Camping With a Cochlear Implant

Updated on July 26, 2017

Cochlear Implant Challenges While Camping

Enjoying the great outdoors can become a challenge when faced with difficult weather and a lack of electricity with a cochlear implant processor. Our family has camped many times and has conquered the unique challenges created by a primitive environment.

Happy Camper with a Cochlear Implant!

With the right preparation and equipment, primitive camping can be a success!
With the right preparation and equipment, primitive camping can be a success! | Source

Electrical Needs While Camping

Our family often camps in primitive conditions with our son who has a cochlear implant, and access to electricity is one of the biggest challenges. Electricity is required to recharge his batteries and to operate his drying unit. Simple tips for handling electrical needs while camping include:

  1. If there is a camp office available, check with the personnel to determine if access to an electrical outlet would be allowed for medical equipment.
  2. Use disposable batteries while camping, if possible.
  3. If no electricity is available for the drying unit, obtain a desiccator jar with beads. These are effective for short-duration campouts.
  4. A solar-powered charging station is a wise purchase for families who plan on camping frequently. These units use the sun to charge a battery, which may be used to charge cochlear implant batteries.

At our most recent campout, we did have access to a medical office on site and we were able to use this office for recharging our son’s batteries and operating his drying unit. He also has a waterproof processor which uses disposable batteries, and we would use this unit at night after we had plugged in his batteries at the camp office. This allowed him to have uninterrupted access to sound during our camping trip. We have since purchased a solar-powered charging unit, which will allow us to charge his batteries without having to leave our campsite.

When buying a solar charger, make sure the chosen unit will supply enough voltage to charge your cochlear implant batteries. The GoalZero charging unit supplies enough voltage and has successfully charged our processor batteries and our cell phones.

Disposable Batteries While Camping

While our rechargeable batteries were charging, our son used a processor with a disposable battery option.
While our rechargeable batteries were charging, our son used a processor with a disposable battery option. | Source

Cochlear Implants and Weather

The most difficult elements to deal with while camping with a cochlear implant processor are rain and sub-zero temperatures. While all processors are now water-resistant or have water-proofing capability, constant rain is a challenge when dealing with electronic equipment. Sub-zero temperatures drain batteries quickly, which makes dealing with a lack of electricity more complicated than it otherwise would be.

  1. Check the forecast prior to your campout and be prepared for inclement weather.
  2. Use a water-proof processor or water-proofing accessories during rain storms.
  3. Have a dry box to store cochlear implant parts.
  4. Ensure you have a sufficient number of charged batteries and charging capability for use in sub-zero temperatures.
  5. Carry a poncho at all times.

We have experienced both rain and sub-zero temperatures while camping. My son wore his waterproof processor during rain storms and we stored his other processor in a dry box. We also did a campout at Fort Niagara with a temperature of 27°F (-2.8°C). I carried his extra, charged battery in a small pouch in my pocket to keep the battery from losing charge in the cold weather.

Processor Storage While Camping

One of the most stressful times we had while camping was the loss of a small, rechargeable battery as we were moving from one camp site to another. The battery was the size of a thumbnail and costs $300 to replace, so we anxiously looked for it to no avail. Fortunately, another group moved into that campsite and found the battery. Storage for processor parts is vital during campouts, as many parts are small and difficult to find if dropped.

We now use a small case to carry processor parts. The case is water-proof and able to hold all of the gear he needs for a camping trip. In addition, we place small parts (batteries, cables) in labeled bags to make them easier to find if they are misplaced.

Carry Extra Parts on Campouts

Being far from home necessitates having extra components like cables and batteries. When camping, the possibility of needing to replace a part in the backcountry means a list should be made of every part and a backup in case of breakage or failure.

Some extra components to pack include:

  • Cables
  • Magnet/coil
  • Ear-hooks (or T-mic, depending on brand)
  • Batteries

Basic Considerations

Camping (with Utiilities) Solution
Primitive Camping Solution
Lack of Electricity
Use of disposable batteries, use of a camp office (if available)
solar charger, use of disposable batteries
Freezing/Rainy Weather
Water-proofing gear for the processor, poncho, electrical dryer
Pellet-based desiccator, poncho, dry storage box
Component Storage
Dry storage box
Dry storage box
The basic challenges of camping with cochlear implants, and possible solutions.

Camping with No Limits!

We plan and prepare, allowing our family to have many adventures without limits!
We plan and prepare, allowing our family to have many adventures without limits! | Source

What Type of Camping Have You Done?

Have You Camped with a Cochlear Implant?

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Tent Camping with Cochlear Implants

A dry tent (protected with a proper rain fly, water repellent spray, and a ground cloth) allows both people and cochlear implant processor to remain dry and safe!
A dry tent (protected with a proper rain fly, water repellent spray, and a ground cloth) allows both people and cochlear implant processor to remain dry and safe! | Source

Successful Camping with No Limits

It is possible to go camping in a primitive environment, as long as you have a solar charger, are prepared for the climate, and have the proper back-up parts and storage. We have gone camping many times and the experiences we have had far outweigh any hassle involved in preparing for the trip!

If you have camped with a cochlear implant, what are your favorite tips and devices to make the process easier?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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    • leahlefler profile imageAUTHOR

      Leah Lefler 

      3 years ago from Western New York

      Thanks, Alicia! It is definitely a challenge. We have found rain and electricity to be the biggest challenges. We erected a dining shelter on our last campout that helped tremendously in creating a dry area outside of our tent. Now that we have a solar charger, we will have better options for camping without any access to hard-wired electricity!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Your advice sounds excellent. I'm sure it will be helpful for many people who have a cochlear implant or who have a family member or friend that has one.


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