For many people your phone plays a huge role in your day to day life. Whether your a salesmen and have to make calls all the time or your a typical social media junky who can’t stand still with out pulling it out. Many people will leave it at home on trips. Well I am not saying to keep using it while your on a trip but merely providing reason why it may be one of the most multifunctional tools you can bring on a trip. Personally I love going on trips and leaving my phone off to do a cellular detox if you will but I still always bring it. The reasons why are below:
Its a Camera
Remember how large even the simplest cameras use to be? I use to have an old Sony Cyber Shot and it took pretty good pictures and was fairly small. Still not as small as my iPhone 6 nor are the pictures as good! Unless your a professional photographer carrying around pounds and pounds of gear like me you don’t need a heavy DSLR or mirrorless to capture moments. Phone cameras are getting better and better with each year and now offer fancy new features like time-lapse, slow motion, and burst options. On top of taking the photo, doing minor editing and even backing it up if you have internet. I always take my DSLR because I need to take large, RAW formatted pictures for my website and because to be honest I love taking my gear and lens. Despite the fact I have my DSLR I still find myself using my phone time and time again for quick photos, time lapses and in places I don’t want to risk my expensive DSLR. Pair your phone with a descent water proof case and you have an alternative to a GoPro or water proof camera. I use this to take photos in the rain or while kayaking. The front facing camera on many new phones also makes it easy to capture a ‘selfie’ as the kids call it.
Its a GPS
Many people know their phone has a map and direction setting but not everyone is aware you can purchase apps which function exactly as a GPS would without service or wifi. The apps usually require you to pre download the maps when you do have service but then out side your service area it still will pinpoint your location as any GPS would. This also saves you spending the money on a GPS and saves the weight and pack space. iPhones 4 and newer will function in this way. The battery life is usually on par with a typical GPS and depending on the app you use you can even plot way points, get directions and track your progress. I personally have used ‘GPS kit’ but ‘Gaia GPS’ is another alternative. If you would rather avoid using an app, iPhones also have a compose which I have found to work quite well if you want to go the route of a map and bering.
Its a flashlight
All newer versions of iPhone and many competitors feature a light. This was originally used as a camera flash for photos but newer versions now have a way to keep the light on continuously. I have used this light many times on trips when I cant find my headlamp or need a quick light. It is actually very reasonably bright for its size. Pair this with a way to charge your phone and you have a recharge light!
Its a music player
Most if not all modern phones have a way to store and listen to music on them. iPhones are as effective as iPods are and many have large memory capabilities so you can store a few or many of your favourite songs. Have a really long hiking day and need to rest for a few minutes? Listen to pump up music to get you back in the game and on the trail. I remember one specific day hiking on the bruce trail where to reach my camp for the night I had to trek 30km. Around kilometre 25 I hit a wall and I hit it hard. I quickly put on some music and hiked on. Focusing on the music helped take away any discomfort from the bag or my fatigue in my legs.
Its a watch, alarm, stopwatch and timer
Ever worrying about missing that quiet chime of your wrist watch on an early morning start? Ya me to. I typically use my phone and set the alarm noise to the nice sound of bells. Not startling and annoying but loud enough to make sure I don’t over sleep and get behind for the day. On top of the alarm you can also use it to time how long you have been paddling, hiking, cooking or even use the timer to schedule rest periods.
Going on an extended trip in the bush and want a way to relax at night? Try many of the free none internet based games for download. Personally I never play games on my phone but
I understand many people do enjoy them and it is a very useful option. Games like Hearts, Chess or checkers usually don’t need service to play. Heck why not even get candy crush and play it! But be warned many games can be dreadful on battery life and if your playing it you may not be enjoying the nature around you.
Its well… a phone!
Lets not forget that your phone despite all the new and interesting things it can do is also a… wait for it.. PHONE. If you have family members or a significant other who worries and demands calls you can use it (if the service allows it). I don’t usually call my significant other but if I am blessed with minor moments of service in the backcountry I usually use it to send out a quick ‘haven’t been eaten by bears’ message and get on my way before the stream of missed messages and emails comes in. I want to detox from those things out there and most things can wait until I return. If solo journeying I highly recommend taking your phone with you in case the unfortunate situation should arise and you need medical or other attention.
There you have it. Some reason to bring along your phone if you don’t already. It is small, light, long lasting and very versatile. I feel it is worth mentioning that options such as airplane mode can significantly improve your battery life. And who knows perhaps while its on airplane mode you might not miss that beautiful hawk over head, a curious beaver swimming up to your camp or maybe if your lucky a timid moose looking your way before he ganders back into the bush.If your starring down at your phone screen your missing out on all those beautiful things nature has to offer. So bring it and use it as the multi purpose device it is but don’t be consumed with it and miss what nature has to offer you.
*note: describe solar charger and it’s benefits