Normally when you hear the word “backtracking,” you think of, well, going backwards—away from your goal or your aspirations. However, in the case of hiking and backpacking, backtracking your steps to the place where you started a hike isn’t just helpful, it’s a huge safety plus!
While most of the trails I hiked during my recent Rocky Mountain backpacking trip were well marked, there were times when the trail was spotty and when, quite frankly, the trail was darn near impossible to follow because of the deep snowfields. And when you’re in the woods, it can be frighteningly easy to lose your bearings and get turned around. Because I never want to be featured on one of those freaky I Shouldn’t Be Alive shows, I’m a huge fan of carrying an emergency kit, waterproof matches, food, clothing for all kinds of weather and a compass when I hike. Just in case. And after trying the Bushnell BackTrack D-Tour Personal GPS Tracking Device, I’m going to add it to my must-carry-when-hiking list.
This small (about the size of a deck of cards and just six ounces heavy) yet insanely useful personal GPS can track, record and share where you have biked, hiked or run—and it’ll help you backtrack your way home if you get lost by showing you how far you are away from your start point and which direction to start walking. With a self-calibrating digital compass, clock and the ability to log your trip length, speed, elevation, latitude, longitude, altitude and temperature, they might as well rename this thing “Peace of Mind.” It even has an online interface so that you can upload your data to your computer and share it with friends when you get back (and brag over your outdoor feats).
At $119.99 it’s a bit of an investment, but for true outdoor types, it’s a hiking GPS that’s well worth it. ‘Cause really, can you put a value on not getting lost in the woods and freezing to death and being eaten by a bear? I can’t. Hooray for backtracking! —Jenn