In a world of ultralight hiking/backpacking and smartphones that have become the new Swiss Army Knives, we are nearly unencumbered in what we can do with our phones. I used a few apps countless times while hiking this year and I wanted to pass them along so that you may be able to use them in the future as well. These all work without cell phone service which is a key factor for me.
Photo Timer+ (free) – Great even for non-hikers
This is a simple timer app. It is a very simple, timer run camera that can allow you to take pictures with you in them. It can be set anywhere from a 3 second to a 3 minute delay and if the sound is turned up a robotic voice will count down until the picture is taken. The timer aside, what I love most about this app is you can set it to take multiple pictures after a set amount of time elapses. In other words it can be set to take 5 photos after 5 seconds has elapsed. This not only gives time to perform the perfect pose but also to have 5 different photos to choose from. There are many similar apps out there, this is just the one that I have used.
I have used this app for years and am comfortable with this one within the ocean of navigation based apps that now exist. It is accurate and comparable to similar apps at determining position, elevation and direction. I like the app when traveling cross country(without a trail) as I can record a track to then follow the same direction back out, along with setting waypoints along the way. The other feature I have used is the ease in inputting GPS tracks in the app and displaying them on the map. In bad weather, climbing mountains or hiking the long trails this allows me to see where I am in relation to the official route of the trail. As usual the app is only as good as the user and the files and tracks you input into it.
Guthook’s ($$$ depending on the section)
This is another location/GPS app that I like for some trails. It has the tracks and routes of multiple trails and areas around the country already input into the app along with waypoints that have notes on things such as difficult trail intersections, water quality and distance. It is MotionX but as if someone had done all the work for you. The one thing that sets Guthook above most everything else is the ability to leave a comment or a note. This may seem small but in areas of little water or rerouted trail these notes can prove crucial. There is nothing worse than coming up on a spring and seeing it dried up.
This is how I updated my website from my phone most of the time. It is much simpler than getting online from my phone and it still allows me to schedule posts in advance as well as upload pictures and videos. It can be used for free WordPress blogging as well.
Dropbox (free depending on storage)
Every time I have Wi-Fi my pictures automatically upload and are backed up on Dropbox. Going months on end without access to a computer and exposing my phone to some major elements this was a key for peace of mind and savings photos.