Great Camping Apps to Download Before a Trip

Some campers like the idea of camping without electronics of any kind. When you’re away from work or school, the last thing you want is a reminder of the endless meetings, scheduling, and whatever else pays the bills. We get it.

However, we’re also of a mind that you shouldn’t outright dismiss a tool that could otherwise be super useful. There’s no shortage of phone apps that can serve all sorts of purposes for both camping and prepping.

So: we’ve gathered a few great camping apps to try for your next camping trip! Oh, and keep in mind that these apps aren’t necessarily ranked in order of importance.

Table of Contents

Click on any of the links below to jump to the desired section!

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#1 — First Aid: American Red Cross

(Photo: RODNAE Productions)

A good first aid app is vital. Even if you’re a medical worker, you should have a first aid reference on your person anytime you venture into the wild. There are two less-than-obvious reasons for this:

  1. You might run into a problem that’s not common in medicine (maybe you got stung by a weird insect or your child—or dumb buddy—ate something they shouldn’t have).
  2. If you’re the one who’s hurt, your travel buddies might need a reference to help you—especially if you’re unconscious.

Now, a good camper will have a physical first aid kit and reference book on hand; but remember: one of the rules of camping is redundancy! Having a first aid app on your phone can serve as a quick guide to all sorts of problems. Plus, they’re super easy to navigate so you might find the right info quicker than you would while looking through a book.

Oh, and no, Google is not a good option because you might not have cell service.

Anyway, we found the official American Red Cross First Aid app to be the overall best medical app on the App Store. It’s easy to use and contains plenty of information for treating basic health problems you might encounter while camping or backpacking.  

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#2 — wikiHow

The wikiHow app is easy to navigate and lets you store how-to guides on your phone for offline use.
The wikiHow app is a quick an easy resource with how-to guides on just about every subject imaginable. Just be sure to check for an expert-vetted badge!

If you’re like us, you want to know how to do everything when it comes to camping and the outdoors. Google is a good resource, but we also found the wikiHow app to be pretty helpful.

For one, you can save articles to your phone (like how to find water in the desert or how to identify poison ivy), so you can still access them if you lose cell service.

Plus, the articles are usually easy to read and cover just about every how-to topic on Earth. Now, some of the information on wikiHow can be a little iffy, but they do have “expert-vetted” articles in addition to editing teams that check articles for accuracy.

So, use your best judgment. If something sounds wrong, remember that wikiHow is a great starting point but don’t consider it to be a definitive source of info unless you see that expert-vetted badge at the top of an article.

Regardless, we tend to use wikiHow before camping trips to either learn something new or get a refresher on useful tips for whatever environment we’re expecting to visit next.

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#3 — Gaia GPS Hiking, Offroad Apps

Top-down view of Carrizo Plain National Monument from Google Earth.
The Gaia GPS app is more camper-friendly than Google Earth (what was used to capture this image).

When it comes to camping, your normal maps app is useful to a point. However, once you’re off the main roads you’ll find its value plummets. Luckily, there are a lot of camping apps that contain maps, but TrailBehind’s Gaia GPS is our favorite.

In addition to a camping spot and hiking trail locator, it has loads of maps with various overlays. We won’t bother explaining all the features because we only used it for the map function, but there’s definitely a lot to explore.

Anyway, with the free version we were able to study the elevation and features of Carrizo Plain National Monument well before we arrived. The interactive map (in addition to a physical map) was super useful for planning. Plus, our less experienced buddies appreciated the app’s ease of use because none of them were that familiar with real topographical maps.

Bonus tip: study the terrain you’ll be visiting before you arrive. You’ll be better prepared in the event of an emergency, and you might even find hidden gems to explore (better campsite spots, cool landmarks, etc.).

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#4 — Twitter

Many government organizations and park authorities use Twitter to send out important updates.
Following park authorities and weather agencies is an easy way to get relevant updates during camping trips. (Photo: Brett Jordan)

Twitter is surprisingly useful for camping because most U.S. Government agencies and private businesses use it for announcements. In fact, most designated campgrounds have Twitter accounts too so you’ll be able to learn valuable and timely information about a spot that might not be on a website or forum.

For example, maybe bear activity has been on the rise in a particular location and park rangers need to warn the public away. Twitter tends to be one of the go-to options!

As such, we highly recommend downloading Twitter and following park and local authorities, weather stations (NOAA, especially), private campground owners, and anyone else that might seem relevant for your trip.

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#5 — OfferUp

We know what you’re thinking, why on Earth would I need a marketplace app for camping? Easy: it’s for prepping!

There’s nothing wrong with buying brand new equipment, but sometimes you can find great secondhand camping gear on apps like OfferUp. A lot of people seem to try camping exactly once and then offload all their gear soon after.

Anyway, we’ve found everything from barely used hiking bags to camping grills and more on apps like OfferUp. It’s a great way to save a little bit of money and keep stuff out of landfills.

Ebay, Facebook Marketplace, and even the Nextdoor app (it has a marketplace) are good apps to check too.

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#6 — Night Sky

The Night Sky app lets you look at (surprise!) the night sky!
Who doesn’t want to stargaze when there’s no light pollution in the way? (Photo: Miriam Espacio)

Okay, so this one’s a bit of a departure but if you’re a space junkie like us, you’ll really enjoy Night Sky.

This app lets you, in real-time, use your phone’s augmented reality (AR) tools to identify star constellations. Simply line up your phone screen (as if to take a picture) with a star cluster in the sky and you’ll see the same cluster on your screen. An overlay will show you constellation names, where planets are, how stars connect, and even satellites!

The practical purposes of Night Sky are admittedly a little limited and you’ll need cell service to use some of the features. However, if you’re able to identify constellations you can use them as landmarks to navigate (as a last resort).

Conclusion: Are There Camping Apps We Missed? Let Us Know!

If there’s an app that you think belongs on this page, let us know in the comments!

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