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  • Shengying Zhao

10 Outdoor Apps to Download Before your Next Adventure

For many, the allure of venturing into the wilderness lies in disconnecting from the digital world. Yet, embracing technology to improve readiness and enable disconnection can be advantageous. The proliferation of specialized apps tailored for adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts offer a unique advantage, allowing us to reduce the hours spent on research and instead, dedicate more precious moments to the wilderness.

We've curated a selection of top-rated apps designed to cater to various aspects of the great outdoors. Whether you're on the lookout for specialized campground locators, comprehensive trail maps, or even a weather app tailored for stargazing enthusiasts, we've got you covered. The best part? Each of these apps offers some form of a free or trial version, allowing you to give them a spin before deciding to go premium. So, let's dive into this collection of outdoor apps and discover how they can elevate your outdoor experiences without breaking the bank.

AllTrails:(iOS and Android)

Consider the AllTrails app as the adventurous and user-focused alternative to Google Maps. The app is incredibly user-friendly and intuitive. The sheer abundance of available trails is truly impressive, offering a wide selection to navigate long hikes safety. AllTrails offers an astonishing array of filters to refine your search. Whether you're on the lookout for highly specialized hikes, AllTrails' extensive collection is likely to yield a trail perfectly aligned with your specific interests. Additionally, thanks to the extensive community of AllTrails users, you can often find a wealth of recent reviews, offering valuable insights into the current conditions of the trails, particularly those that are well-frequented. This might entail opting for waterproof boots instead of hiking sandals or even considering an entirely different trail if, for instance, the road to the trailhead is currently impassable. If you have access to cellular coverage, you can effortlessly launch the trailhead's location in Google Maps and track your location on the trail maps in real time. For an annual fee of $35.99, AllTrailsPro offers downloadable offline maps, enabling you to navigate and track your hike even in the absence of cellular service.

The NPS App is the official app from the National Park Service, featuring a host of tools to enhance your exploration of over 400 national parks across the nation. It's user-friendly and free to download. In addition, you can use it offline by downloading content in advance. Upon launching the app, if you've granted it location access, you'll immediately notice a scroll bar featuring the national park units nearest to your location. In case none of these match your current interest, the user-friendly search tools come in handy for finding any park you desire. Once you've selected a park, you'll encounter a concise description and the option to "explore the full park," a recommendation I highly endorse. This option transforms the app into a virtual replica of the official website, offering a comprehensive resource. The NPS app also provides up-to-the-minute information on park conditions, including road closures, entrance wait times, weather advisories, and reservation requirements. It's your go-to resource for all the essential park details before you embark on your journey.

The Dyrt (iOS and Android)

In the world of camping, there's a platform that proudly wears the title of "the Yelp of campgrounds" - The Dyrt. With an impressive database of over 45,000 reviewed campgrounds, it's a go-to resource for outdoor enthusiasts looking to plan and book their next adventure. What makes The Dyrt stand out is its extensive range of campgrounds. Whether you're eyeing a stay in a National Park, State Park, County Park, Bureau of Land Management area, KOA, Good Sam site, Thousand Trails location, or countless private campgrounds, you'll find it in their listings. The Dyrt boasts the most extensive campsite review collection compared to other camping apps. It offers a user-friendly and intuitive interface. You can easily sort campgrounds based on their top-rated status, pricing, or the number of reviews they've received. Plus, you can fine-tune your search by applying filters for special features that matter most to you, whether it's a pet-friendly policy, phone service availability, the presence of showers, and more. For Pro members, it provides valuable map layers indicating BLM land, US Forest Service land, and National Park land.

Strava (iOS and Android)

Strava, a Swedish term signifying 'strive, the concept stems from the determination of athletes and fitness enthusiasts. While Strava allows you to track a variety of activities, it truly excels in performance analysis and offers engaging route comparisons, a feature that particularly resonates with cyclists and runners. It stands as the world's largest repository of trails and routes, complemented by precise GPS tracking capabilities to guide you on your journeys. Once activated, Strava records crucial information such as time, distance, speed, and other pertinent data while you're actively engaged in these activities. When using the Strava app in conjunction with your phone to track your runs and bike rides, you can access real-time statistics like time and distance while you're active. After completing an activity, the data is uploaded to your Strava account, allowing for more in-depth analysis. If your main interest is tracking basic workout data and discovering new running or cycling routes, the free version is suitable. Strava Premium offers additional features that running and cycling enthusiasts may find appealing, and it's priced at $7.99 per month (equivalent to nearly $100 per year) or $59.99 for an annual subscription when paid upfront.

Gaia GPS (iOS and Android)

Gaia GPS App is a specialized mapping and navigation software designed to work seamlessly with smartphones, hence transforming our iPhones into powerful handheld GPS units. Planning an expedition into the wilderness? When it comes to planning a route, Gaia GPS outperforms other mapping apps in terms of speed and user-friendliness. While it covers the standard mapping app functions like placing waypoints, charting routes, and recording hikes, Gaia GPS stands out with unique features such as National Geographic's national park maps and cell phone coverage maps, for an additional monthly cost of $3.33. You can also download highly detailed maps, GPS tracks, and waypoints to your phone prior to your journey.Then, when you're out on the trail without WiFi or cell service, you can rely on the preloaded maps to fulfill all your mapping and navigation requirements. Gaia boasts an impressive array of maps and over 300 overlays, including National Geographic trails illustrated maps, which set the standard for accuracy when it comes to National Park trails, regulations, and use zones; topo maps: vector-based topo maps offering both high speed and a small file size; and usgs topo maps, the gold standard for off-trail navigation and travel. These detailed maps include prominent landmarks, viewpoints, and waterfalls, enhancing your exploration experience.

Glacier Point loop at Yosemite national park comparing basic Gaia GPS maps with National Geographic map option

Just Ahead (iOS and Android)

For those seeking the convenience of audio travel guide, Just Ahead is a valuable companion. Utilizing your smartphone's built-in GPS (with the option for offline use), this app seamlessly engages as you approach specific markers on your route. It transforms your drive into an informative experience, unveiling rich tales of scenic views, geological wonders, and the captivating history of the park you're exploring. What sets Just Ahead apart is the quality of its content. Each guide is meticulously crafted by seasoned journalists and authors who have contributed to prestigious publications like National Geographic and Outside Magazine. Their professional narration brings a wealth of knowledge to your journey. Simply download the guides in advance and enjoy uninterrupted storytelling. You also have the option to manually select and play the stories as you go, giving you the freedom to explore at your own pace. You can listen to free samples before deciding on a guide. Each destination guide is available as an in-app purchase, with prices ranging from $7.99 to $9.99. These purchases include a free trial and updates to the guide at no extra cost.

onX Hunt (iOS and Android)

onX, a navigation app that begins at $2.50 per month, offers three distinct versions tailored to different outdoor activities: hunting, off-roading, and hiking. For instance, if you're planning an off-roading adventure, the off-roading version provides trail difficulty information. Alternatively, if you're engaged in hunting, fishing, or off-trail exploration, the hunting version provides valuable information about land ownership, ensuring you're aware of whether you're on private property. To help you get started, onX offers a complimentary 7-day trial for a premium membership, granting access to map data for one state. OnX employs advanced map layering technology to empower users to customize their map view according to their preferences. Its primary function is enabling data for the state(s) accessible within the onX Hunt App. Different states offer various features, with most providing layers for both private and public land information. Among its extensive features, you'll find standard data such as detailed maps and satellite imagery, real-time location tracking, and the ability to trace your path even when you're far from cell service. It also boasts a rich selection of waypoint icons, allowing you to personalize maps with markers for stand sites, food sources, boat ramps, wildlife sightings, and even more specific details like turkey tracks and animal scat.

These screenshots show you contrast between basic and advanced mapping layers with premium membership

Roadtrippers (iOS and Android)

The Roadtrippers Plus app is a game-changer, tailored for extensive road trips and frequent travelers. It operates as a digital travel guide, providing user-submitted photos, Yelp reviews, and official online information for each stop. Each stop includes direct links to websites and phone numbers for quick reference. Unlike Google Maps, this app filters and displays businesses and locations relevant to travelers, streamlining the planning process by removing irrelevant data. While on the road, I could effortlessly access information for our upcoming stops, making plans in advance. This app enables you to input your destination and then explore a wide range of attractions, including accommodations (with filters for chain hotels and B&Bs), campsites, parks, and trails—all conveniently located along your route. You can even collaborate with friends to plan the perfect trip. Crowd-sourced reviews often offer more useful travel tips than official listings. While most essential features are available for free, dedicated road warriors can opt for the premium version($4.99/month, which unlocks offline maps, unlimited itineraries, and real-time traffic updates.

Geocoaching (iOS and Android)

Looking for a new reason to enjoy the outdoors that doesn't involve getting a dog? Geocaching might be the perfect hobby for you. The concept is straightforward: a community hides items in publicly accessible spots, pinpointed by GPS coordinates on a map. Your mission? Find these hiding geocaches, often containers of varying sizes, scattered across the world. Once discovered, you're welcome to take something from the cache. However, the catch is leaving something behind for the next person who finds it. In the free version, you have the ability to search for geocaches based on location, type (Traditional or Event only), tracking code, and GeoTours. You can also check a geocache's difficulty and terrain rating, access its description, communicate with the person who placed it, share geocaches with others, and record your findings. For enhanced features, Geocaching Premium is available through the app at $39.99 per year. This premium subscription grants you access to all geocache types, the option to download maps for offline use, utilization of Trails maps for off-road geocaching, improved search capabilities for finding geocaches, and more.

Komoot (iOS and Android)

If you're passionate about road cycling or mountain biking, or if you're seeking an app that blends route planning and navigation, Komoot deserves your attention. It offers a comprehensive breakdown of your route, showcasing vital details like distance, elevation changes, road conditions, and required fitness levels. With an internet connection, you have the flexibility to alter your route mid-ride if you opt for a different direction or change of scenery. Not just a mapping tool, Komoot encourages community engagement, enabling riders to explore user-recommended spots, noteworthy cafes, and interesting sites along their journey. Plus, it allows you to include shared routes from other users (‘Highlights’) into your ride, fostering sharing and interaction with fellow enthusiasts. Upon entering your starting point and destination, you can select your routes based on various parameters such as riding style, terrain preferences, and individual skill level. Offline use is effective and simple – rather than downloading tiles, you download an entire county or region at once. When recording a tour, you can add your own highlights – geotagged locations with photos and descriptions.

Gear up and get out there

We hope this blog has provided you with a few ideas of how to add technology to your outdoor adventures. Are there any other apps that are must-haves for your outdoor adventures? If so, let us know in the comments below! Also, don't forget that our brand Power Ridge® has the perfect products to ensure you stay fully charged while you're on-the-go!

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