15 Must-Have Van Life Apps – Bearfoot Theory

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When it’s time to hit the street in your van, the world is your oyster. But let’s face it – that on the spot freedom is usually a little overwhelming at first as a result of van life comes with quite a lot of logistical planning. How do you discover locations to camp? How do you propose your route? How do you discover enjoyable issues to do, like climbing and mountain biking trails?

Luckily there are tons of van life apps on the market that may make these duties a lot simpler. Below, you’ll uncover the most effective van life apps for locating campsites, native actions, low-cost gasoline, and extra.

iOverlander

  • Best for: Finding campsites, dump stations, showers, water refill, laundromats, and so on.
  • Price: Free
  • Download: iOS and Google Play

iOverlander is likely one of the hottest van life apps on the market, particularly in case you’re thinking about how you can discover free campsites. It’s one of the complete crowdsourced databases of free tenting that we’ve discovered and it covers all of North America (together with Canada and Mexico). Users can add images, an outline, and different info, like web availability, together with GPS coordinates. Because iOverlander is crowd-sourced, the app is continually up to date with new info and up to date opinions.

iOverlander can be a fantastic app for locating facilities like water refill, propane and dump stations, laundromats, showers, and extra. While iOverlander doesn’t formally work offline, you’ll nonetheless be capable of see your location and close by dispersed tenting areas. You simply received’t be capable of see any person images or the map background once you zoom in. Although there are some paid campgrounds listed on iOverlander, in case you’re trying to camp at established campgrounds, there are higher van life apps on the market.

iOverlander van life app

Sēkr

  • Best for: Finding campsites, neighborhood occasions & gatherings, connecting with close by van lifers
  • Price: Free / Sekr+ $1.99 per 30 days or $18.99 yearly
  • Download: iOS and Google Play

Sēkr (previously generally known as The Van Life App) is a women-owned app constructed by fellow van lifers. Similar to iOverlander, Sēkr makes use of crowd-sourced information to supply campsite info, together with opinions and images. We’ve discovered that Sēkr sometimes doesn’t have as many campsite opinions as iOverlander, however the app is rising and getting extra strong every day.

The characteristic we love about Sēkr that may’t be discovered on some other van life app is their “Community Calendar”. Here you will discover upcoming van life meetups and gatherings, caravan invites, and different alternatives to attach with different van lifers. With your Sēkr profile, you can too opt-in to see different Sēkr members in your common space and ship pal requests based mostly on shared pursuits.

Recently, Sēkr launched a premium model (referred to as Sekr+) which permits customers to obtain maps and campsite information for offline use, provides overlay map layers for US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land, and contains overlays of protection maps for main US carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.

Sekr van life app

The Dyrt

  • Best for: Finding campgrounds, offline maps entry, and campground reductions (with Pro membership)
  • Price: Free / Dyrt Pro $35.99/yr – BFT readers get a FREE 30-day membership to The Dyrt PRO (use the code “Bearfoot” if signing up on cellular!)
  • Download: iOS and Google Play

The Dyrt is one in every of our favourite van life apps for locating established campsites. It has complete listings for paid campgrounds together with private and non-private ones, in addition to some free dispersed tenting choices (though dispersed choices are extra restricted than different van life apps).

Their listings embody opinions, images, info on facilities, and extra. You can even search by required facilities – let’s say you want Wifi to get some work carried out or want a location with showers or perhaps a pet-friendly location, you may slender your search down utilizing all forms of parameters.

With the free model of The Dyrt, you may have entry to look the entire campgrounds within the database, however upgrading to the annual Dyrt Pro membership provides you all of that plus a street journey planner, entry to dispersed tenting map layers (our favourite perk!), offline map entry, and unique tenting reductions. You can learn our full evaluation of the Dyrt Pro right here.

Bearfoot Theory readers can join a FREE 30-day membership to The Dyrt PRO (use code “Bearfoot” if signing up on cellular).

The Dyrt app

Harvest Hosts/Boondocker’s Welcome

  • Best for: discovering distinctive campsites (equivalent to farms, wineries, and museums)
  • Price: $99/yr (Harvest Hosts), $79/yr (Boondocker’s Welcome), $169 (HH+BW) – BFT readers get 15% off HH and 15% off BW (code: BWFRIENDS15)
  • Download: iOS and Google Play

If you’re on the lookout for distinctive locations to park in a single day, Harvest Hosts and Boondocker’s Welcome are two van life apps to take a look at. An annual Harvest Hosts membership means that you can park in a single day free of charge at quite a lot of wineries, breweries, farms, museums, golf programs, and different points of interestUse this hyperlink to get 15% off your first yr with the code HHFRIENDS15. Purchasing one thing and supporting the small companies you camp at is inspired however not required.

Boondocker’s Welcome connects you with personal property homeowners who welcome in a single day campers. These are sometimes in driveways, fields, or backyards and a few enable multiple-night stays. You can get 15% off your membership utilizing the code BWFRIENDS15. 

These apps as particularly useful once you’re in areas with out many different tenting choices, like New England and the East Coast the place dispersed tenting isn’t simply obtainable, however one thing to remember is that they do require you to be self-contained with a bathroom.

A Sprinter van parked at a Harvest Host location at a field in Michigan
Camping at a Harvest Hosts in Michigan

AllStays Camp & RV

  • Best for: Finding campsites, discovering alternate locations to camp (ex. casinos, relaxation stops, Walmarts)
  • Price: $9.99
  • Download: iOS (no Google Play app obtainable)

AllStays Camp & RV is a paid app that you simply obtain to your cellphone. All Stays contains paid and dispersed campsites, however for dispersed it’s not as complete because the earlier apps we point out. What we like about AllStays is that it additionally has different forms of locations you may park free of charge, together with Walmarts, rest-stops, and casinos, in addition to different facilities. In addition, you will discover locations to replenish water, RV dumps, and different providers that you simply usually want on the street.

One distinctive characteristic you received’t discover from different van life apps is a peak filter – that is particularly useful for anybody with tall automobiles that must keep away from low clearance bridges or routes. If you need entry to their desktop model, you’ll pay an annual $34.95 charge.

AllStays Camp & RV app
Screenshot: AllStays

Google Maps

  • Best for: Navigation, offline maps, discovering eating places and different native facilities
  • Price: Free
  • Download: iOS and Google Play

Google Maps could look like a no brainer however it’s one in every of our favourite instruments not just for navigation however for locating attention-grabbing issues to do within the areas we’re touring. For discovering eating places and different native facilities, like locations to do laundry, for instance, I exploit Google Reviews inside Maps. For discovering different issues to do, I’ll simply flip to Google and kind “best outdoor activities near ….”

I additionally use Google Maps as a planning software as nicely – anytime I hear about a wonderful climbing path or superior campsite, I’ll pin it on Google Maps. This takes the strain off of all the time having to plan within the second – generally I’ll simply open my Map and see what I’ve pinned within the space or alongside my route.

Another Google Maps trick is to make use of satellite tv for pc view to scope out the realm from a hen’s eye view. I exploit satellite tv for pc mode largely when on the lookout for campsites – after getting a location in thoughts, you may zoom in to see if the spot is massive sufficient for a number of vans, if it’s secluded, if there’s different camp spots close by, and so on.

You can even obtain Google Maps (in sections) for offline use which is tremendous useful for locating pre-planned campsites, trailheads, and so on. once you’re out of cell service.

Google Maps

AllTrails

For climbing, I like utilizing AllTrails as a result of it has a database of over 200,000 path maps, plus, detailed path info, images, and up-to-date opinions on virtually each path you can need. There’s a remark part that is stuffed with crowdsourced opinions of the path, present situations, and recommendation from hikers who know the realm nicely. Even the free model is extraordinarily helpful for saving hikes and navigation (when you may have cell service).

The advantage of upgrading to an AllTrails Pro account is the capability to obtain path maps forward of time for offline use, notifications in case you stray off-route, and a Lifeline characteristic that means that you can simply ship information to your security contacts to allow them to maintain monitor of you on hikes (and even be notified in case you don’t present up at your deliberate vacation spot in time). When I first hit the street, I used the free model of the app, however rapidly upgraded to Pro and have by no means regarded again. Since I’m sometimes climbing in unfamiliar areas, I like with the ability to obtain a number of path maps forward of time (you by no means know once you’re going to lose service) and as a solo feminine van-lifer & hiker, the Lifeline characteristic provides my household peace of thoughts.

Bearfoot Theory readers can get a FREE 7-Day Trial of AllTrails Pro utilizing this hyperlink (upon signing up, click on the inexperienced “Try Pro for Free” button).

AllTrails app

Gaia GPS

Gaia GPS is one other nice app for locating climbing trails, monitoring your self whereas climbing, and it might act as a substitute for carrying a separate GPS machine whereas adventuring. While we nonetheless choose AllTrails for locating new climbing trails, Gaia has extra strong options once you’re really climbing, like a backtrack characteristic you should use to retrace your steps and customized waypoint icons.

Due to Gaia’s crowd-sourced map layers, it usually contains particulars, waypoints, and landmarks at different apps could not present. We’d advocate their annual membership (BFT readers get 20% off Premium) so you may obtain offline maps and have entry to further map layers.

Gaia GPS app

PathForks

  • Best for: discovering native mountain biking, e-bike, and gravel bike trails
  • Price: $36/yr
  • Download: iOS and Google Play

For mountain biking, our favourite useful resource for locating trails is PathForks. Although the desktop model is free, the app prices $36/yr in an effort to use it outdoors of your “home region”. PathForks is probably the most complete mountain biking app on the market with over 400,000 MTB trails. You can even simply filter to e-bike-friendly trails and see latest path studies.

If you desire a free mountain biking app, try MTB Project. When you’re on wi-fi, you may obtain the database for a complete state. Then once you’re offline, you may simply discover close by mountain bike trails with information on problem, elevation profile, and present situations. However, MTB Project doesn’t have fairly as many trails listed as PathForks.

TrailForks mountain biking app
Trailforks

Recreation.gov

  • Best for: reserving National Park campgrounds, backcountry permits, timed entry tickets, and so on.
  • Price: Free
  • Download: iOS and Google Play

If you propose on visiting National Parks or fashionable federal lands throughout your van travels, the Recreation.gov app is a should. In partnership with 12 totally different federal businesses (together with the Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Forest Service), this app means that you can ebook paid campsites inside parks, purchase timed-entry tickets for relevant Parks, and ebook superior permits for different out of doors actions. Here are a number of examples of campgrounds and actions that required reserving:

While you can too ebook permits and campsites on a desktop, the app is nice for on-the-go bookings.

Recreation.gov app

Gas Buddy

  • Best for: Finding the most affordable gasoline in your route
  • Price: Free
  • Download: iOS and Google Play

Gas is likely one of the largest bills you’ll have on the street, so discovering methods to save cash on gasoline is essential. Gas Buddy is a necessary van life app for locating the most affordable gasoline costs. Simply open the app and GasBuddy will pull up the closest gasoline stations and their costs. You can type by value, or toggle to view on a map. If you’re planning your route, you may search by location or zoom out on the map to see if it’s higher to replenish now or wait till the following city. Using Gas Buddy, I’ve usually discovered gasoline stations which can be $.25-$1 cheaper than the typical – beneath, I used to be in a position to save $1/gallon by ready to replenish till after I left city.

Gas Buddy app

Upside

  • Best for: Getting money again on gasoline, grocery, and restaurant purchases
  • Price: Free
  • Download: iOS and Google Play

Another manner to save cash on the street is thru the app Upside. Upside companions with sure gasoline stations supply money again on purchases, sometimes as much as 15 cents/gallon. While this won’t look like a big quantity, it provides up over time! The draw back to Upside (see what I did there?) is that it’s not obtainable in all places, so I sometimes toggle between Gas Buddy and Upside to see the place I can discover the most effective deal on gasoline. Recently Upside additionally expanded its money again choices to incorporate sure grocery shops and eating places.

Upside app

Open Signal

  • Best for: scouting areas with cell sign, web velocity exams, finding cell towers
  • Price: Free
  • Download: iOS and Google Play

If you work remotely from the street, Open Signal is a must have van life app. With Open Signal, you may simply run web velocity exams with the faucet of a button and you’ll run video exams for any calls. If you’re attempting to determine which campsite has the strongest sign, you should use their interactive map to look by location and pull up protection maps for Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. If you employ a booster that must be pointed towards the closest cellphone tower, Open Signal can even make it easier to find towers.

Open Signal app

Libby

  • Best for: Downloading audiobooks & ebooks
  • Price: Free
  • Download: iOS and Google Play

Before you hit the street, head to your native library to snag a free library card (in case you don’t have already got one). With the Libby app, you may hyperlink your library card and entry hundreds of free audiobooks and e-books to obtain to your cellphone and/or Kindle. Physical books can take up quite a lot of room in a van, so switching to a Kindle is a straightforward strategy to keep well-read with out dropping space for storing. We additionally love listening to audiobooks on lengthy drives, and all Libby e-books and audiobooks could be learn even once you lose cell sign. Plus, utilizing Libby is an effective way to help public libraries. Win, win!

Libby app

EPA AirNow

  • Best for: Checking air high quality index (AQI) and seeing real-time smoke maps
  • Price: Free
  • Download: iOS and Google Play

Wildfire season is an unlucky actuality of residing on the street, however AirNow is a free, EPA-run app the place you may rapidly get present air high quality situations based mostly in your location and zoom out on a map to see AQI elsewhere. You can even toggle to see a smoke map and present wildfires throughout the nation. This app is useful to see present areas to keep away from, or the place to flee if you end up dodging poor air high quality on the street.

AirNow app

Are there any van life apps that we didn’t point out above? Share your ideas and experiences down within the feedback and be certain that to enroll in our van life e-newsletter right here.



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