Using Technology to Enhance Your Backpacking Journey

Andrew Murphy-Cape kiwanda, OR

The beauty of backpacking is that you aren’t constrained to normal modes of transportation, relegated to cities where lodging is just around the corner, or held to an itinerary. With a pack strapped to your shoulders, you can go where you want, when you want.

If you’re feeling frisky, you might even switch countries at a moment’s notice.

It may be appealing to completely disconnect with technology and check in with friends and family only on designated days, however in today’s modern world there are tools available to enrich your backpacking experience and make your travels more comfortable.

SpareOne Emergency Phone

Winner of the 2013 Innovations Award at the Consumer Electronics convention, this SpareOne Emergency Phone is the ultimate safety device for anyone traveling to unknown destinations. Keep it in a safe place, and you can lose your main cell phone, or give it up to a mugger on a particularly bad night of your trip. You’ll still have this backup to call for help.

The phone, which runs on a single AA battery, provides up to 10 hours of talk time, and stays lit up to 24 hours for some serious peace of mind. The one-touch emergency button lets authorities find you anywhere in the vicinity of a cell tower without a SIM card.


Backpackers who hit the trails for overnights in the backcountry know the importance of proper water sterilization, but even city travelers should be diligent about their water supply.

In 2010, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs declared that polluted water kills more people each year than war. Most polluted water is in developing countries, and the water supplies in many South Asian, Sub-Saharan African and Latin American countries still have risk of contamination due to poor sanitation practices.

The SteriPEN sterilizes water with ultraviolet light, removing bacteria and viruses that lead to disease, and is compact enough to fit easily and near-weightlessly into your pack.

Travel Apps

Cell phones may keep you plugged in when you would rather unplug, but they also provide a superb source of information when you’re away from your computer. Travel apps for popular cell brands, like Android phones, include free currency converters from XE Currency, free transit-planning from HopStop, and some, like Touchnote, even provide the ability to create postcards for friends and family from the photos you take on your adventure.

Casio Pro Trek

If you plan to stick to the city, any water-resistant, durable watch will suffice for keeping track of your days. If you plan to venture outside the city limits with limited communication, though, you’ll need a watch that does more than tell time.

The Casio Pro Tek is a prime example of a back country backpacker’s smart watch. Solar-powered and able to endure brutal temperatures, the Pro Tek has a built-in compass, altitude sensor, and barometric readers with an alarm that goes off with rapid changes in pressure. That means you’ll know when a storm is coming in, giving you time to find shelter.

Though it can be fun to explore the world with a friend or romantic partner, there is no better way to discover the places you most want to see than going solo. Just a few, compact supplies will keep you moving, keep you safe, and keep you on the path of adventure.