In the olden times, outdoorsy types had to rely on extra training and tools unique to their pursuits. Camping in the woods meant bringing a paper map, a compass, flashlights, flares–an entire litany of items that, despite being very necessary, nonetheless weighed down the traveler.
Thanks to the one-two punch of science and technology, there is a wealth of ways in which today’s lover of the wild can move faster and lighter when traversing Mother Nature. If you don’t yet own a smartphone, below are a few of the reasons you should consider giving your outdoor tools an upgrade.
First and foremost, smartphones are handy devices when it comes to navigating without getting lost. Nav tools such as digital compasses, directional maps, and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) have become standard on most smartphones without any additional cost. Does that rock beside the river look like the same one you passed three times already? Simply open your nav guides and find your way again.
Updated Weather Alerts
Much like digital navigational applications, weather applications are now staples on the majority of smartphones. Most preloaded weather programs will give you data that is current to within an hour, including temp, wind, humidity, chance of precipitation, and more. Select free and premium (pay) applications can even give you up-to-the-minute weather info so you are never surprised by another storm speeding over a mountain range again.
One objection to using a smartphone for outdoor exploration is the fact that calls cannot be made in certain remote locations. While this is true for many phones, it does not mean the user cannot make an emergency call if need be. Many smartphones are equipped with satellite phone technology that can ring to first responders in the event of an emergency. You’ll kill most of your data usage in the process and may rack up a huge bill, but that’s a small cost to pay for survival.
It didn’t take long for people to begin using their cell phones as on-the-spot flashlights. But home screens on most smartphones would not be enough to get you through the thick darkness of the woods. This is where flashlight apps come in. These applications are designed to project a solid block of light (at your choice of color) while making full use of the phone’s brightness. Want even more convenience? Attach the phone to a see-through arm holster or sheath it on the front of your backpack and you can go hands-free.
Nowadays, smartphone junkies love to play games on their cells. In fact, next to texting or checking social media, game-playing is one of the biggest reasons someone has their nose in a phone (other than making a call, of course). Games can still serve you well during your downtime in the woods, but it can also pass the time with music, radio, or downloadable movies.
While technically a nav tool, topographical maps stand out as one of the bigger attractions for nature lovers. Those taking the Shoeleather Express through the brush may find they need to anticipate the terrain. Others will want to get an idea of different places they can explore. Topo maps can help both groups of people and lighten their load at the same time.
Hunting & Fishing Guides
If you prefer to hunt and/or fish, smartphones still have a lot to offer. There are plenty of low-cost apps that can help identify the type of animal the hunter has in their sights, not to mention giving detailed information on the migratory or nesting habits of local fowl (both land-based and water). Anglers have the ability to check in with each other to get the scoop on where the fish are biting that day. Other apps give specific data on water temperature, wave activity, wind speed, and more.
Some people prefer not to break with tradition and routine when it comes to communing with nature, and that’s okay. But for those who are open to new experiences, a smartphone can be just the thing to free them from extra tools and supplies in order to enjoy the outdoors as simply as possible.