Camping is all about disconnecting from the trappings of modern life. It's a chance to get out of the office, away from the laptop and into nature. But when done right, using a few cheeky apps here or there can enrich your adventure.
But with so many on the market, what are the best camping apps?
Having spent hundreds of nights wild camping around the globe, I've tested out a whole bunch and here are my top picks for the best camping apps to help you make the most of your trip.
Here are the best camping apps according to us:
For starters, it's always good to know where you are, where you want to go, and how you're going to get there.
There will always be a place for paper maps (although they aren't always available) - they never run out of battery, they don't need signal, and they are usually very accurate.
But they can be a faff that can be avoided using your phone, which you'll most likely be taking anyway. Just click a button and you'll know exactly where you are, plop in points A and B to generate a route, or follow one created by someone else.
There are loads of GPS apps out there but ViewRanger is, without doubt, one of the best.
As well as route finding though you'll find walking routes and loads of other routes to try.
One of the major benefits is that it works without phone signal and maps can be downloaded to be used offline.
ViewRanger is used by a bunch of outdoor professionals and over 400 Search and Rescue teams across the US, Canada, and Europe, so you can be sure it's tried and tested.
My other favourite navigation app is Gaia.
This is the one I used to help us navigate during our bike trip from Alaska to Panama.
It's very easy to use and maps can be downloaded offline.
Gaia GPS has been featured in countless publications, including Outside, Backpacker, Trail Runner, and the New York Times, so it's also widely used and highly regarded.
You won't go wrong with either ViewRanger or Gaia GPS for your camping trip.
Gaia offers a free trial if you get in touch with them.
As mentioned, there will always be a place for paper maps. It feels so much more like an adventure navigating with a proper map but of course, you'll need a compass.
If you've left your Silva at home, Compass Galaxy can come to the rescue.
It's simple, well designed, easy to use, and free (but still no annoying ads). Back of the net!
With 98,000 reviews averaging 4.5 this one is very popular.
All Trails is one of my most-used apps.
It helps you find the best hiking, biking, and running trails. And it's library is massive. Wither over 100,000 hand-curated trail maps complete with reviews and photos, you should be able to find just the right route for you.
It even has a real-time map overlay which is useful for any tricky parts where you're unsure of the way.
A nice feature is kid and dog-friendly routes. You can also log your trips and it lists camping spots too.
Whilst there is some overlap, I use All Trails to find new routes, and Gaia or View Range to actually navigate in the backcountry.
If you're wild camping and you want to scope out a good sleeping spot ahead of time, Bing.com is the perfect tool. You can find out why in our Wild Camping Ultimate Guide.
But if you're camping in a campsite, WikiCamps is one of the best apps to help you find the right site.
Doing this on the road can be a pain in the bum. WikiCamps however makes is easy breezy to find somewhere. This campsite app offers the largest and most up to date database available in one app, with over 6,500 sites in the UK alone. Each geography has its own version of the app. It's also available in the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
The best way to use it if you're not quite sure where you'll end up is to download the general area and then search later offline.
You can search for a specific area then apply relevant filters, such as pet friendly. It also shows useful info like user ratings, user reviews, prices, and photos.
iOverlander is another of the best campsite apps.
Its global coverage makes it stand out above the rest. Thanks to the massive community there's boatloads of info on this one.
Now camping means different things to different people. To some camping is sleeping in a tent on a campsite, to others, it's wild camping in the wilderness, and to some, it's sleeping in your vehicle. iOverlander is super useful regardless of what type of camper you are, but I think its superpower is finding spots to sleep in your car/van /RV/mobile-home overnight without being bothered.
I personally used it when we RV'd around the US for a while sampling van life whilst taking a couple of weeks respite after 9 or so months of biking and tent camping. It made it super easy to find a camping spot for the night and saved time, petrol, and cash.
This one comes highly recommended for your next camping trip.
It's a non-profit and almost completely volunteer-run as well so they are really just doing it to help campers!
I wanted to throw in this bad boy as something a bit left field.
You can use Peak Finder Earth to really make a landscape come alive. The app tells you the name of all the mountains and peaks in your surrounding area. It has everything from Mt Everest to the little hill around the corner.
In fact, there's a whopping 8000,000 peaks listed, meaning you'll have a pretty good chance of finding the one you're after.
Peak Finder offers a 360-degree panorama display which is pretty rad too.
I'm sure you agree that one of the best things about camping is stargazing.
But here is where an app can really enhance your experience. Instead of just looking up and appreciating the twinkles you can learn about constellations, planets, spot asteroids, comets, and space stations.
There are lots of apps out there to help you explore the sky but Sky Walk 2 is one of the best. With over 10 million downloads, it seems others seem to think so too.
It's really easy to use, and the Augmented Reality feature is bangin'. You just hold up your phone, move it around and the app will overlay all the stars, planets, and satellites out in that direction, in real-time.
The app also features the latest news from the world of outer space and astronomy if you want to go full Neil deGrasse Tyson on your camping trip.
This is one for the photographers!
Photopills is my best-kept secret (until now) for night time and astrophotography. It kind of feels like cheating.
It's insanely powerful and whilst the learning curve is kind of steep, they have lots of video tutorials to help you get to grips with its features.
This app allows you to use Augmented Reality to visualise exactly where different elements in the night sky will be at different times. Say you want to snap a shot where the moon sits just between two cliffs, Photopills can tell you the exact time to take the photo.
But there are loads more features in this one from calibrating your camera focus to ensure you get that time-lapses pixel-perfect to planning upcoming shoots for the milky way.
One of my favourite parts about camping is having the time to do some photography, even if it takes several hours. If you're a budding photographer, this one is for you.
Whilst you are most likely heading out to enjoy a spot of camping as opposed to testing your ability to survive, survival and bushcraft can teach us lots about thriving outdoors.
From which plants are edible to which knot is best for our hammocks.
I find the practising what I've learned from this app and various other outdoor courses help me engage with my surroundings whilst out wild camping. I notice what trees I'm passing, the different types of fungi growing and being more thoughtful about all elements of my camp.
Certainly not a necessity if you're just heading to a campground but why not learn more about camp craft whilst you're out and about?
One quick thing though, don't just go chopping down trees with your wire saw. We fully endorse Leave No Trave when we're out exploring. Only practice this stuff on private land that is being well managed to ensure it's sustainable.
Following a similar theme to the last pick of trying to immerse yourself in nature whilst you're out there, MyNature Animal Tracks opens up the world of tracking.
You don't need to hunt to be interested in tracking though. I just use it out of curiosity and to learn more about what's out there.
Get your Ray Mears on and start following the badger poop.
Things can and do go wrong in the outdoors.
If you need to call in emergency services the most important thing you can do is give them an accurate location of where you are.
And whilst you should always have a paper map and compass with you, sometimes you might just get lost or be in such a panic that you can't read your map correctly.
OS Locate takes your phones GPS location and converts it into a grid reference in the tap of a button.
You don't have to be in an emergency to use it though, it's also just a much quicker way of pinpointing where you are. And when it's cold and wet a click of a button is a lot more convenient than using the map and compass.
You can use it offline and it doesn't need phone signal which is very handy but just know that leaving it on will strain battery life.
Whilst I do have this on my phone, personally I'd use one of the other GPS based apps over this one as they have so much more functionality but in an emergency, it could come in very handy.