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Amy Iverson: The perfect apps for outdoor summer adventures

The warmer temperatures often lead to people looking away from screens as they spend more time in nature. But whether the goal is an amazing camping adventure, learning more about the mountains or just grilling the perfect steak, sometimes briefly looking at your phone can be well worth it. While you’re enjoying the great outdoors, use these four apps to enhance the experience.

Hipcamp

Maybe you’re wanting to head out on an adventure and want to stay somewhere unique. Hipcamp is a website with a new iOS app that allows travelers to book all types of campsites across America. It has information on traditional locations and public sites, but also ranches, farms and other private places that will rent out land for you to set up camp. Some of the finds that caught my eye include a teepee on Geronimo Ranch in the Utah mountains for $65 per night, a renovated Airstream tucked away in the woods near Washington's Mount Rainier for $125 per night and a completely off-grid location on 10 acres in the Texas Hill Country for $29 per night.

PeakFinder

Whether you’re camping or just on a day hike, how many times do you see the mountains and wonder which peak is the highest or what it’s called? The PeakFinder App ($4.99 for iOS and Android) makes it as easy as pointing your phone. This iOS and Android app doesn’t need an online connection, so you can use it anywhere. When you tap the camera button, the names and elevations of all the peaks around you overlay onto the image on your phone. You can touch on any of the mountains' names to get even more information.

Peakfinder uses augmented reality to give beautiful details about the mountains around you.
Peakfinder uses augmented reality to give beautiful details about the mountains around you.
Amy Iverson, Peakfinder

QSun

Nothing can ruin a day at the lake faster than one of your kids getting a sunburn. We all know the need for sunscreen, but it’s nice to have an easy way to tell which sunscreen to use, how often to reapply and when to just put a hat on. The free QSun app for Android and iOS aims to help balance sun protection and vitamin D production.

It gives personalized recommendations using a few different techniques. First, take a selfie, and the QSun Skin Analyzer lets you know your skin’s health and age. It takes into account any dark circles, spots and acne, and can be a good push to get you to be more thoughtful about avoiding the sun. Input skin type, what you’re wearing, height and weight, and the QSun Sunscreen Calculator lets you know how much sunscreen to apply. The app also has a cool ultraviolet (UV) index map that shows how much risk you have for exposure. Cloud cover, elevation, ozone concentration, the day and time of year all factor in to what number shows up on the UV index. If the index is low at 1-2, the Environmental Protection Agency says you don’t really need any protection that day. Moderate to high levels at 3-7 means you’ll need an SPF 15 or higher plus a hat and sunglasses. Very high levels of 8 and above mean you’ll need extra protection, like seeking shade or maybe even avoiding going outside at all.

If you don’t want to download a third-party app, but are interested in the UV index, the basic iPhone Weather app has that information for 58 cities.

Pit Pal BBQ

And finally, what would summer be without plenty of barbecues? If you already know your way around a grill but want an easy way to set times, temperatures and keep a record of how everything turned out, the Pit Pal BBQ app is for you. The BBQ enthusiasts who created the app say their goal was a way to guarantee consistency. They wanted to keep track of how the type of wood or grill used, or the sauce/rub combination, affected the outcome. The app allows you to set notifications for time and temperature and integrates with Guru and Stoker grills.