The idea of disconnecting from technology and fully enjoying nature with a good hike is something we all aspire to (well, most of us!).
But there are times when on the trail you could swear you’re headed in the right direction, only to find hours later you took a wrong turn…somewhere. It’s happened to the best of us, and thankfully we’ve lived to tell the tale. At least it will make a great story for that next campfire gathering.
Just the same, you’d rather not find yourself in that situation again. Right? Sticking to the trail also means you’ll keep from harming the natural habitats of the surrounding flora and fauna. Not to mention steering clear of any potential danger.
So if you’re directionally challenged (or even if you’re not) you definitely want to stay safe when out hiking, so here are a few excellent hiking and navigation apps that will guide you where you want to go.
If you’re a lover of the outdoors, chances are you’ve heard of this already. They have an excellent website that gives you the skinny on just about every trail known to man. In fact, they have the largest collection of curated trail maps. So it only follows they have a kick-ass app to go along. It allows you to search over 200,000 different trails.
One great thing about this app is that you can create your own trail and share them with other users on the app. This is perfect for the adventurer who enjoys going off the beaten path and discovering something new and exciting to share with other hiking enthusiasts.
Alltrails can also be used as a GPS tracker when you’re in the wild and off the grid. The basic version of this app is free, with the option to upgrade to gain access to additional features such as downloading trail info when your phone goes out of service.
Ever been on a hike, looked up, and wondered, “What mountain is that?” Yeah, us too. As the saying goes, there’s an app for that!
Peakvisor uses your location, your phone’s camera, and good ‘ol technology to let you know the peak in question. It has names and elevations of over one million peaks across the globe. In addition, the app helps you navigate hiking trails with 3D maps to truly visualize where you’re going.
One unique feature of Peakvisor is its sun and moon trails, which shows you the movement of the sun and moon – great for knowing not only where to point your compass, but the best times for capturing the best light for some great photos.
For you long-distance hikers, this app was developed by like-minded adventurers and features over 35,000 miles of trails that are available offline. The data comes from trusted hikers and organizations and is consistently reviewed to make sure everything is updated. You can choose alternate routes if you wish.
You can use Farout for detailed information on the trail, such as distance, elevation, water sources, campsites, and more. It has a great safety feature so you can share a check-in of your current location and a personal message to let loved ones know where you are. The app itself is free, but complete guides on any specific trail are purchased separately and vary from about $5 to $60 depending on the length and popularity of a trail.
You may have already used this service several times to book a camping spot. Heck, you may already have this app on your phone! Did you know it can also be used to plan and reserve ranger-led tours and permits to backcountry wilderness areas?
You can also use it to enter lotteries and purchase interagency passes. It truly is a one-stop shop app for the outdoors.
This one is all about safety – especially if you are a solo hiker. The best part about the Cairn app is that it takes your current location and gives an estimate of how long it will take you to reach the end of the trail. It tracks your progress along the way, even when offline.
Even better, it gives info on where other hikers have found decent cell service on the trail, and you can change the setting to be notified when you have cell service if you want to send a message or make a call.
The free version gives you access to basic features like maps, trails, and cell coverage. If you opt for upgrading, you’ll have access to the entire app offline, including live progress updates to the emergency contact you specify. This is really important in the event of a rescue situation!
Technology can make hiking fun, more accessible, stress-free – and ultimately safer! Download these apps and get out on the trail.