Top 10 outdoor apps for Canadians

Story by Tricia Edgar Outdoors Columnist

Apps are cool. The outdoors is also cool, especially if you’re outside in winter. Put the two together, and you fuse the delights of the outdoors with a layer of technology. You can sound like an instant expert on everything from mountain peaks to bird songs, and maybe you can even find your way back to the campsite too.

Although not all apps are useful for excursions in the Canadian wilderness, we’ve found the following amazing apps that are all Canadian-friendly. So get camping or hiking or canoeing. Enjoy the outdoors, with all of the force of the digital wilderness behind you.

Apps to Help You Explore Nature

1. BirdsEye
The next time you go on vacation, you’ll have a digital layer of birding lore to access with this app. There are a lot of bird book apps. BirdsEye takes the bird book into the social media world. Imagine this: as you walk through a local park, you check into your phone to see what birds have been spotted here recently. Local birders have added bird lists of recent sightings. You hear a bird, and you’re able to identify it through the bird song function on this app. This app is pricey, but what’s priceless is its ability to help you find those birds not yet on your life list.
Cost: $19.99
Technology Supported: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
Internet connection: WiFi or 3G

2. Botany Buddy
Everyone needs a botany buddy, especially one with 4,500 full-colour photos. Can your naturalist friends offer that? If not, figure out what’s what in the wilderness with this handy app. An added bonus: the guide also includes ornamentals, so you can survey the urban wilderness on your trip as well.
Cost: $9.99
Technology: iPhone, Android
Internet connection: No

3. Photographer’s Ephemeris
Oh, yeah. This is the one you’ve been waiting for: the sunrise of a lifetime. Photographers need to know the landscape in a different way, and this app gives you what you need. You’ll be able to determine the sunrise and sunset times, moon rise and set times, and the changes in the sun and moonlight throughout the day, and you’ll be able to see them on a Google Map, too!
Cost: $8.99
Technology: iPhone, iPad, Android
Internet connection: GPS required, no map displayed if there is no WiFi

4. Scat & Tracks of North America
Parking your tent? Wait! There’s a track! Decide whether it’s a grizzly or the dog from the site next door with this handy guide to animal scat and tracks. Inside you will find lovely descriptions of scat, track patterns, and animal behaviour.
Cost: $1.95
Technology: iPhone, Android
Internet connection: Not required

5. Star Walk


The Star Walk app puts the stars in your hand.

Star Walk is popular, and it’s popular for a reason. We all love the romance of stargazing, but most of us secretly feel inadequate when it comes to recognizing anything beyond the Big Dipper. With Sky Walk, point your phone to the sky and let its GPS features lead you on a tour of the constellations.
Cost: $2.99
Technology: iPhone, iPad, Android
Internet connection: GPS required

Apps to Help You Look Like a Camping Guru

6. Knot Time
It’s time to tie a knot! Oh dear. Camping can be a little strenuous on the body, and it can also be challenging to our memory banks. Do you remember your knots? If you’ve forgotten, take a look at the helpful videos on Knot Time.
Cost: $3.99. There is a free version with nine knots.
Technology: iPhone, iPad
Internet connection: Not required

7. WindGURU
Canadians love to talk about the weather. What’s it doing right now? And the big question: what will it be doing in five minutes? Or tomorrow? With live webcam access to weather stations around the world, WindGURU will keep you weather savvy as you navigate the Canadian wilderness.
Cost: Free
Technology: iPhone, Android
Internet connection: WiFi required

Apps to Help You Find Your Way

8. Map My Hike
Map My Hike has free and paid versions that map the path that you take. It’s good if you’re logging hours for a fitness program or if you really love to track the places you’ve been.
Cost: $2.99 (there is also a free version with fewer features)
Technology: iPhone, BlackBerry, Android
Internet connection: GPS required

9. Point De Vue
Why don’t mountains come with labels on top? Now they do. This app uses GPS technology to help you determine what peaks are around you.
Cost: $3.99
Technology: iPhone, Android
Internet connection: GPS required

10. Viewranger
Want to go somewhere off the beaten path? This app connects you to Natural Resources Canada’s topographic maps so that you can plan your route and navigate in the great outdoors.
Cost: $4.99
Technology: iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Nokia
Internet connection: WiFi required. You can also store the area you’re interested in before you head out to an area without WiFi.

Got a travel app you’d recommend? Email and we will test it out.

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