App Smart

Smartphone tools have their place in the wild

I have some vacation time coming up shortly, and I’m planning to make the most of the summery weather by camping and walking in the wild. Unlike the makeshift camping trips of my youth, this outing will be planned carefully, and I’m taking my smartphone, loaded with apps I think will be useful in the field.

Camping List Pro

$2 on iOS

Planning a camping trip can be complex, because there are so many things you may need to take with you.

The Camping List Pro can help. It’s a list-making and organizing app specially set up for camping, with categories from shelter to personal hygiene. You can add your own things to the list, as well. It’s easy to use and attractively designed, and its preloaded lists may help you remember to pack some useful items you may have overlooked, like air pumps and Ziploc bags.


Camping Trip Planner, $1 for Android, is similar. Simpler than Camping List Pro and graphically more spartan, it may suit your tastes. A list-based interface is straightforward, although I wish for a button on the main display to add entries rather than having to tap through the menu first. The app doesn’t suggest items for you, but it does have a model list with over 200 useful camping items to jog your memory.

Camp and RV

$10 on iOS and Android

Get Talking Points in your inbox:
An afternoon recap of the day’s most important business news, delivered weekdays.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

After you’ve planned your trip, the next step is finding a campsite. The popular Camp and RV app is packed with comprehensive information for campsites across the United States and Canada — nearly 25,000 of them, from private sites to military campgrounds.

The app is based on a map interface. You search for a campsite or simply navigate to the region you’re interested in exploring, and see what icons pop up on the map. Tapping one of the icons brings up a message with more information on that site.

From there, you can bring up an information page that includes data like a website URL, contact details and even photographs. The $10 price is high, but the app is kept current by its developers and will work offline, which may be really useful if you’re on the road.

You can also opt for just the Camp and Tent version or the RV version, depending on your needs, and they’re just $5 each.

What Knot to Do

Free on iOS


Knots are always handy to know, whether or not you’re camping — I even put my old Scouts knot training to use the other day while putting up a hammock.

Many apps can help you learn knots, but a great one is What Knot to Do, from Columbia Sportswear.

It’s no-nonsense, listing 70 knots sorted by category, including knots like hitches or “stoppers.”

The app includes a short description of each knot category and what individual knots are useful for, and you can save your favorites for easy reference later.

It walks you step by step, with images, through tying each knot. If you’re a complete novice, however, you may get a bit lost among all the options and knotty jargon, with phrases like “a loop on the bight” and “fair the knot.”


The Android app Knots Guide is a great alternative, with a simple interface that divides knots into categories like “fishing” or “decorative.”

It’s not the best-looking app, and the knot-tying diagrams sometimes need close examination. But it is free.

Kit Eaton writes on technology for The New York Times.