Top 5 Camping Apps

Hood River, OR: It's a Friday afternoon in mid July. As the big hand on the illuminated clock steadily approaches 5, you start to feel giddy inside (like a child the night before a big field trip) thinking about the camping adventure you are going to have this weekend. A smile builds as you let your mind drift to the vision of a setting sun over the lake, only to be followed by countless stars, and the crackle and light of a campfire. You can.not.wait. As you let yourself stay distracted in this vision for just a little while longer, you relax even deeper knowing that your Subaru is ready to roll with all the essentials for enjoying a weekend in the woods. Basking in the glory of how prepared you are, you decide to update your inbox one last time.

That was a HUGE mistake... 3 hours later you are still at the office, though managed to avert a disaster that only you could handle. As you finally grab your briefcase and swing open the EXIT door, you start to feel the blood rush from your face as you think about all the little things you had planned on doing after work and before leaving for camping. 

Fear not! As a tech savvy individual you can use our 5 favorite camping apps to help you plan ahead and prepare as you're enroute to your destination. You will be sure to find the perfect campsite, have an up-to-date map for your day hike into pristine backcountry and know exactly what layers to bring with you based on the weather! We understand that it’s not always possible to plan ahead and prepare in an ideal fashion, which is exactly why we are sharing the top 5 apps used by our Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers while on the road.

USFS and BLM Campsite Finder

What it does: This app shows approximately 5,800 United States Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management campgrounds throughout the United States.

Why we love it: The app shows you all the possible campsites you could stay at, in a map layout (which is what we prefer) and it is user friendly. 

Pro Tip: Click on the campsite that you would like to stay at, then click the photo icon on the bottom of the screen. This gives you an inside look at the surrounding scenery. 


The Weather Channel

What it does: It provides up-to-date detailed weather information via forecasts, current conditions and weather maps.

Why we love it: The interface is easy to use and it provides plenty of detailed information should you want it. (We don’t love the adds in the app, we ignore them)

Pro Tip: Weather men/women have the only job where they can be wrong 95% of the time and not get fired. Bottom line, forecasting is really good, but not perfect - Bring a rain jacket!


Avenza PDF Maps

What it does: This offline map viewer allows you to download and store maps on your device even when you are not connected to the Internet. The maps don’t need cellular coverage to be viewed so you can avoid data roaming charges when traveling.  

Why we love it: This app gets big bonus points because it works in the backcountry where cell service can be spotty at best. We use this app to access high quality maps in conjunction with our Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Solar Kit to make sure our phone never runs out of juice. 

Pro Tip: Check out the store function to download maps. We are map nerds and love the classic detailed topo maps. If your going skiing type in the name of the mountain resort and look for topo maps overlayed with lifts and ski routes. It’s time to ditch the paper maps!


All trails

What it does: Explore 50,000 trails across North America complete with maps, photos, and reviews for outdoor activities including everything from hiking and mountain biking to fly-fishing and snowshoeing.

Why we love it: Local knowledge on great hikes can be hard to come by. We can easily find awesome trails to run or ride with this friendly to use app. (We also love getting trail recommendations from local outfitters!)

Pro Tip: It is a really good app for finding epic trail runs. While living on the road it is important to exercise and it’s much easier to be motivated to run when you know the trail is going to be beautiful!


Slow Shutter Cam

What it does: Captures your adventures. This app brings new life into your device’s photo toolbox by letting you capture a variety of amazing slow shutter speed effects that used to only be possible with a DSLR camera.

Why we love it: Because we can capture incredible long exposure shots on our light-weight, easy to carry iPhone. 

Pro Tip: Attach a selfie pole to your tripod to stabilize your shot.


iPhone Maps Application

What it does: Helps you navigate through your world.

Why we love it: This app is tried and true. Out of all the applications we use the iPhone Maps app sees the most use. It gets us where we need to go and is intuitive to use.

Pro Tip: Use the search function to type in wherever you are trying to go even if you don’t know the address. There is a good chance it will pull up the location you are looking for and off you go! Once you get really close to your destination take your eyes off the phone and look around, the app is not always perfect. P.S. Check the route to see if it makes sense. Remember it is a computer and it has it's limitations. 

See you on the road!

Jenna and Sam

Leave No Trace’s Jenna Hanger and Sam Ovett are part of the 2015 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, Deuter, Hi-Cone, REI, Smartwool, The North Face, and Yakima.