iTrailMap 3D ($4.99, iOS)
What it is: Three-dimensional trail maps for hundreds of resorts and ski areas worldwide. Available without an Internet connection, so they're perfect for skiers, boarders and hikers out on the trail.
How it works: Click on the plus sign to add a resort by country and state/province. iTrailMap quickly downloads a 3-D satellite version of the trail map to your phone, so you can pinch your screen to zoom in or out and, if you hold your thumb and finger at a constant distance, you can pivot the map up, down and all around. The trails at the larger resorts are now color-coded and labeled, making it much easier than on previous versions to figure out where you are. The app uses GPS to record your tracks as you ski and displays your current latitude, longitude, elevation and miles traveled. Post your ski tracks to the developer's website so you can download and share them with friends.
Why it's great: It's so convenient to pull out your phone and get oriented quickly on the slopes and hiking trails. No folding/unfolding cumbersome maps while wearing gloves. And you have a record of your travels down the mountain.
Why you might hesitate: $4.99 for an app is asking a lot, but iTrailMap 3-D delivers what it promises. The previous, non-3-D version has gone more than a year without being updated, but here's hoping the paid app keeps the developers refreshing this handy, useful guide.
Whom it's for: Skiers who want to get lost in the powder without getting lost on the slopes.
Ski & Snow (free, iOS)
What it is: Snow reports from your favorite resorts and more.
How it works: Find your resort and press a button to get alerts when your favorite mountain gets at least 2 inches of new snow (or an amount that you determine).
Why it's great: There are a lot of ski report apps, but Zumobi Network's Ski & Snow report is more friendly and elegant, and favored by more skiers. Get Twitter updates from the resort inside the app and links to nearby deals, such as guides to breathtakingly difficult areas accessible only by helicopters or trail groomers. You get the typical roundup of conditions, with reports of new snow over the past 24, 48 and 72 hours, snow depth, wind and visibility, and five-day forecasts, all in a format that's easy on the eyes. Share your findings with friends via Facebook, Twitter or email, in case the gang wants to hit the slopes.
Why you might hesitate: The ads at the bottom of each screen are annoying when they supersize themselves.
Whom it's for: Anyone who can't wait to hit the trails.
Ski Report (free, iOS; Android)
What it is: Another of the many free ski report apps, On the Snow's Ski Report adds user-reported conditions from the mountains, and the ability to take and post photos.
How it works: It's your typical ski report — these apps all just package and present one ski report service or another — but with a few nice touches.
Why it's great: Ski Report gives you stills from the resorts' webcams, charts that show how much this year's snowfall compares with totals a year ago, plus the coup de grace: Users' you-are-there photos from the slopes will get your heart pumping, and their firsthand reports give you a good idea of what the conditions, trails and crowds are like. The big resorts typically have more skiers, so they'll also have more reports. But check your nearest small ski area; users might be posting from there too.
Why you might hesitate: If you've seen one ski report app, haven't you seen them all?
Whom it's for: Skiers who want their photos and thoughts to be part of a more fleshed-out ski report.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun