The Edge

This App Could Save Your Life in the Backcountry

SafeSide marries common sense and cutting-edge technology, giving adventurers and their families a little peace of mind.

This App Could Save Your Life in the Backcountry

In the case of a missing person, every minute counts. With SafeSide, the realization something may have gone wrong starts sooner than was previously possible. Photo: migin/iStock

The Norwegian Mountain Code, or “Fjellvettreglene,” is frank and simple, with commandments that include everything from "Be prepared," and "Leave word of your route," to "Use a map and compass," and "Turn back in time." Children in Norway learn the code at a very young age, and many adults can still recite it. 

  Photo: SafeSide

And soon, a Norwegian app could make backcountry travel even safer, in Norway and beyond. Called SafeSide, it’s designed to facilitate faster communication and decision-making in the event of a missing person or party. 

SafeSide is brilliant in its simplicity, building off basic protocols most of us should be following anyway whenever we venture into the backcountry: Namely, to share our plans with friends and family.   

  Photo: SafeSide

Here’s how it works. Before leaving home, users add three emergency contacts from their address books, then list their locations (via GPS), planned activities (think skiing, kayaking, or hiking), and, most importantly, their planned return timeFinally, they hit activate to send the complete backcountry agenda to their emergency contacts. 

This is the part we really like: If a user’s planned return time passes and he hasn’t deactivated his trip, SafeSide flies into action. After 30 minutes, all three emergency contacts receive a text message suggesting they try to reach the user. After 90 minutes, they receive a second text message suggesting they contact each other to escalate the situation. Contact info is provided for all three so they can discuss next steps. 

  Photo: SafeSide

“The realization that someone is missing can take hours, but with SafeSide, the realization that something could be wrong only takes 30 minutes,” says founder James Lyons. “By stopping the seed of complacency from taking root, it could prevent a minor situational delay from turning into a tragedy.”

SafeSide is only in beta at the moment, but a Kickstarter page launched in May to fund the final stages of development. With some passionate backers and a little luck, SafeSide could become a must-have app for anyone who loves the outdoors—along with all the friends and loved ones who worry about us when we go off the grid.

Filed To: Gear, Mountaineering, Backcountry Skiing

Subscribe to Outside

Outside Magazine Latest Issue

Save 66% and get All-Access: Print + iPad