Your BlackBerry and the Great Outdoors

By Ryan Blundell on 19 Jan 2010 12:50 pm EST

There’s nothing like the Great Outdoors (that covers both the movie and the actual outdoors). Breaking away from your desk, breathing naturally circulated air and basking in the light of that glowing ball thingy in the sky; is there a better feeling? You finally have a chance to recharge and relax. Soothing sounds soon caress your ear; the swishing of wind blowing through the trees, birds singing, a babbling brook, a BlackBerry notification tone…

Wait, a BlackBerry? Who brought the BlackBerry way out here? Oh, that’s right, you did. For those who tell you that you should have left it at home, let them know that it’s always a good time for a BlackBerry. It “IS” designed to keep you mobile, after all. The scout motto is “be prepared”, so isn’t carrying your smartphone the right thing to do? To back up your claim, I hit the trails in search of applications you can use while you’re out and about. Though it won’t tell you the best way to toast a marshmallow (there should be an app for that!), your BlackBerry can be turned into an excellent guide. Let’s gather around the campfire, it’s time for a story…

If a tree falls in the woods…

This time around, I’ve tried to cover a few applications that were either informative, productive or just plain fun. I’m an avid BlackBerry abuser, but even I know I can’t spend the whole day staring at the screen. If there are any other apps you use while eating your trail mix, leave a comment and let everyone know.

First Aid

Accidents happen, especially while trekking through the trails. Rookie adventurers may not know how to deal with burns, rashes and other issues that could potentially arise. Minor injuries could cut your trip short. Now I’m not saying you should avoid seeking medical attention, but you should know what to do. iMobile Care, by VisionSync Inc, offers various types of assistance right at your fingertips. Rather than trying to use your browser to find useful information in a hurry, you can easily search for facts, treatment and special instructions, so you can focus on helping the injured person out. iMobile Care also comes equipped with loud SOS alarms, personal information capturing capabilities and location tracking. You can also take pictures of the situation for later use (“See? It didn’t look infected at the time..”). iMobile Care costs $2.99.


Wow, it’s getting dark out, reeeeeeeallly dark. Do you remember the way back? NO?!

Depending on the situation, a loud SOS alarm may not work. Perhaps a loud sound may not attract help…or may attract something else (dun dun dunnnn). Now if you’re out of out of your coverage area, what are you going to do? The SOS application transforms your BlackBerrys screen into a flashing SOS Morse code beacon that stays on. You could try to use your hand to mimic the SOS Morse code, but I bet your BlackBerrys battery will far outlast your arms. SOS is available for $2.99.

Trailblazing and Calorie Burning

You may be looking to get more out of your outdoor adventure, like attempting to work off those free donuts that your company supplies to their employees every Friday. Getting exercise while outdoors, in my opinion, beats being stuck on a treadmill (or next to some sweaty, stinky dude) any day. The great outdoors is the perfect motivation when trying to shed pounds, or just tone up. It doesn’t necessarily require you to head into the wilderness; just get your butt outside. BiM Active helps you record your journeys, jogs or jaunts right from your BlackBerry. You can capture your pace, elevation, location, calories and paths while getting your exercise. You can even check out street, topo or satellite maps or view the weather in your area. The application does use its own notification tones, which cannot be turned off (for example; a tone will play when you begin to record your activity). BlackBerry App World has the BiM Active application and it is available for free.

First star to the right, and straight on 'til morning

While out enjoying nature, you may see a few people walking around staring at their mobile devices. In some cases, they may be trying to find reception. In other cases, they could be using their devices as a compass. A great application that offers an active compass, and other features, is GPSLogger. The included compass offers both day and night views for ease of use. Besides the compass, you will be able to view and track your velocity, path, longitude, latitude, altitude and attitude (ok, well maybe not attitude). Waypoints can also be marked for future reference; perhaps points of interest. You can also export paths in CSV, GPX or KML formats, as well as import GPX and KML formats. GPSLogger is available for free.

You mean I can’t tie the worm around the hook? Ouch

Fishing trips- what a great way to spend the day with your buddies, if you actually stop goofing off and actually fish. Before you hit the boat, or perhaps while you’re waiting for a bite, check out the Bass Assassin 2 game. Sharpen your virtual fishing skills in either tournament or free fish mode. With challenges to attempt, bonuses to unlock and gear to upgrade, you definitely have a lot to tackle (get it? Tackle?). Just make sure you actually catch some real fish, or else it’s toasted weenies for you. Bass Assassin 2 is available for $2.99.

From Nature Newbie to Wildlife Whiz

They say that knowledge is power. They also say you should know what you’re getting into. Whoever ‘they’ is (holy grammar), they’re pretty smart. Wouldn’t you rather know what you have gotten yourself into? The folks at the Sierra Club have a few mobile applications to help you out with your nature or camping trips. Their Animal & Bird Tracks knowledge cards help you identify dozens of tracks and view detailed information on each animal or bird, such as; diet and physical appearance. Their Wilderness Survival Skills knowledge cards help you stay prepared. The cards cover topics that include: dangerous animal encounters, harsh elements, becoming lost and other mishaps. The Granite Gourmet knowledge cards offer information on proper food storage, recipes, what to bring and cooking tips. There are many other knowledge cards available as well. The only topic the cards won’t cover is how to deal with baked beans and small, enclosed tents. The Sierra Club applications are available for $4.99 each.

It was a dark and stormy night

One of the best things to do while camping is telling ghost stories. If you lack imagination, you may need help with your story telling. With eBook store application, such as Kobo, you have a wide array of stories to choose from. Kobo has thousands upon thousand of eBooks available to you, with most allowing you to read the first chapter before purchasing. Table of contents allow you to quickly get to the chapter you want. Kobo is available for free.

Now before you head out, please make sure that your BlackBerry is well protected. What good will it do if it falls into a lake or ravine? Do you think you’re prepared enough with these apps? Can you think of another application others should consider? Please leave a comment with your ideas. Don’t forget your bug spray!

Reader comments

Your BlackBerry and the Great Outdoors


Nice post Ryan! Thanks for throwing these apps together with a story/scenario for each (great selling technique).

Have a good one!

I love how GPSLogger uses the QRCode to get the download link. Everyone should do this. Someone needs to make an app that takes it out of BBM though.

That one works real well, the Storm2 is not "supported" and it exists when the keyboard comes up (full in portrait). After changing the keyboard style it crashes when trying to open the camera.

I just thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, and my Blackberry was on updating my website every night with the adventures I was having. Not only that, but I used a GPS Tracker to keep my family and friends updated as to where I was so they know I was ok. Regardless of any bumps or bruises it endured, it made me able to share my trip with everyone, and now that journal is an invaluable piece of my history!

Good job, Ryan, thanks. I am very much an outdoor person myself, so this was great.

Sorry I don't have any suggestions to offer but I do have a question. Is there an app or GPS solution that shows hiking and packpacking trails on the smartphones? (I meant to say BlackBerry, didn't I?)

And on the same theme with back country recreation, how about all those off highway roads that take us to our back country starting points and destinations? Many of us could use help with that also.

Thanks in advance to all who may have suggestions to share.

+1 on the geocaching. There are some excellent apps on BlackBerry for this. Always fun to go on a little treasure hunt with your BlackBerry showing the way. Cacheberry is the one I use.

+2 on the caching. Blackstar is a great free GPS app, I have found it more accurate then my Garmin handheld.

BlackStar is great. It also works perfectly with Very easy to import coordinates of hidden caches.

GPS Logger is nice and all, but what about a program that will do the same, and has been born from one idea on the Forums of this site? I'm talking about BlackStar. What Started as a simple program has involved into a great app. I think you are definitely wronging those who worked hard on developing it from the ground up, and are not asking for a donation on their site. They have always accepted suggestions, and have always been willing to try to add those. If I remember correctly, it started as a basic app to display latitude and longitude, and look where it is now. It was listed on these forums long before GPS Logger! Check out their thread:

BlackStar FTW!

Kinda cool, except my 9700 is just sitting on the table and the compass is swinging back forth between all of the cardinal points. Plus I wish the compass also showed degrees. Not sure this is a keeper.

Addendum: Wow it is a battery suck. My battery went down from 88% to 55% in about an hour. Not a keeper.

I don't see BiM in AppWorld when accessing through my Tour, am I right that this means the Tour is not supported?

I use Tether on my 'berry and I like to sit in my ice fishing house, surfing on my netbook, while I'm fishing. I fish with an underwater camera so when I see a fish I pick up my rod and start jigging. I love this century!

I'm sorry boys and girls but I'm going to have to pee on the parade here. Living in the great white north I almost never take my crackberry out in the bush when I'm hunting or ice fishing. I don't think the phone appreciates the -50 wind chill, and I don't need my phone screaming the bad boys anthem thru the forest when I'm sighting in a big moose.

That's if you get any reception out there. I certainly wouldn't want to rely on my cell phone to get me out of the woods without a compass and topographic map as back up.

Thats the scary part, I don't know if its my carrier, or the fact that I live on the prairies, but I seem to have reception everywhere...

Great article, Ryan! Thanks for the information on all of the apps. i take my BlackBerry with me hiking, canoeing and climbing. i'll definitely download a few of the applications you mentioned.

For a person that live in the city all the time, thIs article makes me feel like want to go out of the country somw time and enjoy the natural with my BlackBerry.

I had BIM on my phone a couple years ago before I got my Storm. I really liked BIM and would recommend it to hikers, runners, cyclists. I only wish they would offer it for the Storm. I've been wishing and waiting since I ditched my old phone.

I am a scout leader and cell phone is a great tool. All the boys have 'em and some leaders want the boys to leave 'em at home or in the car. I on the other hand have taught my boys that they are a good tool to have. If I'm in a life or death situation I would hate to think that I told the boy trying to help me. That he needed to leave the phone at home. As for a gps app I like using gpsed. It let me follow my own bread crum trail back out and I love its compass.

Trimble offers three outdoor GPS applications for BlackBerry: 1) Trimble Outdoors for waypoint navigation and geo-tagging, 2) AllSport GPS for workout tracking and fitness training, and 3) Geocache Navigator for paperless geocaching with realtime connection to

All are available as free trials at the BlackBerry App World and at

We will appreciate any feedback and comments :)

Trimble Outdoors