Cell Phone Etiquette in the Great Outdoors

The Do’s and Don'ts of Using Your Cell Phone While Hiking

We’ve talked about trail etiquette before on the Backpacker’s Pantry blog, but it’s time to dive deeper into two specific tips on that list: “Keep it quiet” and, “Share the trail”.

Savvy hikers know that the wilderness isn’t the best place to listen to their favorite music (unless you’re in bear country and need to make extra noise), but cell phone etiquette adds a whole new dimension to things… especially when cell networks keep getting better and better.

If you’ve ever felt tempted to Facetime from the top of every summit you reach, keep reading to learn how (and when) it’s appropriate to use your phone on your next outdoor adventure.

1. Put your phone on silent

Soaking up the sights and sounds of nature is incredibly peaceful… until someone’s ringtone goes off. In a best case scenario, the noise will be a simple annoyance. But, the sudden decibel increase could also spook horses or other livestock on the trail, creating an unsafe scenario for everyone.

You can always check your notifications when you’re done enjoying the great outdoors — they aren’t going anywhere!

2. Save phone (and Facetime) conversations for after your hike

No one wants to overhear someone else’s phone conversation while they’re trying to enjoy a spectacular summit view. The same goes for Facetime, Skype, and other types of video calls. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with sharing some beautiful scenery with friends and loved ones who can’t join you outside, but be respectful of the people around you and keep it short.

3. Be aware of your surroundings when snapping pictures

You can’t beat the convenience of a smartphone camera, and who wouldn’t want to capture the memories they make outside? When taking photos, just make sure you aren’t blocking the trail or getting in the way of someone else. Being situationally aware will also keep you safe.

4. Share the top photo spots with everyone else

We love a good summit victory photo as much as the next hiker, but your photoshoot should never prevent others from enjoying the view. If you’re adventuring in a popular location, whip out the phone to take a few photos, then move aside so everyone else can soak up the scene.

5. Pay attention to the people around you, not your phone

Whether you’re spending time outside solo or with friends, a cell phone should never get in the way of interacting with other people. Phones take us away from the present moment, but that’s not what being in nature is all about.

Put the phone away, and make a point to smile and say hello to the people you pass. Who knows, you might even strike up a conversation with a new friend who loves being outside as much as you do.

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