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Best Smartphone GPS Apps for Hiking

App store and Google play filled with a lot of GPS apps that you can use. I assume 95% of people use smartphones and smartphone GPS apps are accurate enough.

In case If you have a waterproof phone (water resistant & spill resistant) such as IPhone, Samsung Galaxy then you might not need a dedicated GPS because apps are dirt cheap compared to GPS. Before we even look into Best GPS Apps let’s talk general issues with Smartphone GPS Apps.


Few Limiting Factors using GPS on Smartphones

1. Battery Life

Are you trying to not to get lost or, trying to get help if you do get lost? The reason why am I am asking is Smartphones eat up battery like no tomorrow with constant use even keeping it on an airplane mode, and If you totally depend on smartphones, then I'd recommend carrying and extra battery or portable chargers with you.

Check your phone background apps and make sure that there no other apps running in the background other than GPS app. using your smartphone as handheld GPS requires another dedicated post, so I will write-up another article to address this issue.

2. Screen Readability

On the other hand, Smartphone displays are barely readable in bright daylight compared to a handheld GPS. Leveling up the brightness, in turn, eats more battery life.

3. Disintegrated Maps

At the same time, smartphones are not good as picking up accurate GPS position, and they overestimate the distance traveled. Sometimes maps freeze up, and you might have to zoom in and out of the map to get an exact position likewise GPS sensitivity could be better when using Handheld GPS. Carrying a print of topographical map of the terrain would help you reach your camp safely. Check out our article on how to read a topographical maps 

4 Advantages of Using GPS Apps

First off, smartphone apps are a lot cheaper than dedicated GPS; second, functionality is far better; third, GUI interface is superior.

They are much easier to interact and fewer things to carry around in your pack. They can track your progress like any other handheld GPS also, smartphones with large LED display is superior to a dedicated GPS. With that said Let's find out the Best Smartphone GPS apps.

Best Smartphones GPS Apps

There is a misconception that GPS apps only works if you have a good cellular signal reception but Actually, GPS Apps works without a network connection.

Depending on the application that you've installed some features may require network connection such as downloading maps. All the apps require GPS signal to record trips. So, download all your maps when planning for a journey.

#1 Gaia GPS: Topo Maps and Trails

I highly recommend Gaia GPS they are fantastic and rolls out updates very often. Also, they have downloadable topo maps of entire continental US.

For IOS

Gaia GPS
Download from App Store

For Android

Gaia GPS
Get it on Play Store

#2 Locus Map Pro - Outdoor GPS

Locus Map Pro is available only Android Store, you can download wide selection of offline maps

Beautiful App Only Available on Android.

locus map
Get it on Play Store
  • Shows your position on offline or online map of your choice
  • Records your trips and workouts
  • Navigates you to your tourist destinations
  • Helps with planning your geocaching hunt
  • Searches and displays addresses and natural landmarks

#3 Walk with Map My Walk

For IOS

mapmywalk
Download from App Store

For Android

mapmywalk android
Get it on Play Store

#4 Ramblr (Hiking, Gps, Maps)

For IOS

Ramblr in Iphone
Download from App Store

For Android

Ramblr in Android
Get it on Play Store

#5 AllTrails - Hiking & Biking

For IOS

AllTrails in Iphone
Download from App Store

For Android

AllTrails in Android
Get it on Play Store

To Summarize

Durability and Battery life with GPS handheld are far better compared to smartphones and guides you to correct waypoints. Of course,

These smartphone apps and Handheld GPS intend to keep you findable in case if you get lost, or can for help but you can't replace with Maps and Compass. Share your experiences and thoughts on using Smartphone GPS apps, your comments and suggestions are welcome.

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