We review the best apps for camping, trekking and surviving outdoors holidays, for iOS and Android.
It’s a Great British Tradition to pack up every summer and head out into the wilderness, for a glorious bit of caravanning or trekking. After all, it’s not a holiday if you don’t come back with a hundred insect bites, severe depression and a spot of bronchitis.
Even though you’ll likely have sod all signal out in the sticks, your humble smartphone can still help you get through an outdoors holiday or camping expedition in one piece. And if the whole thing goes tits up and you end up stranded, alone, in the middle of nowhere, these tips and apps may just save your life. Hooray!
Get your bearings: Compass and Google Maps (iOS and Android, free)
Don’t forget to get onto Google Maps before you leave the comfort of your living room, and download an offline map for the region you’re headed to. You can do this by searching for your destination, dragging out until you can see the entire area, and then flicking up the bar at the bottom of the screen. You should see a ‘Save map to use offline’ option, which will download the whole thing onto your phone’s storage.
As long as you’ve got GPS on, you can then see exactly where you’re tramping out in the sticks, even with no mobile signal. Of course, this advice is only useful if you know where you’re headed before leaving home. If you end up unexpectedly lost in the wilderness following a horrific plane crash, you can discount this section. Oh, and good luck.
Find phone signal: BootPrint Pocket Survival (iOS, 69p)
This handy app records the exact location where your phone last picked up signal, in case you desperately need to call home and tell them to record Corrie or Britain’s Got Talent. It’ll even guide you to the golden spot using the iPhone’s built-in compass, so you don’t need to fiddle around with maps.
Survive in any situation: Army Survival Guide (Android, free) / Survival Guide (iOS, free)
These survival guide apps are actual army manuals, so might be a little hardcore for your average caravan excursion - you can skip the chapters on avoiding enemy captivity, psychological trauma and fending off rabid animals, unless you’re holidaying in Grimsby.
All the same, there’s loads of really cool advice tucked away, including how to make your own soap, the best way to construct a makeshift shelter, and how to catch and kill your next meal. Fascinating reading, and while we were well up for making soap (we thought a nice minty one would do the trick), we didn’t manage to catch and kill any animals to harvest their fat. Maybe next time.
Catch yourself a meal: Qwik Hunting Calls and Sounds (iOS, 69p)
This app packs in three dozen wildlife calls, which you can play out loud to attract or scare animals. Sadly, we tried a selection of the calls on our trip, and the local animals weren’t too impressed. When we finally gathered the nerve to play a goose call next to one of the ill-tempered birds, it just looked at us like it wanted to peck our entrails out.
Get rescued: Disco Light LED Flashlight (Android, free)
Not only is this disco light app a rather funky way of seeing your way through a sinister, horrifying forest late at night, it could also help attract the attention of a passing helicopter for rescue purposes. And if your days truly are numbered and all hope is lost, at least you can go out with a hell of a party. There's a seizure-baiting strobe mode, police lights mode, and even a glowstick mode that flashes when you boogie, for proper rave action.
Remember kiddies, failing to plan is planning to fail! Have a wonderful summer and try not to be eaten alive by pigeons.