Cairn FAQ

 
 

HOW DO I ACCESS THE MAPS I'VE DOWNLOADED?

Once you've download a map area that area will simply be available, even when your phone is out of range or in airplane mode. You don't need to do anything special, just use the app as if you had service. You will see a box indicating the map areas that you've successfully downloaded. To delete downloaded maps from your phone, go to your profile, then tap on the gear icon, and then tap on Map Downloads. From here you can manage your downloaded maps. 

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE BLUE AND GRAY DOTS?

Blue dots indicate a spot cell coverage was detected by Cairn users. Gray dots indicate that no coverage was found. Tap on the dot to see which carrier(s) did or didn't have coverage at that spot.   

WILL CAIRN WORK IF I LOSE CELL RECEPTION?

Yes! It is designed to work offline, but it really helps if you download the map for the area you'll be exploring before you lose reception. We recommend doing this at home over wifi. Our safety notification feature only works if you set it up before you're out of range. But rest easy knowing that your safety contacts will be alerted if you're overdue regardless of your phone's status.  

WHAT IF MY BATTERY DIES OR MY PHONE BREAKS WHILE I'M OUT?

We notify your safety contacts if and when you‘re overdue. This message is trigged from our server so your contacts will get it, even if your phone is offline. 

Any tips for extending my phone's battery?

1. Put your phone into low battery mode. This offers significant battery savings without interfering with GPS functionality and location tracking. To do this, go to your iPhone Settings app, choose Battery, then turn on Low Power Mode (or just ask Siri!).  

2. Turn off wifi and bluetooth. You're unlikely to use these in the backcountry. You may also consider putting your phone in airplane mode.  

3. Set how often Cairn updates your location for your contacts. Note that Cairn only does this only if you've asked us to  update your contacts. Use the menu in the lower right to access this setting.

4. Consider carrying a small battery pack. We do, especially on multi-day trips.

5. Use the stat tracking feature only when you're moving. Tracking the stats for your trip is more battery intensive because we're collecting lots of granular data. 

6. Turn off your phone at night. Many people like to use their phone to take photos during the day. But at night, there's no reason to keep your phone on. 

7. Keep your phone warm. A cold phone uses more battery. Who knew? 

DOES CAIRN SHOW COVERAGE DATA BY CARRIER?

Yes, you can tap on a point to see which carriers have coverage (or not) at that point. We don't have data for every carrier (or every point, for that matter) as this data is crowdsourced by other adventurers who use Cairn. 

CAN I MAKE EMERGENCY CALLS VIA OTHER CARRIERS?

Yes! You may be able to make an emergency call (to 911, for example) even if your carrier doesn't have coverage. Your phone just needs to operate on the same frequency band as a carrier that does have coverage. Always try to call 911 in an emergency, even if it doesn't look like you'll get through.

HOW WILL MY EMERGENCY CONTACTS KNOW I'M OK?

Once you've notified your emergency contacts, you'll see an I'm OK button that makes it easy to send them a message along with a map of your current location. Choose from one of our pre-filled messages (e.g. Made it to the top!). or write your own. If you don't have coverage (and this is the best part), the app will send your message/location as soon as it notices that you have coverage again. We think it's a pretty handy feature. Once you end your Cairn, we send your contacts a message that lets them know you're safe.

CAN I SEE WHAT POINTS I'VE COLLECTED?

Yes! We're happy to report that after you send a notification to your contacts, you'll see the points of cell coverage that you've collected. It's a nice way to see your own trail without using your phone's GPS constantly. And you can see where your phone did and didn't have coverage along the way. You can also track your stats, which also shows you distance covered, elevation gain/loss and a personalized estimated time of arrival (ETA).

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I PUT MY PHONE IN AIRPLANE MODE?

Unfortunately we can't tell the difference between airplane mode and no service. So any data you collect when in airplane mode will be recorded as no coverage. However, we know that using airplane mode in the backcountry saves your battery. And so we take this into account in our coverage aggregation algorithm for an area. Please use airplane mode as you normally would, but know that it will be recorded as no coverage. 

DO I STILL NEED TO CARRY A FIRST AID KIT?

Absolutely. And the rest of the ten essentials as well! Cairn is just another tool to throw in your box of safety gear. We are not advocating that you use your phone at every opportunity, and we get that you probably want some peace and quiet when you're out. But the vast majority of modern day wilderness rescue operations are initiated by cell phones. We'll know Cairn is a success when it helps save a life.  

WHY DOES MY PHONE SHUT DOWN IN THE COLD?

Phone batteries don't like the cold and your phone will shut itself off even if it has plenty of charge. Some people keep their phones in their inside jacket pockets, or slip in a hand-warmer to keep their phone batteries warm.

HOW CAN I HELP GATHER MORE DATA FOR THE COVERAGE MAP OF THE WILDERNESS?

The best way is to get more people using Cairn. You can invite people via Twitter or Facebook using our handy links. If you're a member of a Facebook or Yahoo outdoor group, share this website there. We can use all the help spreading the word that we can get. 

MY QUESTION ISN’T ANSWERED HERE. NOW WHAT?

Please email us at adventure@cairnme.com. We’re anxious to help.