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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Outdoor Apps for Android Users

Don't let iPhone fanatics fool you: There are tons of great outdoor apps for the other operating system.

by: Allison Woods

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iPhone Apps
Don't worry Apple lovers: We already reviewed a bunch of great iPhone apps.

PLUS: Don't miss the BACKPACKER GPS Trails app for both iPhone & Android.
Let’s talk about the name of this little oddball first. PCT=Pacific Crest Trail. HYOH=“hike your own hike”, a rally cry among thruhikers. In days of yore, PCT hikers carried sheaves of photocopied notes and guidebooks containing vital information about mail drops, lodging, trail data….all of the myriad logistical challenges they might face. Most every long trail hiker now carries a smartphone on the trail, and PCTHYOH lets hikers ditch all the paper. While this app is a bit on the homemade side (no slick graphics or animation), the information listed and links provided will help ensure success. Current snowpack data comes courtesy of the USDA’s SNOTEL website, and the National Weather Service’s forecasts help hikers stay ahead of storms. I like the detailed listing of mail drops, especially the part where the holding fees are outlined. Charging money to thruhikers to store a case of Top Ramen and dried potatoes? The humanity!

My Tracks FREE
My Tracks shows where you have been, how fast you went, and how big those hills were. My after- work training hikes up West Tiger 3 (5 miles roundtrip with 2,100 feet of elevation gain) outside of Seattle were a lot more rewarding when I got to see the numbers. Plus, I could aggregate my stats (for distance, speed, elevation, average grade, and average speed) for a whole week or month, to keep a running tally (handy when trying to keep track of miles hiked for a boot test I’m working on. Elevation and speed are graphed (see image) and I could overlay my route on my choice of a traditional map or a satellite photo, all in real time. This app doesn’t work to the level of detail you’ll find in Backcountry Navigator, but for a free app, it’s not bad at all.

Moon 3D FREE
Want to plan a night hike, guided by only the light of the moon? Here’s the app for that. Moon 3D shows the day’s phase. Swipe to see tomorrow’s. Alternately, view the entire month’s moons and plan you upcoming weekends. Bonus: You can flip the image for viewing south of the equator.

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Star Star Star Star Star
Jul 23, 2014

I know this article is old, but I found a great app for finding the best clearance deals on outdoor gear. Check out they have apps for both Android and iPhone.

Mar 16, 2012

Top 3 IPL 2012 Live Scorecard Apps for Android Users

Feb 07, 2012

A strong Iphone app is "topo maps"
The app uses USGS Topographic Maps
I believe the cost is $8.

Jan 30, 2012

Traxx Outdoors was just released and is featured packed. Check it out at

Nov 06, 2011

Check out Orux maps - you find it in the Android market. From my point of view the best outdoor tool. Stores maps in a more memory efficient sqllite db as locus and allows to use Online as well as offline maps. (You might use Mobile Atlas Creator for generating these maps and viewing GPX recordings). Tracks can be loaded as routes and tracked back. Heart rate monitors can be recorded too. Loads of Options allow finetuning - for the 'beginner' probably a little bit too many options. ;-)
Good Luck!

Sep 22, 2011

I have been using Locus for a long time. It's great. There's a free and Donate version. You can use a lot of map sources, including OpenStreet Map, Google Terrain or satellites in Offline( by using a plugin). Tons of features!
Check it out!

Jun 09, 2011

The best free outdoor App that I have come across is called Sports Tracker. It gives detailed information on distance traveled, altitude gain/loss, and speed. Then it maps your route for you and puts everything into nice graphs. Great for any outdoor activity.

Jun 08, 2011

The best free outdoor App that I have come across is called Sports Tracker. It gives detailed information on distance traveled, altitude gain/loss, and speed. Then it maps your route for you and puts everything into nice graphs. Great for any outdoor activity.

Jun 06, 2011

Hey, great list. I put one together as well at GearGuide. Here's a link:

Jun 03, 2011

Try GaiaGPS for a cheaper backcountry mapping system.

Jun 02, 2011

Does the "I" key on your keyboard ever wear out?

May 29, 2011

has a few IPad apps, they don't have any android verisons yet.

Tim Cooper
May 25, 2011

Give Viewranger a try too. Been using it for years and highly recommend it.

George Ortiz
May 24, 2011

This is a great roundup of outdoor apps. We're getting ready to release our android app here in a few weeks at

Tyler Bounds
May 23, 2011

Great job Allison! I've been contemplating downloading that Audubon app, so I'm glad to see an overview from someone I trust. Thanks!

Bob from Woodinville Wa
May 20, 2011

Good article! Thanks for the insigths and experiences. Looking forward to more like this!


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