Dangers Of Cell Phone Coverage In The Wild [7 Ways to Improve]

Phone can be dangerous because we rely on them too much and when we are out of range or battery dies we get lost in the wilderness.


Cell phones have been one of the most widely used technological devices that people have been making use of. They can carry them around anywhere they want since they are small, mobile, and growing sleeker every single day. When people go out to hike, some of them prefer to leave their cell phones back home entirely as they feel like it would ruin their experience.


Being surrounded by raw nature is something most people do not get to do every day and they prefer not to ruin their experience by having their gadgets around. On the other hand, some feel like having a cell phone can be an additional safety measure if they happen to veer off the track and get lost somehow.

They could either call someone if there is any coverage at all or use the in-built GPS to find their way back. Cell phones are known to have certain dangers especially in the wilderness and before hiking, you should certainly be aware of them.    

False Sense Of Security: We all have started relying on our phones so much even you would be aware of how dependent we are on them for pretty much everything. This means that though everything is now far more convenient, not all of us focus on basic skills that just may end up saving our lives because we feel as though not all hope is lost as long as we have our phone.

Imagine that you are in the wilderness surrounded by trees that all look alike. You do not know how to get out or what direction to go in. Your phone coverage is barely there and it is rapidly losing charge. If you cannot rely on it to get you out, what do you do?

You probably did not learn basic skills like finding out which way is north naturally simply because you always had a GPS or Google Maps on your phone. This would end up in a pretty disastrous situation that just may even turn fatal if you cannot find food and water and stay stuck in the forest. Your phone will not come to your aid at that point but important life-saving skills just might like making your own compass and foraging for basic supplies like food and water.

The unfortunate part is that people also start taking more risks because they feel completely invincible with their gadgets at the ready all the time. Otherwise, you might not feel daring enough to leave the track but with the hope that your phone has a GPS anyway, you just might go for it, effectively putting yourself in danger if there is not enough coverage.    

What You Should Do Instead: You must never rely completely on any one thing and instead branch out a little. Technology though may be wonderful and make life a whole lot easier, cannot always be trusted. Batteries could urn out, coverage could be practically non-existent and you just might trip and accidentally smash it on a rock.

In all such situations, what you can count on is non-digital equipment such as maps. Even if you do not have coverage it will be no problem at all because the map will help you locate where the actual track is so you can trek all the way there with relative ease. You should also try to learn some basic survival skills that you just might unexpectedly find a use for if any emergency arises without warning. It is always smart to be prepared beforehand rather than waiting for danger to strike you down and leave you crumbling.      

  • How can I improve my cell coverage in the wild? You could try climbing a tree (note: not recommended), or you could invest in a satellite phone or a cell signal booster. Or learn smoke signals.

  • Is there any mobile network that works best in the wild? Coverage varies greatly depending on location. It’s like asking which ice cream flavor is the best – it depends on where you are and who you ask. Always check coverage maps of different providers before venturing into the wild.

  • Will my phone battery drain faster in the wild? Like a lost wanderer in a desert, your phone might start panicking (in its own way) and use up more battery when trying to find a signal. To conserve battery, switch it to airplane mode or turn it off when not in use.

  • Can I use GPS without cell coverage? Absolutely! Your phone’s GPS doesn’t need cell coverage to function. It’s like the independent friend who doesn’t need anyone else to have a good time. But remember, without cell coverage, you might not be able to load maps.

  • What are the options for emergency communication in the wild? If you’re heading into the deep wilderness, consider carrying a satellite phone, a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), or a GPS messenger. It’s always good to have a backup plan in case your phone decides to go on vacation.

  • Will my data work in the wild? If you’re in an area with cell coverage, yes. If not, no. So you might want to download any maps, survival guides, or pictures of cute animals for comfort ahead of time.

  • Should I inform someone before I head into the wild? Absolutely! It’s always a good idea to tell someone your plan, especially if you’re going somewhere with sketchy cell coverage. You don’t have to share every detail, but at least let them know you aren’t being abducted by aliens.

  • Are there any apps that can help me in the wild? Yes! There are various offline maps, survival guides, and even star-gazing apps to enhance your wilderness experience. Just remember, no app can replace basic survival skills and common sense.

  • What if my phone gets wet or damaged? If your phone takes a dive, turn it off, remove the battery (if possible), and let it dry out completely before turning it on again. Or, you know, you could avoid dropping it in water in the first place.

  • How do I charge my phone in the wild? If you aren’t near an outlet (which is likely in the wilderness), you could use a portable charger, solar charger, or even a hand-crank charger if you’re feeling old-school. Maybe we should invent squirrel-powered chargers for true wilderness vibes?

  • Can I use Wi-Fi calling or texting in the wild? If you stumble across a wild Wi-Fi hotspot (like at some campgrounds or lodges), you can indeed use Wi-Fi calling or texting. But don’t count on finding Wi-Fi under a rock or in a bird’s nest.

  • What if I lose my phone in the wild? If you lose your phone in the wild, you have two options: 1) turn into a wilderness detective and start tracking it or 2) sit down, take a deep breath, and enjoy the digital detox.





Start With a Fully Charged Battery

If you are driving to your campsite, use a car charger cable to keep your battery topped off until you arrive. This is especially important if you are using a navigation service on your phone to get there, as these apps drain a battery quickly.

Most new cars have USB ports in the center console or on the dash, but if your car doesn’t have USB ports, you can purchase an adapter that plugs into the cigarette lighter and has a USB output. Many phone charging cables have a USB connector that is plugged into a wall outlet adapter, but if your phone cable is USBC or high speed, you may need to purchase a second cable that will allow you to plug your phone into a USB port to charge it.


Extend Battery Life

Start by taking a few simple steps to reduce your battery consumption, which can significantly extend the life of your phone battery’s charge. Small changes like turning down your screen’s brightness, changing notifications from push to fetch, and avoiding streaming video and music will help your phone last.

If you don’t need to send texts or make calls but want to use features like the camera and flashlight, turn your phone to airplane mode to make the battery last much longer. If you have a weak or intermittent signal, it will be frustrating for you and can drain your battery faster as your phone constantly searches for connectivity, so avoid a headache by switching to airplane mode as soon as you lose workable service.

Finally, phone batteries die much faster in extreme cold, so on chilly nights tuck your phone into your sleeping bag with you while you sleep or zip it into a pocket in your clothing. Take care not to roll onto your phone and break the screen. If your phone does happen to get too cold, the battery might drain extremely quickly, or the phone might shut down altogether, but the phone will regain its normal battery life when it warms up again.

Conversely, leaving your phone in extreme heat can permanently damage the battery life, so don’t leave your phone laying in direct sunlight, in the car on hot days, or in any other situation where it might become excessively warm.

Of course, even if you follow these steps, your phone will eventually need to be recharged. Let’s take a look at your options for charging your phone in the wilderness.

Charge From Your Car Battery

As previously mentioned, you can charge your phone off your car battery while driving, but you can also charge it while the car is off. However, you will need to take care not to drain the car batteries so much that the car won’t start when you are ready to leave.

This is a feasible solution only if you are car camping, and only if you need to charge your phone one or two times. If you are worried about killing your car’s battery, take a short drive around the campground while charging your phone.


Bring a Portable Power Bank

Portable power banks are external batteries that you charge up ahead of time, and then use to charge your phone or other devices. These range from inexpensive devices that will charge your phone one or two times to more expensive options that have other features and can charge your phone up to around ten times.

The benefits of portable power banks are that they are small, relatively inexpensive, and easy to use. Some power banks have multiple USB outputs so you can charge multiple phones or devices at once.

The downside is that power banks only have a finite amount of power stored, so once you use it all, you will end up with a dead phone and a dead power bank. These are great for shorter trips, but if you will be off the power grid for a long time or burn through your phone’s battery quickly, you will need a more renewable source of power. You also must remember to charge up the power bank in advance.

Items That Double as Power Banks

In the last few years, many products have been released that serve a function in camp (such as a light or lantern, music speaker, car battery jumper, etc.) in addition to being a battery bank with USB ports. These are especially useful for backpacking since weight and space are at a premium. They offer a convenience factor and make for one less thing to remember to charge and pack.

Just like the portable power banks we mentioned before, these hybrids will still need to be charged in advance, and will eventually die. Obviously, if you use both features of the device, i.e., listening to music on the speaker AND charging your phone, it will die faster.

There are good effects of smartphones on the environment like improved power usage, and better travel efficiency.


Solar Power

Solar powered devices are excellent for camping because as long as it’s sunny, you will have endlessly renewable power. Options for solar power charging range from inexpensive, which will slowly trickle charge your phone, to more expensive setups that will charge your phone as quickly as if you had plugged it into the wall at home and store the extra power for later use.

The most basic and inexpensive options are essentially portable power banks that can recharge themselves with small solar panels on the side. These can also be charged in advance by plugging them into the wall. Although the solar power generated from such a small panel is not enough to fully recharge the battery bank, it is enough to trickle charge your phone which can be a lifesaver if you need to navigate or make an emergency phone call.

The next step up would be a larger but still portable solar panel that you can plug your phone directly into via USB. These are more expensive but are much faster and more efficient at charging than the small power packs. If you camp frequently and need to keep your devices charged, a portable solar panel would be a worthwhile investment.

For serious expeditions where you will be off the grid for weeks or if you need to charge other electronics in addition to your phone (camera, drone, laptop, GPS, etc.) you will need to invest in a heavy-duty power station and high capacity portable solar panel. These stations include multiple output ports for charging several devices at once and will store the excess power harvested from the solar panel until you are ready to use it. They have a bigger storage capacity so you will be able to charge your devices on cloudy days and in shady locations.


Campfire Electricity

That’s right, and you can now turn your campfire into a thermoelectric power station. A company called BioLite has created a portable wood stove that converts and stores energy in a power bank with USB ports. This device can be used to provide a campsite ambiance with fire, and you can even cook food on it with separately sold pans.

The compact design and multifunctional aspect make this product practical for both car camping and backpacking. It provides warmth, enables you to cook, and will charge your phone all at once. You also don’t need to pack a fuel source, as you can feed the fire with sticks and twigs from around your campsite–unless of course you are in the desert with no fuel or are camping in wet weather.

Also, you will need to check the rules for where you are camping, as some places don’t allow open fires or even stoves because of the danger of wildfire. Some campgrounds only allow fires in the designated pits. Research your destination before you head out to make sure that you will be allowed to use your campfire power source.


Hand-Crank Power

One of the most foolproof ways to charge your phone while camping is to use a good old-fashioned hand-crank device. You don’t need sun or fuel for a fire, just some time and elbow grease. Most hand-cranked power sources are also emergency radios that receive the NOAA Weather Band, and many of them include flashlights and small solar panels to help boost power as well.

These radios are great to have at home in case of a storm or emergency, and they are also excellent backup power sources for charging your phone while camping due to their simplicity and durability.

In this age of constant connectivity, it can be nice to turn your phone off while camping and just enjoy nature.

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