Modern smartphones are amazing pieces of technology. There’s a good chance you’re already bringing it along on most of your trips outside, so why not harness your cell phone’s full potential with some cool camping apps.
While many of us have grown to value the periodic escape from technology, it’s hard to ignore the growing reality that, in many instances, it can, actually, enhance the experience.
From handy camping apps with simple GPS mapping applications to complex field guides for identifying stars, plants, animals, or knots we’ve got you covered. Who knows, you may discover a new way to explore the incredible beauty of the natural world around you.
The Best Camping Apps For Camping & Outdoors Adventures:
Check out our favorite camping and outdoor-themed apps below and take your outdoor adventures to whole new levels!
#1 The Gaia GPS App
Universally known as one of the better applications for GPS mapping, Gaia GPS is a favorite among frequent outdoor travelers.
The app allows you to view modern, topographic maps where you can search for hiking trails, national parks, or other natural landscapes. You can, also, record routes, waypoints, or even capture geotagged photos as you hike, bike, or paddle.
The altitude and average pace profiles are other awesome tools, helping to estimate time remaining before you reach a known campsite or other key landmark. One of our favorite features is the ability to download customizable topo maps for use offline (member level).
Simply move the shaded rectangle over the area you will be exploring, and the app will download it for use once you’re out in the field, away from cell service. Get it Here
You may also like: 75+ Of The Coolest Camping Gadgets
#2 The Chimani National Parks Guide App
Have plans to travel to a U.S. National Park this year? Download Chimani’s National Park guide to ensure that you get the most out of your trip. Brainstorm new places to explore with detailed descriptions and photos for over 400 national parks, monuments, historical sites, and seashores. You can also search available activities within a park based, specifically, on what you enjoy doing.
This app is also a great tool for those wanting to track which parks they have visited, and which ones are on their ‘short list’ for the future. Each park, however, is a standalone app requiring an additional download for further, park-specific information. Get It Here
#3 Picture-This The Plant Identification App
If you think artificial intelligence is just for robots taking over the human race, think again. With PictureThis, by Dana Technologies, you can put this technology to use in identifying thousands of plant species and flowers.
Simply take, or upload, a photo, and the app will do the rest. Using visual recognition technology, the app will give you the name, and a description, for the given flower, plant, or tree.
You can keep track of your identifications, share them with friends, and even seek advice from expert horticulturists for species that may be difficult to identify. If you’re like me you’ve spent many hikes wishing you could identify what you were walking past.
End the confusion, like I did, with a download of PictureThis-Plant ID. Get it Here
#4 Weather Underground: Forecast App
This is my go-to app for weather forecasts while exploring new places. We all know that weather forecasting can, sometimes, feel like an educated guess at best.
But I’m happy to report that, overall, I have experienced reliable accuracy with Weather Underground. Easy to read displays and limited ad interference make for an enjoyable user experience.
I, also, love how you can refine which weather station you’re viewing in a given place, always ensuring the closest one to your location.
This eliminates the frustration of getting a forecast for a city that is 35 minutes away, simply because the weather app determined it was closest to you. In mountainous terrain, often encountered while camping and hiking, fine-tuning your weather station can make a big difference in receiving an accurate forecast. Get It Here
#5 The PeakFinder App
Have you ever arrived at a scenic overlook only to wonder what mountains you were staring at along the horizon line?
Save yourself the complicated map and orienteering work and solve the mystery by simply taking a photo.
PeakFinder will provide real-time panorama drawings on top of your image, identifying everything in front of you. There are over 350,000 peaks in its database, which is updated weekly.
Users can even ‘fly’ between peaks as if they were a bird soaring through the sky. We, also, like the ability to track solar and lunar orbits, or simply look up what time the sun will set where we’re at.
PeakFinder comes recommended by National Geographic and works offline which is a huge benefit when considering the terrain in which you are most likely to be using the app.
#6 The SkyView App
Spending the night lying beneath a starry sky is one of the great wonders that comes with frequent camping and time outside after dark. If you’re like me though, you don’t have the slightest clue what you’re looking at.
Change that with SkyView, an augmented reality space app developed by Terminal Eleven. The app uses your phone’s camera to help identify celestial objects such as constellations, planets, or passing satellites.
We, especially, like the night modes for easier viewing and the fact that the app functions without the need for wi-fi, GPS, or a data signal.
Astronomers throughout the world have officially recognized 88 constellations in the sky, visible whether you are in the northern or southern hemispheres. Bottom line, there’s a lot to discover.
#7 Animated Knots App
Having a quiver of useful knots at the ready is a significant benefit to anyone spending time in the great outdoors. Unfortunately, maintaining knot skills requires constant study and frequent practice.
Not a problem for outdoor professionals who use them daily in a variety of applications. For the rest of us though, there’s Animated Knots, by Grog.
The expansive inventory of knots maintained within the app are easy to learn, thanks to the simple step-by-step animations that have made this app and website famous amongst experienced outdoor travelers.
You can search for the knot you want to tie and read detailed descriptions of its common uses, as well as strengths & weaknesses.
Whether it’s for climbing, sailing, tensioning a tent guyline, or securing gear to the top of your vehicle, the knot you’re trying to remember is on Animated Knots. Get The Animated Knots App Here
#8 Geocaching App
Transform your outdoor adventures into worldwide treasure hunts with Geocaching, by Groundspeak, Inc. This app opens up the world of geocaching, whereby participants across the globe search for cleverly, hidden containers.
Detailed location icons help you spot nearby, or far away, caches, while GPS and mapping technology lead you there. There’s, also, a live search feature that continuously updates nearby caches as you move. The app will even list popular GeoTours, whereby you can plan an entire trip around multiple caches.
The fun in geocaching is the fact that you never know where your searches will take you. I, once, had a friend win over $500 in prizes and gift certificates to outdoor, online retailer Backcountry, after a social media promotion by the company indicated there was a cache on a nearby trail.
With a little bit of searching, she was able to locate the box before anyone else. Start your geocaching journey today, and be ready for the adventure ahead. Get it Here
#9 Hiking Project App
These two apps, used, respectively, by hikers and climbers, gather information on new areas straight from the source – people, like you, who have actually been there.
Outdoor gear retailer, REI, has made considerable strides in recent years to grow its on-trail mapping, navigation, and trip planning resources for adventurers of all types.
Users can search areas of interest, look at maps, and route descriptions, as well as read valuable insight on community forums from people who have already been there.
We’ve saved ourselves from making common mistakes out on the trail, or high on a climb, simply because we had read someone’s report on what not to do. Get it Here
Know before you go, with Hiking & Mtn Project.
#10 MTB Project & Powder Project App
No need for mountain bikers and backcountry snow lovers to feel left out with REI’s MTB and Powder Project apps! MTB Project allows riders to find the best trails, wherever they may be.
The app lists more than 77,000 trails and includes detailed photos and descriptions for accessing them all. Fully featured GPS technology helps to identify your position on a given trail, and you can always access the expert advice curated from locals who frequent all the best spots.
Powder Project provides much of the same for those looking to slide down snow-covered mountains, planks on their feet and smiles on their faces. The app is constantly updated with new lines and allows users to download area descriptions/maps for use offline.
A great feature with any of the, above mentioned, REI Project apps is the ability to record tick-lists or wishlists for future trips. Get it Here
#11 iTrack Wildlife App
Now that you’re an expert on plant, floral, and tree species thanks to our PictureThis recommendation above, it’s time to expand your skills with animal tracking. iTrack Wildlife is described as the ‘most comprehensive digital field guide to animal tracks ever made.
While it is the most expensive app on our list at $14.99 (there is a free version with minimal capabilities), it may be the most comprehensive and fun to use.
Pictures of mammals, the tracks they leave behind, gait characteristics, conservation status, scientific classifications, skull profiles, and the ability to make notes throughout combine for one cool app.
Something about identifying the tracks, and animals, we discover on the trail brings out the kid adventurer in us all. Get it Here
#12 AllTrails App
No list of the best outdoor apps is complete without mention of AllTrails, which is, perhaps, the most popular outdoor-oriented app currently on the market. With over a million downloads and a consistent 4+ star rating, the team at AllTrails, Inc. is clearly doing something right.
It’s used predominantly by hikers, trail runners, and cyclists. You can explore over 50,000 trails, view user-submitted photos and reviews, follow along on detailed trail maps, find elevation/mileage profiles, filter recommended trails based exclusively on the mileage range and difficulty settings you select, share your favorites via social connectivity, and keep track of your progress on every journey. Phew. That’s a lot of use for one, free app. Get it Here