Heading out for a hike is supposed to be a relaxing experience that lets us disconnect from our busy lives, but that doesn’t mean you should leave your phone behind. Instead, take it with you and use one of the many available hiking apps to make your next adventure better.
There are hundreds of different hiking apps designed specifically for this purpose, but they have not all been created equal. So, before you rush to search through them all and then get lost trying to decide or, worse, fill your phone’s memory with useless apps, take a look at this list for some options that are really going to improve your hike. Most of the apps are free, and all are available for both iOS and Android.
Star Walk 2
If you’re a hiker and a lover of the outdoors, there’s a pretty good chance you’re a stargazer too. There is something about the night sky that is simply magical. There are lots of ways you can make your time watching the stars better, such as using a good set of binoculars, but Star Walk 2 is an app that takes the experience to a whole new level. It uses your phone’s camera to render images of constellations so you can find them easily and then gives you the chance to learn about their history and significance. This will turn a night of wonder into a chance to learn more about our beautiful night sky and all those who were amazed by it before you. Android users can bring the night sky to life for free, but Star Walk 2 on iOS costs $2.99—a small price to pay for such an interactive and informative app.
AllTrails is one of the most popular hiking apps available, and it is easy to see why. With maps for over hiking trails and Canada, finding your next secret spot has never been easier. There is also a feature that allows you to create your own routes, track them using GPS and then share them with the community. By upgrading to a full membership ($50 per year), you can download and print the maps you make and get lots of other features such as access to National Geographic Maps.
Did you ever go on a treasure hunt when you were a kid? Remember how much fun it was? Well, this app takes that experience, combines it with hiking and applies it to the whole world. It works through a community; other users from all around the world leave “caches” or boxes wherever they feel like and inside put notes, tokens or little gifts. These caches are recorded onto the app or the website so you can look for one when you head out for your next hike. With over 2 million geocaches all over the world, it’s pretty safe to say this is the world’s largest treasure hunt.
Hiking can either be a leisure sport or an intense workout. Either way, those of us who do it usually have some sort of competitive spirit. Whether you like to push yourself to go faster or simply like to motivate yourself to get to the top, there is often a goal in mind when we set out on a hike. MapMyHike is one of many hiking apps that allows you to set trails, record your speed and distance, and calculate calories burned or elevation changes. You can use this to set goals for yourself, which can be a great way to improve fitness and train yourself to be able to go farther on your hikes.
First Aid – American Red Cross
This is an app that could literally save your life. Okay, that’s perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, but it is certainly useful. For example, do you know what to do if someone is suffering from heat exhaustion? These kinds of things happen all the time, and if you are unprepared and don’t have internet access, an app like this is incredibly helpful. It gives step-by-step instructions for emergency treatments for anything that could happen while you’re out on the trail. If you are someone who likes to hike in remote areas, this app is a must-have.
Having hiking apps like these on your phone will certainly make your next hiking adventure much better. They are all available for all types of phones, so go ahead and download those you think will be the most useful for you, making sure your phone is secure before you do. Once you’ve done that, you are ready for an enhanced hiking experience.
About the Author: Faith Macanas is a freelance writer and blogger who loves discussing how technology can make us better appreciate the world around us. She loves hiking, climbing, skiing and anything else that gets her outside and into nature.