Oct 26, 2012

Backpacking with an iPhone 5

This is a continuation of the iPhone 4 as a GPS post.

My goal is to eliminate all electronics except for my iPhone 5. This past weekend was my first "beta" test. The functionality I was replacing was:

1. Eliminate my Garmin eTrex. Functionality includes
A. Importing a saved track in .gpx format.
B. import topo maps around the track to be used offline.
C. Create waypoints at points of interest.
D. Save the track of the hike (if power permits)
E. 20 hrs battery life with 2 lithium AA.
F. Get sunrise sunset data
2. Eliminate my camera
A. Would like geotagging and accurate time stamping of photos
B. would like image stabilization.
C. Low light capability
D. Panorama photo capability
3. Eliminate separate phone
4. Eliminate music device.

New functionality I'd lIke to add includes:
- voice memos with time stamp to annotate waypoints
- offline blogging of trail journal
- kindle book reading capability.

So I ordered a iPhone 5 with AT&T service that uses a SIM card, as recommended by the Adventure Alan's excellent post on the subject that can be found here:http://www.adventurealan.com/iphone4gps.htm
The secret to battery life is to disable the all radios in the phone except for the GPS. The only way to disable the phone short of jail breaking, is to put a SIM password on the SIM. When you power down the phone, and restart it, it asks for your SIM password. If you click OK instead of Unlock, the phone is disabled, but the GPS still works. (If you wondered, airplane mode disables all radios AND gps)

Get Needed Apps
1. Gaia GPS - (guy-yah) Adventure Alan recommended this, and he was right. Best GPS app with offline cached capabilities and open source maps.
2. Maplets - this doesn't always help, but maplets has "specialized" maps done by parks and other government services. Can be helpful
3. Camera - native app - has panorama capability
4. Voice Memos - native app
5. Camera+ - has image stabilization, and other editing features.
6. Kindle - book reading app.
7. BlogPress - offline blogging app.

Prepping the phone for backcountry use
Upload track into Gaia GPS. Click the track in saved, click the share button, and click "show on map". Try both the USGS and Open Cycle Maps to see which will better suit needs. I found OCM often shows existing trails better, but is in metric elevations. Once you pick your map, go to saved, highlight track, share, and click "download maps for track". Now they are cached for offline use.  See http://www.gaiagps.com/wiki/downloadmapsalongtrack

Long push power button, and swipe to turn off phone. Power back up and click OK to keep SIM locked.

Turn all radios off, except location services: Bluetooth, Wifi, push notifications, etc. google on how to maximize phone battery for help on this.

In my last trip, I found I used 35% of the battery using the GPS and camera regularly. Be sure to background Gaia before sleeping the phone by hitting the home button.

In the next post, I will detail usage of Gaia GPS app, and each of the other recommended apps.

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Oct 1, 2012

How I Pack My Backpack

I did an 8-day backpacking trip in Wyoming, and learned the limits of my Osprey Exos 58.  Yes, I got everything in it, but it was tight.  My packing procedure is as follows:
I put a trash compactor bag into the body of my pack.  My sleeping bag gets packed in a SilNylon Nano Dry bag (I have a post about this sack) and pushed to the bottom.  Next I drop in clothes I will not be wearing during the day.  These I keep in Ziplocs to organize and keep dry in my tarp.
Next I drop in my Nano Puff jacket and down jacket, and long underwear top.  I then goose neck the trash compactor bag and close with a velcro ziploc.  I put my down jacket along the outside so is can put my stove, mug, etc closer to my back.  They sit outside the bag to avoid food smell contamination.

On my Wyoming trip, we had to carry a bear can since we were above the tree line, so it goes in next.  Finally, trash and overflow items go in a bear bag I strapped in under the top flap/pocket of my pack.  8 days of food was more than the bear can could hold, so I started with 2 days of food in the bear bag.  We had trees for the first few days so no problem.  Later in the trip I put my smellables and trash bag in the bear bag and put it on boulders and shrubs that would keep it away from chipmunks, marmots, and other "mini-bears".

My tarp and stakes go in my front "Stuff it" pocket with my umbrella.  All the typically wet stuff is outside the pack.  The Exos also has vertical side pockets.  I put my rain gear in here since I can get it without opening my backpack.  The other vertical side pocket holds my fuel, water funnel, and two 2L Platypus jugs.

The rest of my miscellaneous stuff goes in the top pocket.   I try to not lot it get to heavy, but my 1st aid kit, foot kit, headlamp, etc goes there.

I'll take more pictures on my October camping trip and update this post.

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