Apple AirTag Review: Adding a Tech Twist to Bikepacking Tracking

As an avid bikepacking enthusiast, exploring the diverse landscapes of South America has always been a dream of mine. This year, even though I was more focused on manufacturing partnerships, I brought along a little piece of tech that promised to add an extra layer of security to my adventure: the Apple AirTag. In this review, I'll share my firsthand experience using the AirTag during my travel escapades, exploring its potential benefits, and shedding light on its limitations.

A Tech Companion on the Road

South America is a vast and captivating continent, but like any travel destination, it comes with its own set of challenges. As I packed my bags for the journey, I decided to slip an Apple AirTag into my backpack. The idea was simple – an added layer of security and a means to keep track of my belongings as I navigated through bustling cities, quaint villages, and remote trails.
Picture of Grava backpack with Apple AirTag.  How do you go bikepacking or traveling and have an additional layer of security
The AirTag's design is sleek and inconspicuous, a small disc that blends seamlessly into the contents of my backpack. Setting it up with my iPhone was a breeze, and soon enough, I was ready to hit the road with this tiny tech companion in tow.

Security in Unfamiliar Territories

Bikepacking often takes you off the beaten path, and while the thrill of the unknown is part of the adventure, a bit of added security can go a long way. With the AirTag tucked safely in my backpack, I felt a sense of reassurance as I navigated through crowded markets in Bogota, explored the city of Medellin, and pedaled along scenic coastal routes in Peru.

The AirTag uses Bluetooth technology to connect to your Apple device, allowing you to track its location with remarkable accuracy. This proved invaluable in crowded areas, giving me peace of mind knowing that even if my backpack temporarily left my sight, I could easily locate it using the Find My app on my iPhone.

Protecting Your Bike: A Smart Move

Bike theft is a concern for any cyclist, especially when exploring unfamiliar territories. The AirTag, however, can be more than just a backpack guardian – it can serve as a high-tech guardian for your bicycle. Attaching the AirTag discreetly to my bike frame, I had a virtual tether that could alert me if my beloved two-wheeler decided to go on an unscheduled adventure of its own.

While it doesn't prevent theft, the AirTag's tracking feature can significantly improve the chances of recovery. The real-time location updates provided a valuable tool for local authorities, giving them a head start in retrieving stolen property. It's a small but effective deterrent against opportunistic thieves.

Keeping Loved Ones in the Loop

Bikepacking and business travel often means being away from home for extended periods, and for me, that meant finding a way to keep my family in the loop about my whereabouts. The AirTag came in handy as a means of sharing my location with my family back home.

By discreetly placing an AirTag in my bikepacking gear, my family (including my brother and mother) could check in on my location using the Find My app. This feature proved especially useful during the more remote stretches of my journey, providing an extra layer of safety and peace of mind for both me and my loved ones.

The Limitations: Cellular Reception Matters

While the Apple AirTag proved to be a valuable companion in urban and well-connected areas, its functionality is heavily dependent on cellular reception. In cities and populated regions, the AirTag seamlessly connects to the vast network of Apple devices, allowing for accurate tracking in real time. However, the story changes when you venture into more remote, off-grid areas.

In the dense forests and vast landscapes of North and South America, where cellular reception is sporadic at best, the AirTag's effectiveness diminishes. It relies on the proximity of other Apple devices to relay its location to the cloud, and without a network of connected devices, its tracking capabilities become limited.

Lost in the Wilderness: A Potential Drawback

For bikepackers who relish the challenge of getting off the grid and into the heart of the wilderness, the Apple AirTag may not be the ideal tracking solution. In areas without a network of Apple devices, the AirTag becomes less reliable, and its ability to provide accurate location data diminishes.

While it excels in urban environments and well-traveled routes, bikepackers venturing into remote and uncharted territories may need to rely on alternative tracking methods or forego the convenience of electronic tracking altogether.

Conclusion: A Tech Ally for Certain Adventures

In the realm of bikepacking, the Apple AirTag proves to be a valuable tool for specific scenarios. It excels in urban environments, providing a sense of security and an added layer of protection against theft. Its ability to share your location with loved ones adds a personal touch to the tracking experience.

However, its limitations in areas with poor cellular reception make it less reliable for the most adventurous bikepacking expeditions. For those who find themselves often lost in the beauty of nature, relying on traditional navigation methods might still be the most dependable option.

In the end, the Apple AirTag is a tech-savvy ally for bikepackers navigating city streets, bustling markets, and well-trodden trails. Its contribution to security and peace of mind during such journeys is undeniable, even if it may not be the perfect solution for every bikepacking adventure. As technology evolves, the intersection of adventure and innovation continues to expand, offering new possibilities for cyclists seeking both excitement and security on the open road.

Check out the Grava Backpack which we use in all of our North and South American adventures.  It adds an extra layer of security by keeping all your valuables safely out of reach and it is a thick canvas that will not tear or break.  

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