Top Outdoor Mobile Apps: Part I

By Courtney Harkins

It’s the new way of experiencing the outdoors – go outside, have an adventure, come back and see your stats online. More and more apps keep popping up to help you track your journeys, whether you’re on your bicycle, surfboard, skis or just your own two feet. Here is the first part of our favorite outdoor industry data capturing apps.


You’ve probably heard of this one. Your dad uses it, or your roommate, or that overly competitive dude that you always see sweating his way up and down your apartment steps. Strava tracks your rides and runs using your phone’s GPS. Once you finish your ride or run, press pause and review your stats: time, mileage, GPS route, average speed, top speed, elevation gained, and top elevation. The graph reads almost like a lie detector, but instead of relating to your pulse, it relates to your speed – showing you where your fastest and slowest segments were and where you attained these along your route.

If you are that overly competitive person, you’ll love Strava because you can compare your stats with friends and other public users – yes, it’s a bit of a bragging-rights app. Upgrade your account to the “Premium” and set performance goals to help your training and gain more specs about your riding or running endeavors.

Warning: a lot of kick-ass athletes are on Strava train, so don’t beat yourself up after achieving your best time on a challenging mountain climb and then realize that Tejay van Garderen did the same hill in half the time.




Conceived in San Francisco, the Fitbit app is focused on getting in shape by keeping track of your steps, determining your quality of sleep, calculating calories burned, recording floors climbed and more. However, to access this app, you need both a Fitbit Tracker – a wireless-enabled wearable device ($60-$130, depending on the model) – and a premium membership of $49 a year if you want to download the data online.

But once you spend the money, Fitbit is an amazing app to track your overall fitness and weight; many doctors are using it to follow up on their patient’s surgery. You can also compete with friends, striving for benchmark badges in mileage and steps.




Another app accompanied by a physical device, Trace consists of a data collection pod and a mount. Take the mount and put it on your skateboard, snowboard, surfboard, helmet, etc., then push a button and go. Trace connects with your smartphone to track your elevation gain, the length of your ride and your average speed. As a bonus, Trace can tell you the length of the wave you surfed, how much air you got, how many 360s you landed, how sharp your turns were, and more. The data is presented in “#sessionsheets,” which you can compare with your friends and others around you.

Trace is still in its Kickstarter campaign phase, but the same company also offers the AlpineReplay Ski & Snowboard app, which uses your phone (not a device) to track your skiing and boarding stats. For the mean time, use AlpineRelay when shredding the gnar on the mountain until Trace comes to fruition.




Do you go on long runs and realize you’re running in circles with no idea what your mileage or time is? This app maps your route, tracks your activity from third-party devices (heart rate monitor, etc.), comes with a tool to log your food intake and allows you to share the info with friends. And once those same routes become boring, click the “discovery” tab to scout new runs, based on length, location and elevation. There is also a “group” area, where you can find local running organizations to keep you motivated.

Similar to other apps, there is an option to upgrade your account. This includes a training plan creator, BMI calculator and calorie counter.




Yonder is a free app that helps you discover and share your outdoor adventures. It allows you to search for beautiful hikes, road and mountain bike rides, kayaking areas, among many others. Then you can report on your experience with photos and share with friends. Found something no one’s ever posted about? Put it on Yonder, write details and brag to your Yonder-ing friends. Become inspired to try new things and go new places; there are 20,000-plus outdoor destinations to scour.

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Posted in Apps, Outdoor, Social Influence | Tagged: alpinereplay, apps, fitbit, mapmyrun, strava, trace, yonder


Courtney Harkins