Many of us hit the trail as a way to unplug and escape the modern world for a while. Having said that, I don’t know many hikers who leave their phones behind. Phones have become that one piece of gear which has multiple uses and are a pack essential.
They are often your camera, a backup flashlight, a GPS, clock, stereo, book and of course a communications device. So, keeping your phone charged while hiking becomes important.
MAKE SURE YOUR DEVICES ARE FULLY CHARGED WHEN YOU ARRIVE AT YOUR DESTINATION.
Before you leave home make sure your phone is already fully charged and so are your battery banks. I’m guilty of forgetting to charge my battery bank before a trip then trying to get enough juice into it while in the car, hoping it will last the whole trip.
There are a few ways you can conserve the battery life and to keep your phone charged while hiking.
CONSERVE BATTERY LIFE
The first thing is to put your phone in flight mode. By doing this, it stops your phone from constantly looking for service and trying to establish connection to your network, which can quickly drain your battery. When you stop for a rest or at the top of a mountain, you can switch off flight mode and check for messages or make phone calls rather than having your phone chewing up battery all the time. This mode does not automatically disable WI-FI or Bluetooth connectivity.
POWER SAVE or LOW BATTERY MODE
Second is to switch to power save or low battery mode. This way you can still use your phone as a camera to capture images quickly and have it always ready to go.
DIM YOUR BRIGHTNESS
Dim the screen brightness all the way down to the lowest level to help the battery even further. Screen brightness is one of the biggest drains of power for your phone.
TURN LOCATION SERVICES OFF
Download the maps of the area on your app which will allow you to use all the functionality of the map even in remote locations and without reception.
TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS
Our phone constantly want to remind us of things or notify us if people have posted on FB or IG. If you turn off flight mode to use your phone, it will start looking for notification you have missed
SHUT DOWN APPS
Some apps on your phone keep track of your location without you even realising it and these are constantly looking to update and refresh the content in the background. Before you leave home update all your apps before setting off and force close the apps you don’t need. When you get home you can reset everything back to normal.
Before you hit the trails, download your music or books you plan on reading and use it in offline mode.
TEXT INSTEAD OF CALL
If you need to contact someone, send off a text rather than making a battery-draining phone call.
SWITCH OFF AT NIGHT
At night turn your phone off completely, that way it’s not using power in the middle of the night when you are definitely not going to be using it.
Finally, you want to avoid temperature. Batteries are sensitive to extremes and perform best when they are kept at room temperature. Leaving your phone out baking in the sun can damage the battery and if you have it in extreme cold you will find you the battery will die a lot faster. In cold weather, using your body heat can help keep the phone warm. Tuck your phone down in your coat or a pocket close to your body during the day and then in your sleeping bag at night to keep it warm. You’ll find your battery will last a lot longer.
CHARGING YOUR PHONE
There are 2 main ways to charge your phone while hiking. These are battery banks and solar panel chargers.
The most common of the two is backup battery banks. You charge them at home before you go out on the trail. When you’re on trail and your phone or other electronics need charging, you just connect using h a USB cable.
The benefits of using this source of backup power is that they are reliable as long as you get a good quality brand. They range in size, weight, price and battery capacity. Battery banks are an ideal solution for hikers as they are small and easily packable.
They normally have little dots which let you know how much power is stored in the bank. When charging your gear on trail you can see by the light indicators how much power you have left. This way you can start rationing power if needed.
SOLAR PANEL CHARGERS
The biggest question you need to ask yourself before relying on a solar panel charger is where will you be hiking? If you plan on hiking open plains where you will be in direct sunlight for the majority of the day, then a solar panel charger may be a good idea. But if your trail is a green tunnel with little sunlight then it might not be the best solution for you.
Solar panels need the sun to charge and are a great option at camp. Connect the panel to your power bank in a bright sunny area, while you have a nap or take a swim and let the sun do all the work for you. If you’re hiking and won’t be at camp until sundown, hang your panel off your backpack while hiking.
Solar chargers come in various sizes. Some are compact, folding down to the size of a smartphone, while others cover your whole backpack to collect energy all day.
Either way I hope some of this information was helpful to give you a major boost to the amount of battery life you get out of your phone on your next hiking trip.
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