Best Scouting apps for iPhone and Android

Empty your backpack and leave everything behind. All you need on your next Scouting outing is your smartphone.

OK, so maybe that’s an exaggeration.

What is true, though, is that for the two-thirds of Americans who own smartphones, it’s now possible to fit reference books, a GPS device, a weather radio, a compass, a map, a camera, a field guide, a recipe book and more in your pocket.

But which apps are worthy of downloading (or even — gasp! — paying for) to enhance your Scouting experience? Your fellow Scouters helped me compile the ultimate list below.

First, though, a quick note on smartphones in Scouting. They’re here to stay; resistance is futile. When used properly, these technological tools can actually improve your Scout unit. The BSA’s Deputy Chief Scout Executive, Gary Butler, made a compelling case for viewing them as a cure, not a curse. Read his comments here.

With that out of the way, check out the best Scouting apps after the jump.

The best Scouting-related apps

Here’s the list with links to download them. I should point out that most of these aren’t “official” Boy Scouts of America apps.

Scouting-apps---camp-scoutCAMP SCOUT!

Devices: iOS

Cost: Free

Description: Use this official Boy Scouts of America/Boys’ Life magazine app to plan your next outing with ease. It lets you find BSA properties near you and with the activities you want to do.

Download: Here.

Read more: I blogged about the cool, new app. Click here.

Scouting-apps-Yahoo-WeatherYahoo Weather

Devices: Android, iOS

Cost: Free

Description: Considered by many the current best weather app. Gives accurate hourly, 5-day, and 10-day forecasts to help you properly pack for your next Scouting adventure.

Download: Android. iOS.

Scouting-apps-Knots-3DKNOTS 3D

Devices: Android, iOS

Cost: $0.99

Description: This easy-to-use app is popular among Scouters and Scouts because it’s fun and allows you to digitally tie, untie and rotate more than 90 knots with just your finger.

Download: Android. iOS.

Scouting-apps-KindleKindle reading app

Devices: Android, iOS

Cost: Free

Description: Now that official BSA publications like the new Fieldbook are being introduced digitally (in addition to the traditional print version), the Kindle reading app becomes even more powerful. I like that if you buy a book once, you can view it on all your devices, even if you use a mix of Android, iOS, PC or Mac.

Download: Android. iOS.

Scouting-apps-Dutch-Oven-calculatorDUTCH OVEN CALCULATOR

Devices: Android

Cost: Free

Description: It could use a design update, but there’s no simpler app for calculating the number of charcoal briquettes needed to cook a given recipe in a camping Dutch oven.

Download: Here.

Scouting-apps-GeocachingGEOCACHING

Devices: Android, iOS

Cost: $9.99

Description: The only app you need to enjoy the fun outdoor activity that spawned a Boy Scout merit badge. Helps you find one (or a dozen) of the 2 million geocache containers hidden across the globe. “My Scouts always love it when I start up the Geocaching app when at camp,” Scouter Richard Walters says. “They love getting a group together and grabbing a cache wherever we go.”

Download: Android. iOS.

Scouting-apps-AudubonAUDUBON BIRDS PRO

Devices: Android, iOS

Cost: $3.99 for Android, $9.99 for iOS

Description: Help your Scouts or Venturers identify birds they see or hear with this excellent app that includes 821 species, 3,200 images and eight hours of bird sounds. I like that 8 percent of every sale goes directly to Audubon to support its mission to conserve and protect nature’s at-risk birds and wildlife.

Download: Android. iOS.

Scouting-apps-camera+CAMERA+

Devices: iOS

Cost: $1.99

Description: My favorite iOS camera app, it’s an upgrade to Apple’s built-in Camera application, featuring lots of handy tools to capture Scouting memories.

Download: Here.

Scouting-apps-camera-zoom-fxCAMERA ZOOM FX

Devices: Android

Cost: $2.99

Description: My favorite Android camera app, this one’s fast and feature-rich to make your Scout meetings, campouts and trips look even better.

Download: Here.

Scouting-apps-star-walkSTAR WALK

Devices: Android, iOS

Cost: $2.99 for iOS, $3,17 for Android.

Description: There’s something magical about the night sky, especially on a camping trip. This app helps you understand just what you’re seeing. I love the augmented reality feature that labels all the stars, constellations and satellites you point your phone at.

Download: Android. iOS.

Scouting-apps-first-aidFIRST AID BY AMERICAN RED CROSS

Devices: Android, iOS

Cost: Free

Description: The only app on this list that may some day save a life. The official American Red Cross First Aid app puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in your hand. Includes videos, interactive quizzes and simple step-by-step advice.

Download: AndroidiOS.

Scouting-apps-adobe-readerAdobe reader

Devices: Android, iOS

Cost: Free

Description: Save a tree! The BSA is making more and more of its forms and guides (like the Guide to Safe Scouting) available online as PDFs. A PDF reader allows you to easily view these, fill them out, search them and share them. There are others with more features, but this one’s free.

Download: AndroidiOS.

Scouting-apps-gaiaGaia GPS

Devices: Android, iOS

Cost: $19.99

Description: It’s not cheap, but Gaia GPS is by far the best hiking GPS app around. It offers the functionality of a standalone backcountry GPS unit and lets you download maps for those times when you don’t have a cell signal.

Download: AndroidiOS.

Advancement-tracking tools

I know that many advancement-tracking tools are out there on Android and iOS, and most have robust Web features, too. But I didn’t want to single out one as “best” because I don’t have enough experience with them. If you’ve found one you like, share your experience in the comments section.

Your turn

Which of the apps above do you like or dislike? Which of your favorites are missing from the list? Your comments below will keep this list fresh. Thanks!


Note: Prices were accurate at time of posting but may have changed.