cushions for a while, and bought an Olympus WS-822 replacement just before I found it again. I also used the WS-802 to record hours of interviews while I was in grad school last year. Worked great.

    I used better recorders in grad school (e.g. Zoom H4N, similar to your Tascam) for podcasts and radio shows including outdoor ambient sound, and they record much better audio – at a penalty in price, weight, complexity, and battery consumption. If you need broadcast-quality sound or better, those are the tradeoffs.

    Sometimes an external mic makes a huge difference, never tried one on my Olympus recorders.

    — Rex

    Rex Sanders
    BPL Member


    Quick update on how I’m carrying a recorder now, and it’s working pretty well after a couple of years.

    In brief: on a lanyard around my neck, in a soft neoprene case, under a shirt most of the time.

    Advantages over old system of recorder in shorts pocket:

    – Much harder to accidentally drop or lose.
    – Easy enough to get it out, make a quick recording, and put it back again.
    – Reasonably weather proof.

    When it’s raining, the recorder is under my umbrella or poncho, as well as inside a neoprene case. This setup worked well on a 5-day trip where it rained for three days.

    I keep it under my shirt to prevent the recorder from bouncing as I walk. The neoprene case is soft enough that I rarely notice, and it protects the recorder from sweat, too.

    I also wrapped the neoprene case with red and white duct tape to make it harder to lose.

    — Rex

Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Forum Posting

A Membership is required to post in the forums. Login or become a member to post in the member forums!

Get the Newsletter

Get our free Handbook and Receive our weekly newsletter to see what's new at Backpacking Light!

Gear Research & Discovery Tools