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#204335 - 04/24/20 01:23 PM guthook and cellphone.navigation
the-gr8t-waldo Offline

Registered: 01/16/11
Posts: 172
Loc: Tacoma, Washington
I'm spending my social isolation time researching my next p.c.t. section hike, and torn between "longhike" and "gadgets" sections,for this question. …….I've been using traditional compass & maps.. augmented with gps and trail all, quite a lot of weight. And starting to think that using my cellphone would lighten the pack. typically I turn on the gps, about 6 times a day, hiking. and to date I've never needed to change out a battery set on it. always turn it off when not actively being used- same plan for the proposed phone use. longest hike was 14days ( I figure that my personal limit is two weeks (+/-), before I have to get a shower and clean my hiking clothing-this gives me my "expected time away from a charging port. I'm going to retain paper maps&compass, for the time being. so how has this worked out for others? any disaster stories? issues that are not apparent? I would like to avoid taking a "out of device", battery or solar charger.

Edited by the-gr8t-waldo (04/24/20 01:29 PM)

#204337 - 04/24/20 01:51 PM Re: guthook and cellphone.navigation [Re: the-gr8t-waldo]
Rick_D Online   content

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2921
Loc: NorCal
Have found my phones to be a very mixed bag WRT replacing a dedicated GPS. Am sure that the specific model makes a big difference so can only address ones I've owned:

It can be a challenge shutting everything down except GPS and the map app. If the phone is roaming, looking for a signal it will eat up the battery with blazing speed.

Downloading basemaps and/or sat imagery to the phone ahead of time is fraught. Some apps will not let me access my map cache if I'm not on a network. Research this carefully.

Can you preprogram waypoints, junctions, campsites etc. ahead of time? Can you reliably retrieve them?

My phone GPS chip and antenna have never approached a dedicated GPS in signal acquisition and speed. In sketchy surroundings like heavy forest, steep hillsides, canyons, etc. a signal can be hard or impossible to acquire. Since the phone combines cell tower signals and GPS service in normal use, test yours with wifi and cell service shut off and see how it does with just GPS.

On the plus side, phone displays are miles better than GPS screens and I have found with my integrated PV panel-battery I can recharge my phone (and other items like headlamp) to keep it going indefinitely.

In sum--research each link in the GPS and map chain carefully before deciding "my phone will be plenty." I'm not there, not yet anyway.


#204342 - 04/25/20 01:40 PM Re: guthook and cellphone.navigation [Re: Rick_D]
the-gr8t-waldo Offline

Registered: 01/16/11
Posts: 172
Loc: Tacoma, Washington
I'm not an expert, by any stretch of the imagination. but from my reading...placing the phone into "airplane mode" will stop the wasted energy of scearching for phone and wifi connections. And shut off the "track" feature of the apt.. I think at this point my only stumbling block is, "energy usage". I think to be practical, I'll be forced to carry some form of power storage.( plugin power cube and cord to the storage soulation, included). looking over amazon there's WAY TOO many! to blindly chose from. I think I'll have to experiment by taking the plunge and buy the g.hook's program for the PTC....and turn the phone on and use it as I would in the field (15 requests for position a day should get me a basic coumpssumtion number)...after a day or three recheck power used and only then I'll have a power per day number I'd be willing/need to carry. I can always fall back on my gps, but frankly that's been getting progressively harder and harder to read-even with readers. The brite, big screen of the smart phone along with the ability to view terrain ahead in profile, will be a welcomed change.

Edited by the-gr8t-waldo (04/27/20 11:06 AM)

#204356 - 04/26/20 11:51 PM Re: guthook and cellphone.navigation [Re: the-gr8t-waldo]
JustWalking Online   content

Registered: 01/12/16
Posts: 251
Loc: PNW
Alan Dixon at has a pretty detailed article on using your phone as a GPS, as well as tips on how to best conserve battery life and such. You might find it worth a read.

How to use your Smartphone as the Best Backpacking GPS

#204376 - 04/30/20 06:15 PM Re: guthook and cellphone.navigation [Re: JustWalking]
the-gr8t-waldo Offline

Registered: 01/16/11
Posts: 172
Loc: Tacoma, Washington
ThankYou J Walking - and it seems to cover all needed information...been reading and rereading it over the last few. I've never considered a phone's operating system in terms of energy usage( kinda assumed they all used about the same)- and of course I own a new phone- the type that's not energy friendly. so it's going to be a powerbrick ( oddly no information on amazon as the actual weight of any of these rechargeable batteries) and I can't quite trust a solar charger- having no practical experience with one..... no action is going to be taken, until I return home in a few days, and can do some actual weighing of the old and new kit. but as it stands now it looks like, the proposed set up will be more that what I've been carrying. assuming I'll still carry map and compass. kinda a bit disappointed about that, but might try it on a section, just to see if it's as wonderful as I imagine.

Edited by the-gr8t-waldo (04/30/20 06:17 PM)

#204516 - 06/19/20 03:24 AM Re: guthook and cellphone.navigation [Re: JustWalking]
Masonic18 Offline

Registered: 03/25/18
Posts: 11
Loc: NY
Thanks for putting this discussion in the forum. Such great information. One of my issues for a long trip., too. But, I always carry back up battery to be safe.

#204588 - 07/03/20 02:42 PM Re: guthook and cellphone.navigation [Re: Masonic18]
the-gr8t-waldo Offline

Registered: 01/16/11
Posts: 172
Loc: Tacoma, Washington
Well, I'm going to miss the large display the smartphone offers. But with a back up power brick for the phone, there's no reason to change. I've had no problem using one set of two ni-mh AA batteries that last me aprox 2 weeks(with two more as my back up). but with a back up "power brick" the power brick puts the weight, way over the top(at .5-1.0 lb for one bricks weight). both the phone and my GPS weigh about the same. So I'll make up for the rather small display with a pair of magnification glasses, that I already carry on the trail.

Edited by the-gr8t-waldo (07/03/20 03:00 PM)


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