Top 5 apps for camping

Pack your tent, your sleeping bag and your iPhone to escape to the great outdoors 2.0.

iBird Explorer Canada is one many useful outdoorsy apps.
iBird Explorer Canada is one many useful outdoorsy apps.

iBird Explorer Canada
99¢ (limited time), by Mitch Waite Group
You don't have to be a serious birdwatcher to enjoy iBird. Actually, it's probably better if you're not already a bird nerd, because then you won't be mad about the app rendering the hobbyist's hours of study and fieldwork obsolete. When you see a bird, use the app to identify it by colour, shape, location, etc. and confirm by listening to audio of its call. Usually $10, as of this writing iBird is on sale, so there's an incentive for early birds. Word.

Star Walk — 5 Stars Astronomy Guide
$2.99, from Vito Technology Inc.
This app shows why mobile devices are a whole new communications medium, rather than just a small version of the internet. Fire up Star Walk, point it at the starry sky, and get an info overlay that tells you what planets and constellations you're seeing. Pinch-zoom with your fingers for more deets. Or search for a celestial body---try ISS, the international space station---and the app will point an arrow to let you know where it is right now. Turns camping into a chance to watch god's TV.

$1.99, by John Sherry
A knot is a form of ancient technology that's still useful today. Especially if today you're stranded on the banks of a remote river, all your gear and food swept away by the current, with only a fishing hook and a ball of twine to provide food and shelter until the search party finds you. (Note: If that's your expected usage scenario, study with Pro-Knot before you go, working through the 70 knots using the illustrated step-by-step instructions until you've earned your Knotty Camper merit badge.)

$9.99, from Groundspeak Inc.
A ridiculously easy way to join the global orienteering-for-pirates phenomenon, Geocaching turns any walk in the woods into an adventure. Do a search, and the app will list the 20 nearest geochaches (small-scale treasures and puzzles which other geocachers have hidden); choose one, and follow the compass and distance meter to the target. Click in the app if you need a hint, then log your discovery and set off on the next hunt.

Slap Mosquito
99¢ (limited time), by GOAPPS
The iTunes Store has dozens of anti-mosquito apps, all working off the idea that an iPhone can make a high-pitched noise to repel bugs without bugging you. The theory is solid, at least to a person with no background in audiology, insects or insect audiology. I am such a person, and I'm only a bit ashamed my dread of mosquitoes makes me unable to do any field-testing. Slap appealed because of its five-star rating; "introductory" sale pricing that has lasted since last summer; and claims to be the only app in the category that works while the phone's asleep. I bought it hoping to never get a chance to use it, but I'd love to hear how it goes for you. Scratch me a line at or on Twitter at @kyles.

About The Author

Kyle Shaw

Kyle is the editor of The Coast. He was a founding member of the newspaper in 1993 and was the paper’s first publisher. Kyle occasionally teaches creative nonfiction writing (think magazine-style #longreads) and copy editing at the University of King’s College School of Journalism.

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