Before the days when every phone had GPS and map apps on them, driving to a new place took time navigating and planning. Now, we just hop in our cars and let map apps tell us where to go. Technology has made getting to our next destination easier than ever, and that doesn’t stop with front country navigation. Smartwatches like the Casio Pro Trek Smart have evolved the backcountry experience, so you can spend more time taking in nature instead of refolding maps and firing up your phone.
Here are a few ways a smartwatch can make your next backcountry trip safer and more efficient:
1. A smartwatch will track all of the stats you want, and then some.
Got a goal to hike or ski, say, 100,000 vertical feet in 2019? A watch will help you log that data more accurately than your cell phone alone, or even pencil and paper, can. Many smartphone apps exist to help you track steps, vertical feet, and so on, but the catch there is that you have to actually bring your phone with you, and these counters are often inaccurate when your phone is in your backpack instead of your back pocket.
2. Always know where you are, and what’s ahead.
Search and rescue teams, like the one in Snowdonia, Wales, use smartwatches like the Casio Pro Trek series to have instant access to their exact GPS coordinates so they can accurately communicate their location, and the location of an injured hiker, to the rest of their team. A GPS-enabled smartwatch doesn’t need a cell signal to give you directions based on offline maps. Apps like ViewRanger* can help you get back on track if you take a wrong turn or lose your way in the dark, and they can also help you discover new trails. Also, among the many apps the Casio Pro Trek pairs with is MyRadar*, which gives you real-time weather data for your area, showing animated weather maps that will help you ensure you don’t make a wrong move at a critical moment.
3. Keep your eyes on the trail and get hands-free directions.
When you use your phone for maps or directions, you’re setting yourself on a slippery path toward distraction. Not to mention, you have to put down your trekking poles, physically take it out of your pocket or backpack, and hold it in your hand. With a smartwatch, you just need to glance at your wrist, no hands required.
4. Get only the notifications you need to see.
Want that summit sunrise pic your first morning at camp? Get a notification on your smartwatch an hour before the sun is set to rise in your location. Want notifications if your partner texts you, but to block everyone else? You can do that, too. With a smartwatch, you control exactly what’s sent to your wrist so you never miss something actually urgent and you also avoid embarking on an endless scroll journey that makes backcountry cell service the enemy of many a solitude seeker.
5. Protect your phone against the elements.
Casio’s Pro Trek series is water resistant up to 50 meters. That means you can still get directions in a downpour without jeopardizing your phone or the paper map you forgot to laminate before heading out. With a smartwatch, you can access all of your phone’s most essential functions without actually using your phone, which means you can keep it safely tucked away in a drybag, so you never have to worry about it during a stream crossing, kayaking-packing trip, or downpour. This helps preserve your phone’s battery life, too, making sure it’ll be there for you in an emergency situation without also having to pack along a heavy brick charger.
*Not available for app-pairing with iOS.