2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – June 2013

Plan It: Master the Latest in Trip-Planning Technology

In the past, route-planning involved browsing guidebooks, consulting rangers, and convincing locals to give up their secret places. Today, that information lives on the internet; you just have to know how to find it.

by: Billy Brown

PAGE 1 2

Tap Local Knowledge 
Get better beta than a guidebook delivers by leveraging the whole outdoor community.

Search Google Earth and for geotagged photos along your chosen route; they can reveal detailed info on campsites, vistas, and water sources.

Comb Google Images, YouTube, and Vimeo to get a sense of trail conditions (“Grandview Trail winter”) and ideal gear (are others using ice axes or trekking poles?).

Follow the official Twitter feeds of national parks and forests to get up-to-the-minute info on road closures, weather conditions, and even wildlife or wildflower updates.

Check trip reports on regional sites like (NH), (WA), and (CO). You might find out exactly how much snow is left or whether the foliage has peaked from someone who hiked your trail yesterday.

Pro Tip Create a seamless topo map of your route, and have it printed on water-resistant paper and shipped to you within 48 hours ($10 and up;

PAGE 1 2

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -


Mar 05, 2014

But nothing replaces map and compass skills.
With common sense, planning and preparation due diligence, and map skills, a topo sheet or two is all you'll need. Techno devices, with the exception of a PLB for true emergencies, should be left at the trailhead or at home.

Star Star Star Star Star
Feb 21, 2014

Todays high quality smartphones can adequately replace a dedicated GPS. When off the grid in the Wind River Range I have been using a Samsung Galaxy S3 in a protective case with the Backcountry Navigator App. I am able to download topo maps and satellite views in advance for use when out of cell range. The Galaxy S3 has an independent GPS and does not require a cell or data connection to function. I put the phone in airplane mode, with the GPS on and can see where I am at any time with my pre-downloaded topo maps and satellite views. The battery life when doing this is excellent. I carry two extra batteries (very light weight) and am able to swap to a fresh battery if needed. With this combination there is not need to carry an extra GPS unit. I imagine you could do the same with an iPhone, although you could not swap batteries. Samsung has "active" versions of the Galaxy S4 which have extra shock protection and are waterproof / dustproof (you can't dive with it however). The upcoming S5 is rumored to have these features standard.


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Trailhead Register
Trekking the Huayhuash
Posted On: Aug 29, 2014
Submitted By: RebeccaD
Trailhead Register
bicycling question
Posted On: Aug 29, 2014
Submitted By: hikerjer

View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions