There are no shortage of apps available for our phones these days,? When I first got into hiking you would have to order a topographical map and get it mailed to you. Now, maps are readily available in the cloud and accessible from your phone.
There is also no longer the absolute need to carry a GPS with you on shorter hikes, but what are the best hiking apps? Here are four my my favorites, plus one old school gem that every outdoor enthusiast should have the joy of experiencing at least once.
There are a few trail finding apps out there, but AllTrails seems to be the most comprehensive. Also the most popular app in a survey conducted on our Facebook Group. It’s my go-to app for finding a trail in an area I’m visiting for the first time, and often even in my home town. It’s helped me discover many amazing trails
The app allows you to search by length, proximity, difficulty, elevation, etc. There are even user reviews to help you decide which hike is best for you. Users can also submit photos, which are really nice if you are looking to identify the most scenic trail
Outly is an amazing app that not only shows you hiking trails, but 4×4 roads as well. The app even identifies the types of land, i.e. BLM, National Forest, State Land, Local Parks, etc.
Outly also has other cool map features such as cell coverage maps, campgrounds, dispersed campsites, as well as various terrain maps. It will even lead you to water sources such as springs and swimming holes.
If you geek out over maps like I do, Outly is definitely an app you have to download. It’s also a must-have app if you are into overlanding our dispersed camping.
View Ranger is another trail finding app, but it has one cool feature that makes it worth having.
It has an Augmented Reality peak finder. It also identifies other landmarks such as lakes. Simply turn on the app and point the phone at a mountain peak.
The app will then identify the peak and elevation. I actually used this when hiking Wheeler Peak in New Mexico. I had taken a wrong turn and ended up on the adjacent Peak, Simpson Peak (also my last name). I used the app to identify Wheeler, and was back on my way.
The peak finding feature is great just to know what you are looking at, but it also comes in handy as a navigational tool.
Star Walk 2
Star Walk 2 uses augmented reality to identify stars, planets, and constellations. SomethingI find very fascinating because I never retained much information from my high school astronomy class.
The augmented reality illustrations themself are worth checking out. This is also a great app if you have kids that are interested in learning more about the night sky.
Get a printed map from MyTopo
Websites like MyTopo allow you to order printed maps. Great to have if you are on a multi-day trip in an unfamiliar area. These maps are super high quality and printed on water repellent paper. Nothing beats an old school printed map when in the backcountry where cell service and battery life are uncertain.
Using USGS maps, MyTopo allows you to print and customize your map in just about any size and map detail you desire. I’ve personally used these for a couple of backpacking trips and found the quality of the maps outstanding. One of them even helped me and my hiking partner get back on trail after getting lost on a game trail.
Do you have a favorite app?
Is there an app that you love that we didn’t mention here? Leave a comment below and let us know, were always looking for great tech to help us enjoy the outdoors.