Most of the areas I backpack in the Sierras require a bear canister. This rule not only protects you and your food, but also protects the bears. All your food and anything scented goes in the canister, and the canister is placed at least 50 yards away from camp while you sleep at night.
There are some tips to help you choose where to place that canister. On hilly terrain, a nosey bear could easily swat the canister downhill. The ideal spot would be somewhere that minimizes the risk of your food supply being doused in the nearby lake or stream, but even then you can’t be sure where your canister might end up.
The Tile app is a high-tech solution to this backcountry conundrum. It’s a small, lightweight device that helps you locate your tagged item — whether it be your car keys or bear canister — using your iPhone or Android phone.
What is Tile?
Tile is a small gadget that can be attached to attached to an object with the included double-sided sticker, placed in the pocket of your backpack, or clipped to your keys, wallet, or carabiner. It weights a mere 0.28 ounces and is less than 1-1/2″ square and 3/16″ thick.
Once you’ve registered a Tile with the free Tile app, you’re good to go. The Tile app will remember the last known location, and help you find a Tile that might not be where you expected. As you get closer, the Tile app alerts you (Think: “You’re getting warmer…. WARMER… HOT!”).
You can put a Tile on anything that you don’t want to lose, and use the app to track them. And if you really, lose something, other Tile users will auto-detect your missing “thing” and notify you without their knowledge. You can also share Tiles with your friends and family, so they can locate it from their smartphone, too.
Back to my bear canister, I drop my Tile into the canister and the Tile app remembers the last known location. I can use this to help me find where I left it in the morning (in case I get turned around). And if a bear or other critter does manage to swat my canister around, I can track it down quickly.
How else can you use Tile?
Last month, a friend of mine (Hiking Jim) lost his wallet while bushwhacking up Sitton Peak. Fortunately, he found it the following week, but if he had a Tile on his wallet, it would’ve saved him a ton of time and worry.
On my backpacking trip in the Sierras, I’ll be using a Tile in my bear canister, and sleeping easier knowing that I’ll always find my supplies in the morning.
And yes, you can use your Tile creatively. I’ve attached mine to a carabiner, so I can clip it to my keys on day hikes, drop it in my bear canister on backpacking trips, or put it in my computer bag when traveling on business trips.
Win a Tile!
One lucky reader is going to win a Tile of their own! You can use it to track and find anything you’d like — your car keys; your wallet; your bear canister. To enter, learn more about Tile, and leave a comment below telling me how you would use Tile in the backcountry. One lucky commenter will be selected at random on May 10, 2015. Winner must be located in the U.S. for shipping purposes.
SoCalHiker Tech is a series where I share the technology that I use for smarter hiking and backpacking.
Special thanks to Tile for sponsoring this post. They provided a Tile to review and one for this giveaway, but the opinions expressed are 100% mine.