Smartphones are ideal accessories for the outdoors since not only do they provide instant communication via voice or mobile Internet, they feature built-in GPS (Global Positioning System) as well as digital compasses. They can also carry a number of useful apps. Here are some of the best we’ve tried.

Parks Canada Learn to Camp App

Designed for novices and experienced campers, the Parks Canada Learn to Camp App covers all the minutiae of the camping lifestyle. The app features a directory of Canadian campsites and all the information you need to make your first camping trip a success: camping basics and insider’s tips, packing checklists, national park information and recipes and cooking advice.

Aside from an interactive camping checklist users will find value in photos, videos and information about the basics of camping: how to plan a trip, how to set up a campsite, how to make a campfire, meal planning, camping with children and more

Also included are various photos and information for all of Canada’s 42 national parks including top experiences, animals you might see, activities you can do and how to get there. Best of all, the app is free to all iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad users.

Elevation Pro

Elevation Pro is the most popular Elevation Application in the App Store, brings worldwide USGS elevation to your fingertips and is now even better with fully integrated Google maps, Twitter sharing, and an iPad UI.

What this app does is get elevation for any habitable place on Earth just by touching the location on the map. Users can save an unlimited number of Elevation Waypoints in Map, Satellite, or Hybrid views.

The app gathers from two sources of elevation data — GPS and USGS data sources thatgive a more accurate reading. Users can also share their current elevation online via Twitter.

Coleman Camping Cookbook and Meal Planner

A big part of the camping and outdoor lifestyle experience is the cooking and sharing of meals. The free Coleman Camping Cookbook and Meal Planner for iOS bring a world of campsite culinary wealth to iPhones and iPads.

Based on top-rated recipes by Coleman, the Cookout Cookbook Meal Planner application allows users to find the perfect meal based on food type, category, and ingredients. Rank your favorite recipe for kids, best dessert or ideal recipe for the boat.

Way beyond canned beans and minute rice, the featured recipes are actually diverse and exciting including some creative ones like S’more Burritos, Glazed Salmon, Western Tortillas and Easy Cheesy Potatoes.

The app aims to make camping meals an enjoyable highlight of the outdoor experience.

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