Last week I played with mini routers (like TL-WR703N) and to me it looks like they could do what CHIP does, but much better.
TL-WR703N can run OpenWRT which is a version of Linux for routers. It has USB port so peripherals can be added, including USB flash drive for storage and RTL-SDR stick for reception, so there is a chance that Outernet software can be ported to this devices. Size and weight are also similar to CHIP.
Now the benefits:
Extremely low power consumption. Yesterday I tried how long TL-WR703N can work autonomously using the same power bank that can support CHIP for ~5 hours. TL-WR703N worked autonomously for whopping 22 hours and 39 minutes (with USB flash drive attached and while running airodump-ng in SSH session)!. And that’s not even new power bank, it was made of recycled laptop battery (4 x 18650 Li-ion pieces). According to my measurements it consumes 0.1A @ 5V without peripherals or 0.2A with USB flash drive attached. With solar battery it could run for weeks or more, depending on weather.
More than decent, fully configurable wifi. TL-WR703N uses Atheros wifi chip which has fully configurable wifi module that can work in all possible modes. Power output is configurable from 1 mW to 500 mW.