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Backcountry smartphone apps

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Re: Backcountry smartphone apps

Postby lindsayjeffers on Wed Sep 10, 2014 1:50 pm

The site probably has the information and tools you would need for wildflower identification (referenced to location and season) but it does not appear to be downloadable. However, you could take photos of plants on the smartphone and then identify them when you returned to the front country.


Re: Backcountry smartphone apps

Postby jsradford on Fri Jan 10, 2014 1:34 pm

PLANT ID? I am having trouble finding an app to help ID California flora. Like I said, I have Jepson downloaded to phone but it is not an app and is so large and cumbersome a file as to be useless, I'm afraid. Even on PC at home, it is a clunky DOS-level or Windows 3 level version of a digital resource. Jepson people have not made an up-to-date e-guide.

I am regretting buying the eBook AND the print book - together something over $200. Damn. And the new Jepson (beige, thin but not onion skin quality paper) is decidedly poorer quality printing than the 1993 version (light white onion skin paper almost), which was quite nice. The paper is the big difference. Unfortunately, I guess, one has to have the newer version. I think a lot of the plant names and associations have changed (maybe not as huge a change as from Munz to 1993 Jepson, which was huge transition).

Anyway ... anybody have an app or downloadable file for CA plants or for Big Sur area even?

Re: Backcountry smartphone apps

Postby jsradford on Fri Jan 10, 2014 1:20 pm

Come on Luddites! I just barely can rationalize having a cell phone but I got a Samsung Note 3 (cell phone/tablet or "phablet" - 5" display yet still one hand use and easy shirt pocket storage) two weeks ago BECAUSE I wanted to use on backpacking trips in Ventana and Sierra. Why? I have a number of cool uses:

- audio book player for those looooong nights
- camera (13 megapixels - excellent quality for such a teeny tiny lens)
- Plant ID guide (I have entire latest Jepson loaded though it is looking nearly unusable in simple downloaded form)
- Audubon Bird guide app - I am right this second downloading 600MB of bird info to allow me to ID birds better. COOL APP - beautiful pictures, maps, sounds, info. It does cost a little ($3.99) but I expect it to be so very nice to have
- of course my phone has GPS (don't yet know how to use it but expect it will allow mapping/map reading like others have)

Other uses?

I was going to buy a tablet and may do that also. But for now the beautiful Note 3 size and display quality is outstanding and I think will truly enhance my outdoor experience. It probably has some other uses, too, though the above are ones I can think of so far.

I DID buy 2 extra batteries so I can get maybe a week of heavy use out of the device - 30-40 hours? The Note 3 has readily opened back such that battery and whatnot can be replaced in seconds.

Re: Backcountry smartphone apps

Postby LBehrmann on Mon Dec 23, 2013 2:05 pm

A good photocopy if a trail map is decent for a well traveled trail too. Now that I have a smart phone by the grace of my employer, I wouldn't want to risk breaking it while out hiking. I've tried the compass on the iphone and I must say it sucks pretty bad. It keeps changing where north actually is. Really, it is quite useless.

I don't have a GPS, but I understand they are quite good these days. Maybe I will get one someday. What has served me well are the 7.5' USGS quadrangles. If you can practice watching where you are on those maps while you hike, you will get better at seeing the landscape in relation to the map. A good compass with an adjustment for declination is also a must when I hike. I have read and put into practice the skills in the book "The Essential Wilderness Navigator." I've read it several times, but the real value of the knowledge doesn't become realized until one begins to practice the techniques.

Experience and caution is the real teacher when it comes to wilderness navigation. I think my phone would die by the time I got done with most hikes anyway. It uses a lot of power whole searching for service. Does gps even work with no cell signal?

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Re: Backcountry smartphone apps

Postby renardsubtil on Sun Mar 17, 2013 11:55 am

I know this is an old thread but smart phones are "decent" IMHO for well known marked trails in which you're going to not spend an entire day on...anything longer though and depending solely on one is not smart as battery life is a huge factor. A simple 40 minute trip for to the city with all the location stuff turned on easily takes away 40% of my battery life on an iPhone 4.

That being said, I've had good success with MotionX GPS whenever I have gone offloading - but my iPhone stays plugged in the entire time.
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Re: Backcountry smartphone apps

Postby mikesplain on Tue Aug 21, 2012 11:06 am

Good point Boon.
My phone has some handy apps (including a compass, clinometer & GPS/topomap layer),
but all of these things are useless without a well-charged battery & some backcountry savvy.
Far too often we hear about someone getting killed or injured, or worse yet endangers the lives of SAR personnel
due to the false sense of security that comes with GPS & PLBs.

That said,
the original intent of this thread was to see if anyone knows of apps that serve as useful field guides, etc.
For instance, I've really been enjoying an app call iBirdWest-
it costs a few bucks but is remarkably thorough on the appearnace & sound of birds one might see in a particular region
(which can be set via current GPS coordinates.)
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Re: Backcountry smartphone apps

Postby Boon on Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:00 pm

My vague concern is that some folks are beginning to depend so much upon these various electronic gadgets that rely on fallible batteries and sattelites that they'll never develop any of the essential rudimentary backcountry navigation skills of their own, which could put them in real danger someday.

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Re: Backcountry smartphone apps

Postby jimbo26 on Wed Aug 08, 2012 6:32 pm

jonl wrote:Sounds like an oxymoron to me. What would a smartphone be doing in the backcountry anyway?

This doesn't sound too farfetched to me. You can use your smartphone as a GPS and a compass, both of which are useful to have in the backcountry. Sometimes Voip Hardware can come in handy as well, especially the Apptix mobile app.

Last edited by jimbo26 on Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Backcountry smartphone apps

Postby jonl on Fri Jul 13, 2012 4:34 pm

Sounds like an oxymoron to me. What would a smartphone be doing in the backcountry anyway?
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Backcountry smartphone apps

Postby mikesplain on Fri Jul 13, 2012 1:29 pm

I have mixed feelings about this,
but came across this Mercury News article & it got me thinking- ... t-outdoors
Anyone have favorite apps for backcountry use?
I've used a pretty good one called "Topomaps"
& am waiting with baited breath for a virtual Jepson Manual...
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