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Using your phone to navigate in the hills

Tuesday 17th January 2023, 4:51pm

Following the results of a survey carried out by Mountaineering Scotland last year, the country’s top mountain safety experts are launching new guidance for those who use their mobile phones, or GPS devices, for navigating in the hills.

As part of the survey, some 4,000 hill users were asked if they used mobile phones or GPS for navigating when spending time in the hills and mountains, and if they had experienced any issues while doing this. A huge 87% of people said they used an electronic device for navigating at some point on their walk, and 40% of those said they had experienced a situation where their device had stopped working in some way.

Based on the results, Mountaineering Scotland’s Mountain Safety Advisor Team (backed by the wider Mountain Safety Group including Scottish Mountain Rescue, Police Scotland, Mountain Training Scotland, Glenmore Lodge, Developing Mountain Biking Scotland and Snowsport Scotland) have put together new guidance and an infographic with five simple steps to help keep your mobile phone and GPS working for when you’re using it for #SmartNav in the hills:

CHARGE – start with 100% battery charge and charge your device while you travel if you’re using it for music or road navigation.

PROTECT – protect your phone from the elements and keep it close to your body when not in use to help it stay warm and dry and save battery life.

DOWNLOAD – download all the maps you might need so you don’t need to rely on mobile data to be able to access maps on your walk.

EXTEND - Switching your phone to ‘Flight Mode’ makes your battery last a lot longer and take a fully charged power bank to re-charge on the go if needed.

TAKE A BACKUP – If your phone or GPS fails, you’ll need another way to navigate, for example a map and compass, and the ability to use them effectively. Consider also carrying a simple backup phone for emergencies.

Mountaineering Scotland Safety Advisor, Ben Gibson, said: “When going out into the hills this winter or at any other time of the year, it is important to look after your phone as it not only gives you additional information to help with your hill and mountain navigation but, is also your lifeline to contacting the emergency services in the event you or a group member finds yourself in a serious situation.

“Remember, if you’re downloading your route from an app, it’s always worth checking it against other reliable sources to make sure it’s safe and suitable for your level of experience and ability.”