With the first days of spring upon us, people will soon be looking to plan vacations, holidays, and hiking and camping trips to take advantage of the warm weather. But don't leave home without your trusty smartphone. It's an essential piece of survival gear, if you know what apps to preload. Without them you could get lost, get hurt, eat poisonous berries and be unable to call for help. Check out our top picks for awesome outdoor navigation, first aid and survival guide apps.
Out for a hike? The AllTrails app (Android, iOS) has got you covered with more than 50,000 trail guides for hiking, biking and more. Browse through the trail list or search for trails near you, look up trail reviews and write your own. AllTrails allows you to view topographic maps, photos and reviews, and lets you save a trail for offline use so you can take your trail guide to the field. From within the trail, you can upload pictures taken on the trail, and even create and upload your own tracks using your phone's GPS tracker.
MapMyFitness has an app for every outdoor activity under the sun, including hiking. MapMyHike (Android, iOS) uses your phone's sensors to track and log your hiking route, complete with information on pace, distance, calorie counting and route navigation. In addition to logging your own hikes, you can also search and download other nearby routes. A premium subscription, starting at $5.99 per month, unlocks other features such as customized audio training cues, and real-time location sharing to friends and family with Live Track.
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 (Android, iOS), 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.
Yonder (Android, iOS) allows users to easily share their experiences hiking, biking and camping with a global network of other lovers of the outdoors. Users can search or browse through a database of more than 200,000 destinations, follow other hikers to view their activity streams, or explore nearby locations through the map. It's great for finding out about nearby trails and routes, as well as an opportunity to network with other lovers of the outdoors.
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.
The weather can make or break a hike, so having a reliable weather forecast (preferably with hyperlocal weather alerts) can be a lifesaver. Dark Sky (iOS) and Weather Timeline (Android) are both excellent premium weather forecast apps for their respective platforms, providing extended forecasts, as well as hyperlocal, almost down-to-the-minute warnings of rainfall thanks to data taken from Forecast.io. With clean, no-nonsense, ad-free interfaces, both apps are great tools for travel planning and all-around weather forecast use.