Many of us get out into nature to get away from staring at screens all day. But with the right apps and gear, technology can enhance our enjoyment and understanding of nature. We spoke to two experts who have already combed through the extensive amount of apps to find the best apps for navigating the great outdoors. 

 

Kevin Callan: The Happy Camper

Kevin Callan is the author of 15 books, including the best-selling The Happy Camper, in addition to a popular series of paddling guides. He has been a key speaker at major outdoor events in North America and the U.K. for over 25 years. He is also a regular contributor and columnist for Explore and Canoeroots magazines. He is a winner of several film and National Magazine awards and was just listed one of the top 100 modern-day explorers by the Canadian Geographical Society.

In Kevin’s most recent trip to Georgian Bay in the summer of 2015, he visited Little McCoy Island, which was granted permanent protection by the Georgian Bay Land Trust with help from the Nature Conservancy of Canada in 2013. 

 

Kevin Callan’s App List:

Platform: iOS
While there are many star identification apps out there, GoSkyWatch Planetarium has a red light mode for night viewing that reduces battery use.


Platform: iOS
Part of Kevin’s giveback to the community is taking at-risk youth on various backcountry trips. He uses this app to teach them basic first aid, CPR and other lifesaving techniques

Platform: iOS, Android
Packing a birding guidebook isn’t an option for many canoeists. Kevin recommends this app from the Audubon Society as the go-to birding identification app for nature lovers.


Any battery life improvement app

In order to conserve battery power, Kevin uses an app for battery use reduction because his only charging mechanism is through a small solar panel array. Juice Defender is a well-known Android app which does the same thing. On an iPhone, it may help to adjust your settings to ensure you are getting the most power for your trip.

Platform: iOS, Android
This app transforms your smartphone into a GPS. It also lets you share your trips automatically to your social media channels using the app, which gives your followers a nice journal of your journey. Trip Journal is another app that does the same thing.


Gregg McLachlan – Conservationist & Digital Entrepreneur

Gregg is an avid conservationist, amateur naturalist and a well-known nature photographer. He founded WorkCabin.ca when he saw a need for a central repository for jobs in the conservation sector and has been successfully running his business from his 30+ acre forested property since 2007. 

 

Gregg McLachlan’s App List:

Platform: iOS, Android
When you load up this app and plug in a particular location, it will find all the trails immediately around that location, the degree of difficulty, how to get there and more – making trip planning easy.


Platform: Android
There are many camera apps out there, but not many for aspiring nature videographers. Cinema FV 5 lets you automatically adjust your smartphone settings to create better videos in the wild.


Platform: Android
Google Fit is the most simplistic and easy to use of the route mapping apps that Gregg has found. It tracks how far you’ve gone, time, calories and other data. Apple’s equivalent is Apple Health for iOS users. Map My Run is a similar app that can be downloaded on both platforms.

Platform: Android
Gregg is always on the lookout for compass-type apps, and his favourite is Hiker by Gordon R. Durand. The compass is a basic, understandable tool to use when you’re on a hike and it allows you to see which direction you are going in easily.  The app is ad-free and the compass is easily visible and navigable.


Platform: iOS, Android
Gregg recommends Instagram as one of his go-to social media apps because it’s simple to take photos quickly and share them with his large network.

Platform: iOS, Android
This app was built on Virginia Tech’s single largest database of tree pictures in North America and is the preeminent app for tree identification in North America. It’s huge – about 400 MB – but worth it for nature lovers. iOS users will want to look for “vTree” in the Apple App Store.


Platform: iOS, Android
Google Earth is the best way of knowing exactly where you are on your trail and what upcoming terrain is like.

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