Autumn has arrived, everyone. Depending on location (and how much climate change is decimating your local ecosystem), the new season’s arrival beckons those who enjoy some quality time in nature to break out their dormant tents or get in one last excursion as temperatures fall.
No matter where you land on the spectrum between roughing it and glamping, there is no argument that a growing number of apps improve the camping experience. We all need some kind of roadmap, right? Here are a collection of apps that will help you build out the best experience as you stare into the forces that will usurp the planet and/or plan for a lovely hike.
The first step to any camping trip is to find a place to plant your temporary homestead, preferably near some amazing views and outdoor activities. The Dyrt is your one-stop shop for scoping out the right campground for you. The app collects photos, videos and user reviews for over 42,000 campgrounds across the nation, including many featured on other apps on this list. Users can book campsites directly through the site as well. The broadness of its options can seem daunting, but you can’t go wrong if you want one app to see every campsite at your fingertips.
The name tells you exactly what you’re getting with this one. Like any of the infinite resources boasting the Wiki prefix, Wikicamps is the best completely user-generated tool available to would-be campers. The app collects information on everything from campgrounds to dump stations and water taps across the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Australia. A robust amount of search filters also aid users on their trip to campsites, letting you find specific necessities, bodily or otherwise. The option to download and access maps without an internet connection is valuable as well.
This app’s “AirBnB for camping” moniker fits it perfectly. While HipCamp delivers a large number of public campgrounds, its true bread and butter lies in opening up privately-owned land to campers nationwide. From spots to pitch a tent to enclosed structures, HipCamp provides unique locations previously unavailable to the outdoorsy. And, like AirBnB, it allows landowners the opportunity to make money off of unused or lesser used portions of their property.
When it comes to the expansive lands under the National Parks Service, why not simply go directly to the source? The official NPS app gives users easy access to all National Parks that offer spaces for camping. The app doesn’t let you book sites directly through the app, however, instead linking to each park’s official website for those services. Despite that bit of clunkiness, the app does contain a wide array of information specific to each park under federal purview.
While the National Park Service has federal lands covered with a proprietary app, it doesn’t populate options from the vast network of state parks. That is where Reserve America picks up the ball. This app lists campsite options from parks in 30-plus U.S. states with booking tools available in-app. It also provides access to private campground companies, including KOA. The major drawback is its lack of tools. Finding and booking is simple, but the lack of map and user feedback tools hamper it a bit.
The detail-oriented and strict-planners among us all will find much solace in using FreeRoam. The app helps you plan every aspect of your camping trip, from helping map out travel times to find the premiere time to get on the road to plotting out supply stops along the way. Campgrounds are also searchable, though booking tools aren’t available in-app. FreeRoam is also great for RV campers as its mapping tools include options for vehicle height, directing users to accessible roads that won’t turn a bridge into a can opener.
While a lot of apps include activities information alongside campground listings, sometimes you just need an option with specific focus. AllTrails is just that for the hiker in all of us. The app lets users discover more than 200,000 hiking, backpacking and mountain biking trails around the world. It also includes detailed descriptions and maps, helping even seasoned outdoorspersons find new discoveries to explore.
Look, glamping deservedly has a bit of a divisive rep among many who love camping. There’s also a clear class element, down to the term’s etymology. But, if bringing more household amenities to your camping experience is appetizing, Tentrr is a great option. The service provides pre-made glamping tents on more than 800 private and public campsites. Users can also book services like saunas, massages and breakfast in bed that would commonly be spotted at luxury hotels. It is iOS exclusive at the moment as well.
The complete polar opposite of Tentrr, Boondocking is an app specialized to those looking for free campsites without extensive amenities. Perfect for fans of dispersed camping, users can search hundreds of campsites with user-generated information to help guide your decision. Just make sure you want a space that is more off-the-grid. Most of Boondocking’s options don’t have electrical or sewage hookups for RVs or tents. It also isn’t available on Android devices.
Now that you’ve chosen your perfect campsite, you should also perfectly prepare for your trip. That’s where Packing List Checklist comes into play. There are numerous packing aid apps out there, but Packing List Checklist stands apart as one of the best for iOS users. The app offers extensive categories of packing lists, letting users customize planning options based on everything from family structure to location. It also includes a Pick Suggested Items option that creates itemized lists with little effort. Users can save and reuse lists as well, making it handy for the future as well.
Brian Bell is a queer freelance writer covering tech, pro wrestling, esports, games, comics and TV. Find and follow him on Twitter @WonderboyOTM.