Thursday, November 03, 2022

Batteries and the Backcountry

There is an interesting conversation going on, on the Fatbike Hunters Facebook page about e-bike battery life not being all that it's advertised to be. Of course, I had to insert my 2-cents worth about my Cogburn getting 20 miles on a good breakfast, but it got me thinking. How dependent have we become on battery-powered devices in our backcountry pursuits?

Admittedly, I am hardly e-free. I have a Garmin Edge Explorer GPS for my bikes, and I have a bracket on the Cogburn for my cell phone when I am using Trout Routes, (for whom I am also an Ambassador). I also have an older Garmin Etrex 30 that I use while snowshoeing/skiing or hiking, and I have onX-Hunt and onX-Backcountry and a couple other navigation apps on my phone when I'm doing something other than fishing or cycling, as well as Garmin Connect, which tracks any physical activity I engage in, and Ride With GPS app for cycling, that is always adding more and functionality to it's service. But I am going into the backcountry, I also have a topographic map on waterproof paper and a magnetic (analog) compass with me, because all of the aforementioned devices and apps rely on batteries and electronics. Also, in the winter, batteries loose power a lot faster when it's below freezing.

I've ridden a 65-pound bike, my Bianchi Volpe or my old Novara Safari, both 30-ish pound touring bikes with fully loaded panniers. Steep hills are no fun, even less so if you have to dismount and push. Every e-bike I have checked out starts at 65-pounds, unloaded, I assume, except for the battery which I am told weigh from 10 pounds to over 20 for the new, super heavy-duty models. It's one thing if the battery dies on my GPS. I can always stuff it in my pack and pull out the map and compass. If the battery dies on an e-bike, you don't really have that option. You're riding 65-plus pounds of dead weight. I don't even want to think about having to push 70 pounds of wide tires on a snow-covered trail.

So, that is one of the variety of reasons I haven't made the jump to an e-bike yet. I know I probably will eventually, but for now my Cogburn, my Volpe, and I are doing just fine. I will weigh (pun intended) the advantages when the time comes. All of my apps and I can get along just fine, as long as I include in my "10 Essentials" spare batteries, (my headlamp. GPS, and flashlight all use the same AA batteries.) a map, and a compass.