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Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

How To Keep Your Phone Alive In The Cold

No one likes a buzzkill 

A dead phone is a useless piece of gear, and while it won’t exactly weigh you down when you’re laboring up wintery slopes or carving downhill, it’s the lost potential—photos! mapping technologies! emergency assistance!—that makes a dying phone more than a simple nuisance.

Freezing weather can drain battery powers by 30-60%, according to Gaia GPS. That’s because most smartphones use lithium-ion batteries. “A chemical reaction within the battery sends charged particles through the phone’s circuitry, and this charge powers the phone. Cold temperatures slow this reaction down; charged particles encounter more resistance as they move throughout the battery to charge the phone. As these charged particles get stuck, the battery life plummets.”

With these tips, learn how to keep your phone alive even when the mercury drops in order to stay connected in the backcountry and capture chilly memories along the way. 

Use what you’ve got: Body heat

Instead of storing your phone in your pack or outer-jacket or -pants pockets, stow it away in pockets closer to your body (fleece and base layers) to capitalize on the heat you naturally emanate. 

Use a thermal cover

Neoprene or other synthetic-fabric jackets for your phone can help as insulators. Phoozy, a thermal phone case brand with a mission to extend phone battery lives and, consequently, reduce the planet’s e-waste, is a great place to source insulated cases for all types of phones.

Don’t forget to turn on battery-saver or airplane modes

Before you head into the cold, reduce the activity your phone is doing by turning it to airplane mode and/or enabling other battery-saving modes to save its juice for the select mapping, emergency, and photography apps you might want access to while out in the field. 

Use hand warmers

Don’t forget about good old hand warmers! If you don’t have any internal pockets, activate and add hand warmers to your external pockets to give your phone a cozy environment. Pro tip: use hand warmers with one adhesive side, and stick it directly to your phone. 

Use an external battery pack

Bring more battery power with you to accommodate for the cold’s draining tendencies. A compact, external power source like CHAMP portable charger (smaller than a deck of cards) will charge your phone back up to 80% in about half an hour, and provide up to 3 full charges, without weighing you down.

And if your phone does happen to die, have no fear! Bring it back to life slowly. “Your phone shutting off is simply its defense mechanism against extreme temps,” reports Gais GPS. “A slow thaw will help prevent condensation from building up in the battery, which could cause water damage.”

Gently reheat your phone by placing it against your skin (try your armpit!) to use your body heat for revival, or a gently heated place like the dashboard of your car upon your return.

Emma Athena is an award-winning journalist and fresh-air lover. She writes about adventure and the environment, where humans and nature intersect at their most impactful moments. When she’s not glued to her keyboard or curled up with a book, she’s running in the mountains with her dog or camping with people she loves. To read more of her work and get in contact, visit

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