Top 5 (mostly free) iPhone apps for on-the-go adventurers and climbers

As much as I enjoy disconnecting from reality while I’m out exploring the world, I must admit that my iPhone is the one travel accessory I wouldn’t dare leave home without – and my favorite apps help make my technological tool the ultimate source for information and connectivity while I’m out on the road.

Whether you’re an adventurer out on a road trip through the midwest, or a climber looking to explore a new crag in the southeast, these five (mostly free) apps will offer essential assistance during your escapades.

1. Weather Channel

From weekly forecasts and current conditions to weather advisories and interactive radar maps, the Weather Channel app is an absolute must, for everyone. Weekend warriors and perpetual nomads alike will benefit from keeping tabs on weather conditions, and I personally adore this app as a way to plan which days of the week will be best for outdoor adventures. The app allows you to store bookmark locations, and a glance at mine lists every climbing spot from Steele, Alabama to Yosemite National Park. It offers temptation forecasts of sunshine beckon you to camp a few extra days, and provides foresight when a storm is on the way.

During one particular climbing trip to Rocktown, I checked the next day’s forecast and saw that a torrential downpour and lightning storm was on the way. Since my small hatchback was hardly able to reach the mountain summit with good weather, I decided to head down the mountain before the storm, and slept in a nearby Walmart parking lot that night. I awoke to some truly wicked weather, and was grateful I had spared myself the agony of sliding down rain-slicked switchbacks.

This app is free!

2. Mountain Project

Here’s where the ‘mostly free’ part of this list comes into play. Mountain Project is the ultimate source for climbing information and community access, and after struggling with my disdain for purchasing iPhone apps, I finally caved and made the investment. A mere $4.99 annual subscription fee gives you access to an enormous database of climbing information. You download ‘crags’ (I have Boulder and Evergreen/Morrison currently installed on my device), which allows you to access route directions, beta tips, photos, and more – without needing wi-fi or any signal.

I tried to survive by just opening the MountainProject.com site on my phone’s internet browser, which quickly revealed itself as a waste when I trekked deep into the woods, lost reception, and lost my ability to access the site. Climbers, I highly recommend making the small investment – plus, the money goes to help a great organization.

Click here for more information about the Mountain Project app, which will soon be available on Android devices!

This app costs $4.99 per year.

3. Yelp

I used to be an Urbanspoon kind of gal, but after wasting too much road trip time scouring for places to eat, fumbling to update the maps to my current location, and driving miles out of the way to a restaurants that were no longer in business, I’ve switched my loyalty and now rely on Yelp for all my edible needs. This app makes finding new eateries extra fun with a ‘check-in’ feature, and you can instantly provide feedback for other users. Plus, this app doesn’t cater exclusively to the restaurant industry; you can find cheap hotels, gear shops, great local parks, and more.

I really enjoy the little map feature on Yelp profile pages that shows all my reviews across the nation. It’s a fun way to keep track of all the tasty places I’ve sampled during my cross-country trips. Check out my Yelp page at http://boue.yelp.com for a better taste of all the foodie fun to be had.

This app is free!

4. Cheap Gas

This is a recent discovery, that I wish I had made sooner. Dishing out the cheapest nearby gas stations, this budget-friendly app is key for any road trip. I remember hitting California and seeing $5.00+ per gallon at some stations, then traveling a bit further and hitting places that lingered around the high $3.00 range. Cheap Gas links up with GasBuddy.com to provide station information, and will help you save a buck by directing you to the most affordable places to refuel. A 30 cent price difference may not seem major on a gallon-to-gallon basis, but when you’re spending hundreds of dollars on long road trips, the change really adds up.

This app is free!

5. Free Wi-Fi

During my month-long solo trip in September, I decided not to take any time off from my job as a copywriter for LivingSocial – despite my camping, climbing, middle-of-no-where plans. I ultimately didn’t miss a single deadline, largely thanks to the Free Wi-Fi app. I sampled a few other internet-finding apps before settling on this one, which solely directs you to nearby establishments that provide wireless access for free. Dishing out extra funds to log online simply wasn’t in my budget, so this app made it easy for me to find free ways to get my deadlines tackled.

Word to the wise: not even the most sophisticated app can help you find Wi-Fi in the middle of Kansas. Address your internet needs before hitting those long stretches of nothingness – there is nothing more stressful than racing to a McDonald’s 90 miles away when you’ve only got 45 minutes to meet a deadline.

This app is free!

(Bonus) 6. Compass

Okay, so maybe this is really a Top 6, but the Compass app had to be included. Handy in a myriad of situations, this app was downloaded to my phone during my recent climbing excursions at Three Sisters Park in Evergreen, CO. The aforementioned Mountain Project app provided me with excellent directions to find boulders, but my internal compass is rubbish. This simple little app provides you with a sundial-type interface, which asks you to place your finger in the center, then rotate your phone until your finger lines up with the compass shadow – then voila, you know which way is north. Admittedly, this app doesn’t get used too often, but having it on my phone is imperative when I really need it.

This app is free!

So there you have it, a little peek into the iPhone apps that keep my adventures on track. Since most of them are free, there is really no excuse to find yourself caught without them. These apps will help steer you clear of lurking storms, keep your belly full of tasty eats, guide you towards your next great climb, provide you with access to the interwebs, and keep the directionally-challenged on track.

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Categories: Travel Planning & Tips

Author:Katie Boué

Katie Boué is the voice of TheMorningFresh.com - a travel lifestyle blog focusing on climbing, Airbnb life, and the outdoors.

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