Your Smartphone as a Backcountry Survival Tool

Leaning on Apps for a Little Support

If your life depends on it then why not seek a little advice?

Even the most experienced outdoor adventurers can use digital tools to help bridge the gap between potential catastrophe and survival. When I hiked the John Muir Trail, I carried my iPhone, using it mostly in conjunction with my Spot Connect GPS to record my position so my family would know I was safe — or if I wasn’t.

Obviously, there’s not always (seldom, in fact) reliable access to the Internet when you’re in the middle of nowhere, but that hasn’t stopped app developers from finding ways around such problems.

Access to digital tools is often overlooked by the most veteran outdoorsmen, but if you want to make your adventures more efficient (and even a little safer) then there are some great apps on the market for use in your backcountry exploits. For example, tech and pop culture website Mashable published an article entitled 8 Ways Your Phone Doubles Up as a Survival Tool.

camping1I’m not sure how many die-hard survivalists actually read the article, but it does show that, with smartphone usage increasing to around 1 billion of the population (as reported by Gaming Realms, the company behind online portal Pocket Fruity) more and more, electronically-savvy adventurers of the younger generation will be relying on such apps to help help them in their outdoor travels.

Internet connectivity isn’t essential when using your smartphone for things such as a flashlight, reading maps, using it as a compass, or referencing useful downloadable databases of animal tracks or edible plants. The need for such tools while on trails and adventures is that much more important if you are traveling with children or inexperienced people, so here are two really good outdoor apps which you can utilize on your next adventure.

MotionX GPS

MotionX GPS Xcreens

With MotionX GPS (one of the Best Outdoor Apps as named by, you can download all the topographical maps (worldwide!) you need before you start any backcountry adventure. So, you don’t have to rely on poor 3G or Edge connectivity, all the maps will be available even if you cannot connect to the Internet. You will also have the ability to track your adventure, so, if you get lost you’ll be able to see where you have come from and find the the route back to your basecamp or someplace safe. MotionX GPS is only $1.99 in the App Store.

Wild Edibles App

Wild Edibles ScreensIf ever there comes a time when you have no food left and you are on the brink of starvation, Wild Edibles is your best friend. The app offers detailed descriptions and as many as eight different images of more than 200 wild plants so you locate and, more importantly, identify possible food sources that won’t get you sick or kill you just by eating them. It has an easy-to-use interface that will help you identify, harvest, and prepare wild plants utilizing the know-how of noted outdoorsmen Steve “Wildman” Brill, “America’s Go-to Guy for Foraging.” It also offers more than 100 different recipes from Wildman’s own edibles cookbook. Wild Edibles is available in the App Store for $7.99.

It’s always a good idea to be prepared when you head off into the backcountry, and these two apps can help the modern-day adventurer be ready for whatever comes their way.

This is a a contributed post.

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