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5 must-have apps if you spend time outdoors

Written by Fiona

January 26 2021

Spending time outdoors improves our mental and physical health. So if you are eager to lace up your hiking boots or trail running shoes to hit the trails, or go backpacking or bike packing for a couple of days, don’t leave your phone at home. Technology can make trips to nature much safer and more enjoyable.

While it might be tempting to scroll through your social media every time you connect to a network during your trip, don’t forget to secure your connection. Hackers sometimes exploit open wi-fi networks. Using a VPN is highly recommended. A VPN completely encrypts the connection, so cybercriminals won’t access the data you send or receive. 

There are so many apps out there that will make your adventure more enjoyable:

1 Cairn

Before you venture out into the wilderness, you have to let someone know where you are heading. Cairn is an app designed to keep you safe on your outdoor adventure. Type in your emergency contact, map out your hike and enter an estimated time of your arrival home. If you fail to check-in, Cairn will let your friend or family member know that something is up. 

Are you stuck in a place without a phone signal? Don’t worry because this app can help. Cairn uses the data collected from nearby phones to map out areas with good service. Open up the app and look for dots on the map. Cairn is available for iPhones and android and is free to download. 

2 Leafsnap

Leafsnap is an app that will keep you entertained during your hike. If you want to get to know the plants that grow in the area you are exploring, Leafsnap will help you out. Some of the best botany experts from renowned US universities worked on compiling an extensive database of plants. The result is Leafsnap that can identify any plant through a photo. 

Next time you see a gorgeous flower, take a snap and upload it to the app. You will see a list of possible matches, as well as some facts about that particular plant. Keep in mind that you need an internet connection for this. If you are in the area without cell service, save the photos and upload them later. You can use Leafsnap on your android phone and it is free. 

3 Gaia GPS

Exploring unknown walking trails used to be quite a task. Today, staying on the right path is easier. Outdoor enthusiasts can track their progress on their phones and know where they are every step of the way. Gaia GPS is one of the apps that will help you navigate the wilderness. It has an impressive collection of maps and satellite imagery. 

You can either download the maps from their website or have them ready on your phone. Gaia GPS works without an internet connection. The app is free to download and use with their basic plan. However, if you want to unlock more options, there is a premium membership. Gaia GPS is available for both Android and iOS devices. 


Having one app that can tell you everything you need to know about weather conditions and other details is incredibly important to outdoorsy people. MTN HUB (or Mountain Hub) is precisely that. So if you are set on a destination, type it in and learn the information about your upcoming hike or camping trip. The data is in real-time.

MTN HUB will not only inform you about the weather. There are also trail conditions, wildlife, and blog posts created by the members of the community. You may also share your experience and give tips to other hikers or backpackers. Not to forget that you could make new friends on the app too. MTN HUB is available on both iOS and Android. 

5 First Aid

Finally, learning the basics of first aid is a must if you love spending time outdoors. The skills can come in handy in various situations, such as trail running and primitive camping. Created by the Red Cross, the First Aid app has several versions depending on the corner of the world you live in. It offers lectures, articles, and advice on handling injuries when there is no medical professional around. 

You will get detailed information on treating burns, cuts, heart attacks, bug bites, and many more. Besides that, users can check their first aid knowledge and learn what they need to improve. Additionally, the app is simple and easy to navigate. It is accessible to outdoorsy people of all ages. The app is compatible with Android and iOS devices. 

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