Best apps for campers: Part 1

By: David Cook, Photography by: CAMPER crew


We take a look at the latest, greatest and most entertaining apps for campers large and small.

Best Apps For Camping

In this day of the multi-functional smart phone you have to ask, how can this fancy piece of 21st Century high tech wizardry help with my camping? Will it bang pegs into the ground? Will it get up in the night to re-rope a pole that’s come down in a storm in the dark hours? Can it cook a meal over a campfire, or keep the kids quiet at three in the afternoon on the second straight day of dismal rain and wind?

Well, surprisingly, smart phones don’t last long banging pegs into hard ground but to some of those questions, and many more, the answer is "yes". There are more apps on offer than you might have realised, answering those needs you didn’t know existed. The most commonly used app for camping would probably be those that tell the weather, but perhaps the most valuable are those that entertain small people when that weather app predicts something grim. Other subjects include detailed 4WD maps, guides to local attractions or activities, the location of the nearest campsite and its facilities, the location and price of fuel or gas supplies, cooking recipes, the time and direction of sunrise and sunset, and so on.

PLACES TO STAY

CAMPEDIA

Campedia

Campedia offers a directory of locations and businesses along with the capability to connect and interact with friends while finding specials and discounts that suit you. Search by region, town or specific address or drag the map to your location and tap and hold to find the location/business types, free campgrounds, caravan parks, hostels, rest areas and more. Filter locations/businesses by business types and then refine by facilities – dog friendly, swimming, showers, toilets, TV games rooms, etc. Access to additional features, including direct calls to businesses, special offers/discounts, navigation, messaging friends, finding friends’ locations, adding new locations, fuel log (can be exported to Excel) and more. You can create a ‘timeline’ to record your travels with comments and photos, which can only be seen by your direct friends.

Cost: Free

Rated: 9/10 stars

CAMPERMATE

Campermate

CamperMate claims to be the largest database of camper-related travel information. Find the locations of free, low cost and paid campsites, traveller-submitted tips, free Wi-Fi, public toilets, supermarkets, petrol stations, dump points, hostels, road alerts, special offers, local activities and sites and more. Safety is enhanced with location sensitive civil defence emergency alerts, as long as you have location enabled and you’re connect to a network.

Cost: Free

Rated: 8/10 stars

CAMPGROUNDS FINDER

Campgrounds Finder

With location service enabled you are able to find a campground near you with just one touch. Search by city, state or campground name. Map nearby locations or browse near your destination. Set favourite campground. Campgrounds shown on aerial photographs or on map.

Cost: Free

Rated: 8/10 stars

FREE RANGE CAMPING

Free Range Camping

The Free Range Camping (FRC) app is the app of the camping and RV club of the same name. It lists sites including free camps, rest areas, campgrounds, caravan parks and dump points, and includes a house sitting category and a ‘Help Out’ category, which offers unique experiences helping others in exchange for a campsite. FRC features site descriptions and directions, access information, pricing, photos and more, and FRC claim video previews are coming soon. Read member-submitted reviews on all campsites and businesses listings.

Cost: Free to members

Rated: 7/10 stars

SPACESHIPS TRAVEL

Spaceships Travel

Spaceships Travel helps you find facilities such as free campsites, dump points, activities, fuel stations, supermarkets, public toilets, things to do, ATMs, petrol stations, Wi-Fi, groceries, information centres, police stations and everything else you might need to find on the road. Gives price, location, reviews by other campers and photos, and campsites are laid out on a map.

Cost: Free

Rated: 8/10 stars

WIKICAMPS AUSTRALIA

Wiki Camps Australia

WikiCamps Australia appears to be the go-to campsite finder for this nation. It’s a crowd-sourced database of campgrounds, caravan parks, backpacker hostels, day stops, points of interest (POI), dump points and information centres. There is a free version, which has some limitations but can be updated to the full version for an affordable single payment. WikiCamps works offline by downloading all the content (and maps) beforehand. Sites are added, modified and shared by thousands of WikiCamps users so the database of 31,000 listings is always growing and constantly updated. The site details shows features of the site, as well as the name, address, contact details, user rating, user reviews, prices, photos and a seven-day weather forecast. Additional functions include a search filter, trip planner, camping checklists and social connectivity.

Cost: Free/$7.99

Rated: 9/10 stars

SUPPLIES

GAS FINDER

Gas Finder

Gas Finder allows you to find the nearest refill or bottle swap point with the cheapest price, and includes distances to the outlet. Prices listed for 4.5kg and 9.0kg bottle refill, and 3.75kg and 8.5kg bottle swap. Prices have dates to check if they are recent, and you can update them within the app. New outlets can be added. Database still evolving.

Cost: Free

Rated: 6/10 stars

FUEL MAP AUSTRALIA

Fuel Map Australia

Fuel Map is a crowd-sourced database of petrol stations and fuel prices from across Australia. All station information is added and edited by users. You can add current fuel prices, which are shared with other users. The slide-in site list makes it easy to find the cheapest petrol station nearby in seconds. Also lists features such as toilets, showers and opening hours and comes with a handy fuel log so you can keep track of your fuel purchases, as well as your vehicle's fuel economy. Prices often out-dated due to a lack of user updates.

Cost: Free

Rated: 8/10 stars

NAVIGATION

GPS KIT – OFFLINE GPS

GPS Kit - Offline GPS

Designed for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, skiing, cycling and more, this app features a GPS system for iPhone combining the functionality of expensive handheld units with the power of wireless technology. This app has an offline mode and enables use you own map sources, group tracks and waypoints together, add photos and notes to waypoints, export and import data, navigate to waypoints using compass, three-axis inclinometer and glide ratio, elevation and speed graphs and much more.

Cost: $14.99

Rated: 9/10 stars

HEMA 4WD MAPS

HEMA 4WD Maps

Hema is the premium mapping supplier for offroad and regional areas. Allows navigation offline, real-time GPS tracking and Australia-wide 4WD map coverage with 690,000km of 4WD tracks and 545,000km of unsealed roads. It has 40,000 points of interest (POI) including campsites, caravan parks, rest areas, dump points, 24-hour fuel locations, roadhouses, public toilets, information centres, mechanics, hospitals, lookouts, wineries and more. Offers facility information and quick directions, and allows you to save a log of your trip with track recordings, geotagged photos, waypoints and trip notes. You can back all of this up on your free Hema Explorer Cloud account, where it can also be shared with friends and family. You can also purchase an Explorer Pro subscription ($59.99 per year or $9.99 per month) to get additional access to: The Hema Explorer Map's most detailed map layers – zoom past the app-standard 1:150,000 scale to an unprecedented topographic scale of 1:9k, Australia-wide; Government state topographic maps for NSW, Queensland, Victoria, SA and Tasmania; and more features for the Hema Explorer Cloud including plan routes, print customised 4WD maps from home and view all facility attributes of every POI. Offline maps take up a huge amount of memory on your device so only load those necessary to your trip and delete afterwards.

Cost: $29.99 (standard) / $99.99 (upgraded maps)

Rated: 8/10 stars

ERRA MAP PRO OUTDOOR GPS

An app aimed at hiking and biking but with many applications for campers. Download free detailed topo maps (with elevation contours, trails, huts, parks, etc) for offline movements, or overlay aerial photographs. Functionality to put the phone in your pocket and record your day’s tracks, whether walking, driving or cycling. It will share tracks, markers and photos in various formats, load any track and marker from internet communities and store an unlimited number of tracks and markers. You can graph the elevation profile, as well as your speed and pace.

Cost: $6.49

Rated: 6/10

Check out the full feature in issue #119 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.