In spite of there being thousands of apps for Apple and Android devices, there are very few indeed that are actually helpful outdoors, where a dead battery could be a real killer. However, this selection of best climbing apps might actually save your bacon – or at least mean you’re tucking into it in the morning. We’ve also dropped in some awesome free climbing training apps at the end, if that’s what you’re hunting.
Refill Beta – Water refills for free!
This little gem won’t save your life, but it might just save the planet. Designed for city dwellers, the app highlights your nearest spot to refill your water bottle. Simple, but for those of us who don’t leave the house without a Nalgene, a touch of genius. Once logged in, a geo-targeted map shows you your nearest water point, which might be in a participating shop or cafe, or in some cases a park water fountain, so you can get topped up, gratis. Not only that, you can earn ‘points’ for visiting locations, which add up to discounts and prizes – although frankly, a cleaner planet is a pretty decent prize. Here’s a video discussing the wider issues of plastic pollution, the Android app is here, iOS is here.
Uepaa mountain rescue app
An impressive rescue app designed to transmit your location even when you’re off grid, this award-winning and potentially lifesaving Swiss invention is still free, so go grab it for iOS and Android now. It works by building a ‘mesh network’ of other users, including hundreds of rescue organisations, and is specifically designed to work in the remote areas of the UK, as well as ski resorts, the latter often being the case with European-developed safety apps.
The app has 10+ safety features, incl. Accident Detection, Remote Tracking & Buddy Aid, as well as a 24/7 Emergency Centre linked to 450 rescue partners worldwide including UK Police and voluntary mountain rescue teams.
Alan Prescott, Keswick Mountain Rescue Team, Mountain Rescue England & Wales said: “This technology has the potential to improve our response times, especially in areas where there is poor or no network reception. Incident location and other detailed information, obtained from an area where there is no network signal, is a very positive step in the right direction!”
Here’s a short video from the company explaining the details, download it here:
The latest submission from Vertical-Life (their Hangboard and app review is here) is an Android and iOS app that allows you to navigate your local wall, making it easier to find new sets and create new training circuits. It’s actually an extension to their existing app, which includes topos of more than 2000 sportclimbing and bouldering spots as well as multipitch routes, mainly in Europe. However, it’s a good selection, from the Dolomites through to Arco, and the routes are clearly marked and graded.
The first walls to publish their topos are also somewhat European, Café Kraft in Nürnberg, Bergstation in Telfs and Vertikale in Brixen, but it’s a great idea, and an ideal companion for a trip to Kalymnos or a road trip.
There’s normal mapping, and then there’s augmented mapping – welcome to the future – Fatmap. The company claims to have built the world’s most detailed 3D outdoor mobile maps of mountainous areas, allowing you to understand the terrain in a whole new way. Primarily targeted at skiers, and strongest in the best-known Euro destinations, there’s a strong community of experts checking context, geo-references and updating regularly, making these maps well worth checking out.
— FATMAP (@fatmapski) January 14, 2016
A simple but ingenious idea, Echo112 essentially makes calling for emergency help idiot-proof, in theory. Load the app, and it’ll auto-detect where you are, and then provide the correct local emergency number. It’ll also provide the emergency services with your location while you’re speaking to them. What’s more, it’s free…
— Echo112 (@echo112app) November 19, 2013
A similar concept to echo112, but with the addition of a big red button so no actual speaking is needed. However, Alpify only works in specific resorts and mountain areas – a big win if you’re on the list though.
Less of a pure-play climbing safety app, more of a general outdoors mapping tool, ViewRanger basically gives you proper OS maps on your iPhone or Android, so you can take advantage of your phone’s pretty impressive GPS abilities. Obviously not much use if the battery is flat, but otherwise it’s an excellent system, and as a backup GPS for emergencies definitely worth considering.
Climbing training apps
While we’re talking apps, some of the best we’ve found are designed around training, rather than outdoor stuff like mapping, rescue, etc. This is jolly handy up the climbing gym, or even about the house, and can really make the difference between a wasted session and an absolute blinder.
Best buy goes to Beastmaker Trainer, because it’s free, and easy to use. It’s basically a timer, and can be a little clunky in places, but you’re getting what you paid for. Fingerboard Trainer is also a great timing app, and can be used to build simple circuits too, which is great.
If you’re looking for something a bit more bespoke, or have one of their boards in which case it’s a no brainer, then the Beastmaker Training App (for Beastmaker 1000 or 2000), or the brilliant Zlagboard app (Android | iOS check our full Zlagboard Fingerboard review here) is awesome too.