Spring is officially here, and if you're not getting in one or two last runs on the slopes, you're likely dusting off the tent and hauling the hiking boots out of the closet. While you're at it, why not update your smart phone with the latest and greatest adventure travel apps? There are literally thousands targeting the adventure-minded traveler (which is why I'm tackling the topic in two posts) – so, just like with a backpack, you'll need to choose wisely to make the best use of storage space.
Keep in mind that it's not unusual for price to suddenly change (like after a bunch of positive reviews come out) or a special promotional free day to pop up. Here, my first five picks – get clicking!
AccuTerra: Launched by a digital mapping company, this nifty little app is a must-have for hikers. It essentially turns your iPhone into a GPS receiver, with more than 5 million square miles in downloadable maps and tons of helpful bells and whistles, like trail marking, geo-cached images and even a chime that ticks off miles covered.
Because you download maps and load them onto your phone before hitting the trail, the app eliminates the problem of spotty network coverage or GPS devices in remote areas, as well as poorly marked trails. Maps are divided into four categories – national parks, states, state parks, and recreational areas – and range in price from $1.99 all the way up to $11.99, with some providing highly detailed info. But it comes at a price: namely, storage space (the app itself takes up 111 MB on the iPhone), so you can only hold a few maps at a time. But the level of detail and the security is worth it. Plus, AccuTerra keeps track of maps you’ve purchased, so you can get maps you've deleted to make room for others back anytime for free.
World Customs & Cultures: Unsure about tipping your tuk-tuk driver in Thailand? Wondering which countries see the thumbs-up sign as highly insulting? Solve such cross-cultural conundrums in a few scrolls and clicks with this app, which covers 165 countries and counting. Yes, there are a few quirks – no search functionality, for example, or ability to categorize favorites. But the app is a great primer for world travelers on their way to a new destination, perfect for entertainment on a cross-continental flight, and free.
Cyclemeter: This hardworking app, which bills itself as a GPS Cycling Computer, is a cycling geek's dream, with a deep array of features that work best while en route. It displays and tracks average and current speed, distance and altitude data and calories burned, among other data. And, if you'd rather run, walk or skate, Cyclemeter adapts to those, too.
The North Face Snow Report: An essential for every skier and boarder's phone, this free app by gear giant TNF organizes resorts that are closest to you and shows, in easy at-a-glance format, base depth, recent snowfalls and resort updates. There are also links to weather and webcams, and you can add up to 10 resorts as favorites. Available on most smart phones, it's worth a download, especially if you've got a few more runs to bang out before the weather turns warm.
The Weather Channel: Its latest update appears to have some glitches, as expressed by some agitated users in the app store, but this is still a solid standard for weather-related apps. It features clean, easily readable design, up-to-the-minute weather reports and, in the iPhone version, eyewitness images. The Android version offers some perks of its own, including traffic and wind speed overlays.
Find the best places to put those apps to use with our Sports & Adventure Travel Deals.