Go Big and Stay Light.

In the new age of “ultralight” traveling there is a push to get your pack weight below a certain number, which fluctuates with the commitment or insanity level of the traveler. I have been dabbling with ultralight backpacking this summer with the help of my dad. Steve is a full on ultralight convert, from the homemade zebra spandex shorts all the way down to the cat food stove. I haven’t gone whole hog like Pops, but I have definitely been looking at my equipment and my pack list differently. Backpackers and adventurers alike are looking for solutions to cut down the amount of hardware that they lug with them during their exploits without sacrificing the safety and connivence of taking along 4 electronics. What I hope to accomplish with this post is the begining of a brainstorm for you on how to better utilize the piece of equipment you already have! The goal to save money and save weight while increasing the efficiency of what you pack is something I believe a lot of people are after.

What Your Phone (probably) Already Has:

  • HD camera- this can function as the memory capturing device as well as a mirror in a pinch!
  • Flashlight- I always like to carry a back up with me into the backcountry.
  • Weather Report- When you have cell reception your phone can provide criticle information that will help with your “go/no go” discussion
  • Virtual Library- Your phone can hold a literal ton of books without ever gaining an ounce, use your phone to download field guides or your favorite novel for the trip. I use the Kindle app for free and purchased books off of amazon.
  • Compass-iPhones come preloaded with a compass, if you are relying on map and compass for navigation I would not forgo the ol’ reliable for the software if I had the choice.

Apps That Make Your Pack Ultralight

  • Gaia GPS- This $20 app is at first alarming, what could possibly be worth $20 in the app store?! Gaia GPS is the Mother of Earth Roaming. This app utilizes USGS maps and allows you to download as large of an area as you need for your exploits. Gaia is great for planning trips, tracking your progress, and saving your trip for future reference. I plan to do a “how to” with Gaia soon to show the features I enjoy using most.
  • Every Trail- FREE! Similar to Gaia, this is a route tracking and posting software. It is not as feature rich, but you can find routes that other people have recorded and follow them on day and multiday hikes. If you are on a budget this is a great place to start!
  • Kindle- FREE! This is the Amazon book app. There are hundreds of free books and thousands of books for purchase via Amazon. I can pack as many books as I could possibly want using this application and not gain an ounce in my pack.
  • Couch Surfing- FREE! Get the couchsurfing.com app for your next big trip, this app is a great way to meet new people and snag a free place to stay while you are away from home. I will be utilizing this service for my SBP this winter.
  • Geocaching-FREE! This is a great app for those of you who enjoy or would like to try out geocaching. The app is full of different GC near you to go hunting for using your phones GPS.

Though with all of the awesome things your phone can do, it only has a limited amount of battery. There are ways to mitigate this issue and stretch your energy to it’s greatest potential.

  • Airplane Mode- Airplane mode is a function on all new cell phones that turns off your phone’s ability to send signals. What you may not realize is that your phone can still recieve your position. What does this mean? It means that you are able to use your pre downloaded maps to track your position while in airplane mode, thus saving battery life and keeping yourself on track!
  • Auxillary Power Sources-I have started carrying a small power pack with me on trips. These are great additions to your kit, they are lightweight and can extend the battery life of your phone by up to 3 charges. I am currently using the Lifeproof 6 Case with a built in battery backup and it is awesome. My phone is safe and dry even when I need a power boost.
  • Keep your applications from running in the background. As we open and close apps on our phones they continue to run in the background and drain our power even when they are not in use. By keeping the apps running to a minimum you can save oodles of power.

*Disclaimer* I own an iPhone, my information is based on my experiences within the iOS, to the best of my knowledge all of the apps and features can be found on Android devices. If this is not the case, there are plenty of great apps out there waiting to be found, now you know what you will be looking for!


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