Electrifying your trail guide

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    Jim S


    Hi all. New to the forum, and new to ultralight backpacking.

    I had an idea while I was trying to cut weight for an upcoming trip. My trail guide weighs over 400g (14 ounces), so instead of taking it I photographed each page with my phone and got double-sided photocopies of the maps. It cut the weight down to around 35g of paper (1.3 ounces or so). Since I'll be taking my phone anyway, I photographed other books I might want to refer to as well, like edible plant foods in the region I'm travelling to. I just make a folder with the book title and save all the photos from that book into it.

    Even if the print is small my picture gallery gives the option of magnifying them and I can read everything so far photographed with perfect clarity. You have to make sure your focus is good and the page is flat and there is no shine from light sources, but otherwise it works well. Probably people have thought of this before, but I thought I'd share it anyway.

    Don't think I'd want to do it this way with a novel or anything I intended to read for a while. Only with things I might need to refer to here and there. I'm going to look into whether there is a downloadable phone kindle app for taking a novel – if I'm taking a phone anyway I may as well pack it full of weightless information.

    There's always the issue of battery life though, which is why I photocopied the maps. But you can keep your phone turned off until you need it, use flight mode or battery saver mode, take a spare battery or two…

    Anyways, thanks for reading.

    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member


    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    yeah, good idea, sometimes I'll take picture of a map rather than carry paper

    Adam Kilpatrick
    BPL Member


    Locale: South Australia

    Yep, you can get kindle (and other similar apps like the google version) easily, usually for free for Android, iPhone, Windows… Lots of books are available kindle these days, increasingly older novels too as those with the publishing rights get them converted. Older guide books are probably hard and I can see why, generally they become out of date and there is little incentive. I wish they'd do it for some here in Australia that weigh a ton by themselves.

    On a through hike (particularly an unsupported one eg FKT) I wonder where the play off is between going for fully electronic maps &/or guides and having say extra batteries and/or solar charging, or instead going the paper. You can burn pages if you really want to (*as long as its LNT where you are to do so*).

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