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I thought I would write this blog post to hopefully inspire others.  Using a CPAP isn't the end of the world if you are an outdoors person.  If you like a bit of car camping there are many options, cheap lead acid/sealed batteries are available and together with a converter make it all possible, however backpacking and multi day hikes require a bit more effort. 

For the 18 months or so I have been doing a lot of backpacking in the UK and around the world.  With some planning and unfortunately some cash backpacking is possible.  I have spent a while fine tuning the setup and I suspect there is more to go but I have a reasonable system now that allows be to go for approx 1 week backpacking without any worries and a reasonable weight penalty.  So far this year I have done numerous UK wildcamps and a few foreign trips, including walking the Amalfi coast in Italy, New Hampshire in the USA and my latest trip 7 days backpacking

in Yellowstone National Park, USA.  My setup is a Somnetic Transcend Auto, a Mobile Adapter, some Transcend batterries and also some Tracer batterries.  I have a variety of batterries due to collecting them over the 18 months trial time and also to allow for different flight limits etc.  Some EU flights still limit the batterries to 100Wh, but international are normally all 160Wh now.  With this is mind, I have some 96 and 97Wh batteries for those flights and some 120Wh ones for international flights.  For that longer trip in the UK when a flight isnt needed I have a 264Wh battery which gives me 6 nights.  Over time I have worked out what works and what doesnt.

If you are backpacking, just -10C will take about 25% off the battery capacity.  If its cold make sure the battery is in the sleeping bag with you or under a quilt.  Also think about something to clear your nose, especially if you are using a nasal only mask.  If you are blocked up whilst out backpacking your machine will be ramping up the pressure (it an auto) and hence draining the battery power so make sure you have some nasal spray with you.

Other things to remember are the minimum voltage in some of the mobile adapters.  Some mobile adapters for some machines have a minimum voltage, especially ones used to run with 14.4V batteries.  The mobile adapters have same electronics to step up the voltage from 12V to 14.4V.  If the battery gets to below 10V then the CPAP stops.  This is especially bad in cold weather as the voltage will probably be 1V lower than normal so you may end up with no working CPAP even though you have power in your battery.

Also think about the seal, if you get a leak, even a small leak it will drain more power.  And dont rely on your CPAP manufacturer to be be helpful, CPAP machines are FDA approved medical devices so they wont entertain anything outside the scope of they do or sell.  Even changing a lead for your adapter may mean no help and a voided warranty.

But having said all the above, it is fantastic to get out into the wild and not have a CPAP stop you from doing what you love and enjoy!

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Comment by Kath Hope on October 4, 2016 at 22:04

Thanks for sharing this Richard (and also welcome to the forum).  Great to see you don't let using CPAP be an obstacle in your life, and also good to note you have the energy to enjoy your backpacking :)

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