When we start planning long hikes, we always think of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan saying, “To live will be an awfully big adventure.” It’s impossible to list all the reasons why hiking is an addictive hobby. That fresh air is full of joy, pride and exhilaration.
Whether you’re new to hiking or a skilled adventurer, a good hike takes planning. Trust us on this—no one wants to lose toenails (or worse). The solution? Your smartphone, of course.
Here are the 10 must-have apps that every hiker shouldn’t live without,
You’ve gotta plan your hike before you get to the trail, right? Right. AllTrails is one of the best apps for connecting with new trails and other hikers. Not only can you search based on location for nearby trails, but other users can also leave photos of obstacles, scenic places and even tips on the trail.
With this app you’ll know just how many energy bars and pairs of socks to pack. Also, reading a normal map won’t warn you of downed trees or other things that inhibit your trek.
2. Map My Hike
What if you could record each of your hiking sessions and use that data to track your progress over time? Say hello to Map My Hike, an awesome free app that does that and more.
Using the GPS sensor, Map My Hike will log data from your hikes, such as pacing, elevation, distance, and route. It will also calculate calories burned based on an estimate of the hike’s difficulty. All of this data can be viewed in graph format and it can even be uploaded onto a leaderboard per trail.
3. SAS Survival Guide
One mistake is all it takes for a hiking trip to turn into a nightmare. What happens if you snap an ankle? What will you do if you get lost and have no reception, no contact with civilization? Do you know the proper precautions to take in a forest, in a desert, in the arctic, or wherever else you’re hiking?
No survival guide can ever take the place of proper survival training, but training can take years and it’s always better to have a guide than no guide at all. The SAS Survival Guide is jam-packed full of helpful information that could prove life-saving if you ever find yourself in an emergency situation.
4. Weather Live
Weather Live is probably the best weather app available across both platforms and definitely the best looking. Some of the best features are the live weather scenes that reflect real-world conditions and the fully customisable layout.
There is the standard meteorological data including wind direction and speed, humidity, precipitation, pressure and visibility as well as the very impressive satellite worldwide cloud and rain maps enhanced with animated weather radar (US only) allowing users to quickly see what weather is coming their way.
5. National Parks By Chimani
National Parks by Chimani is more popular app and more highly-reviewed than similar apps from more established names such as National Geographic and REI as well as the official NPS apps. The app provides details on each of the 400+ units of the US National Park Service, including national parks (naturally), monuments, seashores, historic sites, battlefields, memorials, parkways, scenic trails and more.
The app includes a photo gallery with thousands of images and the ability to collect badges and earn points for each of the parks visited. An in-app purchase unlocks a national parks news feed.
6. Camp Finder
You can guess what this app does from the name. It lists over 17,000 campgrounds and RV parks all across the U.S. so that you can find an option near you. You can filter the results to find destinations offering the amenities, club discounts, policies, or activities that you specifically want.
Camp Finder app draws data from the popular CampingRoadTrip.com website and that means you get detailed and up to date information, photos, and reviews for each campsite. It integrates with Google Maps for easy navigation to your chosen destination and you can save a record of your favorite campsites for future reference. On Android the app costs $3, but iOS users will need to fork out an extra $1 for this app.
7. BackCountry Navigator
Another excellent resource for offroad back country maps is BackCountry Navigator, an Android app that can take map data from a variety of free and paid sources for offline use. Users can add or import GPS waypoints, record a track, and display a variety of map layers and sources. The app can take maps from a variety of sources, such as from free maps like OpenStreetMap and Open Cycle Map, various official mapping agencies for selected regions worldwide, as well as premium sources.
Outdoors types who like to document and journal everything about their trip should check out Ramblr, a mobile journaling app designed for hikes and mountaineering trips. Ramblr allows users to record everything from their route, statistics such as average speed, distance traveled, and highest point, as well as record geotagged audio, video, pictures or text, allowing you to easily create a blow-by-blow account or relive the trip in the future. Additional features include built-in mapping, the ability to upload and share your trips, or check out where other Ramblr users have gone to.
Cairn is a outdoors safety app that does two things. First, it crowdsources information about where you can receive mobile signal on a map (and also logs your location). Second, it allows you to leave a trip plan with your friends. If you are ever overdue, your contacts are alerted, and are given a map of location data where you were tracked to. It allows you to plan ahead for areas on the trail with mobile coverage.
10. Audubon Birds
The Audubon Field Guides are a storied name in wildlife field guides, and they’ve also been adapted into mobile apps. The Audubon Birds app provides an incredibly detailed illustrated field guide that identifies 821 different bird species complete with recorded bird calls. Seasonal and migratory maps give you an idea of where to find particular species, while personalized accounts let you log bird sightings, keep a checklist, and share sightings over social media.