November 23, 2021 by Briana Hamilton
Although we love and appreciate how getting out in nature provides opportunities to get away from screens and to disconnect from technology, there are some awesome apps out there that can either motivate you to get outside, help plan an adventure, teach you new things, or even connect with other adventurers.
PeakVisor is every mountain enthusiasts dream. Well, maybe it’s just me nerding out, but this app is awesome because it helps you learn every mountain peak by name. By scanning visible mountain peaks with your camera, it provides you with the name and background information of each peak. Alternatively, you can search mountains by name and it provides visuals with background information.
Although I stand by the notion of not relying on technology for maps, Gaia GPS is the most impressive topographical mapping app I’ve come across to date. With hiking routes, backcountry huts, land use zones and more, it includes several details and features other mapping apps lack.
Have you ever seen the Northern Lights in Calgary? I have a good handful of times – and this app has helped make that happen! Based on your location, My Aurora Forecast predicts when and how visible the Aurora Borealis may be at any given time. You can also set notifications to alert you when there’s a high chance of seeing the lights.
“Join the World’s Largest Treasure Hunt”. Geocaching is virtually an outdoor treasure hunt that uses GPS coordinates to zero in on hidden “prizes”. Once you find a prize, you sign the logbook (provided with the prize) and hide it back where you found it for the next Geocacher to find. This app is the best way to join in on the fun – plus you get to share your experience and contribute a personal review for each search you complete.
An app designed to help you connect with and learn about nature! Get involved with a community of scientists, naturalists and fellow nature seekers who are dedicated to discovering and sharing nature around them. Report and track your findings to help promote more awareness about the conservation of nature. Just a heads up- it’s currently only available for iPhones and apple users. Fingers crossed another software version launches in the future!
Vitamin D intake is crucial for health, so, what more motivation do you need to get outside and soak up some rays? Plan your daily walk or outdoor activities around the best time for you to get out for vitamin D consumption. It provides you with UV ratings, time frames for healthy exposure, and how much vitamin D you will take in during that time period.
Knots are a key tool for any outdoor adventure. Whether it be for setting up a tent, tying up a tarp, securing a climbing rope, or setting up a bear hang, knowing how to tie the right knots makes or breaks an experience. Truth be told, they’re the kind of thing I learn, but quickly forget when I’m not using them. This app is great for refreshing my memory on old knots, and teaching me about new ones. This app filters knots by activity type and is also available online for free.
Trailforks is another mapping and route finding app, but while most other apps focus on hiking, this one is particularly awesome for mountain biking and skiing. Whenever I’m starting to plan a trip, I turn to TrailForks for some inspiration on what area to head to next. As a bonus, it also features routes in urban areas.
Built by climbers for climbers, Mountain Project highlights and reviews outdoor climbing areas and routes near you on a map. You can filter routes based on location, difficulty and style. The best thing is that users can upload routes and partake in forums so the database keeps growing! Alberta alone has thousands of routes featured.
The thing I love most about Relive is that it motivates you to try something new! Instead of setting your goals to something like burning calories, you set goals to take on new adventures! Other users upload activities, routes and adventures in your area for inspiration.
Okay, so you still need strong and confident knowledge before foraging mushrooms, but this app is awesome for mushroom identification! This app stands out from others because it’s interactive and actually helps you learn how to identify mushrooms by key characteristics. The in-depth info about each fungi is also impressive.
Strava is a running and cycling GPS tracking app that allows you to not only track your distance and improvement in time, but you can compete against friends and fellow runners and cyclists in the city. Certain hills and routes have top times you can try to beat. If you want, you can install additional packs through your app for additional statistics and safer routes.
Meetups hosted by locals for locals. Ever wanted to play a game of hockey but couldn’t get enough people to play? Or wished you had a running group to keep you motivated? Well, guess what? MeetUp is the solution just for this. Pick any meetup category of your liking (and yes, outdoors & adventure is one of them!), connect and meetup with locals who are looking to do the same thing as you!
AllTrails is an app designed for hikers, bikers and runners. Enter your location, or desired location, and explore numerous surrounding trails and routes! Read various information, including reviews about these trails to help you decide your next route! As a bonus, the app is equipped with detailed maps to give you a better idea of what you’re getting yourself into. We must say, however, that we don’t advise relying on these maps in the backcountry. Accuracy and phone power are the first 2 reasons that come to mind… and we think that’s enough said! Topographical maps (and knowing how to use them) are highly and always recommended.
HipCamp is basically AirBnb for outdoor lovers. From tent sites, to RV sites to full on glamping, you can find unique, locally owned properties to stay at across Canada, the US and Australia. In addition to typical property amenities, you can filter properties based on terrain type, activities nearby and accessibility.
I’d love to hear what you think of them. Are there any apps you think should be added to the list?
Leave a comment below.
Being an avid outdoor explorer (with an adventure bug that just won't quit biting), Briana is sharing experiences and tips to inspire others to get outdoors.