ATV Riding in Maine: On the Phone While off the Grid

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Going “off the grid” while ATV riding in Maine is a great way to escape the stresses of everyday life. But if you’re counting on everyday technology to photo-document your journey and to find your way back, that off the grid thing isn’t so great.

Your smartphone is your map, compass, GPS, camera, and of course, phone. Thing is, it’s not much use for any of those things if it’s dead.

So here are some tips on how to keep your phone functional for the entirety of your ride (even it lasts all day), as well as some Plan B suggestions.

First, let’s get the most from your phone.


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Save Your Maps

Before you head out, save images of your maps to your phone’s memory. You can save screenshots or PDF’s or even camera images if you’re looking at actual paper maps.

Speaking of paper maps, Maine produces statewide ATV trail maps which you can order, free of charge, directly from the Maine ATV Trail Program.


Save local emergency numbers

While you’re at it, be sure to save any relevant emergency numbers as well as those for camp or local guides. Those numbers may come in handy if you get lost or stranded.


Charge it up, then save battery

With the pertinent data stored in the phone’s local memory, get it charged up fully so you’re starting with as much battery as possible. Once you head out into the mountains and valleys of Maine, you’ll likely to find yourself in spots where you lose signal. Your phone will then wear its battery out searching for a connection. About the time you pull it out to snap a pic of your trailside lunch is when you’ll find it dead.

So you have two choices. The first is to shut your phone off all together and only fire it up when you need to check a map or snap a picture. Problem is, that moose you find on the trail probably isn’t going to wait around for your phone to fire up.

If you don’t post it on social media, did it ever really happen?


Airplane mode

Option two is to just set your phone to airplane mode. This lets you leave your phone powered up but keeps it from wearing itself out searching for signal. Sure, you’ll have to wait until you get back to where you can get signal to post those moose pics but at least you’ll have the camera ready at the first thumb swipe.

In fact, you can just post all those pics over WiFi when you get back to Camp Katahdin. Yep, the lodge even has WiFi.

The other great thing about airplane mode is that the dang thing won’t ring when the office calls.


Charge it up on the fly

Actually, there’s kind of a third choice. A lot of ATV’s and side by sides these days have 12 volt outlets where you can plug in your phone’s car charger. (Do the Rangers that Camp Katahdin has have these? If so, it’d be worth mentioning here). Now I don’t recommend leaving your phone plugged in while riding. The bumps and turns along the trail make it too easy to bounce your phone right out.

A lost phone is even less useful than a dead phone. Probably.

Instead, just pack the charger along and juice up your phone for a while at the next pit stop.


Plan for Plan B with a legit compass

Battery preservation notwithstanding, technology is inherently unreliable. Never head off into the Maine backwoods on ATV trails without a legit compass. And I’m not talking about those piece of junk pin-on-your-jacket kinds. Drop the dime and get a decent navigational map compass with a directional dial (you can find good ones for like ten bucks).

Oh, and learn how to use it. It’s not hard, but in this age of smartphones, few of us ever have the need to use an actual compass so we never learn to do so properly.

And yes, of course there’s a YouTube tutorial for it.


ATV Riding in Maine

A compass is only handy if you know which direction you actually need to go. For that, you’ll also need a map for ATV riding in Maine. Remember those paper maps of the Maine ATV trails I mentioned earlier? Might not be a bad idea to actually bring the paper versions along (at least the applicable pages anyway). Even if all you do is fold them up and stash them and the compass in the storage box, at least you’ll have them should you need them.

Happy riding!

ATV season is fast approaching. The time to start planning your Maine ATV vacations is now.


Denney Lodge at Camp Katahdin is our new luxury log cabin that sleeps 15.  Complete with a chef’s kitchen, comfortable leather sofas, a boardroom, and every amenity you can think of, it’s a nice way to get together with friends and family for a little trail riding.  We sit steps away from some of the most beautiful trails in Northenr Maine. 

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