By Marielle Gallagher

It’s true that getting outside is often prompted by a desire to get away from the incessant buzzing and ringing of the cellphone and all that it represents, so the idea of bringing it along for a trip may sound off-putting.

But you may actually want to have it handy to try out a few fun and useful apps designed to enhance the greatness of the outdoors. Many of these apps were designed to use offline when in the wilderness where no reception can be found. And there are solar options available for charging gadgets in the field. •

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Dark Sky

Cost: $3.99

Operating system: iOS

This app offers “weather radar, hyperlocal forecasts and storm alerts” in a easy-to-use, beautiful design with great accuracy, which can be a moving target in Central Oregon. The app reports the weather in your exact location so you can plan a bike or boat ride during the right part of the day. For those especially interested in planning their day around the weather, a notification can be set up to send an alert shortly before any precipitation hits a given location. The notification threshold can be set to send an alert for “any rain,” “light rain,” “moderate rain” or “heavy rain only.” The home screen displays current conditions, the “next hour” forecast and the “nearest storm.” A second page shows the 24-hour forecast with a temperature line-graph showing the rising and falling temperatures to come. It also displays time of sunrise and sunset.

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Avenza PDF maps

Cost: Price per map varies; many are free

Operating system: Android and iOS

Browse the vast catalog of maps, find the ones relevant to your excursion and then download them. Once downloaded, they are stored and ready for offline use. Features include: GPS navigation, compass, search by coordinates, estimation of hiking times and charting hikes by dropping place-markers and photos along the way. Included types of maps are camping and hiking in national parks and topographic maps. A free map of the Deschutes National Forest is available.

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Allstays Camp & RV

Cost: $9.99

Operating system: Android and iOS

This app can be used offline. It will quickly populate a map of your surrounding area with locations that pinpoint campgrounds, rest areas, overnight parking facilities, truck stops, RV hookups and more. The app uses the GPS location (or you can enter a city in the search field) to find the relevant area. The user can filter results to look only at national park camping, public lands camping or RV hookups so that only those pop up on the map. Additional information includes shopping locations for camping and sporting goods items and low-clearance underpasses along the road. The user can set the clearance in feet to ensure that the camper or all of the gear strapped to the top of the car will clear the overhead.

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Cost: Free

Operating system: iOS

This easy-to-use app lets you browse availability of campsites in national parks, forests and other federal recreation facilities. Users can specify the site type, including RV, cabin, tent, group, day-use, horse or boat. Recreation sites can be found by searching for a specific city, state or ZIP code and can be further filtered by campsite amenities, including waterfront, drive-up or walk-in accessibility, restrooms, pet-friendliness and water, sewer and electrical hookups. Included with most of the site profiles are photos of the area, a description and a list of amenities available. Once you’ve refined the search and found the perfect spot, there are two options to reserve a site: “Book online” puts you through to an easy-to-use online system, or “Call agent,” which immediately dials a representative at

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Sky Guide

Cost: $1.99

Operating system: iOS

If you have trouble locating Orion’s Belt or can’t spot the difference between a star and a satellite, this app will connect the dots. You can use it day or night (although there seems little purpose to using it during the day) to locate stars, satellites, planets and constellations. Open the app to get an instant reading and comprehensive labeling of all that shines in the sky. Once you’ve aligned with a constellation, the app will draw lines between the stars and the constellation symbol — for example, a big bear in the case of Ursa Major will appear behind the stars to show how the constellation fits the shape. Satellites are traced with a line showing their orbit. And click on anything to get comprehensive information about the luminosity, declination, distance and other more in-depth scientific specifications. The app works offline, so it can be used in faraway places where the sky is darkest.

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First Aid

Cost: Free

Operating system: Android and iOS

A quick way to learn how to handle various medical emergencies on the fly, from broken bones and snake bites to heart attacks and heat stroke. American Red Cross compiled the content with step-by-step directions and in some cases a short video to demonstrate the recommended treatment. There is an “Emergency” button that can be pushed to call 911 directly from the app. It also includes safety tips for extreme weather conditions, including earthquakes and tornados. The content is fully downloaded so treatment directions can be accessed even when the device is offline.

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SAS Survival Guide

Cost: $5.99

Operating system: Android and iOS

This app is a nicely organized catalog of all the information found in the “SAS Survival Guide” book by former Special Air Service soldier and instructor John Wiseman. The information is divided first by type of information: essentials, camp, wild food, hunting and more. Each of the categories is further divided by location or need. The hunting portion is described as “Learn to hunt — how to set traps, make hunting weapons, clean and prepare the kill and then cook it… .” In the camp section, Wiseman teaches how to set up a camp in all different climes, including polar and desert, and videos are integrated throughout the instruction to further demonstrate the how-to elements.

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Outdoor Eating

Cost: 99 cents

Operating system: iOS

Features 80 recipes designed for cooking over an open fire, barbecue or a ring burner, with many of the recipes calling for five or fewer ingredients. Other app features include a menu planner and a shopping list function. The recipes are overall simple and thoughtful, sometimes incorporating typical camping ingredients, such as beef jerky in a beef and noodle soup recipe. Other great camping recipes include crunchy ginger apples, which are caramelized apples cooked over a grill and ready in 20 minutes, and even a camping version of key lime pie ready in 17 minutes. Other more common recipes include spicy tomato chicken kebobs and foil-wrapped fish.