Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Getriebekopf Hose, from Siemens.

I'm wearing intelligent pants.

Still breaking them in for now, so aside from an occasional beep you can't really tell they aren't ordinary hiker wear.

But fully operational they're rated at 140 IQ, a good 50 points above most people you meet on the trail. So I'm hopeful.

And that's just my pants. I've got other stuff too.

Being a gearhead means you need to stay ahead of the curve.

One thing you find is that, after you take that first step -- you know, crossing into TekSpace -- backpacking season becomes a constant series of upgrade cycles. This stuff isn't cheap either. I had to get a second job to pay for batteries. Luckily now I'm all solar.

But it's worth it. I'm in a class by myself.

Yesterday I downloaded all of Google Earth into my left cuff. Google Maps into the right. Today I'm working through Landsat's image database. This will take up both back pockets but the return will be huge.

This year I will be totally ready for hiking season. Ain't nobody going to have better intel than me.

I can visualize any feature on earth down to two meters in the ultraviolet, infrared, and visible wavelengths, and project contour lines at 5, 10, and 20 meter intervals on a heads-up display.

I've got high-res imagery on the Etosha pan, Eyjabakkajökull glacier, El Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve, the English Lake District, and everything else worth knowing about.

Though my hiking shirt is no slouch, the pants really carry me.

They have a phone with voice recognition dialing, a hands-free mic, and lots of apps including the hiker's favorite, Angry Bugs. Cool.

The MP3/AM/FM system automatically switches off if the phone rings, or flicks over to voice mail if I don't want to be bothered, or if I have a little business to take care of in person. Some things are still hands-on you know.

But all my gear is machine washable, just in case.

Once I get loaded up with a few hundred audio books, and lay in a copy of Wikipedia for laughs, I'll be able to hike anywhere, anytime, and know everything. And carry on an intelligent conversation with my trousers.

Hey. Maybe I'll throw in some MIT Courseware: "Unlocking Knowledge, Empowering Minds." Educating Your Pants. Take a look at architecture, or health sciences. Get a degree in management. Find out how to set up a windproof, waterproof-breathable shell corporation. There's no limit.

But first, while my pants are charging up, me too. Time for a power nap. No chance of oversleeping. Got the tingle alarm set for dawn, Babe.

I'm on it.