Regardless of your hiking experience, hiking apps are essential for navigating, planning or discovering new outdoor trails. In addition, they are cheaper than stand-alone GPS devices. But which app should you get? Here are the best GPS hiking apps available today.
Best Free Option: ViewRanger (iOS / Android)
ViewRanger offers just about everything you could want from a hiking GPS app. Limited offline maps, route planning, topographic information and route guides – all for free. There's an interesting premium version with unlimited offline maps, live tracking for family and friends, and AR features for overflights, but the free version of ViewRanger is pretty attractive on its own.
Best Premium Option: Gaia GPS (iOS / Android)
Gaia GPS is a premium outdoor app perfect for hikers and campers. It's a robust app with road maps, terrain maps, topographical data and live weather information already in place. It's ideal for optimizing your next hike or creating a brand new trail from scratch. You can even share or review custom trails with other Gaia users in your area.
Gaia GPS is a free app, but most users recommend upgrading to the paid version (upgrades are done in the app). The standard membership costs $ 20 a year and allows you to save maps for offline use. Premium membership costs $ 40 per year and comes with custom Nat Geo maps, US hunting maps, and more.
For safety: Cairn (iOS / Android))
Cairn is one of the best safety-related GPS apps for hiking. Like other hiking apps, Cairn lets you view, create and track trails (and even have offline maps). It also includes cards to cover cells that can help you avoid dead zones, live tracking that shows your location to friends, and automatic messages to emergency contacts when you're lost.
Most of these security features are exclusive to Cairns Premium Program, which costs $ 5 per month or $ 27 per year. This is a good deal compared to other hiking apps.
For fun and exercise in the family: AllTrails (iOS / Android)
The AllTrails app is a great alltrails app. In-One outdoor app for hikers, runners, cyclists and nature lovers. Basically it is a GPS app with pre-set maps and routes. These trails can be filtered for different families (dog-friendly, child-friendly, wheelchair accessible) or filtered for distance and intensity. Over time, the app will collect your walking history and show your progress in terms of mileage, speed and calorie consumption.
AllTrails works well as a free app, but offers some pro features (like offline maps, weather overlays, and emergency contacts) that cost $ 30 a year.
for hiking, hunting and fishing: onX Hunt (iOS / Android)
onX Hunt is a premium hiking app with a serious emphasis on hunting. As a GPS app, onX Maps gives you access to hunting, hiking and biking trails with topographic information and live weather updates. You can download the maps for offline use and even view property boundaries and landowner names on the map.
As a hunting and fishing tool, onX Hunt offers access to public maps, BLM maps, hunting for states and provinces, and fishing permits and more. Property boundaries and Game Management Units (GMUs) are also displayed.
These are some pretty robust hiking and hunting features. It is therefore not surprising that onX Hunt costs $ 30 per year for nationwide use. If you want to use onX Hunt nationwide, you'll spend over $ 100 a year (or $ 15 a month).
A simple outdoor GPS: GPS tracks (iOS only)
If you are just looking for an outdoor GPS app that you can use in any situation, you should check out GPS It's basically a phone version of a standalone outdoor GPS device with detailed maps, topographical information, route planning features, measurement tools and location sharing features, and GPS Track works well with the Apple Watch, a handy feature when you're on the road.
The GPS Tracks app costs $ 4, but offers additional features such as alternate maps (NOAA, FAA, USGS), Offl ine cards and iCloud Syncing costs $ 20 per year.