What Technology Should You Pack for Your Next Hike?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Most interesting outdoor technology

As you prepare for your next hike, in addition to planning your route and checking your gear, you might be wondering what pieces of technology should earn a spot in your pack. We’ve taken the guesswork out of this question and created a list to help you choose the best technology for your next adventure. 

Here are five pieces of technology you should pack for your next hike.

What Technology Should You Pack for Your Next Hike?

Handheld GPS

The most obvious piece of technology to include in your pack is a handheld GPS. These units are especially helpful if you’re hiking in an area where the trails aren’t well-traveled or clearly marked, or if you’ll be doing any backcountry hiking.

You can find a basic GPS device for around $100. If you want something more advanced, you can choose one with more advanced features, such as a two-way radio, waypoint tracking or a digital camera.

However, it’s important to remember a GPS device shouldn’t replace a traditional map and compass in your pack. Though GPS devices are built to withstand rough conditions, you don’t want to be stuck in the wilderness without a map if something happens to your electronics.

What Technology Should You Pack for Your Next Hike?

Digital Camera

“Leave only footprints and take only photographs” is the code by which responsible hikers live. A digital camera is a perfect way to preserve the memories from your trip. When choosing a camera for hiking, it’s important to pick one made for outdoor use so that it will be less likely to be damaged by being jostled in your pack or by extreme temperatures or dust.
A GoPro is a great choice for outdoor adventure photography. The company offers a variety of models at different price points, and each one is specially equipped for use outdoors. Most models can be mounted to your pack or even to a specialized headband so that you can take hands-free photos and videos while hiking.

What Technology Should You Pack for Your Next Hike?

Fitness Tracker

A wearable fitness tracker such as the Fitbit tracks various elements of your activity. If you want to turn your hike into a workout, this is a great piece of tech to add to your pack. Depending on the type of tracker you choose, you can monitor your time, distance traveled, pace, steps, heart rate, elevation change and more.

Monitoring these stats throughout your hike allows you to pace yourself better and to adjust as needed to be sure you’re maximizing your workout without wearing yourself out too early in your hike. Plus, since most fitness trackers are worn on your wrist, it won’t take up any extra space in your bag.

What Technology Should You Pack for Your Next Hike?


While some hikers hate the idea of bringing their smartphone on the trail, others can’t imagine leaving home without it. While not specifically made for the outdoors, most smartphones can be easily protected from the dangers of the outdoors with a good case. You’ll pay a little more for an ultra durable case than you would for a standard phone case, but the protection provided is well worth the money. The right durable case will protect your phone from dirt, total water submersion up to six feet, drop impacts and more.

Just as you protect your phone’s hardware by investing in a case for hiking, you should also think about the best way to protect the data on your phone. If you were to lose your phone on the trail, anyone who finds it might be able to access all of your private information. By adding a virtual private network to your phone, you can easily and effectively encrypt your private data. Then, even if you lose your phone along the trail, your personal information, such as passwords, home address and banking data will still be protected from theft.

If you do elect to take your smartphone on the trail, it can replace several other pieces of tech, effectively lightening your pack. By taking your phone, you can consider leaving the handheld GPS, fitness tracker and digital camera at home, but remember that your smartphone won’t be as good or as effective as these other devices. Also, by bringing along your smartphone, you’ll be able to listen to music and use other trail-friendly apps, such as Ramblr for trail journaling or iTrack Wildlife to identify animal tracks along the trail.

What Technology Should You Pack for Your Next Hike?


If you’re hiking with any technology, you’ll eventually lose power if you don’t have a way to keep your devices charged. While that might not be a concern on a short day hike, if you’re planning a longer trip, you’ll need to consider how to keep your devices charged and operational.

One solution is a portable solar charger. These chargers are small and light and can recharge virtually any device powered by a lithium-ion battery. Since sunlight charges them, they are the best way to make sure your devices maintain power on the trail when you don’t have access to a traditional power supply.

When deciding which pieces of tech to bring, consider your goals for the hike, the length of your trip and the weight of your pack. All of these factors will influence which pieces of tech make sense to bring along and which are best left behind.

Do you have a favorite piece of tech you never hike without? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author: Faith is an experienced hiker and a full-time writer. When she’s not at her computer, she spends the majority of her time searching out new trails and exploring the great outdoors.

Meet François Dumaine

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