For this writer, as a Boy Scout in the new millennium, one rule reigned supreme. That rule didn't concern knives, fire, or pitching tents — it was the ban on electronics. "You have to enjoy the outdoors," adult leaders would say. "None of this electronic nonsense." True, if you're in the mountains you don't want your eyes glued to the latest Pokemon game. But thanks to smartphones, plenty of applications now exist that can significantly enhance a trip outdoors. In particular, four types of apps stand out.
Would you utilize any of these apps on a camping trip? Let us know in the comments.
Despite their utility, birdsong apps are slightly controversial. First the pros: You can use nifty apps like Audubon Birds to attract birds, by playing back recordings of species when you hear them in the wild. But critics say the proliferation of these types of apps can negatively influence the mating and survival of rare birds. It's a classic environmental quandary: Single offenses pose little threat, but habitual abuse does. For what it's worth, the American Birding Association encourages use of these types of apps so long as birders limit their use, especially in conjunction with rare birds. Lots of birders now swear by using their phones, and you can too, so long as you use the technology sparingly. National Geographic and Sibley both produce high-quality apps, but they're pricey ($10 and $20, respectively). Go classic with Audubon Birds, currently on sale for $3. Audubon comes packed with information about 820 species, eight hours of bird sounds, and seasonal and migratory maps.