“Did you know that, if you visualise, you can actually hug on the phone?” – Shelley Long
As a nature enthusiast, I am reluctant to write, in public, the advantages of technology to the average camper. However it is the social studies teacher in me that prompts me to do so. The pioneers, trappers, missionaries, explorers, and settlers who flooded across the North American Continent used every available technology to make their journey faster, easier, lighter, warmer, and safer. Often they had to strike an acceptable balance between the items for convenience and items that they must have but the technology was there for the taking.
Somehow it soothes my inner terror to know that others have done it too. Yet, I still try to minimize my use of technology. When I camp, the goal is to be in nature and not “in” my technology in nature. The current phrase I hear nearly every day is “there’s an app for that.” Although not always true, it does indicate a societal goal. Taking this phrase literally, I have searched out what I think are the best current apps for campers.
This is my list of best apps for the camper. Since I am a Droid user, I will list each app by it’s android market name. However, I have also included iPhone/iPad equivalents for the apple crowd.
You know the sound. That high pitched irritating buzz in the ear at night. This app can emit three different high frequencies to drive away the pesky mosquitos. Although not completely perfect, it seems to help. This is not within the audible range for humans and most animals so it is pretty safe to use in the wilderness. iPhone Equivalent is “Bug Spray”
Who hasn’t been caught without a flashlight. Maybe it is the midnight trip to the outhouse or you let someone borrow yours and now find yourself in the dark. This app turns your phone into a high beamed flashlight. It turns on your LED flash to a constant high and can also crank up your screen too max brightness. Most of us use our phones as a light anyhow. This simply steps it up a notch. The iphone equivalent is “Flashlight”
I was once camping when my dad and I came across an older gentleman who was sweating on a cool day and had really swollen legs. Thankfully, we helped him find his family and they got him medical treatment. What if we hadn’t found his family? Based on his symptoms, could we have done more on site with this app? Of course you should take a full blown First aid & CPR class yearly (at the very least). In addition to that professional training, this app may help remind you of your First aid & CPR class material when you suddenly find yourself in a position to give aid. The iPhone equivalent is “ResQr First Aid & CPR Coach“. *this app should only be used by someone with training.
A spectacular guide that has developed over decades. It offers you all you need to know about shelters, navigation, some basic first aid, collecting water, building fires, and much much more. This is a MUST have for every camper. The iPhone equivalent “Army Survival”
When the city lights have faded away and the sky lights up with millions of stars you rarely see, do you know what you’re looking at? This app helps you identify constellations, stars, and other celestial bodies. Simply install and hold your phone’s back facing the sky. It will map what you’re looking at. A great camping tool for those curious about the heavens. It is also a great educational tool for kids on a camp trip or at school. iPhone Equivalent “Starmap”
This is one of my favorite apps. I use it all the time. This is a tool that maps your physical movement, charts your speeds, and saves your data for later review. It requires the GPS on your phone to be on so it can use up a bit more of your battery than if the GPS were off. Don’t be fooled by this app’s name. RunKeeper tracks a wide range of outdoor activities: Walking, running, swimming, biking, hiking, skating, skiing, snowboarding, etc. As a teacher, I spend most of my work day on my feet. Out of curiousity, I turned run keeper on for a day to see how far I walk in a day at work (9.43 miles). The result wasn’t as much as I have done in the past at work but still respectable. RunKeeper is also avalibale for iPhone.
One of the great joys of camping is being out in nature. However, a little heads up on the weather conditions may be a good idea while before putting your towel out to dry on a line. The weather channel has a great app that will map where you are and give you your current and expected weather conditions. Sure, Android and iPhone already have their own weather app but it is junk compared with this one. The iPhone Link.
This link is really to two seperate apps. The first is their storefront app. Even if you don’t shop at REI that often, they have lots of specs on outdoor camping gear that you usually won’t find when you’re standing at the shelf. You can search REI inventory, scan items to find prices, and make purchases.
A second app is a snow report app. This is great for skiers. In fact, a moment ago I just got an alert on my phone that one of my favorite mountains got 10″ of snow last night. As a camper this could also be helpful. Knowing there is snow in the mountains could change our camping and allow us to prepare to camp in the snow (so much fun!) or wimp out and go home.
So there you have it! Those are my favorite phone apps for campers. I’m sure there will be more in the future but this is a great starting point for any camper.