Discover 10 must-have apps that you can use during your outdoor adventures to improve your experience.
Exploring the outdoors is becoming more accessible as technology advances, giving us new and improved apps to guide us, keep us safe and teach us about nature. While going on a hike or pitching a tent often means stepping away from technology, certain apps can amplify the experience and allow us to better appreciate our surroundings. Whether it’s an accurate trail map to direct us, a star map to reveal hidden constellations or a fitness tracker to keep us motivated, these 10 apps can make adventuring in the new year easier.
Cost: Free or $35.99 annually for ProAllTrails
Often the go-to navigation app for hikers of all levels, AllTrails has over 400,000 trails to choose from. You can refine your search to include certain difficulty levels, dog- or kid-friendly hikes, wheelchair-accessible trails and various other filters. With reviews and pictures of each hike to scroll through, AllTrails also offers need-to-know trail information and detailed driving directions to ensure your safety while exploring. With the Pro version, you’re also able to download hikes to use offline, access 3D maps and get notified when you make a wrong turn on a trail.
Each mountain has its own beauty, but the names of these sierras often slip past us. With PeakFinder, discovering the name of a spanning mountain range is as easy as ever. Point your phone at a horizon, even when you’re out of service, and PeakFinder will name every mountain in your panoramic view.
Cost: Free or $4.99/month for PremiumGaia GPS
Gaia GPS is an app for all hikers but often attracts backcountry enthusiasts with its detailed maps, campground recommendations and route planning abilities. With a Premium account, you can download maps for offline use as well as access weather predictions and terrain updates. For backcountry skiers, Premium can keep you safe with avalanche reports, slope angle shading and topographic maps.
Have you ever found yourself desperately needing a place to rest your head for the night, a gas station to fuel up at or simply a well-needed shower? iOverlander is the perfect app to find all of your road trip essentials while on the go. With dozens of filters to specialize your search, like a serviced campground, showers, Wi-Fi, a nearby fuel station or mechanic, this app can fulfil all your needs. Completely free and available offline, you can add your own destinations and suggestions while reading user reviews and submissions.
Parks Canada App
Cost: FreeParks Canada
Heading to your favourite national park, wanting to discover a new destination near your hometown? The Parks Canada App has detailed maps, self-guided tours and information for 450,000 square kilometres of Canadian nature and history. Access directions, hours of operation, seasonal activities and quick facts about Parks Canada destinations. You can also book a campsite through the app and download guided tours for offline use.
iNaturalist is a social media app for nature enthusiasts. Snap a photo of a curious-looking plant or wild animal you can’t quite place and iNaturalist will give you the top 10 suggestions for what you may be looking at. You’re also able to share your observations and build a community with fellow nature lovers. This app encourages citizen science as every submission helps advance scientific understanding of biodiversity and contributes to research conducted by professional naturalists.
Cost: Free or $4.99/month or $26.99/year for a Premium subscriptionCairn
Cairn is the ultimate safety app for outdoor adventures. You can easily share your travel plans, ETA and trail activity with your contacts to ensure your safety on the trail. With a Premium account, you can share your real-time location, send automatic overdue alerts if you miss your ETA and download maps for offline use. By crowdsourcing information, Cairn also provides information on where you can find service in spotty areas.
Cost: Free or $12.99/month or $79.99/year for ProFishBrain
This app is for all the fishing enthusiasts out there—both beginner and expert alike. With FishBrain, you can record your catches, find up-to-date fishing regulations and discover new fishing spots. The Pro version provides detailed water conditions, customizable maps and depth charts.
Cost: Free or $2.99/month or $19.99/year for Plus. Get the Pro option for $4.99/month or $39.99/year.Sky Guide
Some of the best skies can be seen in the backcountry, but it’s difficult to keep track of which constellation is which. Sky Guide does the work for you! Simply point your phone upwards and Sky Guide will outline and name individual stars and constellations. While the free version contains a diverse star catalogue and notifications for upcoming astronomical events, upgrading to Plus will significantly increase that catalogue and provide advanced meteor shower predictions. The Pro account takes it a step further, granting you access to 1.7 billion star names, one million deep-sky objects and various exoplanets.
Cost: Free or $79.99/year for a subscriptionStrava
Strava is the running, hiking and biking haven for fitness gurus. With the ability to log every detail of your hike and a social network to connect you with fellow outdoor enthusiasts, Strava will keep you motivated to improve your fitness. While the cost of a subscription is a bit pricey, it offers advanced performance metrics and analysis, location sharing and the ability to set custom goals.
Bonus: Explore Magazine
Did you know you can turn Explore Magazine into an app on your own iPhone home screen? Following a few simple steps found here, you can get direct access to all the gear reviews, trip destinations and trail suggestions you’ll need to get you outside in 2024.