Into the Woods: Apps for Camping

Welcome to the forty-ninth installment of  Queer Your Tech with Fun, Autostraddle’s nerdy new tech column. Not everything we cover will be queer per se, but it will be about customizing this awesome technology you’ve got. Having it our way, expressing our appy selves just like we do with our identities. Here we can talk about anything from app recommendations to choosing a wireless printer to web sites you have to favorite to any other fun shit we can do with technology.

Header by Rory Midhani


Most people use camping as a chance to unplug and simply exist with the planet. Some people don’t do that. Me? I usually opt for the first choice, but occasionally I fall into the second category. I am a tech/nerd editor after all! So how can I resist the plethora of outdoorsy camping apps out there? I can’t. I can’t resist. Here are some pretties to help us plan, execute – even stargaze.



By Dima Chatrov, via One Big Photo

+AllTrails, by AllTrails Inc. This will help you find the nearest hiking trail to you, or your destination. People can also review trails and let you know how it was. This app also includes online topographic maps that’ll help you get around your trail even if you don’t have cell service. Free, available on iOS and Android.

+Oh Ranger!, by American Park Network. A database of local, state and national parks near you, not near you, anywhere in the US. You can even search by activity so you can find your way to a park or campground that has what you’re looking for! You want Disc Golf? You can find that. Climbing? Yup. Playgrounds? Double check. Free, for iOS and Android.

+Woodall’s RV & Camping Copilot, by Consent Media & Waterfield Technologies. If you’re taking an RV with you camping, a) make sure to re-enact all scenes from Priscilla and b) make sure to take this app with you. This will help you find campsites, RV-style. Free for iOS.

+AccuWeather, by AccuWeather Inc. Will it be raining? Snowing? Cold? Warm? Know what gear to pack, know if the weather will be changing your plans. Free on iOS and Android.

+Classic Camping Cookbook and Meal Planner, by The Coleman Company. This app includes recipes for the great outdoors and a meal planner so you know what to buy and bring with you on your outdoors outing. Also good for cookouts! Free on iOS.

+Packing List, by Surge and Camp Authority. Okay, so there are a ton of packing list apps. So many that I don’t have to list them all here. But! This one is camp specific and includes a countdown, which is relevant to A-Camp interests. This app also includes pre-selected categories that you can add to or edit. Free on iOS.


+ Survival Guide, by Max Soderstorm. This adaption of a military survival guide makes me terrified to ever leave the house, which is why I’m convinced that it’s good. It’s got everything from how to build a shelter, to how to make fire, to basic survival medicine to an entire section on dangerous animals. Free, iOS and Android.

+What Knot To Do, by Columbia Sportswear. I’m a sucker for a clever name. And this helpful app will teach you how to tie 70 different knots in six different categories. Each knot features step by step instructions, and considering how long it took me to learn to tie a bow tie, those will be needed. Free on iOS.

+Help Call, by FullScreenNow. Exactly what it sounds like – if you’re in an unfamiliar country while you’re hiking and camping, you may not know the local emergency numbers. This app, depending on what country you’re in, will connect you to police, fire or ambulance. $2.99 on iOS.


The Earth

+MyNature Animal Tracks, by MyNature. On queer mountain, we sometimes spot some bears. But depending where you’re camping, there may be a lot of other land animals for you to spot. This will help you know whose house your in based on the footprints you see on your travels. Search by size and shape and get the skinny on each print. $6.99 for iOS, $4.99 for Android.

+Project Noah, by Networked Organisms. Yeah, this app is built for children. But damn, is it really cool. Document the flora and fauna you spot on your camping trip using your camera phone and upload the picture to the Project Noah database. Use the field guide to see what’s already been spotted near you. Create your own missions and, yes, earn badges. You may notice we at Autostraddle really like earning badges. Free on iOS and Android.

+Kinetic GPS, by Mothership Software. This GPS, compass and tracker lets you track your runs, hikes, walks, cycles – all sorts of activities you could do in the great outdoors while camping. If you remember the apps for running article, you’ll remember talking about trainers – this app comes with 5k, 10k and half-marathon training programs, including audio feedback. $3.99, iOS. If audio feedback doesn’t mean that much to ya, try the free version also for iOS.

+Gaia GPS, by TrailBehind. Downloadable topographic maps for when you don’t have a signal, GPS tracking and route planning for when you do! $19.99 for iOS$9.99 for Android (it’s cheaper because it’s topo maps only).

The Sky

by Erica Johansson, via Travel Blissful

by Erica Johansson, via Travel Blissful

+BirdsEye North America, by Bird in the Hand LLC. Have I told you that I have a gay younger brother who majored in marine biology, is getting his masters in residence life and very regularly goes birding with a handful of PhD students? That’s where my awareness of bird watching comes from. This app lets you see all the reports in your area by bird species, complete with bar graphs and seasonal patterns. This app links and syncs to the eBird database, but you can’t report a sighting from within the app. $19.99, for iOS.

+BirdLog North America, by Bird in the Hand LLC. This is the way to report your bird sightings directly into the eBird database. I’m featuring the North American app, but there are BirdLogs for all sorts of other regions as well. $9.99, for iOS and Android.

+Sun Seeker, by ozPDA. Not only will this tell you when sunrise and sunset happen, but this will tell you exactly where the sun is in relation to you at different times throughout the day. It’s perfect for the kind of human who’s taking photos of the great outdoors. It even includes a 3D augmented reality view, where it overlays the camera image of your surroundings with the sun’s path and hour points. $6.99 for iOS, $5.99 for Android.

+Star Walk, by Vito Technology. The reason my mother ever wanted an iPad in the first place, this app let’s you hold your device up to the sky for augmented star gazing. It lets you know what constellation you’re looking at, what each star’s name is – I actually use this one all the time. $2.99 for iOS.

+Sky Map, by Google. This is basically the same exact thing as Star Walk, but exclusively for Android. You can get it from Google Play for free.

+GoSkyWatch Planetarium, by GoSoftWorks. Okay, so there are about as many stargazing apps as there are stars. But I figured y’all should have options. $3.99 for iOS.

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A.E. Osworth

A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

A.E. has written 542 articles for us.


  1. I heartily second the Star Walk recommendation, as it’s easily my favorite stargazing app. I’m not into camping personally, but I am majoring in astrophysics and use this app many times a week to augment stargazing. It even has a night mode, which switches the display to red so it won’t ruin your night vision. Star Walk also has a lot of excellent technical information, so whatever you’re looking at in the sky be it a star, planet or the ISS, this app has most the information you’ll need, including coordinates and apparent brightnesses. I’m thrilled to see it mentioned here, and hope it will inspire some to go outside and appreciate the night sky!
    I’d also like to throw in a recommendation for the Phases of the Moon app. If you’re into lunar observation or just want to know the current phase, it’s a handy little app.

  2. This is an awesome list.

    For weather, I prefer to stick to The Weather Channel app. It sends alerts when your county (or nearby counties) go under watches, warnings, or even just advisories! I told the kids it was my “Camp Director App” to keep them safe, and if they grew up and became camp directors they would be allowed to bring their smartphones to camp too. ;)

  3. Google Skymap is great for solo camping nighttime entertainment and also for impressing ladies. Another great weather app is Dark Sky for iOS and Arcus for Android for realtime weather info with configurable push notifications.

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