11 Best Free Outdoor Apps

Hiker looking at a compass on their smartphone

From weekend summer camping trips to long winter ski vacations, you need to make sure you are prepared when you head to the great outdoors. With these 11 apps, you’ll have the right resources exactly at your fingertips. (Most are free, but some offer optional in-app purchases.)

  1. CairnSafety is key when you are hiking. But when you don’t have cell service or your phone is turned off, how will your loved ones know where you are if tragedy were to strike? With Cairn, you don’t have to worry about either. Start by entering in your destination, the latest time you will return, an emergency contact, and any other notes you’d like to provide. Download maps to use while offline and view reported cell coverage spots in case of an emergency. If you do not return within the time you have allotted, your last logged locations will be sent to your emergency contact. With Cairn, you’ll feel more comfortable going solo.
  2. KomootWhether you are roadcycling, hiking, bikepacking, or mountain biking, Komoot is there to guide you. This navigation app lets you customize your favorite way to take on the terrain and what you may want to see along the way – regardless of how on or off-track you like to get.See also:How to Protect Your Bike from Theft (And What to Do If It Gets Stolen Anyway)Like a GPS, Komoot will give you turn-by-turn voice navigation on or offline, giving you the ability to explore deeper with knowledge of what comes next.
  3. Weather Live: There’s no better start to a trip into the great outdoors than knowing the weather will be ideal. Hailed as “the world’s most beautiful weather app,” Weather Live lets you view forecast temperatures, extended forecasts, warnings, alerts, and much more with customizable weather layouts to reflect real-time weather conditions.
    See also: What Are The Odds You’ll Actually Get Struck By Lightning?
  4. Red Cross: First AidIt’s best to be prepared for anything that may occur during your next hiking or camping trip. Luckily, The American Red Cross created apps to assist you in just that. (There’s an app for pet first aid, too!) Keep you and your loved ones safe with access to step-by-step instructions and information on emergencies such as allergies, bleeding, broken bones, weather emergencies, and more.
  5. Flyover CountryFor those who love sitting in the window seat and wonder what exactly is below, Flyover Country is there to answer all your questions. Before taking off, load your path and GPS-determined location to the app. From there, check out cloud and landscape information at any point throughout your trip. GPS tracking, flight speed, altitude, and direction keep your map on track to provide you with the most accurate information possible.
  6. SnocruPrefer high altitudes, high speeds, and fresh, sparkling snow? Snocru is for you. Use this app on your computer, smart phone, or smart watch to track altitude, speed, current slope angle, and much more. Share and compete with your friends or others on the slope using the “Near Me” feature.
    See also: 12 Ways to Stay Active in the Winter
    Before you head out, visit the “Resorts” section to view the current conditions of your chosen resort. While you’re out, check the leaderboards to view your ranking compared to others using the app.
  7. Chimani: Available for IOS and Android, Chimani provides topographic maps of all 419 U.S. National Parks. This free app can be used with or without data signal or WiFi and includes features such as trail guides, points of interest, photos, amenities, and much more.
    See also: How to Store Outdoor Gear during the Offseason
    In-app purchases are offered as well as discounts on lodging, dining, and park activities.
  8. PlantSnapPlantSnap has been built to recognize 90% of all known species of plants and trees around the world – that’s about 585,000 species offered in 30 different languages. Simply take a photo of the plant you’d like to know more about. Within seconds, the app will tell you what it is and show more information such as pictures, scientific classification, and much more.
  9. RA Camping: The RA Camping app from Reserve America makes it easy to find a campsite across the United States based on customizable criteria. This includes camp type, location, park name, dates, amenities, and more. View from a list or a map to compare sites and locations.
  10. MountainHub: This app prides itself on being an all-in-one app for outdoor adventuring. A team of adventurers with passion for technology created this app to simplify your own adventuring. Use it to avoid hazards and crowded trails, find the best camping sites, view terrain and conditions, download trail maps, and more – all within one app.
    See also: 10 Brilliant Camping Hacks for Your Next Trip

    The app, powered by Aspira, also provides in-depth information and resources to become the go-to for all things camping.
  11. Night Sky: With Night Sky, identifying stars, planets, constellations and more has never been easier. With this app, check out stars and constellations in augmented reality to explore in greater detail – some that we can’t even see with the human eye. Simply raise your phone, iPad, or Apple Watch to the sky, and begin your exploration.

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