Editor's note: In celebration of the movie "WILD," we partnered with Fox Searchlight to bring you tips for your own adventures on the trail.
Electronics—once considered a taboo item to bring into the outdoors—can now serve as an asset in the backcountry.
Point your phone up to the sky while using a stargazing app, for instance, and you might just become the astronomy expert in your group. Use your phone’s camera—which likely has just as many megapixels as a heftier point-and-shoot—to shoot macro images of flora or capture gorgeous vistas along your adventure.
There are so many ways to use a smartphone and other electronics in the wild that they’ve become items on the checklist, just like bug spray or sunscreen. But keep a few things in mind before heading out to help maximize your experience.
Here are our tips with help from Helly Hansen ambassador JF Plouffe, who has been guiding, instructing and training athletes in the outdoors for over twenty years:
- Keep your phone in airplane mode when it’s not in use to save battery life.
- If you want to use your phone for digital maps, find an app that lets you download and use them offline in case you don’t have service once you’re off the grid.
- Forgo solar panels and device-charging stoves for portable chargers. The larger ones hold more than enough juice for charging small devices like smartphones several times. There are a variety of brands that make rugged, water-resistant charging banks that also serve other purposes, like this one.
- Your phone’s flashlight can serve as an SOS signal should you get into trouble—it can be seen from 20 miles away at night.
- Clean your camera, phone and charger with a microfiber cloth at night to wick away any moisture.
- Store your electronics in zip-top bags or other waterproof cases and include food storage sachets to help absorb moisture, especially if you are hiking in a wet clime.
- Invest in a waterproof, dustproof, shockproof case—it’ll save your phone no matter how careful you are.
- Don’t rely only on your electronics; bring a back-up paper map and compass (and know how to use them) before heading out.
Also, know how your electronics affect those around you. Try not to disturb your neighbors and the wildlife—be courteous if you are playing music or chatting on the phone. For more on etiquette, here’s a guide on how to unplug.
Interested in exploring the Pacific Crest Trail? Check out the new REI Adventures PCT backpacking trips to learn more.