Route finding? Wild camping? Bike packing? How to conserve your phone battery for when you really need it.

Do you know how to keep your phone charged when you’re enjoying yourself outside? There are lots of reasons to make sure you do.

In this post Fi admits to making a big mistake whilst out on a winter wild camping trip. She also shares her top tips for making sure your phone doesn’t lose battery charge when you’re out walking, camping, cycling, or whatever it is you love doing outside.

Related: How digital technology can encourage us to Get Outside.

Mobile phones for outdoor activities

No matter how good your navigation skills, I expect you use your mobile phone a fair amount when you’re enjoying your favourite outdoor activity. We all do.

I know, you never follow routes on your phone.

Maybe not but I’ll be surprised if, whilst you’re out camping, walking or cycling, you don’t use your phone to take photos, check the weather, record podcast titbits, video your day, or post on social media.

Charging your mobile phone outside

But your phone is also your emergency link to help if you should need it.

Related: Five apps that could help you stay safe outside

Okay so there are plenty of gadgets and gizmos out there to help you keep your phone charged. Battery banks for phones are one example, and I recommend carrying one (and the required lead).

You can even buy hand-charged, stove-charged or solar-charged power banks to help you charge your mobile phone.

I haven’t tried any of these but am willing to do so if anyone fancies sending me one out. I imagine if you had your emergency on a sunny day, when you still had plenty of energy, and fancied a cuppa, all three would be useful.

But not if you left them at home.

Even seasoned pros make camping mistakes

Which is exactly what I did last week. You’d think that with 20+ years of outdoor experience, I would know better than to make a mistake like that but I managed to arrive at a remote camping location, just as the sun was setting, on my own, without my battery pack.

I also managed to arrive without my torch.

And my emergency light stick. And my first aid kit. Because I keep all my emergency gear in the same dry bag.

I won’t be doing that anymore.

Feel free to learn from my mistakes.

Relying on your mobile phone for emergencies

My unexpected torch-free, charger-free situation meant I had to rely on my phone for everything. I had already used 40% of the battery recording snippets for a wild camping podcast but had assumed I would be able to charge up once I had pitched my tent.

I was in for a long and dark night ahead.

Instead of the cosy night reading in the tent I had planned, I was about to have a very dark night in the tent worrying about… Well most things really.

But I had two things in my favour.

  1. I had the light on my phone for emergencies.
  2. Over the years I’ve learned a thing or two about preserving mobile phone battery when I’m enjoying outdoor activities.

At this point I wasn’t doing much enjoying!

How to conserve your phone’s battery life

Here are my top tips for conserving battery life on your mobile phone when you’re outside having fun.

Or indeed stopped having fun hours ago.

Please note, I’m not a battery expert so these suggestions are all experiential.

1. Keep your phone cosy

But not too hot. On cold nights (or ones when I’ve been a numpty and forgotten my torch) I keep my mobile phone in my sleeping bag with me.

I haven’t squashed one yet.

2. Flip the switch to flight mode

You won’t be able to access anything online or send text messages in this mode but it’s an easy switch back if you need to do so.

Try to avoid it if you can.

3. Remember your paper maps

Take paper maps of your routes with you but if you do want online maps and routes (also useful in an emergency) download them to your phone before you leave home.

Some traditional navigation skills would also be useful.

4. Forget location, location, location

Turn off your location services because all that searching uses battery power. Work out how to do this before you leave home.

Then learn how to find your location without your phone.

5. Switch off those notifications

Not only do they use battery you might need for more important things, they will tempt you to use your phone more than necessary.

Okay so I was tempted a few times during the night.

6. Find alternative entertainment

If you do want your phone to entertain you (I wouldn’t recommend this unless you take a spare one) download your books, podcasts and music before you leave home.

There’s always singing to the dark!

7. Get fierce with your apps

Check you don’t have too many power-hungry apps running (settings-battery-battery usage). Force stop any high usage ones but don’t use too much precious battery time doing this.

Nobody likes a hungry app.

8. Send texts instead of calling

Fair enough, you might want to reassure your loved ones that you’re okay but you might not be okay if you use all your phone battery. Send a text or message instead of making a phone call.

Then do number nine.

9. Reach for the off switch

If you can bear it, turn your phone off. That way you’ll be less tempted to use it, and you’ll stop it from performing battery-munching tasks in the background.

Go on. You can do it!

10. Sing a song

I only put that one in because ten tips look better than nine. But also because singing doesn’t use any battery power.

And because a chorus of ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ at various hours helped me through my very long night.

So did you do numbers one to nine as well Fi?

I’ll be honest here, I couldn’t face the darkness alone with no torch,  AND my phone turned off so I did all of the above, apart from turning my phone off, and hoped for the best.

It worked!

I made it through the night, back off the hill, and even had enough phone charge left to show the nice lady my train tickets.

It was a very, very long night though!

Komoot or OS Maps. Which app is best for walking route planning?



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