The num­ber of out­door apps avail­able for the iPhone and Android phones are end­less. We know what the app mak­ers claim their apps can do, but we want­ed to hear from the peo­ple who would actu­al­ly put these apps to the test. A few of our mem­bers vol­un­teered to test out a few and give us their feedback.

Some of you can still get some seri­ous wave time in (jeal­ous) as not every­one is yet ready to sur­ren­der to win­ter weath­er. Clymb mem­ber Andres Aguirre checked out three surf­ing apps and shared his thoughts below.

If you’re a surfer with oth­er respon­si­bil­i­ties out­side of surf­ing you’re often look­ing for the best source of infor­ma­tion to help guide you to the best spot to surf that day.  This search for infor­ma­tion does not have to go fur­ther than the smart phone in your hand.

I reviewed three pop­u­lar surf fore­cast Android apps over a 60 day peri­od, Skullcandy’s all in one app pow­ered by Sur­fline, SwellInfo’s app by Glob­al Surf Indus­tries, and Surfline’s own surf report app. Every app had their own take on what users want to see.

Skull­can­dy: This app has a nice graph­i­cal inter­face .  With all the graph­ics and every­thing the appli­ca­tion does, results in it slow­ing down.  I found that the loca­tion find­er did not work, even if I was with­in a mile from a well known surf break.  I nev­er was able to use the loca­tion find­er through the entire test peri­od.  How­ev­er, if I entered the name of the surf break, the appli­ca­tion could find the break.  This how­ev­er would defeat the pur­pose if you were new to the area and were try­ing to find a place to surf.  There is a map func­tion you can also use, but since the loca­tions don’t come in it takes some scrolling around to find your loca­tion, but the surf breaks do not pop­u­late on the map when you’ve zoomed in on your loca­tion.  When you find a surf loca­tion and actu­al­ly bring it up on the app, the graph­ics are ele­men­tary.  The out­stand­ing graph­ics of the main menu do not trans­late down to the surf break view.  Over­all, if you know exact­ly where you’re going surf­ing, don’t mind how long the load times are, and a lot of extra stuff that you don’t use; this could be the app for you.

SwellInfo: This app had an upfront cost asso­ci­at­ed with it. At $2.99 it is a small price to pay for the val­ue that it brings.  It’s refresh­ing­ly sim­ple.  Nav­i­gat­ing to set your loca­tion is easy.  After drilling down to your spot, it brings up my favorite fea­ture of the app.  In one screen you can see the five day fore­cast, high and low tide times, swell height and inter­val, air temp, water temp, as well as wind speed and direc­tion.  If I’m in a sit­u­a­tion where I have to pick the days over the next week that I can surf, this is a great way to do it.  Each morn­ing and after­noon are giv­en a con­di­tion rat­ing from clean to chop­py and col­or cod­ed.  What ever this app los­es in pre­sen­ta­tion, it gains back plus some in functionality.

Sur­fline Surf Report:  This is prob­a­bly the one app that I have been look­ing for­ward to the most.  The app has surf cams that allow you to see almost real time video feeds (for Surfline.com sub­scribers) or a screen shot of the surf break for the free ver­sion.  The report fea­ture has wave size at the break, text descrip­tion of con­di­tions (twice a day), tide chart with time of high tide and low tide as well as tide height.  The report has swell direc­tion, swell inter­val, swell height, swell size over time graph, wind graph.  The fore­cast fea­ture only goes for­ward three days ass opposed to five days on the swellinfo app.  Nav­i­gat­ing through all the dif­fer­ent fea­tures is very easy and fast.  Each screen is sim­ple and func­tion­al.  Addi­tion­al fea­tures for surfline.com sub­scribers are stream­ing cam­eras, LOLA data and a five day fore­cast window.

Fine print: If a com­put­er mod­el (i.e. app) can pre­dict con­di­tions at your surf break 8/10 times cor­rect­ly that is a very high lev­el of suc­cess.  6/10 times is more real­is­tic.  Break con­di­tions (waves, wave qual­i­ty) at the time you surf are a result of a very com­plex mix of fac­tors such as tide height, swell direc­tion and wind.  Some breaks are so fick­le that a mat­ter of 30 min can mean the dif­fer­ence between epic ses­sion and epic fail.  The best way to cor­re­late what you find via the internet/apps and actu­al suf con­di­tions is time in the water.

Would any of these apps be ben­e­fi­cial to you? Why or why not? What are some oth­er surf­ing apps you think are comparable/better?

Andres, thanks for such a com­pre­hen­sive review.

We got an over­whelm­ing response to our request for mem­bers to review more apps. If you’ve not yet let your inter­est known, please send an email to nina@theclymb.com. We’ve got lots of apps avail­able. If you’ve already sent an email, we’ll be in touch.