If you haven’t updated your camp box or trail pack lately, then you’re in for a surprise. Trail-ready technology has become lighter, more durable and more powerful. Whether you’re headed out to your favorite back country destination or trying out new trails, take a look of some of these new tech trail tools. You’ll be safer and have more fun on all of your adventures.
Smartphone technology has improved with built-in GPS functions, cameras and thousands of apps to choose from. Popular providers like T-Mobile offer Android and iOS smartphones with versatile capabilities here, so you can choose the platform you prefer for apps. These are the virtual Swiss army knives for your pocket.
Paper charts are still the best insurance for knowing where you are and want to go. But GPS technology continues to expand in features so one day you may consider those paper charts as your backup. The Garmin Dakota 20 is one of the latest full-featured, palm-sized units from Garmin.
This touch-screen unit does a quick lock-on of satellites. It has a built-in barometric altimeter, electronic compass and one microSD card slot. Starting with the built-in worldwide basemap, you can track your route from anywhere. Other maps are available on cards for easy access.
Connect your GPS to a computer and analyze your route. Overlay your route on Google Earth and compare it with other hikers. Get a 2D, 3D or bird’s eye view of your trail on your computer. For around $280, you can plan the details of your hike and load it into the Dakota 20 to make sure you stay on track.
This app is free for Android and Apple phones. Using the phone’s GPS, this app tracks your hike against a number of open source maps. It stores all of the important information about your route such as distance, speed and altitude. You can add notes and photos as you go. Share your trip on Flickr and Twitter or your own website. Or link it with Social Hiking and join the community of hikers who share their adventures.
This website allows you to create an account and link your ViewRanger to it so you can automatically record your hiking experiences to share with fellow hikers. Live updates are sent to Social Hiking as long as you have a cellular connection. If not, your track is stored and updated when a connection is re-established. People can watch your real-time progress on the website. Accounts are free to create and tap you into a network of active hikers from around the world.
If you like wrist watches that tell more than time, Backpacking North recommends the Suunto Core line of watches. The Core is a wrist-top computer and reports the temperature, compass heading and barometric altitude. It is waterproof and includes barometric pressure logging with a storm alarm. For around $200, it will keep you safer and even tell you the time.
The Mammut Ambient Light Dry Bag and Headlamp gives you two ways to light up your adventure. The headlamp keeps you safe on the trail after sunset. The dry bag attaches to your headlamp providing diffuse lantern lighting in your tent or around the campsite. The four-LED light has three settings to give you from 20 to 80 hours of light. For around $40, this lightweight addition to your backpack keeps you out of the dark.