‘Tis the season to upgrade your skiing app portfolio.
No matter how you feel about those mini supercomputers we carry in our pockets these days, you can’t deny how incredibly helpful they can be for all the shenanigans we skiers find ourselves in. Between tracking your personal record on the skin track, tracking down your local forecast, or navigating a new area, these resources can make a huge difference in how smoothly your day runs. To make your life easier, we rounded up our picks for the best skiing apps, specifically focused on backcountry utility. The goal? To save you from spending ages in the reviews section just to figure out what app is best for you. If you weren’t already stoked for the touring season yet, this should do the trick.
Best for: Backcountry skiing
Integrating all the features backcountry skiers love (and need) into one, easy to use, offline capable app, OnX has been hot on skier’s minds for the last couple of seasons. High quality topo and satellite maps meet OnX’s mapped network of local trails and roads so you can find yourself not only on a topo map, but orient yourself to nearby trails. Efficiency is the name of the game. As pro skier Cody Townsend says in Episode 28 of The FIFTY during a gnarly bushwack: “This app has been a lifesaver. Without it, we would be so lost.”
Besides the great mapping system, OnX also offers extra features we love in backcountry skiing apps like slope angle shading maps, waypoints that you can share with friends and add photos to. GPS tracking allows you to see where you have been already. I’m personally a huge fan of the waypoint features, so I can take photos of features or lines I want to check out another time, or note a specific area to start the skin track.
Best for: Backcountry skiing
A staple for folks who spend a lot of time in the backcountry, Gaia is a tried and true mapping software that can be used for a wide variety of sports and backcountry activities. Gaia has all the fun slope angle shading maps and waypoint features we love, but also gives you the chance to check snowfall totals at various weather stations and has avalanche forecasts integrated into the app. This makes it perfect for people who like a little bit of everything, all in one place. Gaia also offers an extensive free version of the app, so you can get some really great detailed maps without needing to spend anything.
Best for: Snow forecasts
We are huge fans of OpenSnow here at the shop, and the app only keeps improving. Easy to navigate with all the same great information you can find on the website, the app is our go-to for last minute pow chasing. OpenSnow has a huge variety of resorts, and even backcountry destinations, that they generate forecasts for, which gives you the chance to compare incoming weather across state lines. On top of the insanely accurate forecasts, we love the high resolution weather maps integrated into the app, letting you dial in wind speed, incoming precip, or even snow depth at different areas. If you are always looking for the best snow, this is essential to add to your ski apps lineup.
Best for: Avalanche forecasting
“Know before you go” is even easier with the CAIC (aka: Colorado Avalanche Information Center) app. It’s always good practice to check that avy forecast before you head out for a day of touring or backcountry skiing, no matter what terrain you think you’ll be getting into that day. The CAIC app keeps information easy to find, concise, and shows you exactly what you need to know in a nice little package. One of the coolest things about the app is the ease of submitting observations if you happen to see a slide or some funky looking snow. Submitting observations on the app is easier than on a physical computer, since you can directly upload any photos you took from your phone, as well as include your observations as you see them.
If you aren’t local to Colorado, check out your local state’s avalanche forecasting center to see if they have a mobile app, or even avalanche.org as a national resource to get started.
Best for: Fitness tracking
If you spend a lot of your time cycling, running, kayaking (or really anything outdoor fitness related), you might have stumbled upon Strava before. A popular hybrid between Instagram and a fitness tracker, Strava can record practically any activity and share it with all your crusher friends. My favorite feature in Strava is the leaderboards, which allow you to compare segments of your activity to your friends, and even earn a coveted spot on the Top 10. I’ll admit, Strava doesn’t have the most reliable GPS tracking system (or ability to map out your route on different imagery), but we love it for keeping track of miles covered and the vert you were able to get in that day.
I don’t know about you, but I am certainly psyched to get out there now. Looking for an upgrade to the quiver? Take a look at our top picks for 2022 alpine touring setups. Or, if you’re looking to get started backcountry skiing, but aren’t sure where to start, check out our beginners guide.