No one can predict when they’ll be in a survival situation, but it’s never too late to be prepared. When you’re lost in the middle of nowhere with limited resources, everything you have on your person becomes important — including your smartphone.
We’ve combed through outdoorsy smartphone apps to find the ones that would be most appropriate for a survival situation where internet connections and phone signals are nonexistent.
First, there’s the trusty flashlight. The aptly named Flashlight (download for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad) and Brightest Flashlight (download for Android) are simple apps that use your phone’s tiny LED flash to illuminate as well as any small modern flashlight you’ll find in the camping aisle of your favorite retail store.
We chose these two apps for their simplicity and ease of use in a situation where getting light is more important than any unnecessary extras that are included in other light-up apps.
Your map is the ultimate tool for making it out of a lost situation, and app stores are swimming with choices. For the sake of this article, we’re going to take a look at two of our favorite apps that can be used completely offline. TomTom USA and Canada (download for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad) and Navigon (download forAndroid or Navigon North America for iPhone and iPad) both use preloaded maps and your phone’s GPS to track your current location. You can also set a path to track your movement, so you don’t have to worry about walking around in circles.
An essential partner for your map is a compass, and thanks to a simple magnetometer within your phone (which doesn’t require an Internet connection), you can find your direction quite easily. Spyglass (download for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad) is an app that has more bells and whistles than you’d normally want to use, but they’re all helpful features. Smart Compass (download for the Android) is a slightly less feature-rich version for Android that gets the job done reliably and easily.
4. Wild Edibles Database
In addition to these real-world archetypes, there are also some very useful research apps that will help you survive in the wild. Foraging for wild edibles is an important first priority for survival, and the Wild Edibles app (download for iPhone and iPod Touch or Android) has everything you’ll need to help identify which plants are friends and which are foe.
5. Hunter’s Helper
If you’re more into the meaty side of the food chain, you have several options to help you trick and trap your next meal. Qwik Hunting Calls and Sounds (download for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad) contains 35 of the most popular calls and sounds from animals you may encounter in the wild. Critter Call (download for Android) is another great choice with 30 animal calls and sounds and the added ability to play up to five sounds simultaneously.
6. Animal Tracking Tool
A wide variety of animal tracking apps can help you better identify what types of animals are in your area. MyNature Animal Tracks (download for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad or Android) is the most comprehensive tracking app out there, with databases for front and hind animal feet, scat identification, gait patterns, animal sounds, range maps and much more.
7. Fisher’s Friend
If you’re near a large body of water, fishing is also a viable choice for survival. MyNature Fishing Knots (download for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad or Android) is an invaluable resource for tying the 13 most common knots used in modern fishing. The app features illustrations, detailed instructions, and even animated videos to make sure you won’t have to worry about the one that got away.
8. First-Aid Resource
A large part of survival involves more than just food and navigation. Safety and first aid is essential to making it out alive, and First Aid (download for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad), an app from the American Red Cross, walks you through any injury or accident. With comprehensive step-by-step instructions, videos and preventive safety tips, this app is full of the expert advice you’ll need. The Android version of First Aid (download forAndroid) was not developed by the American Red Cross, but it’s still just as helpful.
Keeping Your Phone Charged
Now, you may be looking over this list and wondering how on earth your smartphone’s battery could possibly keep up with all of these apps. Luckily, there are a few products that will recharge your battery — but with a twist.
Vodafone Booster Brolly
The Vodafone Booster Brolly might look and feel like a normal umbrella, but it’s actually a solar charger and signal booster in one.
It uses an antenna and low-power signal repeater to connect phones to its networks, with the added bonus of boosting the signals of all phones around the device. Solar cells are literally sewn into the umbrella material, allowing the product to be both lightweight and sturdy. Unfortunately, the Vodafone Booster Brolly isn’t available for purchase just yet, but don’t fret! There’s another option on the current market that we absolutely love: the BioLite Campstove.
The $129 BioLite Campstove is a lightweight gadget that allows you to charge your USB devices by burning wood. Cook up your soup or boil your tea while charging your smartphone’s battery, all through the use of renewable biomass like twigs or pine cones. In a wilderness survival situation, this stove would prove more reliable than solar, since it can be used day or night.