FarOut in Airplane Mode: Hiker Match Made in Heaven

While hiking on the trail, you may notice that your cell service will fade in and out consistently on almost ... Read more

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Josh Koop

I live with my wife and daughter in Katy, Texas and my local trail is the Lone Star Hiking Trail which is an amazing way to experience the Sam Houston National Park!

Closeup of a Appalachian Trails map showing Clingmans Dome and Newfound Gap
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While hiking on the trail, you may notice that your cell service will fade in and out consistently on almost every trail. This is why many will set their phone to airplane mode to conserve power.

This may lead you to wonder does FarOut (Formerly Guthook) work when in airplane mode.

The FarOut app uses cell phone GPS location, not cell phone reception, to understand where you are on the trail. This fact along with locally downloaded guides means that this will work even when you are conserving battery power with airplane mode out on the trail.

Why would you want to use airplane mode overall on the trail you may wonder. Well, this has to do with the length of time when you may not have access to convenient power to recharge them.

Since everyone and their parents though now carry cell phones with them it is a perfect pairing of software with a device that can provide you a location and help you maintain your own safety on the trail.

How Does the FarOut App Work?

FarOut (previously Guthook) is an app that allows you to download guides, these guides contain detailed information on the trail that was usually limited to paper booklets, the issue being that a booklet is out of date as soon as printed.

How to use FarOut app? Farout is a topo map like many other tools would be but with the added benefit of user-added data and notes to help keep the details consistently up to date based on the last hiker trekking.

Notable icons along the trail designate campsites, water sources, intersecting roads, and trail-town information

Once you download the guidebook, you will have access to download updates and notes from actual hikers on the trail, which can provide much more “real-time” information on the trail ahead of you.

Things like camp quality and water sources can be invaluable to a hiker.

Using FarOut to Check In With Family and Friends

One big benefit to using FarOut is that you can get others on the app also and use it to send a check-in to them and let them know where you are on the trail and that you are safe.

It can be done in three simple steps as long as you have a cell or wifi connection:

  1. Go to the Map page and tap on the “Tools” tab at the top right of the screen.
  2. Tap “Send a Check-in
  3. Write a message (optional) and send a check-in
  4. Note: Your phone must have cell service or be connected to wifi for the check-in to send

Without the FarOut app, you could try and send a text message and cross your fingers that it is delivered or you will need to have a GPS monitor carried with you, which is also not a bad idea.

How much is the FarOut app?

The FarOut (Previously Guthook) app itself is free to download and install on your phone, where you will need to pay for the actual guides themselves, though they can be purchased piecemeal or as a package for a whole trail.

These guides range in cost depending on the trail length and are at last checked run from between $5 to $90.

Some guides will be for a single section of a complete trail, and others for multiple trails in a single area or state.

Is Hiking GPS Necessary?

For the vast majority of people, land navigation isn’t something they have spent time learning and they don’t know how to make sure they are heading the right way and couldn’t correct with a compass if they needed to.

The hiking GPS software is essential for many hikers to give them the option to correct their directionality.

This helps them to stay on course and not get lost, which then saves costs for life-saving services to search and rescue lost hikers out on the trail.

Most people going out on hikes should learn general map reading and compass use and rely less on just GPS software on their phones or in gear like the BivyStick or InReach Mini from Garmin.

When you are lost and running out of battery you need to have options and know how to set a direction to reach civilization, this and a signaling device like a mirror can save your life should you get really lost and need help.

Final Thoughts on Airplane Mode and Cell Phone GPS Functionality

I would highly suggest Far Out app (Apple / Android / Web) for anyone going out on a trail they cover, not only to help you stay on the trail and not get lost but the notes from users can help you out and let you know the current trail conditions.

If you are looking at a GPS device to take on your trip, the two I like are the new BivyStick 2.0 and the Garmin InReach Mini, as they are both lightweight and have SOS buttons that don’t require a phone to trigger a rescue.

No matter what, when you choose to go out on the trail, you are always taking some level of risk. You assume this when you choose to leave civilization. You will realize that most of your concerns are overblown due to living a city life.

If you would like to look at what I think are the top options for a thru-hiking shelter take a look at it here, if you are interested in looking into other gear I have a page with nearly all the gear options here.

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