Why an iPhone is a camping essential

This article is republished on behalf of camping nerd, Nick.

If you’re a tech addict like me, disconnecting completely on holiday is a mission impossible. My wife, on the other hand, grew up on outdoor holidays and has no trouble whatsoever leaving her phone at home.

For years she has attempted to persuade me that it’s time to take the kids camping — and that “getting back to nature” will help me break my addiction.

This year I relented, with one caveat. As a compromise, we’d book a pitch with an electric hook-up, and I’d use the trip to prove that having an iPhone with us would make things better, rather than worse!

Before we left, I loaded my phone with as many apps as I could think of.


The simplest apps were some of the biggest hits. For instance, I don’t understand why anyone would ever buy and carry a torch anymore. The campsite we stayed at was a dark skies site and having a torch was essential, but the phone’s torch was brilliant — probably the feature we used the most.

Likewise my BBC weather app. If you holiday in the UK, it’s pretty much a given that beach days won’t always be sunny — but it’s still good to know that the weather forecast is on your side before heading off down Cornwall’s winding lanes to the sea.

The last thing you’ll want to do is turn around as soon as you get there and face the same traffic battles in reverse. If you’re anything like me as a driver, you’ll need some time to recover!

Both my wife and I love a list, and being my first time in a tent, I was packing for every eventuality! I did search for a camping checklist app before we went, but to be honest the apps weren’t as complete as a PDF checklist I found online.

Generic task list apps were more useful and Checklist+ is already on my phone.

It wasn’t any surprise that the camera got a lot of use. A few years ago, I would have been a real photography snob, but the convenience of already having the phone in my pocket versus having to lug the SLR around has me beaten.

The photos are still easily good enough for a Blurb book and it’s so much easier to capture (and share) a relaxed and natural picture. I do still pack the camera bag (101 lenses and filters), but it’s more for landscapes than family fun.

Having Google’s search app handy was useful too. The day it did rain, we realised that we were only a few miles from the Eden Project. If you haven’t been, it really is a must.

Sitting around the fire pit, my star gazing app was popular too. It would have been a waste to be at a dark skies campsite during the Persides shower and not make the effort, but having the SkyView app made it all so much more interesting.

Just point the phone at the stars and the app tells you what’s what! Fortunately the app only needs GPS, as phone signals aren’t exactly mega reliable on the Cornish coast!


The compass app I installed didn’t get a look in. I had high hopes for heading off for a day on the South West Coast Path, but the trip we took was so well signposted, the compass was completely redundant.

Likewise the geo-caching app. There were too many beaches to explore, so we didn’t even open the app!

The idea of using the camera as a mirror was pointless too. The facilities at our campsite were too good to need to bother — and in Cornwall there is a general acceptance that the surfer look is a good thing anyway!

I had expected that games might be useful for the journey, but apparently we’re the sort of family who make our own fun. With me driving and the traffic not bad enough for us to run out of ideas, the phone stayed off.

Finally, the alarm clock was completely pointless.

I hadn’t quite twigged, but sleeping in a tent we tended to go to bed earlier than normal, once it was dark. So we slept better than we do at home. And because of the canvas walls in a tent, it’s the sunrise that wakes you up anyway!

I arrived back home to the news that a new campsite finder app, Campmate, had been launched by the website we used to book our trip. It looks good, so that would have made the list too.

Despite mocking me at every opportunity, the family have admitted that my challenge was good fun. The biggest surprise? That I actually enjoy camping!

Thanks for the kind words about our Campmate app Nick!