iPhone Battery Saving Tips for Backpacking

Which way do we go? Studying the GPS track on our iphone to see the next turn.
Article By:
Chris McNamara
Founder and Editor-in-Chief

Last Updated:
October 17, 2017

The iPhone has combined at least seven backpacking tools: maps, cameras, compass, gps tracking, satellite messaging and, in an emergency, your headlamp or flashlight. It's more important than ever to make sure your phone doesn't die mid backpacking trip. These tips will help you save your battery but you should always bring backups, especially a paper map. Most of these tips will also work for Android.

These battery saving tips are for Apple iOS 11 but will likely work for other iOS versions.

8 Tips Listed in Order of Importance

1) Use Airplane Mode Seems obvious but most people don't realize that location-based apps like Maps, Strava, GAIA GPS will still track you in Airplane Mode. Which leads us to:

2)Turn off Location Services for Apps you are not using Path: Settings/Privacy/Location Services. Many apps will "Always" use your location, so turn them to "Never" or "While Using". To truly save battery, turn off Location Services for all apps.

Turn off Location Service completely  for at least for apps you are not using.
Turn off Location Service completely, for at least for apps you are not using.

3) Lock your screen when not in use. Obvious, but often overlooked. Make sure your phone auto-locks ever few minutes.

4) Close All Apps Your Not Using

5) Turn down screen brightness

6) Turn off background app refresh Path: Settings/General/Background App Refresh. Do this for everything except the app you are using. Very important: do not do this for the GPS app you are using to navigate. If you do, you may stop recording your track and therefor not have a clear way to get back to your starting point in an emergency. Test this out before your trip.

7) If you don't go into Airplane Mode, you need to manually turn off a few things: Bluetooth, Cellular Data, and Wifi and turn on Battery Saver mode.

8) Carry an extra external battery and/or a portable solar charger. Here is our Current Favorite External Battery.

Chris McNamara at Big Sur  2008
Chris McNamara
About the Author
Chris is the founder of OutdoorGearLab and serves as Editor-in-Chief. Climbing Magazine once computed that three percent of Chris McNamara’s life on earth has been spent on the face of El Capitan—an accomplishment that has left friends and family pondering Chris’ sanity. He’s climbed El Capitan over 70 times and holds nine big wall speed climbing records. In 1998 Chris did the first Girdle Traverse of El Capitan, an epic 75-pitch route that begs the question, “Why?” Outside Magazine has called Chris one of “the world’s finest aid climbers.” He’s the winner of the 1999 Bates Award from the American Alpine Club and founder of the American Safe Climbing Association, a nonprofit group that has replaced over 14,000 dangerous anchor bolts. Chris is also the founder and lead author of the rock climbing guidebooks publisher, SuperTopo. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter or ChrisMcNamara.com. He also has two Lake Tahoe Vacation Rentals here and here.

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