Venturing out into the wilderness for the first time can be a daunting prospect. While it may come as a surprise, your smartphone can be a great tool when it comes to navigating the great outdoors. Prepare yourself for the worst nature can throw at you with our top apps for beginner hikers.
Forget the snakes and spiders, the Australian sun is one of the greatest dangers you will face when out hiking. With the app SunSmart, you’ll know when you need sun protection and when you can soak up the sun for some vitamin D. SunSmart uses forecast information from the Bureau of Meteorology and live UV data from the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) to determine when sun protection is needed for your location. When you download the app, you’ll be able to get personalised recommendations dependent on your natural skin type, height, weight, age, gender and location. Figure out how much UV exposure is needed for you to receive enough vitamin D and calculate the amount of sunscreen you’ll need based on your size and clothing. Best of all, the app will alert you when UV reaches dangerous levels as well as shoot through two-hour reminders to reapply your sunscreen.
The app AllTrails gives you access to over 60,000 trail maps crowdsourced from millions of hikers, mountain bikers and trail runners. Read photos and reviews from other hikers and browse through trails to find one suited to your fitness and experience. Record your progress with the app’s GPS activity tracker and review your hiking stats. You can share your activity via various social media including Facebook and Instagram, and get GPS driving directions when you need to drive to a trailhead. When you upgrade to AllTrails Pro, you are also able to download offline maps so you can find your way even when you don’t have service.
First Aid – Australian Red Cross
Being able to instantly access up-to-date first aid information just from your phone can be extremely useful when hiking. While it is obviously no substitute for professional medical assistance, the Australian Red Cross’ First Aid App is a free pocket guide that provides clear instructions on how to respond to a range of common first aid emergencies. With interactive, step-by-step guidance, the app helps you handle a critical situation until emergency services arrive. Make sure that you open up the app once you install it, so it can download relevant local content before the information is needed.
Losing signal while hiking through the wilderness is not uncommon, so it’s a good idea to get a navigation app that can work offline. Spyglass acts as an offline GPS suited for outdoors and off-road navigation. Amongst the many tools contained within the app, Spyglass can act as binoculars, a high-tech compass with offline maps and a rangefinder. You can save waypoints and custom places, like where you parked your car, to navigate back to them later. With 3D functionality and augmented reality, Spyglass overlays camera and maps with realtime object positions, information and directions. With the app, you’re able to track stars, the sun and the moon and even navigate with them.
Another augmented reality app, PeakFinder AR lets you simply point your camera at a peak to identify it. PeakFinder overlays your camera image with a panorama drawing, so you can move your phone across a mountain range to name many peaks at once. PeakFinder has information on more than 650,000 mountains worldwide (and can be accessed offline). You can use the app’s digital telescope to identify less prominent peaks and also get real-time rendering of surrounding landscapes.