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Communication Equipment

You’ll need to do two things to stay connected on the trail:

  • Maintain a charged cell phone
  • Be able to communicate when there’s no cell service

Take the second seriously. It’s not a luxury. Emergencies happen.

To keep your cell phone charged, you’ll need an external battery and a light-weight charger. Some hikers carry solar cells on the PCT, though it isn’t common because they are heavy, expensive, and slow to charge when it’s overcast.

Carry a Spot Messenger for emergencies and communication outside of cell service. Most importantly, you can use it to call an emergency response team. Your friends and family can also track your progress on a map, so they worry just a little bit less.

In addition to purchasing the Spot Messenger, you’ll need to sign up for a service plan. This costs $200 per year, but that’s a hell of a lot cheaper than a broken leg or dying on the trail.

Add GEOS Search and Rescue membership to your plan when you purchase the Spot Messenger. It covers up to $100,000 in Search and Rescue fees for only $18 per year.

Cell Phone Coverage Maps

Cell phone coverage on the Pacific Crest Trail varies according to your service provider. According to the USDA Forest Service, thru-hikers have cell phone coverage roughly 70% of the time.