People who like hiking, rock climbing, sailing, running, and other outdoor sports can find some excellent apps to help them get even more out of their time outdoors. Here is a selection of the best iPad apps for people who’d rather be in the woods or half way up a mountain:
Twitcher- British Bird Identifier and Field Guide ($8.99)
Ever wondered what that bird was? The Twitcher app lets you choose beak shape, leg type, size, colors, habitat, and behaviour, to identify any mystery bird as quickly and easily as possible. The user interface is excellent and once you’ve figured out what your bird is, Twitcher gives you the option to find out more through Wikipedia. While this app only covers British birds, similar ones exist for other countries and geographical regions.
Classic Camping Cookbook (free)
Classic Camping Cookbook is a free app from Coleman, a well-established outdoor gear manufacturer. It not only provides plenty of tasty recipes suitable for camping, but also some handy tips on cooking over a campfire. You can search recipes by the equipment you have available around the campsite or by ingredients. It includes both main meals and desserts, and is a must for any camper bored with bland food.
GoSkyWatch Planetarium ($3.99)
If you’re enjoying a clear summer evening outdoors, you’re probably admiring the stars, but few of us can identify more than a handful of constellations. This app uses the iPad’s internal accelerometer to figure out which stars you’re looking at and it’ll tell you everything there is to know about them. It’s great for kids and adults alike. In fact, this app is so good that it was chosen to feature in the iPad 2 launch presentation.
Wild Mushrooms of Europe and North America ($1.99)
Gathering, cooking, and eating wild mushrooms can be a tremendous pleasure, but on the other hand, some mushrooms are lethal. This app provides a simple identification guide and tells you which species are edible and which are not. It’s a handy helper but comes with a sensible disclaimer- if in doubt over a mushroom’s species, leave it alone!
Magic Seaweed Surf Forecast (free)
MSW is well known for providing what may be the best global surf report service in the world. The continually updated eyeball reports, swell forecasts, wind direction and speed estimates, tide times, and webcam links are a must for any surfer but they’re also very handy for anyone with an interest in watersports- scuba divers, sea kayakers, snorkelers, parasailers, and windsurfers for example. If you want to know how rough the seas on your favourite stretch of coast are likely to be, this app will let you access the right information fast.
Sometimes the simplest apps are the best. All this app does is turn your iPhone into a flashlight by switching the screen to a bright block of color. There is a white mode for general use, red for hunting and stargazing, or almost any other color you want. The light is surprisingly bright and it does allow you to dim and brighten at will. As you’d expect for such a minimalist app, it’s free.
The standard weather iPhone app is one of the most useful (and most popular) features but sometimes outdoor folks need a little more information. For really detailed reports with a lot more than just rainfall and temperature predictions, Accuweather is a better choice. The mapping facilities are also excellent and great fun to play with. You see the weather across the globe, across a state, or for a particular location. Forecasts can be broken down into hourly intervals if you really want a detailed view.
National Geographic Magazine
The team from National Geographic employ some of the best outdoor photographers and journalists in the business. This app is slick to navigate, intelligently put together, and gorgeous to look at. If you can’t get outdoors for whatever reason, picking up the Nat Geo app is the next best thing. Although some of National Geographic’s apps are pretty expensive, free sample editions are also available. Either way, the iPhone magazine is guaranteed to whet your appetite for more adventures.
Jess Spate loves the outdoors and spends as much time as possible rock climbing, surfing, scuba diving, and running off-road trails. She works for Appalachian Outdoors and edits Outdoor Equipment Online.