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10 Tech tips on your next outdoor adventure: Montana and Glacier National Park

“I’ll make the acquaintance of the wild gardens and the glaciers and get as near to the heart of this world as I could.” – John Muir  It’s wonderful to know that there are so many places for me to quietly escape the masses, stroll for miles on a trail without seeing a soul, and sit up high to gaze across the range. Montana is magnificent, majestic and I sit at awe at its boundless beauty.  I immediately fall in peaks, creeks, brooks and meadows of The Crown Jewel of America, Glacier National Park. While exploring Montana, the land is vast and technology is sparse.  I was happy with was the limited cellphone coverage since that allowed me to unplug, unwind and fully be present in the moment. However, I’m such a digerati I had to still rely on some technology especially when it comes to having accessible maps and charged up batteries. Before heading on your next adventure here are some recommended tech tools you might want to download or prepare prior to leaving on your next adventure:

  1.  Solar charger – Always be ready with a handy solar charger, if you have one of the weatherproof models, its even better since it has been knowing to rain randomly. Goal Zero has a range of products that are very lifestyle friendly, it’s also the brand I use and would recommend.
  2. Two smartphone map apps - Google Maps (free) – make maps available offline. Must be done prior to tripand. Tom Tom – Offline maps.
  3. Back up your mobile phone prior to leaving and each time your have reliable internet connection to protect your priceless memories. iCloud is wonderful for times link these.
  4. Verify you have enough storage for your expected future usage on all memories cards and mobile devices. Your don’t want to miss a kodak moment or erase photos and videos that haven’t been backed-up. I tend to erase all the videos first since that frees up the most room for me.
  5. Save on mobile device’s battery life. Turn off auto-updates if your device has that setting, especially iPhone users. Lower the screen brightness, restarting your phone and completely closing apps that aren’t being used also help.
  6. Personal locator beacon- I use the highly rated ResQLink brand which lucky we have never had to truly use it, so I cannot attest to it’s true effectiveness. However, the tester button does work by sending your list of contacts an SMS. I verified it several times when from varying elevations and distances (from my contacts). * I highly recommend membership to and mountain insurance from the nonprofit American Alpine Club gives you great benefits for what could be a life-saving rescue.
  7. MountainAR – Fully enjoy the view you are taking in. Know the names of the mountains you are looking at and even its elevation. This only required me to have 1 bar of 4G cell coverage which just randomly happened to show up when I was on a vista overlook.
  8. Spotify – Pay for a membership, it will allow you to make your music playlists accessible offline. Very helpful when there is no or low cell coverage… Pandora doesn’t work and Montana radio coverage could be really spotty in rural areas.
  9. USB Multi-cable with FireWire – compact and handy, saves me a bit of mess without the excess cables. everything is in one place, which keeps me from misplacing various products. Works with my iPhone, camera and laptop.
  10. Camera Rentals - Rent photography equipment and test products such as lens that you were thinking of buying before you commit. I found Borrow Lens to be a great online resource for those who know exactly what they want to rent. Easy online ordering, delivery or local pick up . For those of who are novice, I recommend going to calling your favorite camera shop to see if they do rentals so you can go down and discuss your options.  Buying the rental insurance also helps which they could recommend also.

What didn’t work :

FireChat – I was very hopeful this “new way to chat: off-the-grid– even if there is no Internet connection or mobile phone.” However, when I had no cellphone reception, I tried FireChat. I couldn’t log on because my phone had an auto-update for that app. And I needed connectivity to log in. Since the app logged out and I couldn’t remember my log in info. I had to wait until we found reception to figure it out.  I was also in low-density area with few people around so that required to get this to work. I am hopeful this future versions will work out some of these kinks since it’s a great technology.

Low tech tips:

  • Vibram – these five finger toe shoes were perfect for the water activities I did such as white water rafting and swimming in the glacier lake.