Sunday, February 13, 2011
Since spring is right around the corner, we will be soon crawling out of our winter-laden cabins, ready to head for the hills and hit the trails. If you are like me, you may decide to really "rough it" while camping-- forage for your own food and not pack any cushy air cushions, but there is NO WAY you're leaving the iPhone behind. My iPhone is like my third arm, my digital Swiss Army knife, Rolodex, survival library, nature resource, and Twitterverse all in one. :D
I've found a whole lot of really terrific apps for hikers, nature lovers, bird watchers... I'm pretty excited about them! Here are some of favorites or best rated:
Surprisingly, there are not a whole lot of compass apps on iTunes. Maybe calibration is too difficult? Compass Free is the best I've found, as it doesn't use digital technology to determine north, it uses the sun. Basically, Compass Free is, I think, a sundial compass-- you position the iPhone horizontal to the sun, and position your finger on the image of the compass. The shadow cast by the sun gives you your position.
This is one of my favorite apps. It's the largest free version of a field guide to birds available on iTunes, currently. You search by bioregion: coastal, woodland, wetland or grassland. Then you search by type of bird (thrush-like, swallow-like, etc). THEN you search by type of bird. I wish it was possible to search the entire index, but oh well. Every listing has a beautiful picture, information about the bird, and in most cases, an audio clip of the bird call (recorded by Cornell University). There's even a section on the app where you can notate your own sightings of the birds, take photos, and more. I love the app!
SAS Survival Guide
This app is based on the survival book by John "Lofty" Wiseman. There's a free version and an app that costs $6.99. I have the free version. It's very limited-- you can see in the photo that the full version has a lot of resources; the free app contains only "Essentials." Still, the free version is not bad at all, as it contains a few chapters on how to find water, planning for the unexpected, what's in a standard survival tin, forecasting weather, signaling, and several case studies stories. Probably the only thing missing is how to eat leather boots and dealing with breakdown service! I think it's a very informative app.
WikiHow Emergency Survival Kit
I think this is a "must have" for every traveler. It's free. The app lists everything you need to help yourself or other in an emergency or hazardous situation, from the Heimlich maneuver for babies to animal attacks to self defense and vehicle emergencies. It even has a tutorial on how to control a spooked camel! Has instructions and photos. HIGHLY recommended. Especially if you plan on riding a camel.
The free version is extremely limited. The pro version costs $3.99. I am checking out the free version, but so far, I LOVE it and will probably buy the pro version. This kind of app is so perfect for a travel blogger. The EveryTrail video explains how this amazing app works. I'm very impressed! Here's the main EveryTrail website.
This app costs $1.99. If it was free, I'd probably get it, but I'm not interested enough in tracking critters to buy it. However, you may like it if you like critters. It's got pretty good ratings at the site, and looks like it's very well organized with good images. If you have it, leave me a comment about how it performs.
Audobon Nature apps
iTunes has a ton of Audubon nature apps. The two that appealed to me are the Audubon Trees- A Field Guide to North American Trees for $9.99, and Audubon Guides - A Field Guide to Birds, Mammals, Wildflowers, and Trees $29.99. $30 for an app is rather steep, but I'll bet it's gorgeous and very resourceful. When I travel, I like to know about the trees and plants of the region. I probably wouldn't spend $10 or $30 on an app (I'd get a book, instead), but these may be useful to you.
Of course, I've already mentioned a few other incredible apps like Trails and Farmshed in a previous post. And if you're an urban lover, there are some very cool NYC apps, too.