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A case for smartphones on the trail.
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Jesse H.
(tacedeous) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
A case for smartphones on the trail. on 04/16/2009 16:42:18 MDT Print View

I was going to post this in another thread, but it got away from his subject so heres a new thread... mods feel free to move this, if necessary

I know we all go into the backcountry to get away from it all... especially technology... I feel the same way, but in terms of UL MULTI-USE items in my pack, nothing touches what my phone can do...

I have a SPRINT HTC TOUCH PRO (sold as the fuze from verizon)

which is this sexy little number...
touch pro


heres some specs:

Size Dimensions 102 x 51 x 18.1 mm
Weight 165 g
Display Type TFT resistive touchscreen, 65K colors
Size 480 x 640 pixels, 2.8 inches
- Full QWERTY keyboard
- TouchFLO 3D finger swipe navigation
- Accelerometer sensor for auto-rotate
- Touch-sensitive navigation controls
- Handwriting recognition
Sound Alert types Vibration; Downloadable polyphonic, MP3, WAV, WMA ringtones
Speakerphone Yes
Memory Phonebook Practically unlimited entries and fields, Photocall
Call records Practically unlimited
Internal 288 MB RAM, 512 MB ROM
Card slot microSD (TransFlash), buy memory
Data GPRS Class 10 (4+1/3+2 slots), 32 - 48 kbps
EDGE Class 10, 236.8 kbps
3G HSDPA, 7.2 Mbps
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g
Bluetooth Yes, v2.0 with A2DP
Infrared port No
USB Yes, miniUSB
Camera Primary 3.15 MP, 2048x1536 pixels, autofocus, LED flash
Video Yes
Secondary VGA videocall camera
Features OS Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
CPU Qualcomm MSM 7201A 528 MHz processor
Messaging SMS (threaded view), MMS, Email, Instant Messaging
Browser WAP 2.0/xHTML, HTML
Radio Stereo FM radio with RDS
Games Yes
Colors Black
GPS Yes, with A-GPS support
Java Yes, MIDP 2.0
- TV-out
- Pocket Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, PDF viewer)
- Voice memo
- MP3 player
Battery Standard battery, Li-Ion 1340 mAh
Stand-by Up to 406 h
Talk time Up to 8 h

probably gibberish to you, if your not too up on your phones...

basically this is a 5.5oz computer, with gps and cellular internet

I fully charge the phone and an extra battery... this weighs 6.3 oz, this can go in the dry bag my dslr camera is in

when i get to the trail I turn off the cellular and data connections, and also turn down the screens brightness to a point that i can just see it...


well on top of internal memory, I have a 16 gig microSD...

GPS!!! im a compass man, but I have GARMIN XT on my phone, works just like any handheld gps unit, AND UNLIKE SOME OTHER MOBILE GPS SOFTWARE,DOES NOT NEED AN INTERNET CONNECTION TO WORK!

BOOKS! I have about 150 books on my phone

MUSIC! I have a TON (about 8 gigs) of music, also audio books, comedy (old steve martin on tough uphills is nice, then again so is zepplin) also PODCASTS (practical backpacking podcasts, anyone?)

GAMES! I love passin' around the game of monopoly around the fire at night, I've got all kinds chess, sudoko, crosswords, even got a rubiks cube... LOL

VIDEO! This thing shoots great video, for stills I have a nikon d40 with a 200mm lens... 2lb beast, but this thing does have a 3.2MP camera on it

FLASHLIGHT! yupp thats right, I have a program to turn on the cameras flash LED, and dim it... on full it seems brighter than my photon

JOURNAL/NOTES! this thing has MS OFFICE... word, excel, powerpoint and onenote

AND THATS ALL WITH NO CELL CONNECTION! and thusly no internet...

with a cell connection... well I could have made this post, I can communicate with friends and family on the trail (email and IM), upload my gps logs, my videos even my pics from my d40 that im taking on the trail (2gm microSD to SD adapter)as backup and to share... I can even watch satelite TV and access my DVR, with my slingbox...

AND ON THE PRACTICAL SIDE THE SCREEN PROTECTOR BURNS LIKE A CHAMP!, I sacrificed 1 of the 3 I bought, so add FIRE STARTER to the list too :)

and im pretty sure I could take down bear with this thing, just throw on some youtube vids or some old marty stouffer, and throw at bear...

I know these are not the reasons we go into the woods, video games, internet and all, but it does have its practical applications... what do you guys think? (would)anyone else carry a smartphone on the trail?

ALSO, I have plan for solar instead of an extra battery MAYBE ;)as some of their outputs are mini usb, and some charge batteries (wish it was AAA):

wow, this was a bit more long winded than I expected LOL!

and let the flaming begin! j/k :)

Edited by tacedeous on 04/17/2009 00:26:12 MDT.

Dan Cunningham

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
work on 04/16/2009 21:26:38 MDT Print View

You've just listed a whole pile of "multi-use" stuff I don't need. My car is multi-use, but I don't bring it on the trail. I do get it... I have an iPhone. But for me, it's not a piece of trail gear. It brings with it a lot of what I enjoy being away from, and relatively speaking, it's a lot of weight.

When I want a phone for emergency purposes, I pull the SIM from my iPhone and put it in a little junk 3 ounce motorola thing, charge the battery, and turn it off. It's never had to come out on the trail to be turned on, and luckily it's not in there most of the time anyway.

I'm sure you'll find people that are all about this. I don't mean to rain on any parade, and I totally get it. It's just not my thing.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: A case for smartphones on the trail. on 04/16/2009 22:17:56 MDT Print View



1. how much is the phone?
2. how much is the monthly?
3. can you use the phone (and email, surf) worldwide?

Believe it or not, I don't own a cell phone at all. I just know they exist and can do wonderful things that I don't need. However, I am going on a 7-month RTW trip and think maybe something like this can come in handy for making hotel reservations and stuff.

Oh, and how does this compare to iPhone? I know almost nothing about iPhones either, except that it too can do wonderful things. Thanks in advance.

Edited by ben2world on 04/16/2009 22:18:46 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
A case for smartphones on the trail. on 04/16/2009 22:31:52 MDT Print View

What, no alarm clock feature!?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: work on 04/16/2009 23:44:58 MDT Print View

Dan stated,

"You've just listed a whole pile of "multi-use" stuff I don't need."

To each their own, I guess. Even though I am an 'old timer' my life is pretty high tech. I travel a lot and manage a field force of remote consultants. Daily I am tied to a laptop and BlackBerry. I carry an iPod on planes. My vehicle has GPS, Sattelite radio, Bluetooth, and a fancy iPod hook-up, and a bunch of other stuff I can't figue out.

I do have a eTrex, which my wife bought me. I only take it on day hikes with her, because it makes her feel good that she bought me such a useful item. It really is pretty useless to me otherwise.

On the trail, the only high tech items I take are a wrist watch that has a battery and little hands that move around the dial. It isn't even digital. I also have a cheap digital camera. That is it. The purpose of the watch is to get home by the time I promised the wife. Otherwise, I probably would leave it at home too. I just started taking the camera recently, because my college aged son is now into BPing and he likes to see pictues of my trips.

Don't need anything else. Technology just becomes a barrier between me and the widlerness. But if you need a Smartphone on the trail, by all means bring it. I won't flame you :)

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: A case for smartphones on the trail. on 04/17/2009 06:22:10 MDT Print View

@Ben: in the words of my brother, iPhones solve problems you didn't even know you had. (typing on bus from blackberry)

Also, I went through three years of college as a editor at the student paper without a cell phone. Looking back, I don't know how I did it. I always have to remind myself that there was life before cell phones, although I don't know how anyone got together or organized anything.
Also, my tiny locking single blade knife with no other tools is more multifunction than any phone.

Edited by citystuckhiker on 04/17/2009 06:23:21 MDT.

Dan Cunningham

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
Re: Re: work on 04/17/2009 08:53:29 MDT Print View

Nick - I only meant to say they were things that I personally don't need in the back country. In my life, it's a different story. Your gadget-life sounds pretty similar to mine. I manage a team of IT people (and I'm obviously one myself). The iPhone changed things in ways I had no idea it would (as Matt suggests). My car also has GPS, satellite radio, and other gizmo's. I have lots of gadgets as well, and they are a part of my daily life. I get phone calls at any time of the day, including the middle of the night since I support a 24x6 facility.

I just love getting away from all this stuff when I go off into the woods. It's very liberating for me to tell my team that I won't get a cell signal where I am going, so they really need to survive without me at all. I carry the same for electronics - a camera and a watch (which has a countdown timer, an alarm, and temperature - that's it). You could call my headlamp electronic as well, but that would be it.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Re: A case for smartphones on the trail on 04/17/2009 13:37:40 MDT Print View

It's easy to make a long bulleted list of all the things a smartphone can do on the trail --- and then legitimately be uninterested in some (perhaps many) of them.

But my smartphone did enough for me last year that I was more than happy to carry it --- Camera, GPS, voice recorder, books (including reference stuff for equipment or along-the-trail info), journaling device. And phone & internet when in range of a cell tower. I used all of this stuff, though didn't read books much on the actual trail, but as journal and camera I used it daily, GPS and voice recorder quite a number of times. It was quite nice to be able to type up a daily journal entry and upload this plus a picture to my journaling site directly from my phone.

For me, definitely worth it. Despite the cost, learning curve(s), and various hardware & software bugs plus some poor device design to be worked around or lived with.

Jesse H.
(tacedeous) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
... on 04/17/2009 17:14:54 MDT Print View

looks like theres been a little activity here :)

Dan Cunningham:
"You've just listed a whole pile of "multi-use" stuff I don't need. My car is multi-use, but I don't bring it on the trail. I do get it..."

its not a matter of "need" its a matter of "want" I totally dig what your saying, BUT the book i used to bring about photography, weighed 14 oz... so thats 8+oz off my pack weight..

Benjamin Tang:
"1. how much is the phone? $500 retail, w/contract about $250, I payed 50 because of an insurance claim
2. how much is the monthly? im on a $30 SERO sprint plan
3. can you use the phone (and email, surf) worldwide? NOPE! which sucks! its CDMA, the "world" standard is GSM

"Oh, and how does this compare to iPhone? I know almost nothing about iPhones either, except that it too can do wonderful things. Thanks in advance"

I dont wanna touch that one, but in IMO yes...

Ken Thompson:
"What, no alarm clock feature!?"
forgot about that one! LOL


Matt Lutz:
"Also, my tiny locking single blade knife with no other tools is more multifunction than any phone."

Im not going to negate the usefulness of a knife in the woods... thats just dumb, while "a small pocket knife" can do a lot, your comparison has no bearing in this situation...

and another function i forgot is the stylus is magnetized on one end for some reason, so if i float that on a leaf, I have a compass too...

Again, this is a extra item to bring, but I used to bring a book, ipod, and a speaker, pack weighed about 35lbs back then, after trimming everything down, im at 21.2lbs... Recently someone on this site wrote the following: "The more I carry, the more I love to camp, The less I carry the more I love to hike" I subscribe to that, I love to hike, I love to camp, and my pack style reflects that, i take away weight in major ways and areas, to have certain comforts that I like on the trail, and this little gadget saves weight and packs a punch... works for ME, but as always, and as such, its the beauty of this obsession we call backpacking, simply put... HYOH right :)

John Fry
(m6amba) - F
x2 on 05/02/2009 23:20:02 MDT Print View

i agree with the OP here, i carry my LG dare on trail, i turn off the cell features though, because where i hike, there is never service anyway, but i can use my cell instead of a digicam (it takes 3.2mp) ipod, i have an 8gb microsd............ETC

however, i also agree with the statement that i do go into the wilderness to get away from it all, but i live on a farm, so the wilderness is at my backdoor
i dont feel that carrying a cell phone, gps, etc diminishes my experince at all, and as far as "unneeded weight" my phone weighs 3oz, my gps weighs 6.7oz
i save weight by leaving things i dont need at home, i am experienced enough in the backcountry to be safe/comfortable without a lot of things, sleeping pad/pillow, extra clothes etc, and my base weight has gone from 30lbs to under 10, if i feel like taking a few oz of something i want, then i will HMOH
its the remove the un important things, cut weight on the vital items, and then once the weight has been pared as far as you can, add back in the few things that you want to take
i carry the camera to document my hikes, so i can look back at them, i take the gps to datalog my hikes, for my own personal info.....

btw, i want one of those htc touch pros SOOOOOO bad!, lol, when my renewal is up, im tradin in the dare, and geting the FUZE....its the ultimate smartphone!
ive been watching and waiting for them to come to verizon (they've been in europe on GSM for some time now) glad people havent flamed this guy, thats what i love about THIS forum, everybody seems to agree with the universal bottom line....hike your own hike!

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
smoke 'em if you got 'em i guess on 05/02/2009 23:43:43 MDT Print View

i've never had a cell phone and don't think i ever will

i like having some pictures, so i do bring a digital camera, but that's it for gizmos, unless you count an led light

i've never owned a gps, not sure if i ever will - i even used to find geocaches without one just by using the verbal clues

i usually have a compass with me & i've used one a few times to verify the directions that i already had figured out pretty much - even off trail, a topo map and a view works where i like to go (sierras). i usually know which direction all the streams run before heading out, but the map also tells me

i've been off track for a bit a few times, but never lost - gain some elevation, get a new perspective, change course always fixed it

if i were in a wide expanse of rolling forest or jungle or something, a good compass or gps would be nice, but that's not my milieu - i dig the sierras

Keith Selbo
(herman666) - F - M

Locale: Northern Virginia
Re: work on 06/08/2009 09:02:00 MDT Print View

"You've just listed a whole pile of "multi-use" stuff I don't need. My car is multi-use, but I don't bring it on the trail. ... it's a lot of weight."

OK, this makes sense if: You don't read books, don't journal, don't listen to music, don't take pictures, never make a phone call, don't carry a thru-hikers companion or other trail handbook, don't carry maps, never use a GPS, don't carry a pen to make notes, never listen to the radio, carry a watch, carry a backup flashlight, carry an altimeter, carry a compass, or encounter a line when you get to an in-town internet terminal.

Many or most of those items may not apply to you, but it only takes a few to achieve weight savings. Just the reading material savings for me easily justifies not only the smart phone, but a 6 oz. solar charger as well (which also charges my headlamp batteries so there's more dual use weight savings). Then there's items you don't need like a kitchen timer, or games. I can easily make do without those items, but I might take them along if they are weightless, and additional apps weigh nothing.

I'm sure there are a lot of guys who don't use any of this stuff, but I've yet to meet anyone in the long distance hiker category who wouldn't lighten his pack by carrying a smart phone.

Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Don't make too many assumptions. . . on 06/10/2009 10:21:18 MDT Print View

Well I'm a long distance backpacker who doesn’t carry a smartphone or even a cellpone for that matter.

David T
(DaveT) - F
. on 06/10/2009 11:03:15 MDT Print View


Edited by DaveT on 05/17/2015 22:28:28 MDT.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: A case for smartphones on the trail. on 06/10/2009 12:35:55 MDT Print View

Jesse, very nice. I have the HTC touch diamond. All the same features, but onscreen keyboard only. 2oz lighter though :-)

The only reason I'm prepared to suffer the AWFUL win-mobile operating system is because I have the whole of the UK at 1:50k ordnance survey and the national parks and scottish munroes at 1:25k on memorymap.

Huzefa Siamwala
Re: Re: A case for smartphones on the trail. on 06/10/2009 13:06:24 MDT Print View

TomTom is building a navigation app for iphone. idk if they offer the maps you want but still check it out.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Re: Re: A case for smartphones on the trail. on 06/10/2009 13:13:40 MDT Print View

Unlikely. TomTom deal in vector driven mapping, not raster images of topographical maps.

Huzefa Siamwala
Re: Re: Re: Re: A case for smartphones on the trail. on 06/10/2009 13:32:53 MDT Print View


Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
A case for smartphones on the trail - New version of the iPhone. on 06/10/2009 13:48:49 MDT Print View

Hi all,

The new iPhone coming mid-June is looking very close to what I have been waiting for
New iPhone

New camera, Video, Digital Compass etc.

Edited by bfornshell on 06/10/2009 13:51:03 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: A case for smartphones on the trail - New version of the iPhone. on 06/10/2009 15:08:36 MDT Print View

I have used smartphones for years, but never on a hike. Just a philosophical thing.

But I can see their usefulness on a long thru hike. Brian Lewis has a real nice blog that he updated during his PCT hike. On a short trip? Don't see its usefulness. But then that is my opinion for how I hike.

But as a smartphone user, I would never consider an iPhone due to the inability to replace the battery without sending it to Apple, or needed specialize tools to do the job. Don't know if the new phone has replacable batteries. If not, it would be a real deal killer for me. I use a BlackBerry for business and carry a spare battery or two on business trips.