5 great smartphone apps for outdoor enthusiasts

Photo Credit: Kraig Becker
Sure, we all wanna ditch our phones when we disappear into the backcountry, but using a few outdoor-specific apps beforehand might make your trip all the better. Photo: Kraig Becker

When the iOS App Store first burst onto the scene back in 2008, “There’s an app for that” soon became a common expression. Fast-forward seven years and Apple’s buzzworthy marketing campaign has turned out to be quite prescient. Today, there are apps that can hail a cab, help cook a fine meal, track your health, and much more. There are quite literally apps for everyone, including the avid outdoor enthusiast. With that in mind, here are five excellent apps—all of them completely free—that can come in handy on your next adventure.

1. Yonder

Part destination finder, part social network, Yonder provides users with suggestions for outdoor places to visit. It has a database filled with more than 20,000 local, state, and national parks—as well as other great outdoor places—and the app’s active user base provides feedback, tips, and advice on what to do at each of those destinations. The app is available for free on both iOS and Android.

2. Recreation.gov Camping

Looking for a campsite for an upcoming trip? Perhaps this app can help. It’s the official app for Recreation.gov, a website that facilities locating and reserving campsites in U.S. national parks, forests, and other federally designated recreation areas. It can search based on your current location or any address you type in and help you reserve an open site via the web or phone. The app is available for iOS only.

3. AllTrails Hiking & Biking

AllTrails Hiking & Biking app
The AllTrails Hiking & Biking app brings tens of thousands of trails to your fingertips. Photo: Screen grab

It is amazing how many great hiking and biking trails can be found right under our noses without us ever knowing they exist. That’s where the AllTrails Hiking & Biking app can be of service. It allows users to search a comprehensive database that includes more than 50,000 trails across North America alone, complete with photos and reviews that provide a sense of what to expect before arriving onsite. Users can even discover which activities are allowed on those trails, making it easy to find mountain biking or cross-country skiing routes, for instance. The AllTrails app is available on both the iOS and Android platforms.

4. goFlow Sports

This app will not only help you to find nearby places to take part in your favorite outdoor activities, but it’ll also give you surprisingly detailed weather reports for those particular sports as well. Want to know if the surf is up? goFlow Sports can tell you. Will the local hill get snow in the next 24 hours? Find out using this app. It currently supports snowsports, cycling, and a wide variety of watersports on both iOS and Android.

5. Tripcast

Tripcast lets you share the stoke in real time with anyone not lucky enough to be on your rad trip with you. Photo: Screen shot

Want a unique and interesting way to share the details of your latest adventure with friends and family back home? Then check out Tripcast, an app that lets you post notes, photos, and real-time updates as you travel. Share your experience with a select few, or all other Tripcast users, through a map of your journey that uses geotags to incorporates photos from the various locations you’ve visited along the way. Tripcast is also available for iOS and Android.

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