View Full Version : New e-map software and an argument for the iPhone

06-13-2009, 14:40
Alright, I know all of you hike "to get away from my cell phone," but I still think you can make a strong weight:function argument for carrying an iPhone, especially with the newest hardware/software upgrade that's being released on Friday. Technical upgrades and a really promising, award-winning app have made it so that relying exclusively on an iPhone for navigation not crazy.

First, the new app:

Accuterra is a trail map application for the iphone that's actually useful. Elevation profiles, geotagging, detailed maps combined with the new iPhone's built-in compass and GPS which works outside of the service coverage area means that you don't need to carry and mail-drop a ton of maps anymore. I think this could be a really cool program. It just won a best app award from Apple and is getting some good buzz.


1. Trail maps for the entire U.S. will be available.
2. Cost. 9.99 for the program. 99 cents per map download (which generally cover a whole state.
3. Idiot proof for those who just can't understand maps. This dot is you, this line is where you need to be, watch the dot move toward the line.
4. For shorter hikes, you can have the program on the whole time and it'll record your route and save any pictures you take at the exact point on your route.
5. Works outside of cellular range (because, unlike google maps, the map is saved to your phone and isn't being downloaded and because GPS works anywhere).

Second, the argument for iPhone hiking:

Functions: compass, map, communication in town, mp3 player, guidebooks (e.g. the e-version of the ALDHA's Companion), e-books for leisure reading, camera (if you're not a photo snob), video camera, and trail-journaling (online or otherwise).

1. iPhone is kind of heavy.
2. iPhone prefers to stay dry and uncrushed.
3. iPhone feeds on something called electricity.
4. iPhone also feeds on outrageous monthly bills

Addressing the limitations:
Heavy? iPhone and charger weigh 4.8 oz. That's doable for one or two of the above functions, that's incredible for all of them.
Breakability/malfunction: probably the strongest argument against iPhone. How likely is it to survive a 2175 mile hike unscathed? To quote SGT Rock, "PPPPPP." Otterbox defender case and a ziploc bag weigh in at 2oz. So now we're up to 6.8 oz and iPhone is safe.
Charging: Another valid challenge. First, it obviously depends on how much you use all of the functions. Talking on the phone/surfing the net/checking e-mail sucks up a lot of juice, so do this in town. Only use GPS if you're lost. If you turn on "airplane" mode the phone shuts off all of it's antennas and you can use it as an mp3 player, camera, book, diary etc. for roughly 30 hours according to what I've read, which is plenty for at least 4 days. A quick google search will reveal several ways to extend battery life by adjusting things like the brightness of the screen. Heavy users have the option of carrying an extra 1.6 oz in a spare rechargeable battery to double capacity.
Cell phone bill: Such is life.

I know we already had the "I'm gonna bring an iPhone" thread a few months back, but does anybody have any clever uses of the phone that I haven't thought of? Or any criticisms?


06-13-2009, 15:33
I was thinking about this as well - isn't there also a bird-watching app that could be really useful if you saw something that you wanted to identify?

Weight-wise, it seems like you can replace enough things with it that it's not hard to justify...

Johnny Swank
06-14-2009, 21:47
I broke down and picked one up a few months ago. They're addictive as crack, but I'm taking it if we end on on the Missouri River next year. I can get some actual work down with it (short writing blurb, photos) and leave some stuff at home.

06-14-2009, 22:35
Petr, you make a great argument for the iPhone. These days, I still carry a separate phone, iPod, camera, Turbo Charge, and AC adapters. I can't wait for the day (Next month, most likely) when I have the iPhone and can finally do it all with one device! (I do worry about breaking it on the trail, however...:eek:)

As far as maps/guides are concerned, though, I think I still prefer having them on paper... it would suck to have no power to find out where the hell you are. :-? Though in general, I think the mapping software would be awesome!