Love ‘em or hate ‘em, smartphones have made considerable progress from their dropped-call origins. Now, we have better cameras, longer-lasting battery life and ruggedized hardware – ideal for an avid camper or outdoor enthusiast.
You can turn your phone into a star chart, a 360-degree camera and discover new trails and routes with the latest and greatest outdoor-savvy apps and programs.
Consider these five apps to make your next camping trip one to remember.
1. Gaia GPS (iPhone/Android, $19.99)
Outdoor adventurists and campers alike around the world use Gaia GPS to plan, navigate and stay safe in the woods. Whatever it is you’re searching for, Gaia GPS’s comprehensive map catalog can find it for you. Old mines, hiking and hunting trails, cycling and road maps, topo maps – even century-old topos.
The app lets you download as many maps as you want. The one-time price tag might look a little steep, but GPS apps with similar capabilities typically charge a recurring fee for this kind of mapping nirvana.
Users have synced over 1,000,000 tracks to gaiagps.com. You can be the next one!
2. SkyView (iPhone/Android, 1.99)
Get as close to the stars as you can with this beautiful, intuitive stargazing app. It’s as easy as pointing your phone at any star or celestial object in the night sky to find out what exactly it is you’re looking at. You’ll be feeling like an astronomer in no time.
SkyView allows you to search out different planets, satellites or constellations in their entirety. Best yet, you can even locate where stars will be at any given time, making SkyView quite the resource for aspiring night sky photographers.
Now that’s one photo that wouldn’t look too shabby up on your Instagram page.
3. PeakFinder (iPhone/Android, $4.99)
The mountains are calling your name! PeakFinder is one of those apps you’ll especially want to consider if you’re anticipating unpredictable weather. During rainstorms, you’ll want to be on higher elevation to avoid rain runoff. During thunderstorms, you’ll want to avoid these high peaks to prevent your chances of being struck be lightning.
Line your phone up to the horizon and PeakFinder does the rest. It can give you a rough sketch of the surrounding terrain with all visible summits labeled, which makes it much easier to decipher what it is you’re looking at. PeakFinder ‘s 360-degree panoramic display recognizes more than 300,000 peaks from Mount Everest to that little hill right around the corner.
4. Cairn (iPhone, Free)
What’s better than a free app? A free app that can find the best cell service no matter where you are. Cairn uses all phones in its network to compile data on where the best cell services are during anticipated hikes.
Cairn allows you to set an emergency contact prior to your adventure, load your anticipated hiking trail and enter an expected return time. If someone does not return in that entered time window, the app automatically alerts the emergency contact.
Get home safely. Feel more comfortable traveling solo. Easily share your plans with your buddies. Download offline topo maps. Do it all with Cairn.
5. MTN HUB (iPhone/Android, Free)
Skiers, backpackers, clumbers and hunters alike – we all use the same outdoor terrain. What will the weather conditions be like today? Are there any hazards you should be aware of? Mountain Hub allows adventurers to access and post weather updates, wildlife encounters, snow and trail conditions and full trip reports to the surrounding community. This way, it’s much easier to anticipate what to expect during your day.