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These days all but the hardiest of dirtbags carry a smart phone. While the lack of reception at most crags will prevent you from uploading that summit selfie until later, there are a number of ways those handy pocket computers can enhance a day out. Whether you’re looking for a pocket guide to some of the best boulders in the world or an interval timer to assist your hangboard sessions, there’s likely an app for it. We’ve rounded up our favorite climber-friendly apps. And the best part? They’re (almost) all free.
Note: While we’ve included links to the Apple and Google store pages for each of these apps, many of them also have browser versions.
1. Guidebook Apps
Do we need to explain Mountain Project? The site is the number one resource for route and area information information in the US, and the app is no different. Access route beta, approach info, get up to speed on current closures and access issue, check the comments to find out if anyone has fixed that spinner bolt yet or trundled that death block. The app also acts as a logbook for attempts and sends. Even when carrying an up-to-date guidebook, it’s worth using Mountain Project for additional up-to-date info.
Pros: There is no cell signal required if you have the app and download the area, and the app is free. The map function is especially useful on phones when navigating confusing approaches, because the GPS still works in cell service dead zones (for instance most canyons).
Cons: The app is entirely user-generated, meaning the information is only as good as the people that upload it. However, incorrect information tends to be resolved quickly for popular areas. The app does have a history of deleting saved crag photos upon updates, which is frustrating if you’ve taken the time to get the 2,000 photos from your local area. The inclusion of certain climbing areas on Mountain Project has also been known to jeopardize access by steering increased numbers of climbers to sensitive or little-climbed-in areas, so before you unilaterally spray your local gems to the internet, make sure that your local community is cool with that.
Like Mountain Project, 27 Crags is a public database tracking routes and climbing areas in over 10,000 places globally. It includes descriptions, photos, and topographic maps for climbing in 99 countries. The 27 Crags users are the ones creating the guides, adding markers, drawing routes, and using it all. It includes a GPS feature to help guide you to your climbs. It also includes a logbook feature, which allows you to record and track your ascents with tick lists. It’s various graphs and color codes provide visual aid to help direct you to the right area and make your research more efficient.
Pros: This app works offline, which can be handy when climbing in areas with no service. It’s also free in the App store for iPhones and Androids. The app is organized by filter, which makes it easy to navigate. You can search by boulders, sport climbs, and trad climbs. You can also filter travel information such as accommodations, climbing shops, climbing guides, and gyms. If you’re a newbie to an area, you may benefit from its gear recommendations for specified areas.
Cons: Like Mountain Project, the user-generated information isn’t 100-percent accurate 100-percent of the time, but it tend to be pretty good.
Rakkup is a virtual collection of guidebooks. By accessing the website or downloading the mobile app, you can find guidebooks for download onto your device. The app allows you to buy, rent, or sample any of the available guides on a pay-per-guide basis. Once you download the guides, you can access them without service. Most of the guides are for US climbing areas.
Pros: Because this app is a collection of published works, the information is extremely reliable. Users can access real, established guidebooks from their mobile device. Rakkup allows for better navigation than a hard copy guide because of its interactive map feature—you can pinch to zoom in on an area and also search specific areas that the map will direct you to.
Cons: While extremely convenient, the routes available within an area are limited, as are the number of guidebooks available. As of now, there are 90 guidebooks worldwide, which is still plenty to choose from. If you’re looking for reliable crag information, Rakkup will deliver.
Also, a guidebook app, ClimbingAway is free to download. It allows you to search climbing areas by country, discipline, difficulty level, and cardinal direction (for when you’re chasing shade or sun). This app is great for basic information and includes an interactive map containing vital information to each crag and general area. ClimbingAway offers a digital guidebook store, offering free and paid options. Additionally, you can store downloaded guidebooks in the app for your own reference. Under the “tools” section, there is a climbing grades converter and vocabulary translator, great for international climbing missions.
Pros: It’s simple and easy to navigate, which makes it a good resource for standard beta to point you in the right direction. This app covers all of the preliminary information you would want or need about a crag before going there. The info includes details on the climbing, weather reports and forecasts, and exact coordinates to assist with navigation.
Cons: While the app provides standard information on a variety of areas worldwide, it lacks depth. It does not provide specific route information or beta, like Mountain Project, for example. Climbing Away focuses on breadth, not depth—it covers a lot of ground on a surface level.
Download: IOS | Android (Free)
Vertical-Life is a logging app that allows users to give propose grades, rate climbs, leave comments, and communicate with other climbers. The app is compatible with indoor and outdoor gyms and areas, offering mobile guidebooks to the spot of your choosing. You can add gyms and climbing areas to your home page by favoriting them. Through its logbook features, climbers can track their own climbing endeavors, follow friends, complete challenges, and more. Vertical-Life offers complete guidebooks for purchase along with guides for smaller sub-areas. Guides are separated into climbing category, offering bouldering, sport, and multi-pitch guides. This is one of the most well designed climbing apps we’ve come across—comprehensive and easy to navigate. It’s only a matter of time before this app covers extensive ground throughout the US.
Pros: The user-friendly platform is easy to navigate. The integrated “topo map” allows you to search nearby gyms and areas that are linked to the app. Some of its special features include recommendations of climbing areas and corresponding guidebooks. The app automatically proposes trending crags,” “news & updates,” and “spots of the season,” to help aid your search. Vertical-Life is different from a lot of other guide-based apps, as it offers targeted guidebooks for specific sub areas, so that you don’t need to purchase an entire guidebook for just one small sector.
Cons: Originally only in Europe, the app has only recently expanded to the US. Because the expansion is fairly recent, it’s only compatible with a number of gyms and areas within the US. But it has great potential and will hopefully continue to grow to cover more areas.
2. Useful Tools
Climbing’s sister company, Gaia GPS, lets you navigate, track, and explore different areas worldwide. The app is subscription-based, with different membership levels: free, member, and premium member. Members can download topo and satellite maps for offline use. They can also make use of certain life-saving layers, including the avalanche terrain layer. Gaia GPS uses routing tools to help you plan trips, and measure distance, altitude, and elevation change. It also includes frequently updated weather forecasts. Gaia is useful for climbing, backpacking, day hiking, hunting, camping, backcountry skiing, mountaineering, and mountain biking. It’s also used by professional firefighters, S&R teams, guides, and more. The app offers a lot of in-depth navigation information on highly detailed topo maps, with options to track your path, share areas with friends, and follow live directions.
Pros: Gaia GPS will route you to specific GPS coordinates, which can be handy when looking for that stand-alone boulder problem in the middle of nowhere. The app also offers a community element to view shared trails, markers, campsites, water sources, fire perimeters, etc. Consequently, the more users, the more information the app contains. There is also an offline option for members, which is key when there’s no service and you need directions.
Cons: Gaia provides great general outdoor recreation information, though none specific to climbing areas and crags. Climbers will need to purchase a subscription to access the features most relevant to our group.
Climbing Weather provides weather forecasts for specific climbing areas and crags. The app allows you to view a wide geographic area at once, so you can find that one dry crag when the skies look dire. It also pinpoints the forecast to the crags, whereas many weather apps will generalize the forecast based on nearby towns, which can often be misleading. The app includes temperature and sky, precipitation percentage, wind, and humidity forecasts, in 3-hour increments.
Pros: Climbing Weather provides a quick and easy way to find more accurate weather for exactly where you’re headed. This is more useful than Googling the local weather of individual towns when making plans.
Cons: While the app covers generic weather information, it does not go into hourly depth. Climbers trying to time project attempts around busy work schedules may be disappointed by this. It’s also a weather forecast app, which inherently comes with some uncertainty. And sometimes the weather is bad everywhere, and there’s nothing the app can do about that.
Rock Climbing Grade Converter
This simple tool is a necessity when climbing out of the country. It allows you to convert foreign grades into the grade language that you speak. The user-friendly platform hosts 17 different grading systems and makes it easy to switch between grades and conversion systems.
Pros: It’s clear, easy to use, and leaves out any unnecessary frills. This app is purpose-built and will accurately convert grades between some of the well-known systems that you’ll encounter when climbing internationally. It’s great for sport climbing and bouldering conversions in popular countries. Additionally, the layout of the app allows you to view up to 17 conversions at once so you can compare.
Cons: The app only converts bouldering and roped climbing grades, leaving out mixed and ice grading systems that could come in handy.
Not just for climbing, Knots 3D teaches users to tie any knot, basic or complex. This reference app has instructions for tying 131 different knots—more than enough for any climbing use. You can browse knots by category, name, or type. When you’re viewing a particular knot, the app shows a detailed description of the knot’s usages, nicknames for the knot, and other related knots.
Pros: Knots 3D is extremely user-friendly. It shows you how to tie a knot from every angle you can imagine, with pause, adjustment, and animation features to assist your learning. This app offers special tips and background on some of the knots and their various uses. You can also favorite knots that you’d like to come back to and reference them later.
Cons: The app costs $4.99, but it’s a reference you will have forever once you purchase it.
3. Training Board Apps
Moon Climbing (Moonboard app)
First of its kind, the Moonboard was revolutionary in the world of climbing training. The Moonboard and accompanying app set the tone for similar training options that have been developed since. Used in conjunction with the Moonboard training wall, the app allows climbers to create and log climbs on a standardized set of holds for other users to try. Intended to spike bouldering power, this training tool hosts 7,500 user-generated climbs, with grades ranging from V3-V12.
How it works: Users make a profile and create climbs by tapping specific holds on the app. Once uploaded, other climbers can search the problem and click it so that the correct holds light up on the physical board. Start holds light up green, the other holds will light up blue, and finish holds light up red.
Pros: The Moon app and board is the first automated logging system created where climbers can to set, grade, and tick climbs. It’s standardized, which allows global users to connect with one another on the app and climb the same exact problems. In other words, someone in Boston can be working the same climb at the same time as someone in Austria. The app allows users to share problem lists with others and see highly ranked or popular climbs, based on a 3-star system. Because the app functions through Bluetooth, it’s easy to connect your device to the board without any wires or BS.
Cons: It is somewhat tricky to navigate if you’ve never done it before. An intro feature would be helpful for Moonboard virgins. Once it’s set up, the app is extremely user friendly and a great addition to any training regimen. A lot of the holds are similar in shape and size, which can make it hard to distinguish routes on both the virtual display of the board as well as on the physical board. The small dots of light underneath each hold, signifying the problem can also be hard to see from above when you’re on the wall and not sure where your next move is. Problems also tend to be quite hard for the grade, so leave your ego behind.
The Tension Board’s recently redesigned and modified app includes the original features (a database of community boulders on a board with a symmetrical hold layout, and so on) but tries to set itself apart from its rivals (namely the MoonBoard and Kilterboard) by offering a (paid) premium option, which includes an “AI-based virtual coach” that can suggest new problems for you and identify training needs, helping design sessions for you.
Pros: A huge advantage to the Tension Board itself is that it is symmetrical, a translation of the traditional system board into the world of app-based training boards. This element provides a great training resource for evenly strengthening both sides of your body on particular moves or boulders. It also allows climbers to identify weaknesses in their body and methodically train them to prevent injury and improve. For those who can afford it, the Skillscape (AI coach) helps to diversify the kinds of problems you climb on.
Cons: The Tension board’s updated app has been plagued by bugs and glitches. It’s also designed to prioritize eye-time on premium features, which is inconvenient if you’re there to simply navigate yourself through the board’s primary (and enduring) feature: the board itself.
The Kilter Board app is a strong competitor with the Moon and Tension app, as it is the third iteration of this family of training tools. Once you have an account you can connect multiple different Kilter boards. According to Kilter employee and head setter at The Spot Gym, Sarah Filler, “It’s similar to the Moonboard in that it’s just an interactive systems board.” Its community features allow you to find and share beta videos with other users. New to the latest version of the app is an interval timer and some performance enhancements. Difficulty of boulders range from V0-V16, which is a slightly larger range than its competitors. Once you make a climb, you can name and grade it.
Pros: The Kilter Board and the corresponding app are much more customizable than other interactive training boards. The board incorporates a variety of holds on an either a 8′ x 12′, 12′ x 12′, or 12′ x 14′ wall. You can adjust the angle of the wall from 0-70 degrees at increments of 5 degrees all from your phone. On the board itself, each hold lights up around the perimeter of the hold making it easy to see when you’re on the wall. Also unique to the Kilter app, you can filter boulder problems by grade and setter. Lastly, you can zoom in on your phone to gain a better view of the board on the app, which is helpful for creating boulders.
Cons: It’s high tech nature makes the physical board challenging to initially set up. Climbing Training Apps
Grippy – Beastmaker workouts
Replacing the old Beastmaker app, the Beastmaker team joined forces with Griptonite to produce the Grippy – Beastmaker app. It’s specifically designed to be used with the Beastmaker hangboard, but you can build and save custom workouts, so it’s easy to adapt to whatever board you own. The app consists of a pre-programmed collection of benchmark workouts, tiered with increasing difficulty for all levels, and a selection of workouts by top-of-the-line trainers (including Climbing’s chief training contributor Neil Gresham). The app times your hangs on specific grips and tracks your personal progress. There is a database built in which records selected workouts, ordering them by date. Through the recording mechanism, you can see where you need to progress and what grips you need to work on. The app also provides advice for safe and effective hangboarding.
Pros: It’s a functional training guide made specifically for the Beastmaker hangboard. Preset workouts allow you to bypass the thinking part of training so you can get to the hanging. Additionally, you can customize workouts, and make use of the timing interface designed to be read mid-hang from afar.
Cons: It is (almost) only a hangboard training app, and doesn’t include many non-finger specific workouts.
Created by Lattice Training, which was founded by coach Ollie Torr and training expert and crack-climbing aficionado Tom Randall, the Crimpd app features detailed climbing workouts. Want to train power-endurance today? Core? Just looking for a recovery session? Choose your goal and then browse through the list of relevant workout options.
Pros: The Crimpd app is slick, with an excellent user interface. Workouts are easily browsed by their targeted benefit, and each exercise includes a thorough description and a useful video should you need instruction, making it a useful educational tool as well. The app tracks your results and will display your progress over time.
Cons: While Crimpd provides excellent one-off sessions, it lacks the long-term programming that you would use over a full training cycle. To get that, the user must figure out the right way to chain-together sessions on his or her own, or sign up for paid training through Lattice. Also, Lattice Boards are unfortunately hard to find in the US, making a couple of the workouts irrelevant. This latter point is perhaps more of a con of not living in the UK, where Lattice Boards are more common.
Another hangboard app, Boulder Trainer allows you to create your own workouts or download preset options. The app contains 45 different boards, with the option of adding additional boards if yours isn’t built in. To set up your own “hang device,” just take a photo of your hangboard and number the holds in the app.
Pros: Boulder Trainer is one of the most customizable training apps because you can tailor your workout to any training device—even a door frame. Because of its adaptability, it’s every dirtbag’s ideal training app. Boulder Trainer includes voice commands for mid-workout instruction. In addition to its training benefits, the app acts as a logbook as well, allowing users to save and share workouts. It gives you the option to store multiple training plans, and even reminds you when you’re due for a hang.
Cons: The app costs $2.99, but it’s well worth it for an efficient training session or if you don’t know what the heck to do with a hangboard in the first place.
4. Logbook & Social Apps
MyClimb allows users to log climbs, track progress, and find climbing partners. The app also features in-app competitions/challenges, a workout logbook platform, and a leaderboard. Further, the app can double as a guide, sharing climbing area information, photos, and videos from around the world through other users. It has a huge community element, connecting climbers globally through comments, live updates, and climbing partner requests. Users have logged almost two million climbs in over 100 countries. The app supports all types of climbing both indoor and outdoor. MyClimb also has a grade conversion feature, supporting 12 different grading systems worldwide, which is more than some purpose-built grade conversion apps offer.
Pros: This app is great because it covers a lot. It’s the go-to community-based app. There is even a climbing partner feature, which connects individuals with one another in the local community. It’s like Facebook for climbing—you can share and gather information from community members and even like or comment on user’s activity.
Cons: MyClimb covers a lot of climbing areas but fails to focus in on one category (i.e. training, guidebook, community). If you’re looking for a guidebook to a specific area, this may not be your app. It’s strength lies in the community aspect of the app.
Pinnacle Climb Log
Download: IOS ($4.99, currently not available for Android devices)
Pinnacle Climb Log is designed to be the ultimate climbing workout logbook. You can easily track your progress when climbing at the gym. It functions completely offline and collects information on your heartrate, calories burned, the difficulty of your workout, and more. As the first climbing app to sync with Apple Watch, Pinnacle Climb Log syncs with the Apple Health and Activities apps and supports all climbing formats and conversion systems. Pinnacle is also compatible with Strava. When you’re training, sync your workouts to your phone and other applications.
Pros: Pinnacle is very user-friendly. Pinnacle will collect information throughout your workout, and you don’t even need to touch your device. With a single touch, you can log climbs and attempts. This app is great for anyone who is psyched on training effectively, but less psyched on penciling in every workout. It’s as close as it gets to a hands-free logbook.
Cons: It costs $3.99 to download the app, which may be a turnoff for some. Though Pinnacle is almost hands-free, it does require a bit of user participation, as you still have to log your climbs once you’re finished. It also requires an Apple watch to get the most out of it, and isn’t available to Android users.
Boulder Dating App
Boulder is similar to Tinder or Hinge; users match with each other and have the option to chat. But there is a twist. Profile pages are climber-focused: users select their preferred climbing styles, climbing level, and must provide at least two photos of them climbing. Profiles also display non-climbing related information, like a user’s age, height, location, political beliefs, and education level.
Pros: Climbers meet other climbers, make friendships, make more than friendships, send routes.
Cons: If you live outside a major metropolis, or outside the U.S., or both, your Boulder Dating App experience may be rather lonely. One user on the app store (questionably named Sunset_Stalker) wrote, “There’s no one on here?!” Then added, “Based in Reading U.K. where there are half a dozen climbing centres a short journey away, but there is literally no one here?! Always empty, no results.” Poor Sunset_Stalker…