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Summer / Apps & Technology

Make the Most of Summer With These Outdoors Apps

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app There’s nothing like a good hike. It’s just you, nature… and your phone? For a lot of outdoorsy types, going hiking doesn’t necessarily mean unplugging. Your phone can actually mean you’ll get the best out of your excursion. Here are some outdoors apps that can make your hiking, walking, or trekking adventures even better.

SAS Survival Guide: $5.99

This book-turned-app has all the survival information you’ll need for any situation in the wild. Written by former British special forces soldier John “Lofty” Wiseman, it contains photos, videos, and features that can help you survive anything. It even includes survival checklists, a Morse code signaling device, helps you determine which plants are medicinal, and has a quiz of over a hundred questions so you can test yourself.

AllTrails Hiking & Mountain Biking Trails, GPS Tracker & Offline TOPO Maps: Free

AllTrails lists 50,000 trail guides with user photos, reviews, and descriptions. The app loads both a map and list to browse trails around you. Click to see things like directions, trail length, elevation gain/loss, duration, and how many people will be there. It also lists activities and features to let you know what you’ll get out of the trail. Since it’s user based, you can add information or photos to existing trails or add an entirely new trail.

First Aid by American Red Cross: Free

If you’re just looking for first aid help, American Red Cross made a great app with videos, gifs, and pictures in a slick and easy to use interface. From sprains to toxins to even a distressed victim, you’ll have the knowledge you need the moment things go wrong. Plus, the best part? It works offline.

Planets: Free

If you’re on a night hike you can use this augmented reality app to point your phone in any direction to see the stars, planets, and constellations. You can also view the sky from other light spectrums, like gamma or infrared. It provides visibility times, and a quasi-3D Google Earth view for all the planets and the Moon. Plus, it’s always fun to point your phone to the ground to see what planets and stars are under you. Available on iTunes and Google Play.

GaiaGPS: $19.99

A comprehensive app, GaiaGPS turns your phone into as much of a true GPS as possible. Using your phone’s GPS chip, it loads your position on detailed maps, no matter how far away you are from reception. Record your tracks (things like distance, time, and speed), make waypoints, and take geo-tagged photos.

Bird Song Id USA Automatic Recognition and Reference—Songs and Calls of East America: $3.99

Also known as “Shazam for birds,” this app helps you identify birds based on sound. It works manually by asking a few questions to narrow down the bird, but you can also simply record the singing and the app will identify what bird it is for you. So far, it only includes birds in the Eastern states.

Wolfram Sun Exposure Reference App: 99¢

With summer hiking comes sunburns, and sometimes it’s hard to tell exactly how much sunscreen you need to apply, and how often. This app takes your inputs of skin type, location, sun position, and weather forecast, and tells you how long you can be in the sun before getting burned without sunscreen.

National Parks by National Geographic: Free

This app has interactive guides for the most visited 25 national parks in the United States. It lets you know things like what to do, how to get there, where to camp, descriptions, and the weather. It has maps with geo-tagged points of interest, and fun stuff like collecting park stamps.

Pocket: Free & Offline Pages: $4.99

There are several ways to save a webpage for viewing when you’re hiking and don’t have reception. For the iPhone, the easiest way is to use Safari’s reading list feature. If you want a little more functionality you can download Pocket, which allows you to save photos and videos individually and across apps in a tightly designed interface. Offline Pages is more robust; you can save entire sites and there are more organization capabilities.

For more great travel apps, check out:

By Cody Brooks for