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There are many apps out there to assist you in your outdoor adventures, but we found 3 we think you might like that go the extra mile – and make it fun at the same time.
Upon launching AllTrails and signing up (if you choose), you’re immediately taken to beautifully illustrated trail maps in your location. I chose a trail park that I’m quite familiar with and was pleasantly surprised to see so much data on just this one park. There’s user-submitted detailed descriptions, reviews with comments, directions on how to get there from Google or Apple maps and the best feature – Record mode. Record allows you to track your walk, run or bike along with photos, GPS and waypoints and then share the stats. Additionally, AllTrails also has a Lifeline (Pro) feature which allows your friends or family to keep track of your well-being while you’re out traversing. There’s also a few map layers to play with, including: topo, terrain, road, satellite and much more.
In the Pro version, you can download maps for offline use, notifications if you meander off-route and of course, ad-free. The AllTrails company was founded in 2010, is based in San Francisco and builds tools for the outdoor enthusiast.
When you open ViewRanger you’re taken to a fullscreen view of the map location you’re currently in. The interface is simple with just a few buttons to choose from. Here you can record or plot your routes, add points of interest or use the BuddyBeacon feature to let people know where you are in case of an emergency. If you subscribe to ViewRanger, their winning feature is the AR (Augmented Reality) integration. With this you can identify the topography through your phone’s camera with direction arrows and waypoints. Finally, there’s a dashboard for all your activity like your recorded tracks or routes and a social feed from the people you follow.
In the Pro version of ViewRanger, you can utilize the AR feature to display peaks and places with your phone’s camera, 3D flyovers of routes and the ability to share your location to family and friends for safety. Finally, there’s Apple Health and Watch integration. Craig Wareham and Mike Brocklehurst founded ViewRanger and partners with 23 national mapping agencies and international cartographic publishers.
Gaia GPS guides you by learning about what you like to do the most outdoors, whether it’s hiking and backpacking, off-roading in your vehicle or hunting. Gaia wants to know in order to customize your experience. Gaia then takes you into a beautiful map of your current location (quite fast actually) and prompts you to change your map layer style if you wish. These layers are premium features but it’s nice to know they’re there if you wish. The interface is minimal and includes trip data, nearby trails, share your data with friends and of course recording your trips. I liked that my current elevation and speed is prominently displayed at the top of the interface.
On the map you can add waypoints, create routes, take pictures and create ‘areas’ which allow you to triangulate 3 waypoints to designate exploration spots.
In the Member level you have access to a worldwide catalog of topo, road, and satellite maps. In the Pro version get access to about a dozen map sources including: NatGeo, ESRI and NOAA. Gaia GPS was developed by Anna and Andrew Johnson who founded TrailBehind in 2008 and first launched Gaia in 2009.