Hiking, trekking, and walking applications are becoming increasingly popular with time but is Strava good for hiking?
Hiking is an exciting activity. However, it can be dangerous at times. There is always a chance of getting lost or losing contact with other hikers, and there have been incidents in the past where hikers have gone missing. Thanks to technology, there are apps that allow us to stay connected with fellow hikers on the trail.
Strava is an app that makes it convenient to hike and not lose contact with teammates. It is great for people who want to track their performance when indulging in outdoor activities. It tracks things like speed, distance, and elevation, thus making your hiking expedition fun and fulfilling.
Strava is a unique training and motivational tool. The best thing about Strava is the built-in social network. It allows you to see your friends’ outdoor performance and also helps you share pictures and comments. Moreover, you and your hiking partners can keep each other motivated through this tool. Furthermore, the app offers several motivational segments when you are on the trail. These segments allow you to compare your performance in terms of speed and time with those who have also completed the same segments.
As experienced hikers who have used a variety of apps while hiking, we’re in a good position to give you a quick review of the Strava app and whether it’s good for hiking.
How to Use the Strava App
The process is very simple and very straightforward. The first thing you have to do is sign in to Strava.com. Once you have signed in, you can complete your hiking profile, which includes your name, image, and contact details.
Moreover, the social networking system of this application helps you connect with like-minded people. Just like any other social networking platform, you can follow these people and get followed back by them.
Besides helping you navigate unknown terrain, the Strava app also allows you to cultivate a healthy fraternity of people with similar interests as yourself. Moreover, you can also invite your friends to try out this application. Then, all you need to do is to download the application on your device, enter your information, and you are good to go.
Once your account has been set up, here are a few simple things you need to do.
- Record your activity via your smartphone or any other device with GPS on it (like a smartwatch).
- Then, using your device, you have to upload your activity.
- Lastly, compare your activity with your friends to keep you competitive.
Here is a quick tip to upload your activity. You should get a Garmin Forerunner watch. Once you have recorded and saved your activity to your phone, all you need is a Bluetooth connection. If you are within Bluetooth range, the phone will automatically update your activity on your Strava account with the help of your Forerunner watch.
While hiking, make sure to place your phone in a waterproof mobile case. If you don’t have a waterproof mobile case, you should resort to a zip lock bag to protect your phone from humidity and moisture.
You can get the Strava app directly from the Strava website using any internet-enabled device. This app is free and can be used on both Android phones and iOS devices.
Strava provides sufficient privacy. However, it is better to log in to the app and modify your privacy settings. With Strava, you are free to set specific privacy settings for your home, office, or basically any place you start your activity.
You also need to consider whether you want to insert your full name, first name, last name, or just your initials on your Strava account. You also have the option to limit the visibility of your Strava account to other users. Moreover, Strava allows you to make other people submit a request before following you, instead of following you whenever they want to.
What’s truly amazing about Strava is that it allows you to track the status and age of your equipment and gear. For example, if you have a pair of hiking and trekking boots that you will retire after some time, all you have to do is to set a mark for each pair of boots. The app will let you know whether or not these shoes have walked X number of miles and whether it is time to replace them with new ones.
Moreover, Strava isn’t confined to a specific locale. This application can trot the entire globe with you. It can also keep you updated on the hiking, biking, and trekking trails that you can explore, even if you are out of station.
Let’s suppose you are traveling to Maui for a vacation. It is up to you whether you want to try out some morning sunrise jogs or whether you want to hike up to the volcano. All you have to do is to let your Strava app know. It will tell you the trails, as well as other routes you can take in order to reach your destination.
It also shows you the elevation gains for every segment while allowing you to plan your routes before you can step outside. Along with this, you get to see photos from your friends’ activities, as well as your previous hiking expeditions.
What’s Not to Love about the Strava App?
Sometimes, you might want to track your outdoor performance using your Strava application, as well as the Garmin Forerunner watch. Automatically, you might want to compare the performance, as reported by these two sources.
If you do this, you will see two different readings in terms of segment timings from these two tools. Usually, the Strava app on your phone will give you faster times on the segments, which can be a little strange if you are just a beginner. We cannot conclusively say whether or not the GPS on your device is inaccurate.
According to Strava, the reason behind this dichotomy of readings is that Strava parses data from Garmin while analyzing it independently. Once the numbers are entered, moving time, average speed, and segments are calculated. To keep your numbers consistent, it is better to use the same device and not confuse yourself by comparing two different readings. The best thing to do is to use your watch to track your activities and auto-sync it with the phone.
Types of Segments in Strava
Strava has different segments for all possible activities you might want to indulge in. For example, if you are visiting the Elk Mountains, you can indulge in hiking as well as running segments.
If you visit the Elk Mountains, the Strava app will count your activity as running and only show you running segments. Moreover, it is important to note that segments are created by users, so feel free to name them anything you like.
Also, because it offers a “parking lot to peak” segment, it is very likely that you won’t find the same segment for running purposes.
Refrain From Using Your Smartphone for Backcountry Navigation
When going on local hikes, it is very convenient and comfortable to use a smartphone GPS system. However, the GPS on your smartphone isn’t always the most accurate. Therefore, it is better to use a handheld GPS device for better accuracy.
Your smartphone should, therefore, only be used to receive and make emergency calls rather than using the GPS for backcountry navigation. You might be using a solar charger, but it is better to use your smartphone sparingly.
Solar-powered chargers are great, but it will take some time before they can be used as reliable sources of energy. In difficult areas like thick forests and valleys, smartphones and GPS devices have a hard time tracking your location.
Therefore, it is always good to keep your map and compass handy before technology lets you down. So, the next time you go to the Chilliwack Backcountry, don’t rely solely on Strava and your smartphone. While Strava is a great tool, it doesn’t fulfill all your navigational needs.
Some Dangers of Hiking
While it is a fun and healthy activity, hiking isn’t the safest activity to indulge in. Here are a few dangers of hiking you must be prepared for.
Health concerns shouldn’t be factored out before embarking on a hiking expedition. If you are someone with a heart problem or breathing issue, it is better to stay within a group of people and not lose your way by wandering off into the wilderness. Heart attacks, strokes, and asthma attacks can kick in at any time, so take heed.
When you set out for a hike, you are setting foot on unknown and unexplored terrain. Besides health issues, the next most important issue to consider is natural calamities. Occurrences such as heavy rains, thunderstorms, rainfalls, earthquakes, and, in extreme cases, volcanic eruptions shouldn’t be ignored.
It is better to conduct thorough research before entering a domain you aren’t familiar with. While it is better to stick with your group, you must have a couple of locals to guide the way. Technology can only get you so far, but beyond that you are in God’s hands.
Most hiking trails are situated in the middle of thick forests that are infected with all forms of wildlife. From wild, bloodthirsty wolves to poisonous snakes, they have it all.
Before you fall prey to any creature of the wild, it is better to read up on the area you are planning to visit. Again, you need to take some locals with you if you want to make it back in one piece.
It’s not as if you can’t make it back on your own, but why take a chance?
There have been incidents where people have been abducted on hiking trails and killed by criminals. In 2014, two women were abducted on a trail in Panama, and a year later, their remains were found. So, it is in your best interest to travel in a large group with a bunch of locals rather than relying on technology.
The reason for sharing these dangers is not to demotivate you but to let you know all you might encounter when on a hike. If things are done safely, there isn’t a tool better than Strava for hiking purposes.
About THE AUTHOR
I’m a hiker, backpacker, and general outdoor enthusiast. I started hiking out of college while working for the National Forest Service, and have been hiking ever since. I’ve been solo hiking and leading hiking groups for two decades and have completed hundreds of small hikes and some majorones such as the Appalachian Train and the Pacific Crest Trail, and hiked on four continents. I’d love to share some of my insight with you.Read More About Peter Brooks