You lead an active lifestyle, and your idea of a family vacation includes huddling around the campfire, hiking through rugged terrain or white water rafting and while you have a great appreciation for the great outdoors, you also happen to love your iPhone electronics and the elements don't always get along. And even for the average iPhone user who doesn't spend their days on a bike, hike or zip line, a cracked screen or sticky-substance-smothered device is a major bummer — not to mention an inconvenience below, we talked to tech experts and outdoors enthusiasts about how they use and protect their devices when exploring the great outdoors.
Technology can augment your active lifestyle
While there's something to be said for the peacefulness of a secluded camp spot, there are a variety of ways that your devices can actually help streamline or augment an outdoor adventure experience.
Many outdoors enthusiasts find certain modern luxuries, such as smartphones or tablets, are actually useful tools for everything from peace of mind in case of emergencies to entertainment for the kids on family campouts.
Below are just a few of the thousands of apps on the market that can help improve an outdoor or adventure experience.
- Astronomy: SkyView Free is an amazing, highly rated app that allows users to simply point their iPhone at the sky in order to find constellations, learn the basics of stargazing and more.
- Hiking: For everything from finding the best hiking spots to locating mountain bike trails for any level of expertise, MapMyHike GPS Hiking is a fantastic option. The app allows users to choose from a huge variety of workouts (more than 600 different types) and record and analyze their activity and data.
- Compass: Commander Compass is a helpful tool for users who may not be the savviest at figuring out their location based on which side of the tree the moss grows.
- Weather reports: AccuWeather can help you plan whether or not that outdoor campout will be smooth sailing or if you'll get stuck in the midst of a torrential downpour.
- Outdoors skills and SOS: If you're an adventurous camper, downloading the free version of the Survival Guide app is a solid idea. Learn all of the skills you forgot from your Boy (or Girl) Scouts outings, including the types of plants and animals you should avoid in the wild.
Protecting your technology from the elementsNormal wear and tear is hard enough on your devices in the comfort of your home. Add sand, dirt, snow and campfires to the mix, and it's a perfect recipe for disaster for your electronics. A sturdy case, screen protector and other protective gear is crucial for making sure your devices can survive your outdoors adventures.
Below are a few of the most common concerns that arise when using your electronics with an active lifestyle, and how to best prevent accidental damage.
Direct sun can be your iPhone's enemy on a hot day outdoorsLeaving your phone or iPad in the scorching sun can cause it to overheat, which is terrible for both the battery and the longevity of the device in general. You can literally cook your devices if you leave them out for too long, and they may not function properly after an extended period exposed to too much heat. (Note: A campfire can also cause your device to overheat, so the danger isn't over when the sun goes down.)
Consider external protective gear for your phone that can help keep your device cool and as safe as possible from heat and sunlight.
Even putting the phone in a Ziplock bag can help provide insulation and protection if you'll be somewhere around ice or snow, but nothing beats a case that's specifically intended for protecting your phone. Adding as many layers as possible between your bare phone and the elements is the first step toward ensuring your device says safe from impact and other damages.
There's a simple fix for this: Purchase a sturdy case to ensure that your phone is protected if you — or it — take a spill. "This is one of the easiest ways to increase your iPhone's lifespan," says Lauren Fairbanks, owner of a chain of iPhone repair shops, Digital Remedy Repair. "A good case will protect your phone from screen cracks, damaging the LCD, and water exposure, which are the most common ways that iPhones get damaged."
Carefully consider your lifestyle and needs when purchasing this type of protective equipment — and remember that you don't need to sacrifice aesthetic appeal for adequate protection.
"Sweat is the number one but least known killer of phones," says Jeff Clemmensen, the MiPhone Doctor of Fresno and an expert on iPhone maintenance. To prevent inadvertent damage, he suggests that iPhone users never keep their phone directly next to skin (like in a sports bra or the elastic band of workout shorts) when physically exerting themselves. This is another scenario where a protective case or covering can come in extremely useful.
"I am constantly traveling and have a very active lifestyle," says CJ Johnson, a photographer, entrepreneur and outdoors enthusiast. "Sometimes I will be on shoots in the middle of the desert or a forest with no way to keep my battery life going. This is especially a challenge because I'm a well-known iPhoneographer so I need my iPhone."
For Johnson, a unique approach to app organization and a little restraint on phone usage makes a big difference. "I position my apps on my phone in order of use. So, I can easily open one and move on to another quickly and seamlessly. I rarely post anything to social media. In fact, I only snap pics, edit them quickly, and I delete any I don't want immediately. I also don't respond very much to texts unless they're urgent and only use my map on rare occasions (I'll do a print-out of a map if I can)."