Best Ski Apps
As app developers, we are continually searching for the best apps out there to inspire us with design, functionality, and execution. Especially when this search cross-pollinates with our passions. Therefore, our criteria for the best ski app is extremely high. We were looking for something that feels like an essential tool while doing laps at the mountain. We set out with no particular criteria, just a desire to find something essential. Instead of giving you 5 to 10 of the best, let’s just cut to it. There were a few good apps and a few niche ones, but the overall best was clearly Slopes.
Summary: This ski tracker is the best in it's class for ski apps. Slopes has the cleanest design, the simplest interface, and the most useful features. It does not include a specific weather function, but other apps do that well. The free version is great, and I used it for a month or two before deciding to upgrade. The downside: not available for android.
Slopes is a ski tracker like the others in this list, but everything feels more polished and perfect. When you arrive at the mountain, the app pings you with a notification to start tracking; once tracking, all the information is right on the dash, speed, distance, time, lift time vs. ski time, longest run, etc... If you have the watch integration, the "gloves on experience" is spectacular. You to cycle through your runs with a twist of the crown. They truly put user experience at the forefront of the app.
The mapping feature is best in class as well. Slopes took it up a notch with an interactive 3D map showing all your runs. Hit play to see your day unfold run by run on this amazing platform. Ever forget to turn off your tracker and drive home, messing up your recording? Slopes offers a simple trimming feature to eliminate that 70 MPH trip back home that corrupts your stats.
Other features to note are the social functions to compare yourself to your buddies using various metrics, including days skied in a season, total vertical, top speed, etc... Selecting your resort gives you access to trail maps that can be downloaded for off-line use, emergency contact for ski patrol on over a hundred different hills, crowdsourced snow conditions to see what’s happening on the slope.
Although useful in free mode, Slopes power is in the paid version. They likened it to ski tickets and passes with different pricing tiers based on use. Buy a day pass for $3.99, a week pass for $14.99, or a season pass for $19.99. I bought the season pass as I want to support them, and apps that don’t make money don’t innovate.
2. Open Snow:
Summary: Open Snow is a great app for weather and snow reports. Here in the Northwest, I use 3 sources for accurate weather information. 1) the Mt. Bachelor website for daily check-in with the snow cams, short term weather reports, and a little bit of forward-looking forecasting, 2) NOAA when I want to look ahead a bit farther into the future, and 3) once or twice a week the holy grail of snow forecasts hits my inbox from Larry Schick the “Powder Poobah,” a meteorologist with a constant eye on the next snow cycle.
So how could an app compete with the Powder Poobah? I didn’t think it could until I saw that Larry Schick is a contributing meteorologist to Open Snow. This sent my credibility meter off the charts. The app has a great interface allowing you to look back at recent snowfall and ahead several days at upcoming storms.
The mapping feature gives a nice predictive 24-hour future cast where you can watch the approaching storms develop and blow through with map overlays. Other map layers let you see snow depth and temperature across your region.
The app is somewhat pricey at $30 per year, unlocking backward-looking snowfall and the mentioned mapping features. It also lacks granular support for many ski areas outside of Colorado and Utah, making us northwest skiers feel a bit like Black Sheep. Overall this app is unparalleled in ski weather reports. I wish they had more support for our local mountain. I did end up signing up for a subscription to consolidate my powder reports.
Ski tracker first with run by run tools and stats, but differentiates with social features for tracking friends on the mountain or keeping tabs on your kids. It has all the basics and everything you would need for a great day on the mountain. Available for both apple and android.
Snoww touts the standard package of tracking features for distance, speed, vertical, runs, time, calories, etc. It has a run-by-run breakdown with a handing sorting feature. The app integrates with Apple Watch giving you the gloves on logging experience with health app integration. Live temperatures are displayed right on the dash, and a map with layers and terrain traces out your days. The differentiator on this app lies in the social features giving you a feed and ranking against your friends based on various stats. Handy background features let you integrate emergency contacts, add your personal gear like skis and boards. It even integrates with Siri letting you use a few voice commands inside the app.
4. Ski tracks:
A tracking app gives you all the critical ski stats distance, max speed, vertical, altitude, number of runs, slope, profile, and duration. Beyond the basic tracking info, the app has extensive bonus features like watch integration, battery saving mode, health integration, photos, and music integration. Hidden behind a few screens is the ability to report the weather and on-hill conditions. It’s an extensive tool kit that will be enough for any serious skier. The experience is not as clean as some others on this list, but the tools are just as good, and it’s free.
5. Ski Tracker:
Ski Tracker is a GPS tracker that gives you feedback on your ski stats dashboard like distance, max speed, vertical, and calories burned daily or run-by-run basis. All your runs are laid out on a satellite map allowing you to see your day in detail. It has a simple watch integration so you can track your turns without taking off your gloves. A widget for your iPhone puts your stats on the home screen of your iPhone. Weather integration is still a bit simple, allowing you to get NOAA forecast on any map location, but it doesn’t store your favorite mountain(s).
On the whole, this is a good ski app. It’s completely free with no hidden paywall or advertisements. It still lacks the clean UX and feature set of paid apps such as Slopes, but it definitely does the job and meets a good ski app's criteria.
On the snow allows you to choose the mountain/resort you're interested in. It gives stats on the resort, including terrain, lifts, runs, elevations, etc. The big offering is the home page, where you get the weather forecasts, snow levels, etc. There are supposedly webcam images, but they weren’t working at the time of this writing. Lastly,
the app gives the user the ability to write a post about a mountain, “great snow today,” or something about your day and let the community know what’s going on.