Weekend Planner: Go High-Tech

Go wireless, get dialed in, and navigate like a pro with these gadgets.

The clock is ticking on your 48 hours of freedom. Don't let traffic jams, poor directions, unfamiliar terrain, or a last-minute work email take a chunk out of the weekend. Use these gadgets to get more trail time.


Novatel MiFi— You want to leave for the trailhead on Friday at noon, but you need to send a file from your laptop at the end of the day. Cancel your departure? No. The MiFi creates an internet hotspot of your very own. With cell service, the rechargeable, credit-card-size router delivers 3G (high-capacity) online access for you and up to five buddies (launching this year; starting at around $200; novatelwireless.com). A cheaper option: Iogear's Wi-Fi Finder (pictured above: $13; iogear.com) sniffs out Wi-Fi signals as far as 500 feet away, which eliminates the trial-and-error of looking for a roadside connection.


Casio G'z One Boulder— Beat a path to the trailhead with Casio's waterproof, armored Boulder cell phone, which now has sophisticated highway navigation. Verizon's VZ Navigator service marries seamlessly to the GPS-equipped Boulder: You'll receive turn-by-turn audible commands, as well as suggested detours around traffic slowdowns. Navigator is available for less than $3 per day. (Phone is $180 with two-year Verizon subscription; verizonwireless.com.) On the trail, launch Trimble Outdoors ($6/month; trimbleoutdoors.com) to record tracks and waypoints or consult preplanned trips downloaded from Backpacker.com.


Garmin Oregon 550t— Your weekend plans include off-trail routefinding? This GPS, like the Editors' Choice Award-winning 400t (April), is an advanced navigation tool that beginners will easily master. The 500t has an intuitive touch-screen interface and comes loaded with topos of the entire U.S. Bonus: The built-in camera takes web-worthy, geo-tagged images. An optional $100 City Navigator SD card provides on-pavement navigation. $600; garmin.com