Offline GPS–Smartphone Battery Saving Tips for the Field

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I recently returned from a 10-day hunting adventure chasing elk (and walleye and pike) in the Missouri River Breaks, with my dad. We are traditional bowhunting purists so new-age hunting technology isn’t generally on your gear list, except when it comes to our map technology.

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Our old-school printed maps and handheld GPS units have been replaced with our iPhones and Androids, which can hold our Hunt App and Offroad App. Below I’m going to let you in on a few tips and tricks I learned while living out of a Tipi the last few days on how I saved my phone’s battery life (yes, coming back to civilization was brutal).

Tip #1—Use Offline Maps

The onX Hunt App shows the Tracker feature and Waypoints.

If you know where you are going adventuring, save your hunting GPS maps for offline use. Make sure to save any map layers that interest you. This is the joy of smart layering technology now in the Hunt App, you can turn layers on and off as you need, along with toggling between Basemaps that you like. Saving the layers and putting my phone in “Use Offline Maps” mode while in the field saves on battery life since the Hunt App stops telling your phone to look for a network. Note: Try and save your maps on a wi-fi network. This will reduce your data plan usage.

Tip #2—Put Your Phone in Airplane Mode and Turn Off Bluetooth, WiFi, and NFC

I don’t think I need to go into extreme detail as to why this is important, but if you want to truly disconnect from the world and save battery power, put your phone in Airplane mode and turn off Wifi. This way your phone isn’t constantly looking for a data network and synced devices and saves on battery and you won’t get a random text message while closing in on that bull 20 yards away.

Tip #3—Close (And Continue to Close) Apps You Don’t Need

I take a lot of pictures and videos with my phone when I’m out hunting. I like to go back and reflect on all the fun I had and all the great things I saw. However, I take a snap and then I always close the Camera App. This REALLY saves on battery life. When my dad was complaining about his battery life, I quickly took a look at his phone and he had had apps open from two weeks ago! We manually closed all his apps (except his Hunt App) and his battery life greatly improved.

Tip #4—Turn on Battery Saver Mode

Different phones have different battery saving modes. My Samsung Galaxy S7 has a mode called “Power Saving” This REALLY REALLY REALLY saves on battery life. It stops the vibrations and haptic feedback, and background location services. However, one drawback (and this is important to note) is it hinders your phone from pinging your location automatically. It still gives you location information but only will ping the GPS satellites when you are using your phone and not automatically in the background. So if you are laying down a track in the Hunt App, this isn’t the best option for you. Your tracks end up looking like straight lines instead of the curves of a track you would normally see.

Tip #5—Turn on Do Not Disturb Mode

This will tell your phone to silence calls, alerts, and reminders but will keep your alarm on. If you must stay connected but don’t want that text message or Facebook notification blowing up your phone while you are sneaking up on your prey, use this option. You can set exceptions that work for you.

A hunter uses onX Hunt in a treestand.

Using these methods I only had to charge my phone 3 times in 10 days. My phone never went fully dead once and that includes a few all-day excursions where I was taking a lot of photos and using my Hunt App a lot! I also saved lots of money on batteries that I would normally have to feed into my handheld GPS. What tips have you learned to save on battery life while out in the field? I’d be very interested to know, leave your comment below!

Written by Ricchio