With the onset of summer in North America, many people across the continental United States will be gearing up for an active camping season. While sentimental notions of camping "off the grid" persist, most modern camping enthusiasts leverage the latest in portable electronic assistance. This can be in the form of mapping, taking photos, and even watching movies by the glow of the campfire. The iPhone can perform all these functions and more. In fact, thanks to the vibrant developer community many of whom are also outdoor enthusiasts, a wide variety of camping and other outdoor related activity applications are available for the iPhone. This article reviews some of the most notable selections available today.
Enhance your experience
These are just some of the apps available for outdoor enthusiasts. Using them, campers and hikers can enhance their experiences and reduce stress in the face of unexpected situations. Check out my companion article on page 59 covering some favorite active accessories designed to help keep your iPhone pertinent, powered and protected throughout your camping adventures!
Created by the Mac and iPhone programming gurus at Big Nerd Ranch, Campwhere is a versatile mash-up application that displays camping sites across the United States by leveraging Google Maps and Campwhere's online database of over 7,500 campsite locations and statistics. These stats include such helpful details as that location's primary address and phone number, GPS coordinates, current weather, and more. The program is fast, intuitive, easy to use, and provides enough essential data to narrow your search on the perfect camping site. While I have to admit that I prefer to perform most of my camp site research on a large screen workstation with a full featured browser, the clean user interface and intuitive elegance of Campwhere combined with the iPhone's graphics and Google Maps make using the program hassle-free. Perhaps there is more under the hood, but given the fact that this data is accessible elsewhere (though not nearly in such an iPhone UI-optimized environment), this app struck me as a tad overpriced for the value it offers. Nevertheless, for camping enthusiasts on the road looking for the nearest great camping grounds, Campwhere surely satisfies.
After deciding on the perfect location to go camping, the next important planning step is to consider all the actions to take and items to pack for the trip. For less than a dollar, Dsen Software's Camp & Hike Checklist provides an inexpensive yet comprehensive way to account for all those small yet important details to help ensure a camping excursion is a happy and memorable one. The app provides you with lists that are pre-populated with common tasks and items, but you can customize these lists to suit your needs. Sure, you can create your own checklists in Notes. But this app is optimized for the serious outdoor enthusiasts.
Camp & Hike Checklist
For the more analytical types who prefer to create lists with details down to the weights of items (you know who you are), Cool Tool Apps has created a more comprehensive list ideally suited toward backpackers. While unlike the Camping & Hiking Checklist, The Backpacker Checklist focuses almost exclusively on items for the trip versus all the steps and reminders leading up to the departure. Both complement one another to a certain degree, though there is undoubtedly some overlap between the two. The Backpacker Checklist features a more iPhone-like app experience with its icons and item detail screens. It also allows for the creation and retrieval of new lists such as a list for backpacking for a week in Yosemite versus a weekend in Denali.
The Backpacker Checklist
After all the planning, packing, and travel, you finally arrive at your campsite. It's time to set up the tent and, when in bear country, hoist the food bags over a tree limb. In order to ensure a sturdy, trustworthy connection for each of these scenarios, a well-knotted rope needs to be secured.
Winkpass Knot Guide summarizes in an accessible way, how to tie over 100 knots. Knots can be located by category or name and bookmarked for fast referral. The app provides step-by-step illustrations that are relatively easy to follow. However, the iPhone's screen size does limit the ability to see some of the complete knot builds from start to finish. Some of the more intricate knots could benefit from the inclusion of a video showing the tying patterns in action. Whether discovering the optimal knot for the job or impressing friends with your rope skills, the Knot Guide is an excellent reference to bring along on your next outdoor adventure.
- Leon Atkinson-Derman
The Scouts' motto is "Be Prepared," but even the best planning cannot take into account every possible situation you may find yourself in. Worst-case scenarios can befall even seasoned outdoor enthusiasts. To help out in these unexpected situations, Double Dog Studios has converted the U.S. Army First Aid and Survival Guides to iPhone-friendly reading formats. While there are no differences in content between the print and electronic editions, the digital versions are well formatted for the iPhone's smaller screen. Topics are easy to locate, illustrations are easy to see, and text is easy to read. Whether you are reviewing material before your departure or looking for information in the middle of a crisis, these guides will help you find what you're looking for fast.