Sign up FAST! Login

Google wants to build the world’s best off-road map. And they want your help.

Last summer, Google launched a unique program in which it loans out backpack versions of its car-mounted Street View cameras, called Trekkers, to intrepid explorers.

Backpack to the Future | Hiking and Backpacking |

Backpack to the Future | Hiking and Backpacking |

The unit, which came with a 32-ounce Nalgene that dangled from one side at hip-level, was wired to a Galaxy Nexus, housed in a near-indestructible case that dangled from the other. The phone served as the pack’s controller, letting users tap in their manner of travel, with options including everything from canoe, to dogsled, to horseback. It also streamed a checkerboard of images across its screen as we hiked. Then the GPS-stamped, 360-degree pictures were saved to an ejectable, 480-gigabyte SSD disk.

With all that gear, though, the Trekker gets pretty heavy. Google says the basic pack is about 40 pounds—but as soon as I put it on, I realized all the extras made the whole thing weigh considerably more. As I headed uphill, I had to work to keep a steady pace and stay upright. The soccer ball–shaped camera above my head made the device seriously top-heavy. And I definitely didn’t want to be the one to drop it: Google’s mum on what each Trekker costs, and I doubt I could afford to repair one.

Stashed in: Google

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

That is way heavier than I thought would be practical!

You May Also Like: