Opera picks the best apps for going off the beaten path
Got a to-do list for this weekend or your upcoming vacation? Are the usual sightseeing, museums, shopping malls on it? Been there, done that. How about stepping off those well-worn routes to see breathtaking waves, endless forests or splendid mountains – all waiting to be discovered by you. Whether you are an avid outdoor sports enthusiast or just want to have fun with your friends going outdoors, this list of must-have apps will ensure you head in the right direction, always stay safe and sound online, and get the most out of your next adventure.
If you are ready to start a new journey in the great outdoors, then let your smartphone be your guide. Even though our phones might be more accustomed to urban canyons and the concrete jungle, there are more reasons why you should have your device at the ready on your next back-country adventure than making calls or posting photos of the amazing view.
1. MotionX GPS (iOS, $0.99)
MotionX GPS is aimed squarely at the outdoor sportsperson and rookie hiker. A GPS-based map and navigation app, MotionX has numerous downloadable maps available online, including road, terrain maps and marine charts, as well as numerous search options for finding driving and walking tracks. A track-recording and waypoint function lets you define your own routes or follow a pre-determined one, while the activity tracker records your total time, speed and distance traveled. Best of all, its offline map storage allows you to keep your bearings, even when away from mobile connectivity.
Hold your phone’s camera up to the landscape, and Peak Scanner adds to the viewfinder the names of all the mountains within range, their elevation and your distance from them. It’s a very useful tool that helps you to figure out which peak should be conquered next.
3. Backpacking Checklist (iOS, $0.99)/Backpack Planner (Android, $0.99)
We all know it is really stressful to remember everything you need to pack. This planning app comes pre-loaded with 250+ suggested items for backpacking trips. It’s all you need to ensure you don’t forget anything and saves you valuable time prior to your backpacking journey.
The Survival Guide is a field survival manual based on the U.S. Military Survival Manual FM 21-76. It provides a wealth of information on various survival topics, including survival planning, water procurement, building shelters, and harsh weather survival. Illustrations abound, and the appendices include photo references of edible and poisonous plants, as well as dangerous animals.
5. Opera browser (Android, free)
With the Opera for Android browser, you can stay online even in the howling wilderness, where limited or patchy coverage might leave your connection feeling like it’s stuck in a swamp. Just turn on Off-Road mode and enjoy the great speed available with Opera’s data compression technology. By reducing your data consumption by up to 90%, Off-Road mode also saves you money when surfing with a data cap or roaming abroad.
6. GotoAID First Aid Lite (free for iOS & Android)
The GotoAID First Aid Lite app is a free first-aid app that gives you a basic set of instructions for providing first aid for cuts, burns, breaks and other emergencies. GotoAID breaks up its instructions into step-by-step guides that are easy to read, but do require you to tap through them. The app provides first-aid basics, disaster-preparedness tips, emergency numbers and more.
7. The Night Sky Lite (Android, free)
If you’re going to be out of the glare and light pollution of the urban center, then get ready for the visual treat of the evening starscape. The Night Sky Lite app is your free guide to the night sky and its many stars, planets and constellations. Once synched with your location, simply hold up your phone or tablet up and watch as the app mirrors the night sky above you, naming stellar objects and constellations.
The EveryTrail app is a mobile guidebook and interactive map for hiking, biking and other outdoor activities. It takes advantage of your device’s mobile data connection and GPS to track your progress down a route or trail or even make your own. Audio guides allow you to go hands-free, while also providing information about key points of interest along the way.
Pack your smartphone with all these cool apps, put your backpack over your shoulders and start your off-the-wall journey!