The Best Survival Smartphone Apps

by Brad Fein

Historically, technology and survival haven’t always been mutually exclusive. Both exist in different fields and very occasionally overlap. However, with continual advancements in the quality and longevity of technology, they are increasingly coming into contact.

The technology gap between flagship smartphone devices and those that are classified as ‘rugged’ smartphones is continually closing. We are even seeing the top-spec rugged phones performing well amongst some of the most expensive consumer phones. 

With this evolution, smartphone apps now play an important role as one of the essential components for a survival kit. There is a tendency to overlook technology as a valid survival instrument; however, until the SHTF and we physically have those tools ripped from our grasp, it makes sense to take advantage of it where possible.

Here, we take a look at just five of the most useful survival apps that you should have on your smartphone.  


This is a fairly self-explanatory one. Having a flashlight in your kit is vital, even novice survivalists know never to leave home without one. However, they can be cumbersome and extra batteries can weigh your pack down, which is where smartphones come in handy.

Most modern phones will have a stock flashlight system already installed on the phone, often located in the same drag down/up settings menu as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, meaning you can switch it on and off super quickly and easily. If you’re not sure how to access your phone’s flashlight, it would be extremely useful to become comfortable with finding it quickly. You don’t want to be fumbling around with your phone in an emergency.


Much like a flashlight, a compass is pretty standard fare for any survival enthusiast. However, if you don’t have one at your disposal, why not simply download an app onto your phone?

One thing to be aware of is that most compass apps will be free; therefore, they may ask something from you in return, such as access to your phone’s storage or require an email for setting up. We’d suggest checking a few out to see which is the least encroaching in terms of personal information.

Google Maps & Waze

Whether you’re engaging in a planned survival activity, or have been caught up in an emergency situation, a map is a vital piece of kit to have at your disposal. Paper maps are extremely useful as they never run out of battery and can be stored easily in your pack.

However, for traffic information and other live updates, having something like Google Maps or Waze (or both) on your phone could make your life much easier. For any Android device, Google Maps will be installed as default and Waze is a free app which can be picked up on the Google and Apple app stores.

Another handy feature of these apps is the ability to use GPS to see where your exact position is. If you’re hiking or camping somewhere remote, knowing exactly where you are can help you navigate back to civilisation.

Life 360

Life360 is a geo-tracking app that allows you to track the real-time locations of friends and family. Although this may seem intrusive, it does come with a slew of benefits. For example, if you have younger children that play with their friends or walk to school together, you can set geofences that will alert you when a device has crossed through the threshold. This can also be used to ensure your child stays within a reasonable distance of your home. 

It also offers a safe driving function which allows you to track your family’s driving, such as sudden stops or heavy braking, perhaps meaning an accident has occurred. This would also be useful in a survival scenario to see where your family members are if they don’t live with you, such as elderly relatives or children studying away.

Dark Sky

Survival is about preparing for all eventualities, so having up to date weather information at your disposal is important for being able to make good decisions about what to wear and any shelter you may need.

Dark Sky is one of the world’s preferred weather apps, offering hyperlocal information right up to the minute. It also offers accurate forecasting and provides a range of features in the paid premium version, which could be great value for money if you find yourself in a survival scenario.

Offline Survival Manual

With tens of thousands of reviews on the Google Play Store, this Android-only app is one of the most useful you could possibly download. The guide is a fully functioning offline compendium of useful information that one should have in an emergency scenario. These guides include instructions on how to build a fire, making shelter, finding food and lots of other vital elements of survival.

Additionally, if you’re planning on hunting in the wild, either using knives, air rifles or a bow and arrow, then the app will provide useful information on how to prepare and cook the animals you catch.

That being said, we’d suggest becoming comfortable with the app and some of the guides before anything serious happens. So, when you’re next hiking or camping out, take some time to check out the guides and test your skills in a more relaxed environment.

For lots more info on technology, smartphones and apps, take a look at our technology articles here! If you like to make the most of the best apps available to you, then you’ll love our article on the best moving apps!

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