Best Hiking GPS Apps 2015

Your smartphone is a great companion on a hike, and these apps help you make the most of your trip. Each of these apps have their best-in-class strong points, noted in the headlines to help guide your choice. I also include the best outdoor survival guide app, and information about portable solar chargers to keep your batteries alive out on the trial.

MapMyHike+ GPS Hiking Syncs With Health and Activity Graph

Map My Hike is well-suited for back-country or fitness hikers. © MapMyFitness

MapMyHike is by the developers of the popular MapMyFitness line of apps including sports such as bicycling and running. It includes the full set of features that make this line popular including an easy-to-use maps and tracks feature, a fitness-oriented dashboard for your cumulative stats, and activity-feed community sharing.

Additional features include:

  • Sync your account with other health apps such as Apple Health.
  • 24/7 activity graph.
  • Gear tracker lets you track hiking boot or shoe mileage.
  • Pace, distance, calorie burn, elevation gain stats.
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All Trails App
AllTrails is among the most popular hiking apps on the market. AllTrails

AllTrails is known for its guides to more than 50,000 trails across North America, including photos, reviews, and tracks. You may also record your own tracks for others to view and follow.

AllTrail's browse capability lets you locate trails closest to you. The community reviews are well-monitored by AllTrails and include an abundance of useful information and honest user feedback. You may also view topographic maps for most trails and backcountry regions.

Other features include:

  • Add geotagged photos.
  • Social sharing of tracks and trips.
  • Read and write trail reviews.
  • Syncs with account.
  • Access trail database without an internet connection.
  • Pro version lets you plan routes and trips with Map Editor. 
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Trimble Outdoors Pro - Strong All-Around App With Excellent Maps

Trimble Outdoors screenshot
Trimble Outdoors Pro is a strong all-around app. Trimble Outdoors

Trimble Outdoors Pro is a very strong all-around app, with a great selection of detailed and downloadable topo maps that can be viewed off-line. It has good GPS navigation and tracking and waypoint features, and strong sharing features, including Facebook, YouTube and the Trimble Outdoors website.

Other features include:

  • Stat tracking and sharing including distance, speed, elevation, tracks.
  • Embedded, geo-tagged photos and video clips.
  • Access more than 68,000 topo maps.
  • Auto-sync trips between devices.
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Maps 3D Pro - Best Mapping and Route Planning

Maps 3D Pro
Maps 3D Pro is the best app for pre-planning trip maps. movingworld GmbH. iTunes

Read the Full Review

The Maps 3D Pro app is map-centric, because it allows free map downloads and storage to your device for off-line access, making it refreshingly different among outdoor recreation apps. 

Maps 3D Pro has an easy-to-use search feature, and rich, 2D and 3D color topo map views that let you quickly find and view the lay of the land at your chosen destination.

The app features 11 map types, including three types of topographic maps, hiking maps showing hiking trails, classic and MapQuest Open Street Maps, MapQuest satellite view, USGS topo, OpenSeaMap including port details, ski trail maps, and commuter transport. More »

Ramblr - Best Outdoor Journaling App

Ramblr Journaling App
The Ramblr app is your best choice for journaling and sharing your adventures. Bientus, Inc. iTunes

If you want to journal and share your adventures online, Ramblr is your best choice. Sure it has route tracking, downloadable maps, GPS directions, and other hikers' trips to follow.

But the heart of Ramblr is the ability to chronicle your trips with multiple photos, videos, GPS tracks, and stats including elevation, distance, and speed.

Check out Ramblr's website for examples of illustrated travel stories. More »

SAS Survival Guide - Most Comprehensive

SAS Survival Guide App
The SAS Survival Guide is comprehensive.

There are a few survival guide apps available, but SAS Survival Guide is by far the most comprehensive and down-to-business survival tool. Written by former British Special Air Service soldier and instructor John  "Lofty" Wiseman, the guide is based on the best-selling book of the same name. The app includes:

  • Full text of the bestselling book (400+ pages) organized and optimized for the app.
  • 16 videos by Wiseman.
  • Image galleries of animal tracks, knots, edible, medicinal, and poisonous plants.
  • Morse code signalling device.
  • Survival checklist.
  • Compass.
  • Extreme climates sections including polar, desert, tropical and sea.
More »

Best Portable Solar Chargers

Goal Zero 41022 Guide 10 Plus Solar Recharging Kit
Portable solar chargers keep your smartphone working in the wild. Photo from Amazon

Portable solar chargers provide a great way to assure that your electronic devices, including iPhones, smartphones, cameras, LED headlamps and lights, GPS devices and more continue to work for you on an extended outdoor trip. These chargers are rugged and lightweight, and are designed to easily be mounted on a backpack, kayak deck or hung from a tree to gather solar energy while you are on the move or while you camp. The chargers featured here are fine for smartphones and other smaller devices, but are not powerful enough to recharge iPads or laptops.

Here are three of the best portable solar chargers on the market, and all are available on

Buy a Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel
Buy a Bushnell PowerSync SolarWrap 400 Li-Ion USB Charger
Buy a Solio Classic2 Battery Pack and Solar Charger

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