Navigation & GPS App Reviews & Gear Guide
Jan 27, 2019 at 6:46 pm #3575365Jan 27, 2019 at 7:41 pm #3575372Chad LorenzBPL Member
@chadlLocale: Teton Valley, Wydaho
I’ll put in a plug for FATMAP, whose 3D feature has been valuable in whiteout conditions while ski touring. The hi-res has been useful for precise route finding. Gaia is my day in, day out app for guiding, with FATMAP and apps like Trip Guide (Road Trip Ryan, Southwest canyoneering areas) and American Whitewater’s app for trip specific beta.Jan 27, 2019 at 9:00 pm #3575389Greg FBPL Member
IOS users may also want to look at Topo Maps Plus. You can download lower resolution maps in the base (free) mode. Recording tracks and compass are included in the base mode, planning and access to better maps is available for a fee. I have used the base application on trips for the last year and a half, while using sites like caltopo for planning and map printout.Jan 27, 2019 at 9:24 pm #3575397Ken ThompsonBPL Member
@hereLocale: Right there
With all the love here for the Garmin Inreach kinda surprised not to see Garmin Basecamp included. Did learn of some others I never heard of.Jan 27, 2019 at 11:25 pm #3575410NoCO-JimBPL Member
In the comparison chart, it would have been convenient if a $$$ column was considered.Jan 28, 2019 at 1:45 am #3575433Ken ThompsonBPL Member
@hereLocale: Right there
$$$$ is all the way to the right Jim.Jan 28, 2019 at 6:41 pm #3575510NoCO-JimBPL Member
Ahhh, scroll bar at the bottom of chart. Thanks KenJan 29, 2019 at 4:45 am #3575622Colin BriggsBPL Member
@colinpbriggsLocale: Melbourne Australia
I suggest you look at “OSM And Plus”. Maps are all vector based and derived from Open.Street Maps. You can download a whole country at once. Contours, hills shading are also downloadable. Maps are all updated regularly. $10 per year subscription. Imports GPX, saves way points etc. http://osmand.netJan 29, 2019 at 12:06 pm #3575640Geoff CaplanBPL Member
@geoffcaplanLocale: Lake District, Cumbria
I’m surprised that you’re so dismissive of ViewRanger. Here in Europe it’s well liked despite its UI quirks and is pretty much the standard for SAR teams.
A key issue that you rather skated over is the availability of mapping. Outside of North America Gaia is very weak – nothing for the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland or Sweden, for example. ViewRanger offers access to good mapping for 23 countries, including the US and Canada.
In the UK they offer the full range from both the OS and Harvey, which makes it the standard app here.
Mapping subs are reasonable, especially compared to Garmin, which offers a more limited choice at higher cost.Jan 29, 2019 at 3:10 pm #3575650Elizabeth TracyBPL Member
Curious why Backcountry Navigator was not reviewed.
I downloaded it because I read reviews indicating that while GAIA is great on I/OS, on Android BN has worked better for some.
ElizabethJan 30, 2019 at 4:02 pm #3575831
Hi everybody, it’s nice to see so much interest in GPS apps!
Thanks for all of the recommendations for apps that I missed. In choosing apps to only review apps that worked on iOS and Android phones. With that in mind, apps like BaseCamp were excluded because it’s a desktop app. Other apps were excluded because they were for iOS or Android but not both such as Backcountry Navigator.
One of the nice things about most of these apps is that you can import or export GPX to other devices such as a Garmin inReach.
I liked a lot about ViewRanger, but Outdoor Active seemed to beat it in every category for international use. I would probably use one of those in I was outside of North America.Jan 31, 2019 at 12:08 am #3575927Geoff CaplanBPL Member
@geoffcaplanLocale: Lake District, Cumbria
Thanks for responding, but I can’t see how Outdoor Active is in any way comparable to ViewRanger in terms of international coverage.
The OA site is pretty coy about what they offer, but so far as I can tell the Pro sub only gives you Germany, Austria and Northern Italy in addition to their base mapping, which is little better than Gaia.
ViewRanger offers quality mapping for:
Republic of Ireland
Spain, Canaries, Madeira
For many of these countries they offer multiple sources, such as the OS and Harvey in the UK.
A smoother interface is pretty academic if there are no maps available for your area of interest. ViewRanger seems to knock the others out of the park for coverage.
If there’s a better app that gives similar coverage I’d love to hear about it. But failing that, I can’t see any alternative to ViewRanger for globetrotting hikers. And given that it’s used by literally hundreds of SAR teams, it’s clearly perfectly usable once you master its quirks.Jan 31, 2019 at 3:55 am #3575973Hans WBPL Member
I use “Maps 3D”. very comparable and comprehensive feature set.Feb 2, 2019 at 8:24 am #3576370Hanz BBPL Member
I agree with way above Topo needs mention and I use often in conjunction with Gaia.
– points I’d like to know more about:
1) power consumption between Gaia and all trails bc even if it’s slightly worse I’ll always go with the more efficient app that doesn’t drain the phone.
2) Gaia tends to have very low quality / low pixel density print outs once you try to print. Has anyone found a way around this?Feb 11, 2019 at 2:09 am #3577847
I never tried comparing power consumption, partly because I often listen to audio books while I hike and partly because nothing beats a compass for low power use. Both Gaia and AllTrails (and most of the others) work using your phones GPS so switching your phone to airplane mode can help extend battery life.Mar 8, 2019 at 2:51 am #3582376Hanz BBPL Member
I do for sure use airplane mode
– another concept for weight savings I brought up in a different blog: in reach mini + iPod. This Is much less weight then an iPhone these days (like 4 oz savings). I’m still looking for someone that has an iPod touch and a mini to give it a shot. I would be a nice report on usability given the weight savings.
Cons would be smaller screen, smaller battery (though maybe less life given smaller screen drain on battery). There’s no gps so you wouldn’t be able to use gaia and would be locked into Garmin app. Those you could just use gps coordinates to way find on the gaia app.Jul 17, 2019 at 9:38 pm #3602345Garrett McLartyBPL Member
@gmacLocale: New England, PNW, Northern India
I have used smartphone nav apps extensively and my experience points to 3 top apps for nav.
I have found that these are the most comparable to a standalone gps unit. I know that only Gaia is offered on both Android and iOS. iOS vs Android has been debated many places, and many have their bias. Objectively, iOS has 2 major drawbacks: Cost and lack of maps for certain areas. Locus and Oruxmaps have the ability to use free maps from OpenAndroMaps.org and any other online source you want. This is HUGE for those exploring areas without developed trails/maps. Areas such as the Indian Himalaya have few maps options, yet OpenAndroMaps does have country maps and the Android apps Orux and Locus maps can use maps from many sources including google, microsoft, etc in offline, downloaded format.
iOS is quite poplar, and I understand the desire to only review options that are available on both platforms. however, I do think that many would find Locus and Orux maps very useful.
I use an android phone for outdoor nav despite having Apple products for other areas of life.Oct 1, 2019 at 10:28 pm #3612332Chris WSpectator
I have been trying to figure out the best navigation and tracking tools and I am very frustrated by their poor utility. Gaia seems great but will drain a big phone battery in a few hours and I can’t figure out how to change to a conservative mode (and I’m in tech)
All Trails seems to be public for all to see your photos and notes. So I don’t want to use it. It also sucks batteries dry quickly.
I’m disappointed that these key parts of the apps are not addressed in the review, making it basically worthless to users.
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