Most of the time, the whole point of going on a hike or camping trip is to get away from technology. We couldn't agree more. But the truth is, most of us still carry our smart phones for emergency calls, wayfinding, and camera possibilities, all in a single package. Our vote? Turn off the email and the Twitter alerts, and take advantage of the way your phone can enhance your trip. Just make sure your protect it from the weather.
1. Sky Guide: This is my favorite app on this list, because it enhances my favorite part of backpacking – getting out away from city lights to where the sky opens up and all of its features become visible. Simply hold it up to the sky, day or night, to find constellations, planets, satellites, and stars by location. There's also the freeware Night Sky, but the $3 for the quality provided by Skyguide might be the best value in the app store. Find it on the App Store
2. Maps.me: My go-to offline map app; meaning – you can download a map for a region and use it even when you're not connected to a data network. (Which, if you're doing things right, you probably won't be.) App Store or Android
3. An Offline Survival App: For those emergency situations, it's great to have a little guidance on how to stay safe. For iPhone users, we recommend Survive it! – Wilderness Survival Manual, a free, simple to search collection of proven tips. For Android, the Offline Survival Manual seems to be its best peer.
4. Snapseed: Trying to capture the amazing vistas and scenery from a hike can be tough on a smartphone. Your eyes take in all this information, but what your phone can record pales in comparison. A little editing can help, and this is the most versatile, freeware photo editing app we know of. It's incredibly powerful, and the fact that you can shoot, produce these results, and share all on the same device is simply amazing. App Store and Android
5. Knots 3D: All of us knew we knew more about knot-tying and rope work. Knots 3D not only helps you determine the best knot for the task, but offers incredible step-by-step tutorials to get there. There's a freeware, ad-supported version, as well as a $2.00 premium option. Our opinion: worth it for the upgrade. App Store and Android
6. Viewranger Skyline: Augmented reality at its best. This app uses your phone's camera and overlay GPS information to help you identify geological features like peaks and summits, as well as other key locations and pathfinding information. App Store and Android
7. REI – National Parks Guide & Maps: A relatively new option from the national outdoor retailer. It doesn't have every park yet, but they're certain to be added soon. We haven't played with it much yet, but will certainly be putting it to the test on our adventures this summer. App Store and Android