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June 25, 2014

Into the Wild: Hiking and Camping apps for Windows Phone

Ahh, the great outdoors. These long summer days (the northern hemisphere’s summer solstice was on June 21) means the time is right for a camping or hiking trip.

Besides packing your all-season tent, mosquito propellant, and hiking boots, download these apps to help you navigate those backcountry trails, cook an outdoor feast, and share stories and songs around the campfire.

OutdoorNavinpostOutdoor Navigation: This GPS-enabled app (free trial; $4.99 thereafter) helps ensure you don’t get lost in desolate environments. It includes a built-in compass, online and offline maps, route planning, and turn-by-turn indicators. The app’s Trip Manager can also record the duration, distance, speed, ascent elevation and rate of your hikes.

With the app’s embedded chart and map view, you can also share your location and photos via email or Facebook. The full version of Outdoor Navigation even includes an SOS mode if you’re really stuck: With one click, you can send a text or email emergency message.

Cooking Everything Outdoors: After your hike, you’re going to be famished. And with this app’s help, your friends and family will thank you for feeding them well. The free app is a compendium of short videos on how to prepare delicious meals over an open flame. The recipes are also included as PDFs.

The videos show you how cook lots of mouth-watering recipes, including Dutch-oven chili and grilled Gorgonzola chicken. The amiable host, Gary House, even shows you how to bake a pizza on an outdoor stove. This app is especially useful if you are “glamping”: when you’re not really roughing it, but camping in a plush RV in an amenity-rich campground. Vivino [waiting for link]: Don’t forget the wine! You’ll need it after that 15-mile blistering hike that was uphill both ways.

VIVINOinpostVivino Wine Scanner is a brand new, free app for Windows Phone that helps you track, discover and share your wine experiences. Snap and scan a photo of a wine label and the platform’s database of more than three million wines will display information, including average price and consumer reviews. You can also keep a list of your favorite wines, add tasting notes, and share the list with your friends. And if you’re near civilization, you can browse wines in nearby stores.

Guitar: If you didn’t have enough room in your backpack for your acoustic guitar, use this free app when you sing songs around the campfire. You can set Guitar to play chords in major and minor keys as well as “solo” so you can do some finger-picking if you’re capable enough.

In the app’s settings, you can also choose whether to animate the guitar strings when you touch the screen, mute strings that shouldn’t be heard when certain chords are played, and prevent screen lock, so you won’t be interrupted on that last chorus of “On Top of Old Smoky.”

Looking for some easy songs to sing and play? Check out these –some only require three chords.

Scary Stories-Tales from BH: The dark, ink-black night. The whooshing of the wind through the pines. The scuffling of woodland creatures just beyond the glow of the campfire. No overnight camping trip is complete without at least one round of scary storytelling. The free Scary Stories app has more than 1,000 stories to frighten your friends, from urban legends and ghost hauntings to horror and spooky personal experiences. You can also add your own scary story to the app and comment on the stories in the app’s guestbook feature.

SkyMap: Before you crawl into your tent for the night, cast your eyes upwards. Have you ever seen so many stars? Use SkyMap to help identify the stars and constellations in real time: simply point your Windows phone at the sky, and the app will tell you what you’re seeing.

You can use SkyMap in both day and nighttime, and the app has additional useful features, such as a flashlight mode and map-orientation mode with longitude and latitude.

When it comes to camping and hiking, Zion National Park and the rugged Sierra Nevada mountain range are personal favorites. What are yours?