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Phones on the Trail - Do You Bring Yours?


Aaron Zagrodnick
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How Often Do You Bring Your Phone While Backpacking & Hiking?  

33 members have voted

  1. 1. How Often Do You Bring Your Phone While Backpacking & Hiking?

    • Always
      14
    • Most of the Time
      8
    • 50/50
      0
    • Not Very Often
      2
    • Never
      4


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Aaron Zagrodnick

Do you take your phone into the backcountry? I used to be in the adamant "Never" group, until the time I ended up stranded at an unexpected trailhead and it took forever to find a ride when a quick call would have done the trick in just a few minutes. Of course now that I do usually take my smartphone, that hasn't happened again. :D These days I view it as more of a tool - I have topo maps for the area I'll be hiking in saved to the phone in addition to my paper maps, it has GPS capability that's been a time saver on a few occasions, and one night I was even able to determine that the bird keeping me awake directly above my tent in the early morning hours was in fact, a Northern Saw-whet Owl utilizing the bird field guide app I have on the phone. It can also serve as a backup camera and I've even used the notepad to start a few TrailGroove articles at night on a few occasions.

Of course there are some drawbacks, such as a little extra weight and the worry of keeping another electronic item dry. However it could be said that the largest drawback is being too connected - I’m lucky enough to usually backpack in areas where I won’t get service, but I can recall one time in the Maze District of Canyonlands (Often referred to as one of the most remote places in the contiguous United States) where I happened to pick up pretty good service and the emails started flooding in – Not really the best way to get away from it all. Luckily here in Wyoming mountains usually help with that problem.

In any event, I'm now in the "Most of the Time" group - Interested to hear your take!

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I voted "most of the time" but should probably have voted "always" because I'm migrating that way. I've been glad to have my phone with me far more often than I've been glad to not have it.

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i always have it as it serves as my camera as well, just keep it on airplane mode or shut off entirely. it comes in handy coming off the trail, to get a shuttle.in an emergency, i can depend on it failing, so i dont rely on it,but its a useful tool.

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I always bring it. Keep it on airplane mode for sure. I use it as my camera, clock, and alarm. I can get 4 days of use on airplane mode. I bought one of those booster chargers for longer trips.

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Someday there will be smart phones that don't have to be recharged every day, and they will be really useful on the trail.

I'm hiking the John Muir Trail this summer and expecting to see lots of people with dead cell phone and solar chargers that don't work. If that's not the case, I'll buy a solar charger and start carrying a smart phone on the trail.

Right now I carry an old flip phone turned of most of the time. If I'm on a volunteer project for the forest service, someone has to carry a sat phone to check in twice a day, so I won't bring my own phone.

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As one of the few remaining owners of a "dumb" phone, I almost never bring it on the trail. It would rarely be useful for emergencies, since mountain cell phone coverage is unreliable at best. I've carried it when I know I will have reception and need to contact someone, in which case I leave it off, turn it on at the contact spot, then turn it off again.

At least so far, smartphones are mediocre replacements for satellite rescue beacons, cameras, watches, GPS units, maps, and books (and telephones...). I'm willing to carry the "real" versions of the ones I want -- a camera, watch, and sometimes a map, book, and GPS -- because they're still much better. I think physics will always prevent phones from replacing cameras or watches, but maybe someday a portable, durable sat-phone with a color e-ink screen will replace the rest.

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I take mine for the reason I don't want to leave it in the car. Too expensive to replace. I do enjoy it for reading, though, I must confess.

Solar charger do not work well from what I've read and seen thru-hikers use. Anker boxes seem to be the way to go.

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I agree with seano: rescue beacons are the way to go if you really need help! I bought an ACR last year, and it stays in my pack, even for day hikes.

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As with Paul, mine is along because I don't like to leave it in the vehicle. Sometimes it is surprising to find cell service in some places, but almost always, it remains turned off and is only used if there is a problem. It came in pretty handy a couple years back when one of my friends blew up the U-joint in the front axle of his Jeep on one of our combo backpacking/wheeling adventures. There was no service where he broke but there was service where we packed to so when we got back to the trail head, one of his other friends was waiting with his truck and trailer.

I too think an ACR is a better option in the backcountry. Maybe next year's dividend------

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