Plan Your Hiking Season with These Apps

In partnership with Merrell

We’re not sure about you, but we plan to spend as much time on the trail as possible this summer. And although we always try to limit our screen-time to enjoy nature, these powerful devices we carry in our pockets do have the capability of enhancing our outdoor experiences, too.

From planning to route tracking, information seeking, and safety, there are some pretty great apps out there that are worth taking on the trail. Summer always flies by too quickly, so it’s worth planning ahead and utilizing tools to squeeze the most into hiking season.

Here are a few of our favorites:


All Trails

Platforms: iOS and Android

Price: FREE

All Trails is the standby outdoor app for hiking. It helps you discover new trails, access over 75,000 trail maps so you can hit the trail with confidence, and also record your pace, distance, elevation, and share your adventures with friends and family.

 


SkyView

Platforms: iOS and Android

Price: FREE

Instead of packing your field guide to the night sky on a backpacking trip, SkyView is an offline augmented reality stargazing app that helps you discover stars, planets, constellations, and other objects in the sky.


iNaturalist

Platforms: iOS

Price: FREE

If you like observing details on your hike (like wildflowers and insects) this app could come in handy. iNaturalist helps you identify plants an animals around you by connecting you with a community of over 40,000 scientists and naturalists.

The observations you contribute to the app may also be shared with scientists to further research that helps understand and protect nature, which we think is pretty cool, too. Citizen science!  


Hiking Project

Platforms: iOS and Android

Price: FREE

Similar to All Trails, but with a different user interface and filters, Hiking Project is an app from REI that helps you plan your next trail adventure.

It boasts 206,454 miles of hiking trails (mostly in the U.S. but it does span the globe) with offline maps, GPS route info, elevation profiles, and photos.


Spyglass

Platforms: iOS and Android

Price: $5.99

Spyglass is an offline augmented reality GPS app for navigation and so much more. It offers tracking features, compass and map overlays, gyrocompass, speedometer, altimeter, astronomical object finder, sextant, inclinometer, angular calculator… there is so much rolled into one that this app is seriously multi-purpose for any length of hike. And if you think it sounds too complicated, know that it does come with a user guide.


Merlin Bird ID

Platforms: iOS and Android

Price: FREE

Even if you’re not setting out solely to bird watch, Merlin Bird ID can enhance any hike by letting you find out what birds you’re seeing (or hearing) on the trail.

Use the Bird ID Wizard tool or upload a photo for help identifying North American and European birds. The app also has range maps, and 3,000 audio recordings to help recognize bird song, too. Plus, you’re contributing to conservation by using the app because it’s connected with Cornell Lab’s eBird citizen science project.


First Aid by Red Cross

Platforms: iOS and Android

Price: FREE

This is one app you hope you won’t need, but if you do, you’re glad you have it.No matter how short your day hike may be, you should always be prepared.

The Red Cross app has checklists for preparation, diagrams, videos, and emergency first aid instructions for various injuries or ailments. It’s available worldwide and tailored to your location. Combine the app with your wilderness first aid kit, and you’ll be ready for anything.


Peak Finder

Platforms: iOS and Android

Price: $4.99

If you want an easy way to put a name to a cliff face, PeakFinder identifies peaks by matching your photo with their database of over 650,000 mountain silhouettes. It works offline to display names and altitudes of mountains worldwide.


Down Dog

Platforms: iOS and Android

Price: FREE

Okay, so it’s not a hiking-specific app, but we love to incorporate stretch time before/during/after hikes and a quick yoga flow is a great way to accomplish that. Down Dog lets you bring great yoga anywhere with thousands of workouts in one app. It’s also super customizable to build practice to your ability level, focus areas, and practice time. Download your favorite practices and you can get your flow on offline—which means you can take them on any trail this summer.


Hipcamp

Platforms: iOS

Price: FREE

We think hiking and camping go hand-in-hand on summer weekends. If you’re planning a specific hiking excursion, Hipcamp is a great way to find camp sites (or cabins) en route or nearby. 

In the app you can search, discover, and book camp sites across the U.S. including nature preserves, public sites, vineyards, and farms. Sort sites by filtering for your needs.

 

Booting up with Merrell Ontario Mid Waterpoof hiking boots to hike from a riverside campsite near Moab, Utah – photo by Laura Hughes

This article was produced with support from our brand partner Merrell, who believe the outdoors is for everybody and every body. The hikers featured in these photographs are all wearing the Ontario Mid Waterproof hiking boot

What are your favorite hiking apps?