With so many great apps on the market, which ones are the best for your next RV adventure? We have several apps we like to use regularly when going on weekend trips and longer excursions. These are a few we highly recommend. Some you might be familiar with, and some might be new.
This app is our most used on this list for a good reason. It is very widely known by hikers, and there is a very good chance you have used it before if you like spending time exploring trails. As avid hikers, we have been using AllTrails for close to a decade to help us pick the hikes before we even consider heading out on a road trip, and it is a must-have for outdoor enthusiasts.
What makes this app our go-to hiking tool? It has trail reviews, images and topographic maps. In the app, you can see routes others have taken to their destinations to help you plan your route and reduce the chance of getting lost on a trail. It also shows the trail's elevation gain so you can prepare mentally if you have a tough climb ahead on your adventure.
The AllTrails app has both a free and paid version. The free version is excellent if you only spend a small amount of time hiking. If you try to hike on every trip, definitely opt for the paid version since it includes downloadable maps and off-route notifications, to help keep you from getting lost. There are also numerous map overlays available with the paid version for anyone that wants weather and pollen updates. If you have family members who worry when you are out exploring, you might like the Lifeline feature, which alerts your designated contacts if you are returning late from a hike.
Sky Guide or Star Walk 2
If you know anything about us, it's pretty obvious we would have a stargazing app on this list. Which one do we like the best? Consider us a house divided. Since Alison is a long-term iPhone user and I love my Androids, we both have a different app to help us explore the stars.
Over the years, Alison has been through numerous star and constellation apps and eventually settled on Sky Guide for iOS as her top choice. It has become the app she uses every time she prepares to shoot the stars and set up her astrophotography compositions in front of our RV.
What's great about Sky Guide? It is easy to use with simple menu navigation. Alison also likes that there are lots of fun facts to help learn about different celestial objects in the sky. Best of all, she has found she can adjust to a specific date and time for a future look at the night sky, which makes planning for astrophotography and future stargazing a breeze.
On Android, the same Sky Guide Alison likes to use is not available. I have found Star Walk 2 to be a good alternative. It has a different feel, but it suits my stargazing needs.
If you are anything like me, you have trouble visualizing many of the constellations and what animals, people and mythological creatures they represent. Star Walk 2 has great graphics to show you what the ancients were probably visualizing when they created their stories based on the stars long ago.
My two favorite things about the app are the search feature and the What's New page. Whenever I need to find a star or constellation, I know I will be guided precisely to what I want to see every time without issues. When the app finds an object, its location gets highlighted both visually and with an interesting corresponding sound of a twinkling bell. The What's New page is like space news, and I have found it is pretty good at keeping me up-to-date on current events to check out in the night sky.
Out of all five apps, this one might be the most fun for kids to use when you first download it. It was tons of fun the first time our kids got a hold of the app. Imagine two boys making all sorts of squawking noises in an attempt to mimic the sounds various birds make, and the app has no idea what kind of bird they were supposed to be. It was hilarious!
Besides being a fun tool for entertaining kids while RVing, BirdNet is fantastic at sorting out different types of birds by sound when they are relatively near you. Simply press record and allow the app to collect sounds of nearby birds. Once you stop the recording, the app will provide you with a list of birds it potentially heard based on an accuracy rating.
Over the years, as I've used the app more and more, I've found it to be pretty spot-on with its identification of species. It's a great tool if you want to get into birding and have no clue what the birds you hear around you. Our family has learned quite a bit from using this app.
PlantNet Plant Identification or Google Lens
Oh no! I just brushed against a plant at the campsite that I think is poison ivy, but I'm not sure. I'm afraid I'll break out with a major rash. What should I do?
Try using the PlantNet Plant Identification app. We have found that this app is a good resource for quickly figuring out what plant we are looking at based on several parts of it. To identify the plant in question, you can easily compare leaf shape, stem structure, fruits on the plant, flower shape and color. Also, if you want to learn more about the plant, the app can pull up a Wikipedia page to dive further into your plant biology research. There are also forums in the app specifically based on regions that are great for really narrowing down your plant search.
If you want an alternative to PlantNet's app, give Google Lens a shot. It's also a pretty decent option for identifying plants, even though I have found it to be a bit less reliable than PlantNet's app. Snap a picture of the plant you are interested in, and Google Lens will pull up many possible plants. Not all searches are accurate and can vary based on how you photographed the plant, but it's a good alternative you might want to try.
Sometimes, when you are RVing, your family might want to do something other than your typical outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, BBQing, etc. This is where geocaching comes in. Even though millions of people worldwide are hunting for geocaches, it's not typically something you hear about in the RV community.
What is geocaching? Basically, think of treasure hunting using GPS.
To explore more of this fun hobby, try downloading the Geocaching app. It's the best app we have found to guide you to all of the hidden goodies people have left worldwide to discover. If you want to find more challenging level caches or create a list, try upgrading to the app's premium version as a monthly or annual service. If your family gets heavily into the hobby and you also love RVing all over the country, the premium version can be worth the investment.
I hope you found our top five outdoor app list useful for your next RV adventure. We have been using these apps for years and wanted to share them with you.
Happy camping roadtrippers!