Technology on the Trail

One of the biggest perks of hiking is disconnecting from the hustle and bustle of everyday life for a few hours, or even a few days. Some people choose to unplug completely, but I like to bring a few things along for fun, and to feel safer while I’m out adventuring. There is no right or wrong list of what you should bring, and it’s perfectly okay if you want to kick back and take in nature for what it is, or if sometimes you just feel like watching an episode of your favourite tv show in your tent.

There are so many gadgets to choose from, such as Satellite messengers, GPS trackers, speakers, watches, even coffee makers. It’s easy to get carried away by the flashy features, but try to think about what will suit you best on the trail. Also, don’t feel pressured to run out and buy hundreds of dollars worth of gear, try an overnight trip or two without anything and make note of what you think you would like to carry with you.

Here is the tech that I brought with me on a week long hiking trip in the Rockies.

iPhone, 6.8 oz

Garmin Inreach Explorer 7.5 oz

Kindle Paperwhite 7.2 oz

PocketJuice Charger 10 oz

Earbuds

(My total tech weight is around 1.9lbs)

IPhone XR

My iPhone XR goes with me everywhere, even if I’m out of service area. While I’m hiking, I use it mainly as a camera. I have found that if I put it on airplane mode, shut it off at night, and only use it for taking photos (avoid to urge to look at them until your trip is over!), I can make my battery last about 7-8 days. I also keep my phone in a warm pocket all day and in my sleeping bag with me at night if it’s supposed to be chilly to preserve the battery.

iPhone photos, quick and lightweight!

Garmin Inreach Explorer+ ($600 CAD)

This is probably one of the most expensive pieces of gear that I own, but as I continue to plan more multi day and overnight trips, I feel like it’s important to have a satellite messaging device. I was lucky to buy my Inreach second hand off of Kijiji and save a couple hundred dollars off of the price tag.

This device has Emergency contact, GPS, tracking, weather, and two way messaging among many other features. It was a huge relief to be able to check in with my loved ones when I arrived at camp every night. These devices work on a subscription basis, and you can choose the plan that best works for you. I decided to subscribe to the ‘Freedom’ plan so I can decide which months I would like to use it. It’s about $22 CAD a month for the basic Safety messaging which allows for unlimited preset messages and ten custom messages per pay period. There are plenty of messaging devices in the market and it’s a great idea to look at a few different models to see which will work best for you.

Checking in with my Inreach while Megan checks in with her Zoleo.

Kindle Paperwhite ($130 CAD)

My kindle was a VERY last minute purchase before heading out on a week long trip and I am so thankful that I ended up buying one. I was lucky to find them on sale and with Amazon’s two day shipping I had it in my hands the day before we left on our adventure. It was wonderful to read and unwind in the tent each evening. A huge perk of the Kindle Paperwhite is that it’s waterproof. I didn’t have a case on mine for the week and it fared just fine, although I’ll likely buy one for it when I get the chance. I also kept it in my sleeping bag with me at night and by the end of the week I had finished a book with 83% battery to spare.

Reading my kindle with dinner.

PocketJuice Charger ($30 CAD)

I was only planning on charging my phone if it needed it (it didn’t), so one portable charger worked well for me. My friend Megan, on the other hand, used her phone for photos, satellite messaging with her Zoleo, and navigation. She brought three portable charger packs. This pack gives me about one and a half full iPhone charges. It’s good to have on hand even if you think your phone battery will last in case you forget it in the cold and the battery is drained.

Surprise snowy morning just above our tent site.

Earbuds/Headphones

This is one of those things that I often throw in my pack and rarely end up using, but they are light enough that I don’t mind carrying them along. I don’t usually like to hike with earbuds in, especially when I am alone and in bear country, but I have used them before if other people in the group are willing to be our ears. I find they’re best for down time such as when we took the West Coast Trail shuttle bus back to Port Renfrew after we finished the trail.

With the exception of the earbuds, I used and enjoyed the other gadgets I brought on the trail with me and will certainly be packing them the next time I’m heading out on a multi day trip.

And if you find your batteries drained, or if you have read every book your Kindle has to offer, it’s always fun to have a deck of cards handy! We enjoyed playing cards in the tent while escaping some of the rainy weather.

A good deck of cards will never lose its battery charge.

Which gadgets and technology do you bring on the trail with you? Is there anything I should try out on my next adventure?

Until then, happy hiking!

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