While you may get squeamish at the idea of your smartphone flirting with water, there are a number of apps eager to enhance your water play. Fortunately, there are also waterproof cases galore to help shelter your precious sidekick.
Remember, these cases may not be able to prevent every sort of gadget-over-board disaster. And even with the "smartest" phone by your side, don't rely on it for anything critical like navigation since batteries can run out and reception is not always a given.
OK, now let's dive into some fun apps to try out on the waves.
Canoe/Kayak Trip Planner Checklist is your Android aid for getting all your ducks in a row before hitting the lake, river or beyond. The simple-to-use app comes pre-loaded with 130+ items to pack for your next extended paddling trip (from duct tape to your fishing license). Personalizing your checklist is easy, too. The app lets you add/delete items, sort by priority and even set alarms for to-do's leading up to the big trip. I especially like how the program is flexible enough to let me create similar checklists for camping trips, vacations and other adventures.
RiverGuide is Apple's ever-popular app for the river rafting and kayaking crowds. This app taps into a satellite network covering 10,000 rivers nationwide to bring you real-time stream flow reports and more stats. And with detailed river maps and a newsfeed of local river news coverage, this app really aims to impress. And impress it has: RiverGuide won top sports and adventure app honors from National Geographic and Outside magazine in 2009, respectively.
SpeedCoach Mobile has everything for the serious kayaker or rower hungry for performance data. This handy (albeit pricey) Apple app gives you real-time updates on your stroke rate, speed, distance and direction. It even syncs with your heart rate monitor if you want a beefier workout report. I particularly like the app's display format that simultaneously shows your speed and stroke rate status, offering a clear nudge for performance correction when you need it. After your paddle, you can easily upload your workout summary for your records or online sharing.
Knot Guide is an Apple/Android reference tool to keep those kayak or boat lines under control. This app's library of 95 knots gets continuously updated with new knot styles, which are illustrated with colorful diagrams and step-by-step lessons. Whether you're keen on sailing, fishing, decorative or another breed of knot altogether, this app is a sweet tool to grow your skills. Bonus: The program lets you search by category and even schools you in basic knot lingo.
Craving more smartphone apps for your outdoor adventures? Well, your cup runneth over. Our app lists for general outdoor use, camping and hiking are brimming with great apps that can be useful for paddling trips, too.
Have you braved the water with smartphone apps in tow? We want to hear!