Emergency Communication

Survival Apps: Top 6 Best Applications to Use in Emergency Situations

Survival Apps

We live in the era of new technology when our phones are filled with useful information and apps that come in handy exactly when you need them. We don’t have to remember complicated stuff anymore, there’s always an app for this if we look carefully enough. Well, today we’re going to talk about survival apps for your phone and how they can actually help you in a stressful situation.

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Many of you may be a bit skeptical about this and it’s understandable. Probably the first image that comes to mind when we talk about survival and phone apps is a manly survivalist, in the middle of nowhere, with a machete in one hand and a smartphone in the other hand asking Siri what to do next. The situation is not quite like this, a true survivalist still needs to know everything there is to know about survival but for a beginner, a survival app could be very useful.

It’s not recommended to base your entire knowledge on a device as fragile as the smartphone though. We all know how many things can go wrong with it even when it’s in our home, where the environment is safe and natural elements don’t reach. Here are just a few examples of what could go wrong with your smartphone when you’re out, exploring the world:

  • you could drop it on a rock and the whole screen could shatter leaving you with a spider web (of course the touch is going to be unusable)
  • it could fell out of your pocket (they’re slim and slippery) and it could fall into a ravine or you simply don’t realize when you lose it
  • the battery could die
  • the humidity may break the device
  • if you go through a stream and forget to remove the phone from your pocket you’ll allow it to take an unwanted bath
  • there is not enough coverage
  • your data network may not work

And these are just to name a few problems. But, if you are prepared with a spare battery and you keep your phone in a secure pocket, on the upper part of your body and put it in a protective case you might have a very important ally with you. You can also invest in solar chargers which are extremely useful during summer hikes. We have reviewed some of the best products on the market and, if you are interested, you can read more about features and prices in our article, here.

The main idea here is that you need to know your survival basics but it doesn’t hurt to have a few survival apps installed on your phone. These apps complete your survival kit allowing you instant access to valuable information. Also, some of the best apps have been developed by experienced survivalists in their quest to keep people safer wherever they were.

SAS survival guide

You may be familiar with the bestselling book called SAS Survival Guide. Well this guide, written by John Wiseman, a former instructor and special air service soldier, was transposed into one of the most amazing survival apps. The upside and, at the same time the downside (according to each one’s perspective), is that the app doesn’t require a connection. The package installs everything on your phone, meaning that it will need storage space (the downside).

SAS Survival Guide

Image credit: dmarge.com

The logic behind this is that in the wilderness, the possibility to get coverage and mobile data is pretty small which is why the app downloads everything locally, so you can access the information at any given time without a live connection.

SAS survival guide offers you the following features:

  • 16 videos with valuable information on how to survive in certain situations. The videos are realized by the author himself allowing you to appreciate his skills and knowledge on the matter. If you feel these videos are not enough, we have a great in-depth tutorial on survival basics you should check out.
  • photos that will teach you about  animal tracks, knots, snakes, plants (which ones are good to eat and which ones aren’t), and more
  • the SAS Survival Guide – the book in full text adapted for mobile format and a search utility
  • survival checklists – of great help when you need to put together a go bag
  • sun compass
  • a very well realized quiz that will test your survival skills and knowledge
  • Morse code signaling device
  • First aid section – how to accord it in the best conditions

As you can see from the description, this app is a valuable asset when in the wilderness. There are many things you need to learn in practice and it doesn’t hurt to have a small guide with you.

The app is very popular on both major platforms: Android and Apple and was ranked the #1 LIFESTYLE APP in almost all geographic locations.

Pocket first aid & CPR

Sometimes outdoor adventures end badly and someone gets injured. There’s nothing worse than wanting to help someone but not being able to because you lack the necessary knowledge. This app offers you the possibility to get the necessary knowledge to help your friend right on the spot. Of course that everyone should have minimum first aid basic knowledge but when you need more information, survival apps are a swipe away.

Content on this app is provided by the American Heart Association and it is meant to offer assistance in emergency situations.

Pocket first aid & CPR offers you the following features:

  • first aid basic information like how to help a person whit a sprained ankle or how to mend a flesh wound
  • instructions on how to use an AED (if ever necessary)
  • how to treat medical, environmental, and injury emergencies
  • 34 videos depicting how to perform certain first aid procedures
  • 46 high resolution images where it is described how to proceed in emergency situations, with search feature
  • instructions on how to perform CPR on adults, children, and infants
  • instructions on how to save the life of a person who’s chocking

This app is really good to have on your phone even if you’re not a survivalist or an outdoor enthusiast. Emergency situations regarding health can appear in any environment and if you have the knowledge on how to deal with them you have the upper hand. A very convincing proof that this app will work in any conditions, is the story of Dan Woolley from Haiti, who survived 65 hours under debris using it.

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No one actually wants to have to perform a CPR on a friend or to put a splint on a broken bone but if the situation arrives you and this survival app may be the only things that can save that friend’s life. It is worse to lose a friend because you were too stubborn to learn about according first aid than to actually have to use the information presented by this app.

You should also consider investing in a high-quality first aid kit with the right items for the job. If you’re looking for one, we have a great article with reviews on the best first aid kit to have depending on the situation.

Smart compass app

Everyone who loves going in the outdoor with just a backpack on his or her back must know the basics on orientation. You must know how to use a map and a compass and how to find out your direction regardless of the surrounding environment. It is always best to have the physical compass with you (as backup) but the Smart Compass App has more features than any physical compass ever invented. The greatest of them all is that it has an augmented reality display allowing you to actually overlap the compass on the surrounding environment.


The other super feature of this app is the fact that is free. We got your attention? Let’s see what other features this amazing survival app has!

 Smart compass offers you the following features:

  • absolute north (feature available in the PRO version)
  • view of the environment using the phone’s camera
  • instructions to calibrate your phone’s sensors
  • the possibility to send GPS information like your current position or the point your are heading to via SMS or email
  • GPS speedometer (also available in the PRO version)

The Smart Compass is one of the most efficient and easy to use survival apps out there. You can use it exactly like a normal compass but you don’t have to stop and check it all the time. The compass is right there in front of you and nothing impairs your vision. Also it has the advantage of being with you all the time.

You might forget your compass but you will never forget your phone. Still, we recommend learning how to use a physical compass and map and you can do this by following our in-depth tutorial you can find here.

ViewRanger GPS – trails & maps

This app is wildly popular amongst survivalists and outdoor adventures and for a good reason. It is the GPS map application you really want to have with you when following a trail. It offers complete offline access to maps, navigation and trails and complete information regarding the terrain in the area.

The app has stored information on over 10.000 routes and trails and even aerial images that complete the picture. This app and its free web tools is used by over 150 search and rescue teams in Europe and North America so if they trust it, you must include it in your top favorite survival apps.

ViewRanger GPS

You won’t have to waste time with maps and compasses, calculating your direction and checking it all the time. You simply chose the route you want to follow (or you make it) and you start. The application will allow you to see if you’re off the route or what type of terrain you are heading towards, valuable information when you try to keep a certain rhythm and train your organism.

ViewRanger GPS offers you the following features:

  • The possibility to get your GPS mapped location even without coverage, which is a major feature for outdoor adventurers. There are many open spaces where the coverage is not so good or simply is inexistent
  • The possibility to save maps on your device in order to use later when you don’t have coverage
  • The possibility to record your track in order to review it later or share it with your friends
  • You can also see the distance you’ve traveled and at what speed
  • You can create a web account on their site and keep it in sync with your device. This helps at route planning and sharing your route with your friends. Let’s say you don’t all get on the route from the same point. You share the route with everyone and establish a common point to meet.
  • The free version includes web tools like OpenStreetMap, OpenCycleMap, Global street & terrain mapping, Bing Aerial Imagery, Ski map, and Transport map.
  • You also have the possibility to buy more advanced maps using in-app purchasing.

If you have the possibility to use a mobile device, this app is the one to have installed on your phone. It may require some time to get used to all the features but once you’ve managed to understand it you’ll be able to appreciate it at its true value.

How to tie knots – 3D animated

Have you ever tried to learn how to make a specific knot using video tutorials? There are some video tutorials out there that can help you learn, but most of them are completely frustrating and they make you give up even before you start. Believe it or not, knots can save your life in an emergency situation.

Imagine you have to tie a rope out of pieces to take your partner out of a ravine. If you don’t know how to do it properly, the rope might unravel at the middle of the distance between the bottom of the ravine and the edge of the ravine, and your friend may fall and suffer some serious injuries. Do you want to have that on your conscience?

Another emergency situation where knots are extremely useful is when you try to survive by your own in the wilderness. You could improvise a fishing line to make yourself some very tasty dinner, or you’ll need rope to improvise shelter and traps. Anything is possible when you know the difference between a regular, overhand knot and a really strong one. This is why we consider this app to be one of the best and important survival apps out there.

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The feature that made this app a real hit among smartphone users is the way the knots are presented. The producers used high definition animations to show you how to make a few basic knots. The app is at the beginning as there are only a few basic knots introduced but if you’re interested, you can download it for free from the App Store and Google Play.

With this app on your phone your paracord projects won’t have to wait anymore. The fun can start right now! We also have a great article about different paracord knots that may be of help in explaining how some more complicated designs are done. So, if you want to learn more, take a look at our paracord knots tutorial.

Bug out bag checklist app

If you’re a beginner in the matter of survival and you want to start your first bug out project, everything may seem a bit overloaded. You need to gather so many items, in so many different categories and you have to squeeze all of them in one backpack. Even if it may seem that making a  bug out bag is more a problem of packing, there are many things you need to figure out by yourself like: what type of food to take and how much, how to store the water in the most efficient way or what type of clothes to pack and for how long.

Bug out bag checklist app

Bug out bag checklist offers you the following features:

  • Great checklists where every item is described so you can choose the right one for you.
  • Reminder and calendar where you can set alarms for when it’s time to recheck your bug out bag. Some items like food and water need to be replaced at regular times and it’s hard to remember everything in this crazy world. The app will take care of this of you.
  • You can also add items and create new lists and of course, remove items from an already created list. It’s completely editable which is very important.
  • You have the possibility to create and inventory and keep track of what you already have.

This is one of the survival apps any prepper should have in its phone, from our point of view. Still you can learn more about BOBs and what to pack from our article on the ultimate bug out bag.

Survival apps are a growing trend and every prepper has the possibility to choose the ones that fit his or her needs. Make sure to chose apps that have comments and reviews to make sure you get exactly what it is advertised and never pay for something you can’ t test first. Also, even if you have the best and most amazing survival apps on your phone, make sure you have the necessary basic knowledge.

Your phone’s battery may die or the phone may break but what you already know can’t be forgotten. Survival apps are great helpers but you can’t rely completely on them. Always carry with you the real world equivalent of an app like a compass and a map. These two items should never miss from your bug out bag even if you downloaded the latest update for the Smart Compass and you have the best maps and offline GPS localization.

Being prepared for an emergency situation also means being able to understand the environment and use anything you have at hand without gadgets.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you click on one of these links and make a purchase, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Also, as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If the information in this post has been helpful, please consider purchasing through one of the links in this article. Thank you.

About the author

David Dawson

David Dawson is a retired security specialist with over 20 years of experience. He worked for a secret manufacturing facilities and hospitals in Illinois. David's responsibility was to protect people in case of any disaster or cataclysm that might occur. Now he keeps on doing it through teaching others about how to prepare and survive flood, earthquake or even war.


  • These are very good apps. I just need to figure how to clean some space on my phone. Thank you for these!

  • Apps are tied to the phone, and phone to its battery. What source of energy would you recommend for people who stay out for prolonged periods of time?

  • Survival apps that can be used off grid or while camping are very useful. The ones described here are complete and exactly what you need, I believe they don’t hold up to much space, so you can download and keep them in your phone. I don’t know if people really think they should download apps when they go on a trip, that’s why it’s good to download when you read about them and keep them there so you will surely have them when in need.

  • What I have learnt from most of my back-country expeditions is that you can be faced with a survival situation when you least expect it, and a mobile device and survival apps can surely save your life. The Smart Compass App helped me once when I got lost in the unknown.

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