trip safety cell coverage
Photo credit: Stacia Glenn, Cairn Beta Tester

We all know that you should tell someone where you’re going and when you plan to return. It improves your chances of being found quickly if you are lost or injured. But it’s also imperative that you know how you’ll contact 911 while on the trail in the event of an emergency. Getting help within 48 hours has shown to dramatically improve odds of survival for those in trouble in the wilderness.

Although many of us like to unplug in the wilderness, there are times when staying connected makes sense. The majority of wilderness rescues in the last decade have been initiated by a call from a mobile phone.

The new Cairn app for iOS allows you find coverage in the wilderness and makes it easy to keep your safety contacts updated on your whereabouts. Once you tell Cairn where you’re headed, you’ll see where others have found cell coverage in that region.  That information is downloaded to your phone for offline use. Cairn also tracks your location at designated times (you control the frequency of this to allow for battery conservation) and collects your cell signal. This information is added to the Cairn map of where there is (or isn’t) cell service on the trail and is shared anonymously with other Cairn users. In the event that you don’t check in, your safety contacts will receive an overdue message with your last known points and instructions for what to do (e.g. call 911).  Since the overdue notification comes from the Cairn server, it will still trigger even if your device breaks or battery dies.

trip safety cell coverage

You’ll find Cairn coverage points for over 300 popular trails in Washington including Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Olympic National Park and the entire PCT trail. (Not to mention trails in California, Utah, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Yellowstone National Park, and Yosemite National Park.) The community benefits from each trip where Cairn is active, as coverage points are added with each use. Download the Cairn app and help map your part of the world!

Ali Alami is a prior USAF Wilderness Survival Instructor, avid hiker, mountaineer, with a degree in in Survival & Rescue and is the CEO for Cairn.

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