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Published: Sunday, September 2, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

5 fabulous apps to take hiking with you

  • Gaia GPS app allows you to download topo graphical maps in advance of your hike.

    The Herald

    Gaia GPS app allows you to download topo graphical maps in advance of your hike.

  • Gaia GPS app allows you to download topo graphical maps in advance of your hike.

    The Herald

    Gaia GPS app allows you to download topo graphical maps in advance of your hike.

  • iBirdPro makes it easy to identify birds you see out in the wild.

    The Herald

    iBirdPro makes it easy to identify birds you see out in the wild.

  • iBirdPro makes it easy to identify birds you see out in the wild. T

    The Herald

    iBirdPro makes it easy to identify birds you see out in the wild. T

  • National Geographic's national parks app is a guide to the country's 20 most-visited national parks.

    The Herald

    National Geographic's national parks app is a guide to the country's 20 most-visited national parks.

  • The Photosynth app makes taking and sharing panoramic pictures a snap.

    The Herald

    The Photosynth app makes taking and sharing panoramic pictures a snap.

  • The Photosynth app makes taking and sharing panoramic pictures a snap.

    The Herald

    The Photosynth app makes taking and sharing panoramic pictures a snap.

  • The Northwest Mountain Flowers app provides a guide to flowers found in the Pacific Northwest.

    The Herald

    The Northwest Mountain Flowers app provides a guide to flowers found in the Pacific Northwest.

I go hiking in no small part to get away from technology. No ringing phone, no email, no Facebook. Yet I take my smartphone with me every single time I hike. And I use it, every time. Sounds like a contradiction, but once my phone is safely out of cell service -- I turn on airplane mode just to be sure -- I'm sure I won't be interrupted. Then, I'm free to make use of the many fabulous apps that can actually enhance time in the outdoors.
Here are five apps that I think are worth bringing along. Most are very affordable, and best of all, none of them add a bit of weight to your phone.
Photosynth
What is it? An app that allows you to easily take panoramic photos. The app stitches the photos together and makes it easy to share them on social media sites.
Cost? Free
Platforms? Windows phones or iPhones
Why? Photosynth makes it easy to capture sweeping views. You can take 360 degree photos that truly capture the full grandeur of the natural world. Once you take the photo, the program will stitch it all together. You can then crop it and share it on social media sites. You can also upload the photos to the Photosynth site and view the photo interactively. If I could only have one app on my phone, this would be it.
More info: Photosynth.net
iBirdPro
What is it? A guide book for birds that has been turned into a very useful app.
Cost? $19.95 normally (on sale for $2.99)
Platforms: iPad, iPhone and Android platforms
Why? This app makes it easy to identify birds. You can sort by many different features, including location, habitat, size, body shape, color and more. The sort feature makes it easy to narrow down your options to help you identify birds. The app includes drawings and photos of the birds as well as recordings of their songs.
More info: http://ibird.com
Gaia GPS
What is it? A map and GPS app that allows you download topo maps in advance.
Cost? $9.99 for iPhone; $4.99 for Android.
Platforms: iPad, iPhone and Android platforms
Why? This app allows you to download the maps you need before you hit the trails. A GPS feature can help you keep track of where you are. It also has a feature that will map your route as you travel. Leaving on the GPS will dramatically diminish battery life, however. You can get around that problem by only turning on the GPS function as needed.
More info: www.gaiagps.com
Northwest Mountain Wildflowers
What is it? A guidebook to wildflower of the Northwest.
Cost? $9.99 for iPhone
Platforms: iPhone, iPad
Why? This app covers a huge range and includes 514 species. The interface is incredibly user friendly. You can search for wildflowers easily by their color, which is what most people notice first. There are many lovely color photos along with descriptions and interesting natural history. You can also limit your searches to plants found in your area, making identification a lot easier.
National Geographic's National Parks
What is it? A guide to 20 of the nation's most visited national parks
Cost? Free for app, first park is free. Additional are $1.99, a steal.
Platforms: iPhone, iPad
Why? National Geographic is a highly trusted source, and they bring their knowledge to this app. It includes interactive maps that you can filter by activity and season. It includes the top attractions in each park, as currated by National Geographic staff. It's full of gorgeous photos and fascinating facts. In short, it's just what you'd expect from National Geographic.






Story tags » Internet & CloudOutdoor RecreationHiking

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