You might think you know where to go for the best camping, glamping, and off-gridding experiences, but there’s no guarantee that where you camped in the past will also be a good place to camp in the present. Closures, lands affected by wildfire, dispersal demands for social distancing … these are all real factors that might affect your spring break and summer camping plans. So we’ve pulled together some of our current favorite camping apps for offering real-time data in order to find trusted sites for setting up a tent. PLUS, we’ve included some camping apps that are designed to enhance your outdoors experience through education (just remember to put the device away so that you can actually enjoy the experience!).
FIND A CAMPSITE WITH THE DYRT
Why we love it: The Dyrt is probably the best place for finding user-reviewed campsites, kind of like Yelp, but for camping. There are over a million places and reviews on The Dyrt, making them our first go-to stop when perusing new places to pitch a tent, park the RV, or to find a yurt or cabin. You get real insider tips from people who have actually been there (and recently!), plus, if you participate in campsite reviews yourself, you can be entered into contests to win awesome camping gear. The Dyrt isn’t just great at showing you where to camp, they’re also great at enabling an awesome camping experience. The Dyrt is a free app, though they also have The Dyrt Pro, which comes with extra perks, like offline searching, campsite discounts, and help finding free dispersed camping.
Get The Dyrt: Friends of Life inTents can get The Dyrt Pro for free for 90 days. Then you can start building lists and making plans on where to go for your 2021 camping adventures.
IMAGE VIA THE DYRT
APPS FOR CAMPING ON PUBLIC LANDS
Why we love it: Well, it’s free, and it’s an adventure! There are some apps that can help you find places to park your rig or pitch a tent for a few nights, but just a couple of disclaimers to bear in mind. Remember that the map is not the territory, meaning, what’s actually on the ground is the truth, not the printed map or app on your device. If the map says you’re on public land, but the sign on the tree says no trespassing, use your common sense and keep on moving. And another thing, Leave No Trace principles apply no matter where you camp. Avoid camping in meadows and other fragile environments, leave zero garbage, toilet paper or fire rings behind, and be VERY careful with campfires (or avoid them altogether) and observe all rules regarding fire closures.
These apps can make finding places to camp on public land a bit easier.
IMAGE CREDIT JULENTTO PHOTO VIA UNSPLASH
iOverlander - This is one of our favorites for finding user-reviewed spots for overlanding. “Overlanding is self-reliant travel to remote destinations where the journey is the principal goal. Typically, but not exclusively, it is accomplished with mechanized off-road capable transport, where the principal form of lodging is camping ...”. (Wikipedia’s definition of Overlanding, from iOverlander’s website).
Gaia GPS – Gaia’s PRO version has a map overlay option called Public Land US, which lets users adjust the opacity of the map layers with a slider bar, really helpful in seeing smaller roads and pull outs for finding places to camp. What we love most about this app though is for finding hikes and planning routes for exploration.
Free Roam – FreeRoam is a non-profit that seeks to connect campers with nature in a sustainable way. The Free Roam app is designed to show camping options and public lands. It shows BLM and USFS land, some but not all roads, existing public campsites, and occasionally user added “dispersed camping“ sites. The app does not have all the whistles and bells of Gaia GPS or iOverlander, or The Dyrt, but as far as showing your location and whether you are or are not on federal land, it does a decent job, and it’s free. And we love their ethos and integrity toward responsible recreation.
APPS FOR OUTDOOR EDUCATION
SkyView - Stargazers wanted! With SkyView all users need to do is point their phone at the sky, and you’ll be rewarded with the ability to identify galaxies, stars, constellations and satellites that are overhead at your location.
IMAGE CREDIT VINCENT LEDVINA VIA UNSPLASH
PictureThis - We love this app for being able to help answer the age-old question “What’s this called?”. The PictureThis app is great at identifying plants and trees while out on hikes or exploring near your campsite.
IMAGE CREDIT DAVID FRENCH VIA UNSPLASH
Dark Sky - The unpredictabilities of nature, particularly during the transitional seasons of spring and fall, can be weathered a bit better with the Dark Sky app. Dark Sky provides hyper-local, “down-to-the-minute” weather forecasts that are incredibly accurate.
Offline Survival Manual - This is exactly what it sounds like. How to make a fire, build a shelter, find food … all without requiring an internet connection. Download and learn from the Offline Survival Manual on a camping trip where you hopefully won’t need it for actual survival, because you’ve already come prepared. 😉
Apps can be such great tools for learning more about the world we live in, though there’s no substitute for personal, hands-on experience. We hope this year is filled with outdoor memories and campfire stories that you’ll treasure for a lifetime!