The Best Outdoor Apps for Campers
Convenient outdoor apps make ideal travel companions for camper smartphones
With so many apps on the market, it can be hard to determine which ones are the most useful. To help, we’ve compiled the top outdoor apps you shouldn’t leave home without. From survival skills to stargazing and navigation tools, here are a handful of pay-for-play and free camping apps you’ll want on your phone for your next foray outside. Consider this the official app store shopping list for campers!
1. Weather Live
If you are looking to plan your activities based on accurate weather forecasts, look no further than Weather Live. You will have access to current conditions as well as weather and temperature forecasts. The bad weather alerts will let you know if you need to take shelter. Weather layouts are customizable, so you can add multiple locations to receive daily weather reports on your travels. For an additional fee, you can get the ad-free premium version and view interactive weather maps of your region and track live storm formations. You’ll never be unprepared for a downpour again.
2. Sky Guide
Keen on celestial sightseeing? In the olden days, stargazers had to tote around bulky telescopes and complex, outdated constellation maps. These days, you can download Sky Guide, an astronomy app available on iTunes. Simply hold your phone up and let the app tell you what’s staring down at you from the heavens and beyond. The app, which has a night vision feature for the darkest of skies, also has a brightness filter allowing you to view the same constellations, meteors, planets and satellites during the daytime. Want to photograph the sun as it’s setting between two peaks? Use the cinematic time controls to discover its up-to-the-minute schedule along with the moon and tidal forecast.
Want to know if that vine in front of you is poison ivy? LeafSnap can correctly identify 90% of plant species in the world, according to the manufacturer. The app has been around since 2011 and is regularly updated to improve its photo identification capabilities. View the image logs of various plants to gather information about what you can expect to find out on a hike. The app also lets you save the entries for future reference, enabling you to create a collection of your finds. You can even learn about a specific plant’s classification taxonomy and care instructions, like how much water it needs to thrive.
4. iHandy Level
If you forget to bring a level, it is helpful to have access to a virtual one. This free camping app for iOS will come in handy when you are setting up your tents or RV for camp, making it a great RV camping app, too. Just follow the simple directions to calibrate the iHandy Level with your smartphone before you try it. This app is also useful indoors for home improvement projects, hanging pictures and measuring angles.
5. iBird Pro Guide to Birds
Going bird watching but forgot your field guide at home? That’s no problem if you have this popular bird-watching app available on iTunes. iBird Pro will set you back $14.99, but what you get for the money is an easy-to-use, encyclopedic resource containing nearly 1,000 species of birds. Use the app’s detailed drawings and professional photography for identifying the distant waterfowl you see on your paddle or the fearless finches that flock to the feeder in your backyard. Search parameters are incredibly specific and include beak shape, wingspan, silhouette and even foot color. The app also contains an extensive database of high-quality sound recordings so you can compare and contrast chirps and calls. A Favorites feature even lets users sort their sightings into lists, automatically upload them to Dropbox and share them with other feather-minded friends.
For a mystery to look forward to solving on your camping trip, get this GeoCaching app and join millions of users on treasure hunting adventures. Invested hiders bury their caches in recreational areas all over the country and use the app for notifying potential seekers. Once you purchase a monthly subscription for $5.99, you never know what you will uncover as you follow the clues to track down a cache’s coordinates. Many of the hidden chests are loaded with kid-friendly toys and snacks, and if you are lucky, you might even find a surprisingly valuable trinket in the mix.
7. Army Survival
For giving you peace of mind alone, this nifty survival app’s $1.99 price tag is more than worthwhile. The Army Survival app available on iTunes is like a digital, easy to digest, version of the U.S. Army Field Manual’s chapters over wilderness survival strategies. The app features outdoorsy illustrated how-to’s on everything from building shelters to starting fires, crossing rivers and tying knots. It also comes in handy for identifying medicinal plants, locating water sources and recognizing SOS signals. Even if you never find yourself at the mercy of Mother Nature, it’s nice to head off the beaten path with life-saving knowledge just a swipe or two away.
8. KOA Camping App
As your connection to over 500 KOA Campgrounds, our free mobile KOA Camping App is a necessity. Find campgrounds near you, search by amenities (hello, swimming pool), or plan your dream destination all from the palm of your hand. Found your perfect campsite? Book directly on your phone, get directions and even store your KOA Rewards information to save on your stay!
Katie Jackson is a writer and media specialist based in Montana’s Big Sky Country. Living and working everywhere from New York to Nicaragua, Katie is no stranger to adventure. When she’s not traveling the world (or writing about it!) she’s busy chasing after a Leonberger named Zeus. Follow Katie’s travels on Instagram @katietalkstravel.