It is rare to encounter anybody who does not have a smartphone these days. Rich or poor, prince or pauper, the proliferation of smart devices is approaching “total saturation” in the West. Even the most devoutly Luddite prepper probably has a smartphone on or about their person at all times.
And let’s be honest, it is easy to see why! Far beyond making phone calls while on the go, which is technological marvel enough, smartphones give us unparalleled access to information and additional capabilities that make our lives easier, more convenient and more productive.
The cheapest smartphone of our day blows even the most powerful computers from a decade ago right out of the water. They may be expensive, and their effect on our society and our interactions may still not be fully understood, but gosh darn it these things are just too useful to pass up.
They are even useful in a survival context, such is their capability. Smartphones are capable of running all sorts of apps and storing vast amounts of data, both assets vital in a survival context.
If you use a smartphone day to day but haven’t taken just a little bit of extra time to equip it with the best in survival centric software, you are making a big mistake.
We will remedy that in this article and share with you 10 of the very best survival apps for preppers that are on the market today.
Wait, Smart Phones for Survival?!
I have little doubt that a few of our readers probably did a double take at my assertion. Before you go on, yes, I do mean to say you should plan on utilizing your smartphone in a survival context.
Don’t treat it like a liability, don’t treat it like a crutch or like a rotten floorboard waiting to give way underneath you and capsize your endeavor before you ever get started.
To do that is to both seriously underestimate its reliability and performance, and also assign to it too much power in the form of dependency. We will do neither. Let me explain.
Aside from it’s obvious utility as a communications device capable of transmitting and receiving data across multiple modes in the form of phone calls, emails and text messages your phone can also store and process a vast amount of data, and it will do so in a way that is accessible, useful and reliable, three major assets in any crisis.
From common survival manuals to intricate diagrams, expert photographs, cutting-edge information and detailed maps, survival apps cover everything from animals and edible plants to shelter creation and fire starting. Smartphones have the capability to radically shore up any gaps in your own mental library or practical expertise.
And if you are worried about the phone being a crutch or some eggshell-fragile device that you cannot count on, stop.
These phones are remarkably robust, and the addition of a bump case and screen protector plus a mobile recharging solution like a solar array means you will be able to keep your phone functional and fueled no matter where you go.
Even in the event that your phone does lose any and all signal capability it still functions as an ultra compact e-reader and personal data assistant- functionality you should not pass up.
Truly, folks, the time is now. Don’t treat your phone like some sort of albatross for your survival preparations.
Seek instead only to maximize its capability and what it can do for you while minimizing its vulnerabilities, the same as you would any other piece of equipment you have in your pocket or in your BOB.
With that said, let’s get to the list.
The Top 10 Survival Apps for Your Phone
A legendary and greatly loved survival handbook, John “Lofty” Wiseman’s SAS Survival Guide is now available in the form of an optimized app accessible on Android devices and iPhones.
Containing all of the expert wisdom, detailed photographs and step by step instructions that readers want, the app version of the SAS Survival Guide has been updated with information that is more relevant and useful in the technology-crammed era we live in today.
Even better, the app version of this guide contains several useful tools like a Morse code translator, and transmitter that functions by brightening and darkening your screen along with plenty of other functionality.
Always an invaluable reference tome, the SAS Survival Guide has truly made the leap to the digital realm in the 21st century and surpassed all expectations in the process. If you get only one survival guide app, make it this one.
The Offline Survival Manual app, long available for Android and iOS devices, has everything you need and nothing you don’t when it comes to surviving crises large and small in any setting.
With a spartan but easy to access and easy to reference layout, the Offline Survival Manual is perhaps most notable for allowing users to save the entirety of the app’s contents directly to their device so that they may utilize it even when their phone has no signal whatsoever.
Though it lacks in production values and certain categories compared to the SAS Survival Guide above the two work well in tandem, with the Offline Survival Manual living up to its name as a trusty backup to the former when you cannot get online. Anyone who enjoyed classic military manuals or the Boy Scout handbooks of old will love this app regardless. Easy to access and well worth the price!
Plenty of preppers plan on foraging for wild roughage, fruits, nuts and berries to supplement what food they carry with them when they are in the middle of a real life situation, but precious few actually have the experience in fieldcraft to determine whether or not the plant they are looking at is safe to eat, delicious and nutritious or an astoundingly deadly poison.
Are you sure? Are you really sure? Take a bite and we’ll find out together…
Or you could just whip out your phone, open up the Wild Edibles app and easily look up the plant in question by region, appearance or type and then compare the detailed photographs included against the plant you are looking at so that you may gather and dine with confidence.
The Wild Edibles app has been around a while for both Android and iOS devices, and is almost continuously improved year to year. This is one app that no prepper should be without, but especially preppers that plan on bugging out into the wilderness.
Most of us will admit to having a fascination with trackers since childhood, those seemingly gifted individuals who can take any, thoughtfully assess the prince they are looking at and then make a determination of what kind of animal made them, and what kind of state it was in.
You might not have any magical powers or attunement to nature, but using the Critter Trax app you’ll be able to easily compare drawings, photos and other information against what you are looking at to determine what kind of animal made what prints.
This can be extremely useful for preppers who are hunting or trapping, or engaged in other activity involving animals.
Knowing exactly what you are dealing with can let you better plan and prepare to achieve a positive outcome with the animal, and with the great variety of terrestrial life in North America alone this app serves as an invaluable reference work.
Cordage and rope of any kind will never be able to do its best work without a working knowledge of knots. Most of us weren’t Boy Scouts, and most of us aren’t even proper fishermen and so our knowledge of knots is likely lacking for the tasks ahead.
You can remedy this shortcoming and functional knowledge and practical experience by downloading the knots 3D app for your Android or iPhone.
This app classifies it’s not by category, allowing you to look up a useful not based on the application at hand and then follow step by step with intricate and crystal clear 3D models of how your cordage will interact with itself or with another object to achieve the desired outcome.
You’ll even have a good time with this app just sitting around practicing your knot tying.
Most of our readers are probably already familiar with Evernote even if they don’t use it, and you might be scratching your head wondering why it is included on a list of survival apps when it is not a survival-centric piece of software in any way. On the contrary, it surely is!
Evernote might “only” be a cloud-based note-taking and document saving app but considering it provides the ability to download documents with or without markup across all devices with Evernote installed on it you can reliably use this app to supercharge your device with any needed data you require.
From your own hand-drawn maps or personal notes to entire files of survival and emergency contact information Evernote can store it all and do it in a way that is easy to access.
The redundancy of having access to your data across multiple devices and on or offline is priceless, and out of all the many apps like it Evernote has the cleanest interface and the best reliability, making it the perfect choice for preppers.
The app is free, but access to all the features and additional installs requires a yearly subscription fee, and is well worth it
Cairn is an app that makes your outdoor travels and exploration safer by providing me with an interactive map crowdsourced for other users that overlays an area where they were able to get signal on their devices while off the beaten path.
You can use this information to help inform your own route or at worst select rally points along the way where you should be able to detour if you desperately need to get.
It also allows people that you provide with access to your device to monitor where you are along your route, and the app will additionally push notifications to people on your emergency contact list when you are overdue for arrival.
What’s more, Cairn also provides rescue advice to those emergency contacts to help them think clearly and get the ball moving on getting you found if it’s required. Easy to use, comprehensive and an excellent use of smartphone capability. Recommended!
ViewRanger is a comprehensive GPS-centric navigation app that will help you find, plot and track trails and paths wherever you happen to be.
Augmented reality, 3D topography fly-overs and unlimited access to offline maps are just some of the features that this incredibly comprehensive piece of software has to offer.
All of this is easy enough to access on the fly, but you can download maps with your trails and additional markup on it so you can use it even when you’re in the deep country and don’t have a prayer of getting any signal.
This is a subscription-based service but well worth the money considering what capability it can provide you, and even the free version has worthwhile features.
Life360 is best thought of as a family and group safety coordination app. All networked devices using the app can seamlessly communicate with and see each other on a map from within the app. This is terrific capability for tracking the locations of your family members or other members of your group in real time.
Even better, the built-in messaging utilities allow fast, real time and one touch communications to all networked devices, and a “panic button” mode can send a voicemail, email and text notifications from a variety of presets instantly. The app even lets you push out a meeting place or rendezvous point to all users painlessly. A terrific piece of software for increasing safety and situational awareness!
When you or someone else needs correct first aid procedures, you need them right away in a streamlined and easy to follow format.
The First-Aid app from the American Red Cross is that app, and is so easy to use that virtually anyone can follow its instructions to affect a meaningful medical intervention when action is required. Guided, step-by-step instructions can make the difference in a stressful situation, and it is here that this app delivers in spades.
Whether you are a seasoned medical practitioner or a rank novice who can barely put on a band-aid there is plenty of value in the first aid app. Download it, review it, and be prepared so when the time comes you’ll be ready to be your own first responder, or someone else’s!
11) Flashlight + (Android)
Most smartphone users are probably well acquainted by now with their device’s functionality as an impromptu flashlight. With a flick of the wrist or the tap of a soft key on their phone’s banner, they can activate the LED that their camera uses to provide flash photography.
Though often not very bright and usually a battery hog this is a great convenience feature when you find yourself in need of a light source and don’t have a dedicated flashlight.
Most modern phones have featured this built-in functionality for some time, but prior to the factory inclusion of said function we had apps that provided a workaround allowing us to do the same thing.
If you have an older Android phone that lacks built-in flashlight functionality you can download a free app for the purpose, and the Flashlight Plus app is one of the best, being entirely devoid of any surplus and bulky code that will create an even bigger drain on your resources.
The ICE, or ‘In Case of Emergency’, app available on Android and iOS devices is an emergency information, contact and notification app that displays a readily accessible pull-down banner on your lock screen so long as you have the app enabled.
This will allow first responders or passers by who find your phone while you are in a bad situation to see your name, pertinent vital statistics, known drug allergies, emergency contacts and other info like whether or not you are an organ donor.
With the increased emphasis on personal and information security most people keep their phones pretty heavily locked down, with even app notifications minimized on the lock screen. This app acts as a smart, secure exception in case you wind up incapacitated or badly injured.
13) Litium (Android)
The popularity of ebooks and the associated e-readers in our current era needs no explanation, but for those who prefer to keep their libraries digital and therefore entirely portable you can sometimes be faced with a Hobson’s choice concerning the document files themselves.
Most ebook publishers have deliberately relied upon .epub files in order to keep their works more secure and pipelined to one of only a handful of devices.
That works great if you are benefiting from the distribution of that software on monolithic and nearly ubiquitous devices, but for those of us who desire redundancy and adaptability in our electronic media it is a decidedly lackluster setup.
There are app versions of these readers available for smartphones, but they all include tons of bloatware and are far from a model of efficiency.
The Litium app allows you to freely detect and read .epub files on your device and also mark them up with notes and highlights without all the associated bloat of the major publishers devices or app.
One of the most elementary and important life-saving skills that anyone can learn is CPR. Whether or not you have taken CPR training you should make it a point to download the Resuscitate app for your favorite device.
This streamlined and easy to use app provides guided, crystal-clear step-by-step instructions for the application of CPR under a variety of circumstances according to the physiology of the victim and also similarly detailed instructions for the deployment and use of an AED.
CPR might seem so simple that you may think you could not possibly get it wrong, but stress and high-pressure situations have a way of making even the easiest tasks complicated.
This is also an excellent companion app for family members who might only have a rudimentary knowledge or even a complete lack of training in CPR.
One of the most fundamental mandates of survival is avoiding exposure to hostile weather conditions. Bad weather and extreme temperatures will do more than just ruin your picnic, they can place you and anyone else with you in mortal danger.
It might sound hilariously mundane, but staying on top of the weather forecast and changing weather conditions is essential.
To that end, you can use one of the most popular, precise and feature packed weather apps available on your iPhone or Android device.
AccuWeather is a name that most preppers have at least heard before, and before you decide to rely on a stripped down, built-in weather app or navigating to Weather.com in order to get your forecast you need to see what AccuWeather can do. The quality of life features and customization options make it completely worthwhile.
Any prepper worth their salt will have a comprehensive medical kit on or about their person and in their bug-out bag so they are better prepared for injury and illness. But supplies of medicine don’t last forever, and one of the true hallmarks of a seasoned prepper is their ability to provide care using homeopathic methods and natural resources.
Luckily for us, nature furnishes all sorts of plants with viable medicinal properties. Unfortunately, learning to recognize and then make use of them is a skill unto itself.
Enter the Cures A-Z app. This app lets you look up any condition, injury, ailment or illness using a simple directory and it will then provide you with a variety of options and treatments for dealing with it using traditional methods.
This is an entertaining app to peruse, certainly, but it is an invaluable reference work for every prepper, especially those who already have established gardens or are planning on bugging out into the wilderness. Available for Android and iOS devices there is no reason to go without this one.
Sometimes the most common apps can provide surprising utility, and we would be remiss if we did not take advantage of them.
Google Earth is an increasingly ubiquitous mapping tool that most of us have packed into our phones and PCs already, but the sheer amount of data, overlays and options that we can access in conjunction with supremely detailed photographic maps of an area make this an excellent planning tool for preppers.
Google Earth offers so many tools and so much data it can be intimidating, and it’ll take a little practice until you’re able to implement it in a meaningful way.
Also keep an eye on your data and download the most useful maps and information that you can directly to your phone: it does have a reputation as a data hog. No longer confined to Android devices and PC’s, iOS users can get in on the goodness, too.
Most smartphones have built-in compasses for direction finding, just one of many sensors and onboard tools that they use to furnish data to you and also to our corporate overlords who are tracking our every movement. The accuracy of the most basic graphical compasses varies, but the Smart Compass app utilizes augmented reality technology to provide you a visual indicator or landmark on the horizon of your desired direction and bearing.
This makes it far easier for you to keep moving and maintain an accurate heading compared to the top down digitally simulated analog compass apps that are a dime a dozen. Another clever and useful implementation of the technology inherent in these devices, you can get the Smart Compass app for Android and iOS phones.
The Disaster Alert app simply furnishes up to date global information on all sorts of disasters, crises and various emergencies to users of Android and iOS phones.
If you want the latest info on a bad front of severe thunderstorms, wildfires or tsunamis the disaster alert app can provide it to you, and will also alert you to dangerous conditions in your area based on a variety of parameters that you can set within the app.
Every prepper knows that early warning of impending trouble is solid gold when it comes to keeping out of trouble and avoiding harm and the Disaster Alert app is one of the very best. Easy to use with a clean interface this is one app that is helpful wherever you go.
Another useful way to get the straight dope on bad situations and problems that may be brewing in your area is to use a scanner to eavesdrop on unencrypted radio channels and use by public servants and various agencies in your area.
You can get the same functionality while freeing yourself from the installation of a bulky set in your vehicle or at your home by using the scanner radio app.
The Scanner Radio app does exactly what it says, allowing you to search for and tune into various radio frequencies used by police and fire departments, EMS and various other agencies in and around your area, or elsewhere in the nation.
If you really want to stay on top of a developing situation or threat without being beholden to the spin or conspicuous lack of news provided by major media this is the app for you.
Your smartphone has far more capability than you are giving it credit for, so there is no reason why you shouldn’t maximize that capability to help you get through a survival situation alive and intact.
There are many survival specific apps and apps that are just generally useful that can help you out no matter what you are facing down. Download the 20 apps we have shared with you here today and you will turn your phone into a veritable command center for your prepping efforts.