The Apple App Store offers mobile consumers the opportunity to access a library of apps that allow you to do a wide range of things, from farting-on-command, to finding a nearby restaurant, to even translating foreign languages. But are there any apps for the outdoor enthusiasts? Sure, of course there is. There are a ton. However, one of the problems of such a vast library of apps is sorting through the bunch and finding the ones that are best for you. I might not be able to tell you which apps are best for you, but I can surely share with you some of my favorite hiking/outdoor apps for the iPhone. Here are ten:
MotionX-GPS is an app that I have been using for over a year now. It’s my favorite hiking app, even though it wasn’t designed with just hikers in mind. MotionX is a GPS app that allows you to see your position and track yourself anywhere in the world. You can also record tracks for future reference and also mark waypoints (i.e. specific landmarks or junctions) along the way. Even better, you canÂ download and store maps for offline access, so that you don’t waste precious battery life downloading maps while on the trail.
Why It’s Great: You already carry your iPhone with you when hiking, right? Why bring along a separate device dedicated to just GPS? Your iPhone has GPS built in and, well, there’s an app for that. The one caveat here is that if you are downloading maps on the fly and tracking your position then the GPS will indeed consume your battery much faster than if you didn’t have this app running in the background. I like to carry around with me Mophie juicepacks, just in case I ever need to charge my battery. For the iPhone 5, you might want to consider the Mophie Helium or Air. With that said, I’ve used my iPhone 5 on hikes with MotionX running the duration of 8 hours, and the battery lasting the entire trip.
Unlike MotionX-GPS, EveryTrail Pro was designed with the hiker in mind. Like MotionX, EveryTrail will allow you toÂ track your route with your iPhone GPS while you travel. You will also be able to view topo and terrain maps on your iPhone and download maps for offline viewing.
Why It’s Great: The great thing about EveryTrail Pro is that there’s a social network attached to it. You can sync tracks taken from your phone to your online profile on the EveryTrail website. You can also share tracks that you’ve made with other EveryTrail users, and likewise, you can look up trails that other users have tracked and uploaded. So, let’s say that you’re planning a hiking trip to a trail that you’re not familiar with. Do a quick search on the EveryTrail website for that hike, and you’ll likely come up with a few options for tracks that were previously uploaded. Choose one and “favorite” it. From there, the track will then be synced to your iPhone automatically and you’ll be able to follow your position on the trail as you hike. It’s like magic.
Elevation Pro is an altitude tool built specifically for iOS. The app makes use of two sources of elevation data, your iPhone’s GPS system and also cell towers, and/or WiFi access point triangulation to query the United States Geological Survey’s massive worldwide elevation data source.
Why It’s Great: The app itself hasn’t been updated since 2010, however, it’s simple and it works. This app really becomes useful if you, for some reason, need to hike up a trail-less face, and you’d like to get an idea of your elevation. Oh, you can also post your elevation information to Twitter.
The U.S. Army knows how to train their personnel to survive in extreme situations. Their field manual is the most authoritative guide on survival. This app provides a complete reference guide on basic survival, evasion, first aid and recovery information. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, this app may be essential to your survival.
Why It’s Great: Army Survival is one of those apps that is great to have in your proverbial pocket. Let’s say something does happen during your hiking outing, and you get stuck in the woods, or on a ridge as happened here. It would be great if you had a resource that told you how to do stuff like set up shelter, start a fire, and turn stream water into drinkable water. Best case scenario is that you’ll never need to use this app. However, worst case scenario, you have this app and a useful guide at the swipe of a finger. (Tip: Review the survival guide before hiking).
Using state of the art GPS technology, an accurate 3D universe, and all of the latest high tech functionality, Star Chart calculates, in real time, the current location of every star and planet visible from Earth and shows you precisely where they are; even in broad daylight!
Why It’s Great: This app is perfect for the night hiker or for those of you that, errr, get stranded a lot on overnighters. Take a moment to look up and check out the different constellations. Can you see the Milky Way? It might be hard with the naked eye, but this app will point you to the right direction. This is the app that we used when photographing the Milky Way.
RadarScope by Base Velocity is a specialized display utility for weather enthusiasts and meteorologists that allows you view NEXRAD Level 3 and super resolution radar data along with Tornado, Severe Thunderstorm, Flash Flood Warnings, and predicted storm tracks issued by the National Weather Service. It can display the latest reflectivity, velocity, dual-polarization, and other products from any NEXRAD or TDWR radar site in the United States, Guam and Puerto Rico. These aren’t smoothed PNG or GIF images, this is native radar data rendered in its original radial format for a high level of detail.
Why It’s Great: Sometimes it’s better to turn around sooner rather than later. RadarScope helps you to make those decisions. Maybe you notice the winds starting to pick or feel drizzles of rain. Maybe you’re experience the calm before the storm. Launch RadarScope and get an idea of whether the weather has taken a turn for the worse.
A no frills app, here. Flashlight by i4software will simply turn your iPhone into a handy dandy … well, flashlight! There are a ton of Flashlight app out there, but this one is the best. It features:Â No ads like the free copycats, no push notifications like the free flashlights, no gimmicks to slow you down or distract. This app is fast and offer pure light in an instant. You also get a dimmable LED Slider if you’re using iOS 6 or higher.
Why It’s Great: Every responsible hiker carries a flashlight in their bag, right? But what if your batteries are drained? What if your day hike turned into an unexpected overnighter that you weren’t prepared for. Flashlight offers you an emergency flashlight. If you need constant light in a pinch, and your “real” flashlight is dead, then Flashlight is a lifesaver.
First, I should note thatÂ this app by Jive Media is designed for the general public and is not meant as a substitute for full CPR and first aid training, nor is it meant to be used by a healthcare provider in a professional setting. It’s always a good idea to by trained in First Aid & CPR. With that said, this is a great little refresher for people who haven’t had training in a while. The app featuresÂ 34 videos and 46 high-resolution illustrations in the event of an emergency.
Why It’s Great: The First Aid and CPR videos and illustrations are great, but, I think the real strength of this app is the enhanced medical profile section. Easily store, share and access your insurance, doctor, allergy and other information. A feature of the app is to have a emergency contact information on the lock screen on your phone. This is useful if someone were to find you on the trail, alone, and passed out. The good samaritan can then call 911 and will also have your medical information and emergency contact and the tip of their finger. Oh, this app also gets credit forÂ saving a guys life in Haiti.
This beautiful app by Trevor Mckendrick allows you to look up sunrise and sunset times for any day and any place in the world. You can also look up sunrise and sunset times for future dates, months in advance.
Why It’s Great: There are many sunrise and sunset calendar apps in the app store, but this is the best and most beautiful one. Seriously, it’s a delight to use. What makes the app great is the fact that you do not need a cellular/wifi connection for it to work. So, if you’re in the mountains and running a little behind schedule, you can launch Sunrise Sunset Calendar and you’ll have an exact idea of when the sun will rise. Love it.
This little app is unbelievably brilliant (in theory). Mosquito Device uses high pitch sound waves to keep mosquitoes away from your vulnerable skin. At 16-22 KHz, the sounds are so high pitched, that it is undetectable by the human ear. I have previously tested this app at Kapena Falls, which is a short trail that is notorious for vampiresque mosquitos. Surprisingly, the app worked fairly well (I think). I’m not going to say that I left without any mosquito bites, but I will say that I left with far less than I had expected. I guess you’ll have to test it out and judge it for yourself.
Why It’s Great: Environment-friendly, no smell and harmless to human beings, pets and plants. And again, you don’t need to carry along a bulky can of bug spray. It’s an ideal and reliable companion to valley, stream, and waterfall hikes, where mosquitos are most prevalent. (Truth: In theory, this app should work, but, do I still carry bug spray? Yes.)