The Best Hiking Apps For Free
By Kiel Bowman
With the prevalence today of smartphone technology, a preoccupation has arisen with the thought of people spending even more time glued to a screen and even less time enjoying the sights of the world around them. For those with a more savvy view of things, this technology can actually be used to enhance your experience of outdoor activities, as a throng of developers have produced software to assist the pursuit of hiking, camping, skiing, and more.
- This article takes a look at some of the latest free apps that can bring a little more kick to your next step outdoors, and the next article will take a look at some of the paid apps for the same purpose. We’ve actually tried out each of these apps, and can personally attest to their quality.
1. AllTrails Hiking & Mountain Biking Trails, GPS Tracker, & Offline Topo Maps (iOS and Android)
This is a fantastic app for finding new trails to go on a hike. With a database of over 50,000 trails and counting, you’ll never run out of new paths to take. The amount of information available on trails is massive, and you can add to it, either by recording new trails yourself, or adding your reviews of previously recorded ones. You can view or add photos to the profiles of the routes, and share them with your friends online. In addition, the app can be used offline.
2. Trimble Outdoors Navigator Hiking GPS App (iOS, Android)
The Trimble Outdoors Navigator app is a great compromise for those who want some GPS support on the trail without committing to the purchase of a full-on dedicated handheld GPS device. It offers five different types of maps, such as topographic, terrain, aerial, etc. and lets you store maps in your phone for use when you find yourself (as is quite likely) in an area with no cell service. Also, like a dedicated handheld GPS service, you can also mark and describe waypoints on your digital map, and you can access a database of other people’s stored trips. The services don’t stop there! There’s also a digital compass that shows both true north and magnetic north.
3. National Parks by National Geographic (iOS)
This app put out by National Geographic focuses exclusively on the national parks of the United States. Technically, this app is free, but you will have to pay from $0.99 to $1.99 in-app to access more detailed information about the various parks. What makes this app a bit different is that the information provided goes beyond just maps, including tips, “park secrets”, photos that highlight the beauty of the parks (what else would you expect from National Geographic) and a sort of digital passport that lets you collect “stamps” for each of the parks you visit. This all gives you a little more interactivity than usual, something that appeals especially to those who are avid users of different social networks and photo-sharing services. This is clearly one of the best hiking apps available today in my opinion.
For the Android user there is an option of America’s National parks by LBS Solutions. This app is worth a look if your are heading to one of the national parks. What a bummer that Nat Geo didn’t include android in their National Park App. LBS Solutions seems to have pretty good coverage and is worth a look (especially since is free).
4. MapMyHike (iOS, Android, and Blackberry)
This app is a simpler choice for someone who wants software to track their path, and not much more. It has an extremely simple set of tools and is easy to navigate. While on route, it also has the option of relaying information for the benefit of understanding your fitness a bit better, by measuring pace, heart rate, calories burned, and so on. A great option for those who want a no-fuss addition to their hiking experience!
5. Mosquito Device (iOS)
This app, simply put, is genius, as long as you’re in an area that has the risk of mosquitoes. Forgot your bug spray, or just hate using bug spray? Worry no more, as this app remedies the situation with an elegant solution. It emits a high frequency noise that keeps the little monsters away, but is harmless to humans and other animals, although it should be noted that it can hurt the ears of very small children.
This is just a small selection of some of the best hiking apps available these days for enhancing your experience of the outdoors. Although these are our favorites, feel free to comment below if there are any others that you’re a fan of!