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Should You Ditch the Tech When Hiking?

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This is a guest post by Cassie from eHealth Informer, an online blog focusing on health and wellness. Cassie is an avid hiker and tech blogger. When not tapping away at her keyboard, she loves exploring new trails and encouraging others to do the same.

If you’ve been hiking for a while, you undoubtedly have an opinion on whether tech belongs on the trail. Some hikers prefer to unplug completely when surrounded by nature while others enjoy the convenience and benefits technology can provide on the trail.

So the question becomes, should you ditch the tech when packing for your next hiking trip?

Benefits

There are a lot of advantages to using technology while you’re hiking. In fact, once you start checking out all the cool gadgets marketed to hikers and campers, you may wonder why you ever ventured into the wilderness without them.

Gadgets such as handheld GPS devices, solar chargers, digital cameras and even smartphones can all find a place in your pack and make your hiking trip safer and more enjoyable.

Drawbacks

For many of us, hiking and camping provide a refuge from the noise and frenzy of the modern world. You might be afraid if you start using technology on your hikes, it won’t feel as though you’re disconnecting from the rigorous demands of your everyday life.

There are a lot of new technologies available that won’t interrupt your outdoor experience with text alerts and social media notifications. They are gadgets designed to enhance your hiking experience, with most of the tools geared toward making your outing safer.

While it’s true there is some appeal to being totally unplugged when you’re on a hike, the benefits to packing at least some tech with you are undeniable. Consider taking some of these gadgets on your next trip into the woods, and you’ll glad you did.

Handheld GPS

If you’re hiking anywhere other than a well-established and clearly-marked trail, having a handheld GPS in your pack can make navigating your way through the wilderness much easier. Though you should still pack a map and a regular compass as a backup, a GPS device is one piece of technology that will make almost every aspect of your trip easier.

There are hundreds of models to choose from, with a wide range of prices and features. If you’re still wary of using technology on the trail, choose a model with fewer features and no WiFi or Bluetooth capabilities.

Digital Camera

Should you bring your digital camera on your next hiking or backpacking trip?

It’s practically a guarantee you’ll find something you want to photograph when you’re on the trail. Nature is full of beautiful views and incredible moments you’ll want to remember long after you’ve returned home.

A digital camera is another piece of tech you can slip into your pack that won’t disturb your peace with notifications and alerts. They are available in a wide range of prices and a huge array of features. If you do a lot of hiking, you want to buy a camera that is fairly tough. Look for a camera such as the Lumix Lifestyle Tough Camera by Panasonic. It is waterproof, shockproof, dustproof and freezeproof.

Smartphone

Should you bring your smartphone on your next hiking or backpacking trip?

If you’re more bothered by the idea of being separated from your phone for the duration of your hiking trip than you are by the thought of being disturbed while hiking, then you should consider adding your phone to your packing list.

As smartphones become more advanced, they can take the place of several different pieces of tech. If you decide to bring your smartphone, you could leave the handheld GPS and the digital camera behind, as your phone can most likely perform those functions for you.

Before relying on your phone’s GPS for your hike, be sure to research how well your device works when there is little to no signal available, and always remember to bring a paper map and standard compass, so you don’t become lost if your GPS fails.

If you do decide to bring your phone along, be sure to outfit it appropriately for the journey. You’ll want to invest in a strong, waterproof, dustproof case to protect your phone from the hazards of the trail. You should also consider protecting the data on your phone by using a passcode or investing in a Virtual Private Network to encrypt your private data such as passwords and emails. Then, if your phone is ever lost on the trail, anyone who finds it won’t be able to access your personal information.

Chargers

If you’re hiking with any technology, you’ll eventually lose power if you don’t have a way to keep the devices charged. A portable solar charger is a perfect solution to hiking with tech. These chargers are small and light and can recharge virtually any device with a lithium-ion battery.

As you can see, there are a lot of ways you can utilize technology to enhance your hiking experience while still feeling as though you’ve unplugged from the rest of the world. Try adding a basic piece of tech to your pack for your next hike, and you might be surprised by how much you enjoy it.

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