These mobile tools—each vetted by T+L tech correspondent Tom Samiljan—will help you get closer to nature without cutting the (phone) cord. Pick your adventure alter-ego and find out which app is the best for you.
Stargazer: Pocket Universe
Zoom in on a planet (or star) for extra details.
This stargazing app sees the sky through your camera and instantly annotates the applicable constellations. Location-specific animations tell you when you might see certain stars based on where you are anywhere in the world. The best part: this pocket astronomer works seamlessly without data roaming. $2.99, iOS.
Ornithophile: The Sibley eGuide to Birds of North America
Listen to birdcalls for nearly any species you see.
In addition to colorful images, detailed descriptions, and habitat maps for more than 800 bird species, the Sibley eGuide—a mobile version of David Sibley’s popular print encyclopedia—provides birdcall recordings to help you identify rare sightings. For novices, there’s a free version (with sample content). $20, Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Kindle Fire, Nook, Windows Phone.
Trail seeker: Everytrail Pro
Find scenic lookouts along your hike.
Input your preferred activity, such as mountain biking or hiking, and EveryTrail offers a list of local routes. Included are maps, trail suggestions, and, in some cases, audio guides that highlight nearby sights in real time. The “Pro” version works without a network connection and keeps track of your exact location using GPS. $3.99, Android, iOS.
Camp leader: SAS Survival Guide
Learn how to start a fire without a match.
Former British Special Forces officer John Wiseman’s 500-page survival bible has long been invaluable for adventurers; now it’s an offline app. Included are expert tips that range from first aid to emergency foraging. Also useful: a modern-day SOS alert that converts text messages into Morse code light signals. From $3.49, Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Windows Phone, sassurvivalguide.com.
Nature know-it-all: National Parks by National Geographic
Planning an all-American adventure? Make this the one app you download. It contains GPS-integrated maps with points of interest, photo ops at popular sites, and lodging information for 25 U.S. national parks. $1.99 per guide, $12.99 for the complete set, iOS.
See more of the best apps and websites for travelers.