In the spirit of Columbus Day and exploration I’d like to share with my readers some of the outdoor apps I regularly use to assist in my own mountain exploration. These apps have been on my phone for a couple of years. Check them out below and find details on how to enter to win the coolest climbing knife in the world or a bottle of the best foot powder on earth!
1) ViewRanger GPS (USA) – Topo Maps, Trail Navigation and Route Tracker for Hiking, Skiing & Cycling By Augmentra (Free)
I experimented with a couple GPS apps before settling on this app about 3 years ago. I have now logged hundreds of trips with it and barely used all of its features. The main draw to this app is its simplicity to record a track log and how quickly I can switch back and forth from Bing Aerial Imagery (Satellite) to USHS 24k Topo maps (with USA Trails overlay). Here’s a screen shot of both maps:
Track details like duration, average speed, distance, are easily captured along with GPS Altitude Graphs and Speed Graphs showing you where you were really moving and where you were really hurting.
It looks like the publisher, Augmenta, has released a large update, basically a new app, and plans to discontinue support on the original app. The new app can be found on the iTunes store here. I just downloaded it and will update this post once I’ve had a chance to form an opinion on the new version.
ProTip: The big downside of GPS apps is how demanding they are on your cell phones battery. For that I never rely on them as a sole means of navigating (still carry map & compass). I also tend to only record my track on the way back from somewhere. This works great back-country skiing as I save my battery for the descent. If I really want to get a track of a 6+ hour trip I’ll carry the Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus to recharge my phone on the go. You can pre-load map data if you are heading somewhere off grid (No 3G+ service), . If that is the case I would recommend a dedicated GPS like a Garmin Etrex.
2) MyRadar – Weather Radar – Forecast, Storms, and Earthquakes By Aviation Data Systems, Inc (free)
This is the best weather radar app I have found. I have astonished countless clients by predicting when the rain will start to fall within 10 minutes of accuracy using this app. So many of our cliffs, Cathedral, Whitehorse, Cannon, all face east and this app shows me incoming thunderheads before they hit. If the National Weather Service issues any storm or flood warnings for the area I am in the app alerts me with the classic annoying sound that comes over the radios & TV when alerts are issued ($1.99 in App purchase), even if the app isn’t running.
3) PeakFinder Earth ($3.99)
This is kind of a “fun” app when exploring. It can help you quickly name visible peaks at your viewpoint. One especially cool feature is it can work in reverse, i.e. “I think I should be able to see peak X right now, where is it?” You can select from a list of peaks that should be visible from where you are standing and the phone’s compass and screen will guide you to look at it. Very neat!
I have half a dozen more apps I plan on sharing soon, but first I want to hear from you, and give you a chance to win the coolest climbing knife in the world or a bottle of the best foot powder on earth!
Three apps reviewed so let’s do 3 ways to enter the drawing!
1) Comment on the post below (what apps do you use?)
2) Like this post through WordPress
3) Like the post and/or NEAlpineStart on Facebook here
Up to 3 entries possible per reader! Contest ends 11:59pm EST on 11/12/15. First name drawn will win the coolest climbing knife in the world and the second name drawn will win the best foot powder on earth! Winners announced 11/13/15.
Thanks for reading! See you in the mountains,