The Top 10 Apps For The Great Outdoors

If you love the great outdoors, you’ve probably got all kinds of gear. Daypacks, backpacks, sleeping bags, hiking sticks, hiking boots, tents, coolers, hydration bladders, a compass, a survival knife, and the list goes on and on. Maybe you’ve loaded up on guidebooks and first aid texts, along with all of the topographical maps you can squeeze into your pack. What’s missing from this list? Not much, except for your smartphone and the apps installed on it. In today’s day and time, you need every advantage you can eke out of your time in the outdoors, so your smartphone should be as essential a tool as your compass. Heck, it might even replace your compass! On top of that compass app, here are ten apps no outdoorsman should be without.

10. AccuWeather – Weather for Life

Before you even step foot out the door, you should know what the weather has in store for you. Sure, your smartphone probably has a weather app already installed, but ditch it. You want to know what the weather will be like close to where you’re hiking or camping, not at the airport 25 miles away. That’s where AccuWeather comes in, since it provides you with crowdsourced weather data from real people near where you’re going. You can also find minute-by-minute forecasts and radar, making this arguably the best weather app available for iOS or Android.

  • Compatiblity: iPhone (supports Apple Watch) and Android (supports Android Wear)
  • Price: Free, with in-app purchases to remove ads
  • iTunes App Store
  • Google Play Store

9. Packing Pro

Whether you’re prepping for a day hike or a week-long camping trip, you’ll want to make sure you and the rest of your group take along everything you might need. After all, you don’t want to drive all the way to the State Park, spend several hours setting up camp, just to realize you’ve forgotten batteries for the lanterns. With Packing Pro, you can plan for all of that before you even leave, and the app provides you with a number of template checklists to get you started. You can also do fun things like keep track of the weight of your backpack and share your packing list with others in your group.

  • Compatiblity: iPhone only
  • Price: $2.99, with in-app purchases for extra lists or themes
  • iTunes App Store

8. Google Earth

Want to get a bird’s-eye view of the terrain before you head out, and keep that map with you when you hit the trails? Google Earth brings to your smartphone the best in satellite imagery, providing you with amazing topographical views right on your mobile device. Fly anywhere on Earth to view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, and more. Find game trails, hiking paths, and other amazing natural features before you even leave your living room.

8. SAS Survival Guide

Okay, hopefully you’ll never need this, but it’s definitely better to have it than not. The SAS Survival Guide has been touted as the ultimate choice for survivalists, written by acclaimed SAS soldier and instructor John “Lofty” Wiseman. For more than 20 years, people have been relying on Lofty’s book to help them survive any situation, anywhere in the world. Now, the full text of that book is available on your iPhone or Android device, along with plenty of extra features. You also get 16 videos providing survival tips from Lofty himself, a Morse Code signalling device, and a sun compass. If that’s not enough to convince you, you’ll find photo galleries of edible, medicinal, and poisonous plants, sea creatures, and snakes, along with help tying essential knots. Finally, you’ll get a comprehensive section on first aid.

7. Spyglass

This app will serve you as a pair of binoculars, a heads-up display, a high-tech compass with maps, and much, much more. It’s also a gyrocompass and a GPS receiver, a waypoint tracker, a speedometer, and an altimeter. Spyglass offers you an augmented reality view of the world around you, showing you real-time object positions, information, and directions to them overlaid on your camera or a map. You can track multiple targets simultaneously, seeing their distance, direction, azimuth, elevation, and estimated time of arrival. Track the Sun, Moon, and stars, and then use them as a reference to calibrate your compass. When it comes to outdoors and off-road navigation, this is an essential GPS toolkit. It will even take pictures, with GPS, positional, and directional data overlaid on the image. In short, this is a must-have.

6. Knot Guide Free

With 103 knots and continuous new additions, this is a must-have for any weekend warrior or outdoorsman. When you need to tie a knot, Knot Guide will teach you the ropes. It provides you with clear, colorful photographs of each knot, providing you with visual steps to help you learn how to tie each one. Whether you’re a novice or a veteran, Knot Guide will help you in your sailing, climbing, tree trimming, and hitching a load to your vehicle. Be prepared, have Knot Guide on your mobile device.

5. Camping – Find available campsites

If you’re an avid camper or RV’er looking for a new place to explore the outdoors, this is a good app to have. You can find a nearby campground with the facilities you need, filtered by those that have the activities and amenities you’re looking for. You can get map and list views of campground search results, mark your favorites, and get full details of the properties including photographs. This free app will help you know if you can get a site big enough for your 10-person tent or your 45-foot RV.

4. Gaia GPS: Topo Maps and Trails for Offline Hiking

When you’re ready to plan trips and explore the wild, Gaia GPS can help you do just that. The app is widely considered as the best outdoor mapping software for mobile devices, full of features. You can download worldwide topographical, road, and aerial maps, and use tools to mark tracks, waypoints, and take geotagged photographs. Gaia GPS displays NEXRAD radar, track data, and Gaia POI data with webpages from its search engine. This is one of the premier mapping tools for outdoors enthusiasts, and isn’t to be missed.

3. AllTrails – Hiking, Running & Biking Trails

There are tens of thousands of trail guides, I would guess, devoted to trails throughout the United States and Canada. Who can keep up with all of those texts? It’s much easier to find trails to explore using an app like AllTrails. Whether you’re looking for a gentle stroll through the woods, a bone-rattling mountain bike track, or the path to a terrific fly-fishing spot, AllTrails can help you find it. You can even create your own trails with GPS tracking, photos, and text, saving them for later or sharing them with others. The app itself is free to download, but a $30 per year membership subscription gives you access to National Geographic Maps and the ability to print and edit your maps.

2. MapMyHike – GPS Hiking Tracker & Trail Finder

When you want to make the most of your hike and turn it into a serious fitness exercise, MapMyHike comes in really handy. You can get feedback and stats to help you improve your performance, discovering new workout routs and saving or sharing your favorits. You’ll get in-depth feedback on how you’ve done, including your pace, distance, duration, calories burned, elevation, and more. The app works with SpeedForm Gemini 2 Record-Equipped shoes to track your activity, and you can sync your data with Garmin, Fitbit, Jawbone, and hundreds more apps and wearables. Oh, and it’ll make a map of your hike, too.

1. Sky Map or Star Walk

This is actually two apps, because no camping or hiking trip would be complete without stargazing and the best apps for that activity aren’t the same on Android and iOS. Android users, the free Sky Map app is quite lovely and full-featured, allowing you to find the positions of the stars and planets by holding your smartphone up to the sky. You’ll also see the constellations marked.

For those iOS users out there, Star Walk is to the iPhone what Sky Map is to Android. Hold your iPhone up to the sky, and you’ll see a map of stars and planets based on where you’re pointing your devices. You can see the constellations marked, and get information about those celestial bodies. You can also enjoy a community of star gazers, information on celestial events, and see some stunning photos within the app.


These are my favorite apps for making the most of my hunts, and I think they’ll quickly become yours, too. Your smartphone is simply too powerful to keep relegating it to sit in your pocket, neglected and unused throughout your entire hunt. Make the most of the supercomputer you carry around with you anyways, and up your hunting game a notch (or 10) by using these apps.

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