Though purists may say nothing can replace a printed topographic map, the world’s leading smartphone apps are getting close. Technology is making it easier than ever to get lost in an adventure without getting lost in the wilderness, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy these benefits even when you’ve ventured to signal-free zones. Try one of these useful apps on your next remote mountain trek, camping trip, or deep-sea dive to stay connected and informed without an internet connection. Introducing the best travel apps when you don’t have wi-fi:
Plot your trail and gain access to topographic maps with Gaia GPS, a membership-based app that showcases the newest trails and backcountry routes. Select from a scale of memberships beginning at $9.99, which grants you unlimited download access to save your route map for off-line use. Track your distance, speed, and pace while out of cellular range, and drop markers to ensure you’re always going in the right direction. After your trip is complete, you can share your route and trail notes with friends.
Offline Survival Manual
In the event of an emergency or to prepare for routine camping trips in the outdoors, the Offline Survival Manual can prove beneficial in a pinch. Download the app to gather information on how to make a fire, build a shelter, find food, and avoid medical emergencies that can arise in the wild. Search through resources on poisonous or life-saving plants and learn what to do if a snake bites you, which is all available to surf off-line.
For hikers, campers, and outdoor enthusiasts looking to navigate the night sky, Sky Guide allows you to find constellations, planets, and satellites with or without wi-fi, cellular service, or GPS signal. Simply place your phone overhead and point it into the sky; the app automatically adjusts your viewing direction, reveling the secret to the stars, planets, and constellations you see. Night vision and invisible wavelength technology allows you to see what the naked eye can’t, like supernova remnants and black holes.
Perfect for snow sports, SNOCRU encourages social sharing by connecting skiers and snowboarders with athletes nearby. Download the app to track your route and compete with other skiers and snowboarders in your area, accessing tracking technology with or without an internet connection. Measure important stats like speed, altitude, and vertical drop during your day on the slopes, and check resort snow conditions and ski reports from around the world.
Free yourself of the logistical nightmare of group texts by downloading Moonlight, an app created to make preparing for a camping trip a breeze with trip-planning checklists you can share among friends. Download the free version or pay for the premium form to load your dates and the campsite you plan to visit. The premium app will give you a suggested list of recipes to cook by the campfire, as well as helpful information from previous campers at the site. Available for off-line use, the sharable checklist makes it easy to delineate responsibilities between each attendee.
If you prefer traveling solo in the wilderness, download the Cairn app for an extra layer of safety. Before you enter the backcountry, download maps for off-line use and pinpoint your location to access available cellular data points in your area. By clicking on the blue icons, you can discover which service provider works where. Set a designated check-in reminder with the app’s safety notification feature. If this goes unanswered, Cairn will alert your emergency contact with recommendations on how to contact search and rescue.