- Jan 21, 2020 at 7:38 am #3628120
Need advice on thru hike charging phone pleaseJan 21, 2020 at 8:04 am #3628121Diane “Piper” SoiniBPL Member
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara
In my opinion the JMT is a trail best done without a cellphone, but I understand how it’s nice to have the camera and navigation all in one, and they do take good pictures now. I think a typical brick charger is the best way to go. The best thing to do in my opinion is when you get the phone, look up how to aggressively change your settings so that the battery lasts longer. You’ll ruthlessly turn off location settings for almost every app, and turn on various accessibility settings and do some other things. It really makes a huge difference in you ability to use your phone all day and in how long the charger will last, too. I’m sure the experts around here will give you brands and things. I borrowed one so I don’t even know what kind it was.Jan 21, 2020 at 8:10 am #3628123
Thank you for the adviceJan 21, 2020 at 9:04 am #3628126Robert RicheyBPL Member
@bobrLocale: San Luis Obispo
I would definitely ask this question of the JMT Facebook group as it’s extremely active and many members have hiked the trail several times. Personally I would not bother with a phone as it ties you to recharging en route no matter how well you tinker with your phone settings. You can use your map set or the Erik the Black map book along with a compass to find uncrowded camp sites, but just keep watch for use trails and that will be a better strategy anyway. I take an inReach mini to send one preset message a day to say I’m safe if not sound at camp in the evening and in case of injury. I do not use the tracking function as that really chews up the battery. I also take a point and shoot camera. Neither of these devices require recharging over the course of a thru hike although you may want to take a spare battery for the camera. This approach minimizes the weight and does not interfere with the wilderness experience. That said most hikers on the JMT take a lot of electronics. It depends on your value system ultimately.Jan 21, 2020 at 9:29 am #3628127HkNewmanBPL Member
@hknewmanLocale: Western US
Your resupply will determine any town stops, and larger external batteries require more time to charge in town. So there’s a balance. For a week out, 10000 mAH has been plenty for me, … with a smartphone (airplane mode) and rechargeable headlamp, with a little left over in case one is accidentally left “on”.Jan 21, 2020 at 9:56 am #3628129
The JMT isn’t the AT. There isn’t a town every 3 days. You can can’t walk 4 miles (or Uber) into town and stop at a cafe, hostel or Walmart.
At some point, you bring a solar panel to recharge your headlamp, SteriPen, (possible) phone, and any inReach-type devices.
The JMT might be at or past that point, depending on how many days you take and how much you use your electronics.
OTOH, a battery is easy, if a bit heavy – you don’t have to keep it pointed south as you hike.
A dozen years ago, before we did EVERYTHING on our phones, I had an iPod. It was small and played music for a long time. I don’t know, but I suspect, that for music only, if that’s one of your uses of a phone, you may get more hours/weight by bringing an mp3 player, using your phone less, and a correspondingly smaller battery pack.Jan 21, 2020 at 9:57 am #3628130
Thank youJan 21, 2020 at 6:41 pm #3628200Diane “Piper” SoiniBPL Member
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara
I think you can charge your charger in Tuolumne Meadows, VVR, and Bishop (or Parchers Resort) or wherever people go on the Eastern side. Some people take more than one brick. A lot of JMT hikers have really heavy stuff. And a lot of them hike really short days so they can just sit and look at the beauty, fish, swim, enjoy the camping or take little side trips. The whole idea of really soaking in the JMT is one reason not to bring a phone, or to be very minimal with it and use paper maps instead, but everyone is different. I think it’s easier to find bailout trails with a large paper map than a tiny screen or a trail map app. And personally I like to stumble upon nice campsites rather than have an app tell me where they are.Jan 21, 2020 at 7:58 pm #3628213Maria NBPL Member
We did half the JMT this past summer and I brought a medium sized anker battery and a solar charger. Couple people in my group took offense to my use of technology…until they needed some juice! LOL! Also to be noted. Most solar panels you can’t charge your phone directly you have to bring an external battery to charge and then use that to charge your phone. I’m not an ultra lighter so my pack with 5-6 days of food and a Garcia bear canister and gear and 1 liter of water weighed 34lbs at the start.Jan 22, 2020 at 4:50 am #3628250
I bring and use a phone in the backcountry, and did so on the JMT in 2015. I think phones are useful in the backcountry as portable reference libraries, cameras and GPS if you want confirmation that you are where you think you are. I even managed to get lost twice on the JMT (once as I got into Tuolumne Meadow and then again as we entered Red’s Meadow) and GPS was useful in both situations.
Try to establish how much of your phone battery you use in a typical day in Airplane Mode while backpacking. I know that I typically chow through ~25% so I figure I get 3.5 days of use on the phone’s battery (a little margin for error is nice). I have a 10,000 mah Anchor battery which gives me (I think) gives me about 2.5 charges. 3.5×2.5 = ~9 days of use. Not enough for the JMT unless you are walking really fast so you will have to recharge the battery which takes many hours, less if you take a heavier, fast charger and your battery is capable of being fast charged.
Another option is a small solar panel. This works better if you are walking NOBO than SOBO because you can hang your panel off the back of your pack. You’ll need to charge a small battery and then use the battery to charge your phone because directly charging phones while moving doesn’t work well.
You can charge directly off larger solar panels but they are heavier and bulky so you’d do that at breaks. You’d be everyone’s new best friend at the top of Mather if you pull out a huge panel with tons of juice and multiple USB ports.
There is no best solution. You’ll have to figure out how much juice you want to use and where/how long you plan to resupply. This is all complicated by the recent rule change not allowing you to leave the wilderness to resupply (you won’t be going into Mammoth or Indy without getting another entry permit) so you have TM, RM, VVR and MTR for access to an outlet. Once you firm up those variables your answer will be clearer and you can look up reviews of the current battery and solar panel options.
One really good option if you are going NOBO is a Suntactics S5 with a lipstick Anchor battery hanging off the back of your pack. 8 ounces and unlimited charging. I don’t think you’d be very happy with this setup going SOBO, however.Jan 22, 2020 at 7:28 am #3628260bradmacmtBPL Member
Another option is A small solar panel. This works better if you are walking NOBO than SOBO because you can hang your panel off the back of your pack. You’ll need to charge a small battery and then use the battery to charge your phone because directly charging phones while moving doesn’t work well.
The Suntastic S5 allows you to charge your phone directly. It’s probably the way I’d go:Jan 22, 2020 at 7:46 am #3628262
My experience direct charging with the S5 on the JMT was not positive with my iPhone. I found that it had to be exactly perpendicular to the sun with a perfectly clear sky or the phone would constantly reset and I’d experience a net battery drain. It was extremely frustrating and I wish I’d brought a small battery. YMMVJan 22, 2020 at 8:20 am #3628267bradmacmtBPL Member
My experience direct charging with the S5 on the JMT was not positive with my iPhone. I found that it had to be exactly perpendicular to the sun with a perfectly clear sky or the phone would constantly reset and I’d experience a net battery drain. It was extremely frustrating and I wish I’d brought a small battery. YMMV
Thanks for sharing.Jan 22, 2020 at 11:09 am #3628279jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
Count me among those who think a phone and charging devices are entirely unnecessary on the JMT–except perhaps as a camera. A lightweight dedicated camera won’t require charging. I guess I don’t want to fiddle with devices while backpacking. that’s one reason I stopped carrying a camera at all (plus I have a million shots already).
I brought an Ipod a few times–it weighed around an ounce and played forever. But I found I prefer silence or the sounds of nature. It was nice to hear Beethoven in the wilderness however!
With a touch of mindfulness it’s hard to get lost on the JMT, especially with a paper map. And you can always ask the next hiker where you are if you do!Jan 22, 2020 at 11:54 am #3628288HkNewmanBPL Member
@hknewmanLocale: Western US
a phone and charging devices are entirely unnecessary on the JMT–except perhaps as a camera…
That’s the rub. The camera on the newer iPhones are so good, media majors at the university tell me they can be used for 80% of their videography classes though (they are still required to get a dedicated camera but usually bargain buy on eBay).
Now add rechargeable headlamps and then it gets (IMHO) better to keep track of one big rechargeable battery than an increasing stockpile of individual ones (course that starts getting into “philosophy and technique”).Jan 22, 2020 at 1:09 pm #3628307jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
Must one leave the trail to get a reliable charge?
My strategy is to use my headlamp judiciously–mostly for reading for 10 minutes at night. A resupply bucket would include new batteries. Even my first gen kindle with no backlight could go for days with no charge, over a week. If I was out longer, that would stay home and I’d carry a paperback instead with a new book in the same resupply bucket.
If you used a phone as a camera only, how long would the battery last? and would it be appreciably lighter than a dedicated camera of comparable quality? I like having the option of using a polarizing filter; can’t do that with a phone. The light is harsh at altitude.Jan 22, 2020 at 1:30 pm #3628313
“My experience direct charging with the S5 on the JMT was not positive with my iPhone.”
I had that experience attempting to charge my iPhone off a BioLite wood-stove-with thermocouple-powered USB power port. When it was screaming with small bits of seasoned hardwood, it would put out enough current. But within a minute or two, output would fall, the phone would stop charging and I’d have to monitor it constantly to keep reseting it. Yes, charging an intermediate battery would have made it viable. Direct phone charging wasn’t.Jan 22, 2020 at 1:39 pm #3628314idesterBPL Member
@doug-iLocale: The Cascades
“I like having the option of using a polarizing filter; can’t do that with a phone.”
You can with a smartphone. Various companies sell polarizing filters for smartphones, as well as additional lenses on which you could mount a polarizing filter.
This BPL thread talked about it a bit.Jan 22, 2020 at 1:42 pm #3628315
“My strategy is to use my headlamp judiciously–mostly for reading for 10 minutes at night.”
I’ve really been liking my NiteCore Tube mini key-chain-sized, USB rechargeable light. More than the claimed life (1 hour at 45 lumens) or 1 lumen for over 58 hours when I tested it over several days at my desk which is perfect for reading and I find enough for hiking on an established trail.
I like headlamps for cooking in camp after dark and for looking for crap at the bottom of my pack, but I don’t like headlights for hiking. They fully illuminate all the dips in the trail you’re looking at, so you can’t perceive them. A light held at waist level WILL cause shadows from those bumps allowing you to walk faster and trip less. And you need fewer lumens 2.5 feet off the ground at your waist then you do from your head at 6 feet.
But the NiteCore Tube? $10! 10 grams! 50+ hours of night hiking! Maybe two of those are your primary/only lights. Or maybe you have one as your back-up, knowing it can handle the whole trip on its own (albeit with less lumens than some people want) so you don’t have to be nervous about the battery life on your bigger headlamp.
(The other would be a second mini-Bic.)Jan 22, 2020 at 8:55 pm #3628363
100% agree with David. I carried a full size BD headlamp with 3 AAA batteries + 3 spares on the JMT along with a Nitecure Tube. I literally never used the headlamp.
I now carry a single AAA flashlight with a hat clip and a spare battery. I treat that like my backup and use the Tube as my primary. I have it one a small loop of very thin shockcord so I can attach it to a belt loop, my wrist, my shelter or a mitten hook on my pack so I don’t loose small bits. Good stuff.Jan 22, 2020 at 10:45 pm #3628368john hansfordBPL Member
For Suntactics S5 users, be aware that the wires crossing the hinge can break, making the whole thing useless. That happened to me, and there is no easy fix because the entire surface is laminated. I emailed Suntactics to ask for advice, and they never even replied. Apart from that, a 4oz solar charger will put out 1A at 5V, just like a wall socket, so my phone gets charged during daytime breaks. Plenty of sun on the JMT.
+1 on the rechargeable keychain lights, 17gm.Jan 23, 2020 at 3:35 am #3628373John S.BPL Member
Take your phone, learn how to save battery (adventurealan.com), charge it with either solar/small battery (not the now overpriced suntactics panel) or larger fast charge battery (10,000 mah batteries these days are around 6 oz).Jan 23, 2020 at 2:52 pm #3628428AaronBPL Member
This is what I use. For everything – hiking, out for the day on the weekend, it lives in my backpack permanently. capacity as advertised. Wireless charging capbility – put phone and battery in pouch and it’s charging.Jan 26, 2020 at 3:22 pm #3628841M BBPL Member
Just bring a small charge block and micro cord
Theres no cell service…….
You may want a 10000 mah battery.Jan 30, 2020 at 12:46 pm #3629325Murali CBPL Member
The best way is to calculate for your needs.
For example, lets say you are going to take a camera for taking pictures/videos – a camera like Sony RX100. This camera can take 250 pictures or so with a battery it comes with. If you are kind of person who takes around 50 pictures in day – then your camera should last for 5 days. If your resupply is 5 days away, then you just need one battery approx. If you take 100 pictures a day, then you will need to carry a spare battery for this camera – spare batteries are pretty light for point and shoot cameras. I met a guy who took 500 pictures in a day in Goat Rocks in Washington. So, depends on what kind of person you are.
Your phone is pretty much for Guthook navigation, journaling, reading a book etc. Putting the phone in aeroplane mode, bluetooth off etc will last at least 4 to 5 days easily – depends on the type of phone you have, its battery size etc. You may need to try it on a shakedown hike or just at home for a day or so to see how much battery drains in such a configuration in a day. I don’t listen to music – so, cannot help there. But, you can try all of this for a day or 2 at home or on a shakedown hike. My phone is a pixel 2 XL with a 3520 mAh battery.
No dedicated camera, use phone for everything:
On my recent trip, I used my phone for everything – taking pictures (50 a day), 30 second videos for a total of 2 to 3 minutes, Guthook navigation, journaling/reading for 15 to 20 minutes a day just before bed. My Pixel 2 XL lasted for 4 days typically. So, for 6 days between resupplies, I know I need to charge my phone once – 3520 mAh needed. Also used the phone for waking me up in the morning.
Garmin Inreach (the bigger one): 3 preset messages to my family – morning, afternoon and night and 5 to 6 messages typically in a day. I usually switch ON, send, switch off. Evening is when I may keep it on for 2 hours exchanging messages with family. With such usage, I do not have re-charge my Garmin Inreach. If I had to charge it was 2500 mAh.
Steripen Ultra: again no recharge required – 50 liters between recharge. 5 liters a day will last you for 10 days. Dont know what size it has.
Black Diamond headlamp: 1250 mAh battery. I didn’t have to charge over a 6 day period. But, if you are going to use it a lot – then you need to take that into account. When summiting Mt Whitney, I got up at 12ish and left around 2AM and had the light on till 6AM or so. One charge easily lasted for 6+ hours on the medium setting.
Garmin Watch: if you don’t use the GPS, then again you will not have any issues – 520mAh battery size.
Now, the only device you will have to charge is your phone. So your battery requirement is only 3520 mAh.
But, lets just say we may need to charge all of your devices once – because cold mornings drained your batteries for some devices etc. Then adding all of these:
3520+2500+1250+520+steripen batter size (assume 1000mAh) = 9000 mAh approximately.
I would buy a 10,000 mAh battery bank. If you want more margin – go for 13000 mAh.
I would also keep all of these devices inside the sleeping bag so that they do not drain. I think it happened to one person where the bank drained completely overnight is what he said.
I have found Anker batteries to be pretty good. Also, you have tons of people on JMT who will always help if say your battery drained completely.
You can recharge everything at Tuolumne meadows, Red Meadows, VVR, MTR. MTR to Mt Whitney and down is the long stretch. If you are going to do it at one shot, them it may take 9 days or more. I went over Kearsage pass and took a zero at Independence. Though there were no restaurants to eat at Independence. I would instead go to Lone pine where there are lots of restaurants, grocery stores etc. Then your resupply from MTR to Kearsage should be 6 to 7 days.
I wrote a blog about my JMT trip with pictures/videos etc. If you are interested, PM me and I will provide the link.
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