Whether we like it or not the phone has become as much a tool for safety in the wilderness as it is helpful. You might need your phone to call for help, keep the time, etc. But you may also use it for directions; the IPhone, for instance, has proven to be an effective tool for navigation, and in some cases even replacing the need for a GPS (A quality GPS is an invaluable tool when navigating through remote wilderness). So here are a few tips to maintaining your phone’s battery…

The elements can eat away at your phone’s battery life. Extreme hot and cold temperatures can tax your phone’s battery. When the weather is hotter than seventy-five or colder than fifty (optimum operating temps for a cell phone’s battery are between sixty-two and seventy-two degrees Fahrenheit) then pack the phone away. If it’s hot outside, and you’re wearing a backpack, then store the phone inside the pack, don’t carry it in your hand or in a pants pocket. But when the weather is cold, store the phone near the body, so that body heat can help warm the phone.

If you wind up hiking through country where there is little-to-no chance for a signal, then place the phone on Airplane Mode. The phone’s battery will get taxed searching for a signal. No, you won’t be able to make a call or send a text during this time, but with a simple flip of the switch the phone can turn back on—it’s way better than a dead phone battery.

You should also dim your cell phone screen. The brighter the screen setting the greater the greater the battery usage. You should also limit the use of phone apps—some apps suck the energy from your phone’s battery.

The most important thing to remember is to stay safe while you are out in the wilderness in the Bitterroot Valley. Enjoy the last few months of winter, and remember that the green, warm months of spring are just around the corner.