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How To Stay Online In The Great American Outdoors

Posted by Yoko Uchida on Dec 29, 2016 10:37:25 AM

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You would think that traveling into the wilderness is all about getting away from civilization and everything that connects you to it. But even the most conservative purists and professional explorers agree that using technology to improve your experience while in the wild can be a good thing. For one, staying connected can be helpful if you get injured. But for the most part, it is a way to navigate because nowadays even hiking paths are well mapped. Many outdoor enthusiasts bring multiple devices in order to share their explorations via social media and show how disconnected they really are. There are a few ways to stay connected depending on how far you are really going.


Cell phone

If you are going on a day-long hike or a few day camping trip where your car will be just a few hours hike from you at all times having a cell phone may be enough. You can post and chat with it, or you can turn it into a hotspot and use your tablet to post on social media. Small mountains and popular camping sites usually have good cellular coverage and if you have only one device and you want to be connected just in case and are not a heavy data user this is a good option. If you are crossing borders, however, your cell phone may incur steep roaming charges so you might want to look into an alternative solution like an international SIM card or mobile hotspot.

Pocket WiFi router

An alternative device that can bring your data cost down, especially if you are traveling with a group is a mobile WiFi hotspot. You can connect multiple devices and you pay a daily flat rate. Pocket WiFi devices connect to local cellular 4G networks so they are dependent on the signal for those networks. They work well for hiking and camping trips in parks that have cellular coverage, which in the US is most parks but do check coverage online before you set out. Also keep in mind that you will need extra chargers if you are to spend several days in the wild. Both the WiFi router and your devices will need a recharge at some point. There are reliable power packs out there that you might want to consider taking along.

Satellite device

If you are going into unexplored territories or mountains with high elevation and places that are off the beaten path where cellular networks are spotty or non-existent you will need more serious gear. Iridium Go is a good example of a satellite device that can bring you internet connection anywhere on the planet but it comes with a price in the hundreds of dollars. Until recently devices like those were only developed for professional explorers that trotted along the North and South Pole, but now they are available to the public. Those devices are power hungry so you have to manage your use wisely if you will be staying into the wild for extended periods.

Topics: Inbound Tourist, Young Backpacker