Virtually all industries, businesses, and consumers rely on technology in some way or another, from the smartphones people won’t leave home without to the self-driving cars that will transport us in the future. One area benefiting from best Outdoor Tech’s impact on society is the hiking industry.
Hiking is a beloved hobby, and profession for some, and a pillar of outdoor recreation and adventure. However, hiking got its start with old-fashioned compasses and maps. So how has hiking changed now that technology dominates people’s lives?
Understanding Technology’s Impact on Society
Most of the tech in use today was only introduced in the last few decades. Consider how the first smartphone emerged in 1992 — now customers can buy a phone in almost any color, size, and design. Every industry has its own niche technologies, from health care to retail to manufacturing. Ongoing technology improvements allow people to accomplish things never dreamed possible.
Technology, however, does come with its downsides. Some experts suggest that increased use of technology has led to more people feeling isolated or completely disconnected from others.
People spend more time looking at screens than engaging with people nearby or the environment. However, those who enjoy spending time outdoors haven’t forgotten what it’s like to go off-grid and be one with nature.
The Role of Technology in Hiking
Although hiking is not known as a technologically advanced activity, the hiking community has come a long way. However, technology is playing a more significant role in hiking than ever before. In some cases, it can mean the difference between life and death.
Take Scott Benefore and his shocking story about his time spent hiking the Appalachian Trail. The hiker realized he was supposed to be heading uphill, but was instead going downhill. After his realization, he did what most do — took out his phone and used a navigation app to find which way to go. Benefore got lucky during this hike, but the story could’ve ended much differently.
How Outdoor Tech Has Improved Modern Hiking?
There’s no question that technology has changed the way hikers take on a new adventures, whether it’s a short hike or a long-distance trip. There are specific ways in which technology has changed the hiking experience for the better.
Consider buying these seven best outdoor tech gifts for avid hikers or those looking to experience a more tech-driven hiking experience.
1. GPS for Guidance
Having a GPS on hand is something every hiking enthusiast can agree on — it’s downright essential. When conditions deteriorate, there’s no way for hikers to know if they’re staying on track or heading in the right direction unless they’re using a map or compass.
With modern, handheld GPS units, it’s easier for hikers to know where they’re going in the backcountry. Garmin is one of the best brands for handheld GPS devices, and some of their top products include the GPSMAP 66th, Oregon 750t, inReach Explorer+, Montana 700, and eTrex 32x. Keep in mind that these devices are on the expensive side, so they might not fit every hiker’s budget.
2. Drones for Capturing Adventures
Another useful outdoor technology hikers can use to elevate their hiking experience is a drone. There are several drones available for beginners, and there are budget-friendly options such as the DEERC DE22 and the Potensic T25. Drones are available on online retailers like Amazon and eBay.
It’s important that hikers follow all of the proper drone regulations while capturing their hike. For example, drones for recreational purposes must be flown under 400 feet and remain clear of obstacles. Hikers can always visit the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) website or other online resources to learn more about recreational drone regulations.
3. Satellite Phones for Safety
Since avid hikers enjoy venturing into the most remote areas of the world, it’s no surprise that it’s often hard for them to find cellular service. Some hikers will even climb to the top of high mountains in order to get a few bars. Thankfully, hikers have another option — purchasing a satellite phone. Satellite phones allow hikers to send text messages and make phone calls, even from remote locations.
While satellite phones used to be very expensive, they’re now more affordable and easier to find online. Popular examples of satellite phones include the Iridium 9555, Inmarsat Isat Phone 2, and the Thuraya XT-LITE.
4. Hiking Poles for Easy Traveling
Hikers can now discover the great outdoors while using new, technologically advanced hiking poles to keep them balanced. High-quality trekking poles are becoming increasingly popular, especially for older hikers and those with mobility issues.
For example, Renesas makes Biosensing Smart Trekking Poles, with features like:
- Auto alerts
- GPS tracking
- Real-time positioning
- Cloud/app monitoring
- Temperature and humidity sensors
- A small, all-in-one biosensor module
Other trekking poles are lightweight, shock-absorbing and good for hiking during all four seasons.
5. Tents for Comfortable, Overnight Trips
Not every hiker will camp out every night, but those who want to feel safe and comfortable — enter high-tech tents!
A few hiking brands, such as Eureka and Coleman, offer e-port tents, which come fully equipped with electrical outlets so hikers can keep all of their devices charged and ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Here are some of the best e-port tents for hikers:
6. Smartphone Apps for Information
Since there seems to be an app for just about everything these days, it’s no surprise there’s high demand for helpful apps in the hiking community. On the iOS App Store, apps such as AllTrails, Gaia GPS, Hiking Project and Avenza Maps can all help hikers along their journeys into the wilderness.
Geocaching is another popular activity hikers often enjoy. Geocaching is like a hiking treasure hunt, where hikers search for “caches” — or hidden containers — filled with random items like keychains, ornaments, booklets and more. The Geocaching app has tens of thousands of positive ratings on the iOS App Store!
7. Water Filters for Safe Drinking
Lastly, a high-tech gadget necessary for thru-hikes is a smart water filter or water straw. It can be challenging to find safe drinking water out in the wilderness, so companies decided to create water-filtering tools or straws to make it easier for hikers.
For example, hikers can buy a LifeStraw, which goes for around $25 and allows hikers to drink directly from lakes, rivers and streams. It’s ultralight, portable, and small, so it easily fits inside a backpack.
Outdoor Tech For Hiking is the New Norm
Technology’s impact on human life cannot be underestimated, especially as new technologies continue to evolve and change the way people live, work, and play. The hiking industry is no stranger to new technology, considering all of the devices and tools outlined above. It’s certain that technology will continue to impact the hiking community in the future.