The best new tech that will help you take full advantage of your smart phone on the trail. Click on the product name for a detailed Elevation Outdoors review. Click on the URL for the product website.
For iPhone/iPad users (2) LifeProof ($79 and up; lifeproof.com) cases offer full-time total waterproof protection without compromising access to any controls, tunes or charging. Snap this case on and dive into your adventure knowing your device is safe from water, snow, dust and even some shock protection from unexpected drops. For a more universal waterproof case, the (1) DryCase ($39/$59; drycase.com) is a vacuum-sealed pouch that will fit a number of devices. Both provide waterproof headphone jacks and allow full touch screen access. Or try to get in on the ground floor with more full-function cases such as the EscapeCapsule and Aqua Tek S (check them out on Kickstarter.com)
All that screen time and satellite tracking apps will drain your batteries, fast. To keep things charged, you can either hunt for a place to plug in (a tricky on the trail) or harness ever-handy, weightless and free sunshine. Extend your device life with the iPhone specific Eton Mobius case ($80; etoncorp.com) or the universal (3) Solio BOLT ($70; solio.com), inexpensive and easy to attach to a pack (4) Solio Clip-Mini ($35), the long lasting Brunton Restore ($120; bruntonoutdoor.com) and the fast charging Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Mobile Kit ($130; goalzero.com). For the most part, the price increases with faster charging times. Tip: If you’re using off-line apps consider switching to Airplane Mode or switching off the cell function. Though, some units disable GPS in those modes as well. And another Kickstarter project called Sol Mate is also jumping into the solar-charging arena.
Two new devices maximize the phone and music aspects of yor device on the trail. The (5) Spot Connect ($170; findmespot.com) turns your smartphone or iTouch into a satellite communicator. Buy the device and download the app to send adventure updates or get help when in need. Meanwhile the (6) JayBird Freedom Bluetooth audio headphones & microphone ($99; jaybirdgear.com) eliminates the need to plug into your waterproofed smartphone for music or taking a call. The device and ear buds are also sealed for water resistance.
Mostly, GPS app features improve/increase as you pay more. The below GPS apps include the standard features (offline maps, geotag photos, etc.) plus:
• ViewRanger (Apple/Android) Free/$7.99 – Buddy Beacon (keep track of your buddies), create & synchronize routes with your laptop/desktop.
• Backpacker Trails (Apple/Android) Free/$4.99 – Share your adventures with the Backpacker.com community and you might get published in Backpacker Magazine.
• MotionX (Apple) $0.99 – iPod control built into app; tweet, update Facebook and/or update specific email addresses with your location (when service is available).
• Pocket Universe (Apple) $2.99 – Voted an Apple App Store Staff favorite, this app lets you identify all those stars and planets while you’re camping and clear of the city light pollution. Also, find out what time the sun and planets rise and set. Android alternative: Google Sky Map (Free).
• Venturepax (Apple/Android) Free – A new website to be released this summer is described as “The hub where outdoor enthusiasts can share their adventures.” Use the app or website to share your experience to get gear discounts and other kickbacks.