The Best Outdoor Apps

The best Outdoor Apps for iphones and android phones.

One of the big advantages of traveling full-time is, of course, getting to see and experience places that otherwise we would never have the time to explore. A big reason we travel is to be out in nature. The National Parks are high on our list of must-see places but there are an innumerable amount of hidden gems that are waiting to be explored by those who have the drive to find them. Time is limited but with our digital age finding these hidden locales is easier than ever. These are the outdoor apps that we use to ironically leave the modern world behind and hit the paths less traveled.

#1 – Maps.me

Cost: Free

The Maps.me app map and trail display
The Maps.me app map displays trails all around the world and tracks users via GPS so they can see their progress in real time.
The Maps.me app area downloads
The Maps.me allows users to download and delete areas of interest so that they can limit the file size of the app.

If you are like us and venture into the wilderness and hike every trail you can find then Maps.me is the must-have best outdoor app. This app will keep you on the trail even when you don’t have cell service. We have used this app for years. We explored a lot of New Zealand using it and have used it extensively in our nomadic adventures across North America. It breaks up the maps by areas so you only need to download the area you are headed to. You can also delete older areas to free up space on your phone if needed as the file sizes can be very large.

#2 – Strava

Cost: Free

Strave app elevation and speed charts.
The Strava app allows users to see the elevation and speed charts for their outdoor activities.

Strava is a tracker app. It is designed to give users information on their bike ride. At least, that is what it was originally designed for. Now users can gather data on their runs, walks, hikes, canoeing, and the list goes on. I use it mostly for biking and hiking. It tracks my path and shows me elevation and speed charts for my activities. It also shows me how I compare to others in my community or amongst my friends that do similar activities. I just wish it could differentiate between types of bikes as I feel like it is unfair to compare my 9-speed mountain bike to that of a 20+-speed road bike.

Strava app map of my bike ride through Montréal.
The Strava app map displays my bike ride, complete with distance, time and elevation.

#3 – Trace Snow

Cost: Free

The Trace Snow app map displays all the ski runs for the day.
The Trace Snow map displays all the runs for a day on the mountain complete with verticle feet traveled and max speed. The arrows can be used to isolate each run’s data.
Trace Snow app days on the mountain display
The Trace Snow app stores every day on the mountain for easy access to the data and awards achievements.

Trace Snow is the must-have app for those who like to spend their winters on the slopes skiing or snowboarding. This outdoor app tracks you throughout your day on the slopes and provides information on each run as well as overall stats for your day. It can tell you the number of runs, speed of each, verticle drop, distance traveled, time on the slopes, and even jumps… although I feel like I jump a lot more than it gives me credit for and it seems to give my ski buddy my extras. I am usually at like 15 jumps on a good day and he is well over 200!

#4 – Checklist+

Cost: Free

Part of our Checklist+ app Camping supplies list.
With the Checklist+ app we create lists that can be checked off, making sure that nothing gets left behind or undone.

Have you ever found yourself 8-miles into the woods fashioning chopsticks out of twigs because you forgot the all-important spork at home? Just me? The Checklist+ app is perfect for people like us who tend to forget something every time they venture out into the woods. The app allows users to create lists and check off the items in that list as they are packed. We also use this for reoccurring meals so that shopping is made easier. You can see the ingredients needed for each meal and check them off as they are picked up in the store. The lists don’t disappear they are there for the next time you need them.

#5 – Chimani – National Park Guides

Cost: Free

The Chimani - National Park Guides app map.
The Chimani app map displays the many different national points of interest with unique icons.
The Chimani - National Park Guides app notifications display
The Chimani app has a notifications feature that informs users of historical events.

Is visiting National Parks, National Monuments, National Seashores, and National Historical Sites your thing? If so, then you should have the Chimani – National Park Guides App. This outdoor app is the best way of finding all the National points of interest spread out across the U.S. You can track the parks you have visited and do future trip planning. The app has a notifications feature that will inform users of National Park Service announcements that give information and history about the parks and the parks service. You can also download park guides, but those have an in-app purchase cost.

#6 – Adventure Aide

Cost: Free

Adventure Aide app main display
Through the Adventure Aide app users can connect with other like-minded outdoor enthusiast.
Adventure Aide app "adventures for you" settings
The Adventure Aide app lets users customize their outdoor offerings through the “adventures for you” settings.

The Adventure Aide app is all about finding and creating community in the outdoors. Users can join either paid guides or free meet-ups exploring the natural world in and around their community. The app allows users to customize their recommended activities based on distance, and what they are looking for. This is a great way to meet new like-minded people, get to know a new area, learn a new skill or simply enjoy the world around you.

If you consider yourself an expert in an outdoor activity and would like to lead activities in your community then Adventure Aide is a great way to share your passion and make some money while you do it. In many ways Adventure Aide is Uber for the outdoors.

#7 – Peak Visor

Cost: $5.99

Peak Visor app teleport feature
The Peak Visor app has a teleport feature that allows users to see the landscape of any place in the world.
Peak Visor app compass
The Peak Visor app has a very unique looking compass that shows the path of the sun and displays a few mountain peaks.

I am one of those people who pulls into an overlook and studies the signs with the maps of the surrounding landscape complete with the names of the distant peaks. I have stood on top of mountain peaks wishing there were signs like those so that I could know for certain the names and altitude of the surrounding peaks. If you, like me, are obsessed with knowing your place in the world and the names of the peaks around you then you need the Peak Visor app. It is an augmented reality app that overlays mountain peaks on top of your phones camera view. You can even download areas so that it will work on those mountain peaks without cell service. Peak Visor even has a built-in Compass overlay so you always know which direction you are looking.

The Peak Visor app displays the peaks and elevations of the landscape around you in augmented reality.

#8 – My Moon Phase

Cost: Free

My Moon Phase App showing a Waxing Crescent Moon
The My Moon Phase app displaying a Waxing Crescent and the sunrise and sunset times.
My Moon Phase app with Golden & Blue hours displayed.
My Moon Phase app displays the Golden and Blue hours for photographers.

When away from the city lights I like to do night photography. A bright, full moon can ruin night photography plans. The My Moon Phase app lets me know what phase the moon will be in when I am in a certain area. I can adjust our hiking schedule so that we are sleeping under the stars when the moon is less obtrusive for seeing those stars. The app also lists the sunrise and sunset times as well as the photography Golden Hour and Blue Hour which together are the most ideal times to get some of the best shots.

#9 – Star Walk 2

Cost: Free

Star Walk 2 location selection
The Star Walk 2 app can can be adjusted to show users the stars any place in the world.

Star Walk 2 is an augmented reality app that will label the night sky, showing users the name of constellations, stars, planets, and even man-made satellites. It also gives users the ability to move through time so that you can plan the best time to see objects in the night sky. Want to see the Milkyway stretch across the horizon? The Star Walk 2 App will show you the time that will take place. This best outdoor app also allows users to change the location so that you can plan ahead based on nearby cities or by exact GPS coordinates.

Star Walk 2 app augmented reality view
The Star Walk 2 app can show users the night sky complete with labels for the constellations, stars, planets, and even satellites.

#10 – Commander Compass (Spyglass on Google Play)

Cost: Free

Commander Compass app display
The Commander Compass app is the best compass app available for smart phones.

The Commander Compass app turns your smartphone into a compass with military specifications. One of my favorite features is its ability to show me my altitude within a few feet. This comes in handy when climbing mountains. The app also gives latitude, longitude, speed, and many other calculations. The compass built into Peak Visor may look cooler but this one loads quicker and is much more functional for general and advanced uses.

Honorabel Mention – Achievement

Cost: Free

Achievement App
The Achievement app uses other health related apps to award points for healthy activity.

Wouldn’t it be great to get paid for exercising? Well, you can although this is no way to get rich. The app rewards you points for walking, hiking, and other athletic activities that wearable electronics and apps track. Every 10,000 points earned can be cashed out for $10. For the average active user, it will take several months to accumulate those points but it does incentivize staying active. The best part about this app is that users can set it and forget it. I rarely look at the app but it is connected to my Apple Health and Strava apps so it gets the info it needs to reward points.

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