• Technology on the Trail

  • More and more of us are now using technology of some form or another. Mobile apps, smartphones, wearables or GPS devices.

    I do use quite a few although depending on the length of the hike, battery power has to be considered. Also real-time information I like to see quickly is usually altitude, distance traveled and, of course, time.

    I mainly use Maps 3D as a tracking app on my iPhone, iPhone. It lets me download maps beforehand and stores them in the phones memory without having to rely on data services whilst on the trail for which is mostly non existent in some pla049e_4b4fces. It gives you the 3D option so you have an idea of the terrain and also a useful 2D look-down which I tend to use more. It tracks you whilst on the trail and generally although it drains the battery, I have found it will keep going for around 8 hours. This does depend though on how often you stop and take photos, phone calls etc on your phone during that period. Of course you can always extend this with the many different types of portable power banks to recharge your phone and keep you going for however you need. There are other apps with those being more towards fitness goals and social sharing such as Strava or mapmyhike etc whilst Strava being my 1st choice especially for keeping track of my gear which I find very useful. The Babbleout has a great review of the 5 most popular apps here and goes into great details.

    I also have a Garmin Fenix 1 watch which I use in occasionally with a heart rate monitor. The heart rate monitor might seem a pain as you need to strap it around your chest but I don’t really notice this. Garmin is great for getting real time information like altitude, heart rate, distance traveled etc. One of the downsides I find with it, is the complex way of syncing it with your computer and then getting it to send your tracks to Garmin connect. This is a lot more complicated than the other watch I have, TomTom Multi Sport Cardio. The TomTom has some great features and is very easy to sync to your smartphone once you have finished an activity which then sends that information to mapmyfitness, strava or a number of other platforms. Also there is no need for a separate heart rate monitor strap as the TomTom has an inbuilt sensor under the watch which stays in contact with your skin, similar to how the new iWatches are doing it, although how accurate this is and if it reads properly through tattoos or different skin pigments is debatable. However it does not let you see what altitude you are at, have a compass or get alerts from your connected smartphone. My biggest beef with this watch is that the battery is dead after just over 5 hours which is half of the advertised battery life.

    Anyway that is my take but I am always on the look out for different types of tech. The above mentioned are items I have been using whilst on hikes/runs. I hear good things about other brands such as Suunto and will give more thoughts about them once I have tested and used in the field.

    In the mean time any suggestions?

  • 1 comment

    Great review!