The excitement of hiking lies in the close encounter with nature. During such times, we often try to sever our connection with our busy lives and be in tune with the trail.
However, our smartphones, possibly an artifact of that same busy life, can actually make our hiking time more exciting and intuitive. Whether you are the old school who likes taking it rough or are new to hiking, these apps have features in store for everyone.
There isn’t a dearth of hiking apps in the marketplace. But not all of them are reliable to be taken into the wilderness. So, let’s take a look at the best hiking apps for both Android and iOS available options.
Want to know the name of the mountain you are looking at? Just open the app and point the camera towards it. And it will tell you the name and its elevation like magic. This truly is an app of the future. And fun to use too.
The app uses a combination of the phone’s camera, GPS location, and a highly precise 3D mountain panorama to give you valuable information. It’s also got a 3D compass and an altimeter to calculate elevations accurately.
Given you do not run out of juice, your phone might as well be your new window to the mountains.
Gaia GPS Hiking, Hunting Maps
Although a navigation app, it packs in features that you might not have seen before. The maps are easy to read with satellite and topographical outlay as well. In addition, it also measures distance, speed, and elevation that would help you are on your toes.
You can even download offline maps, overlay them and print them out. But for some of these premium features, it would cost you a bit.
Nonetheless, you can always access the topological map freely, without downloading it.
It is one of the most popular hiking apps. With its widespread following and usage, it has managed to gather in about 50,000 different Canadian and US trails.
You can easily browse the trail list or find specific trails near you, add to the existing repository of trails, and also review other trails. One of the finest hiking platforms to date.
It allows access to satellite and topological maps online and even allows you to save them offline. With a premium membership of $50 per year, it allows you to access the National Geographic map library, along with the provision of printing the available maps.
This is a great app for mountain lovers. If you want to know the terrain across a range, or about a mountain right in your view, you only need to point the camera towards it. And voila! It would give you all of the relevant information.
You can actually sit in the comfort of your couch and visit these mountains electronically. And what’s better is that it even works offline. That is, it does not hopelessly expect you to have internet connection atop the Himalayas, like most other apps. Yes, the Himalayas.
It actually boasts of 350,000 peaks across the world in its library.
One of the most visually appealing and functional apps out there, Spyglass uses GPS and augmented reality to guide you through the wilderness. It provides down to detail navigation and a smart compass, with the ability to track speed, altitude and the trail itself.
The most exciting feature of this app is that it allows you to track the sun and the stars as well, with the inbuilt sextant, angle calculator, and inclinometer. You can also use the rangefinder feature with it.
The app is a paid one in iTunes, but is available for free in Android with several in-app purchases.
Love jotting down while on a trail? This is just the app for you. It allows you to document everything you come across on your trail in a very efficient way. The built-in mapping feature is also pretty good.
The app has specific sections allowing you to record your speed, distance traveled, or highest elevation reached.
It also allows you to take geotagged videos and pictures, which would make setting up of your collection and trip memoirs easier. You can also upload and share your trips, and check out other’s hikes.
Cairn: Hiking & Outdoor Trails
Are you concerned about your safety while on a treacherous hike? You are right in doing so. And this app would simply help you be more cautious.
The app checks out the cellular coverage of an area, so that you can be well prepared for the regions that do not have any. In addition, it also allows you to automatically notify specific contacts, when you have not reached a particular distance milestone, using your GPS.
It lets them know of the last place wherein you were tracked. It also has a freely downloadable repository of a huge number of maps and routes in the US and UK.
Wild Edibles Forage
This is a slightly unorthodox hiking app and is actually very different from the ones in this list. Well, it actually encourages you to go foraging rather than accessing you’re packed in food and water.
Cautions aboard, foraging is an extremely fun activity. It allows you to be self-dependent on your survival skills and does not need you to carry that heavy bag.
The app helps you identify over 200 different berries and other plant products, with well laid out illustrations and pictures, so that you do not end up popping in the wrong ones.
First Aid by American Red Cross
This is a much needed first aid app, from the ever trustworthy Red Cross. It provides detailed counter steps for most of the injuries that a climber or a hiker can come across while on trial. These are sometimes even accompanied by short relevant videos.
You can even learn up about various injuries and medical conditions that you might face even before setting yourself up for the trail. And it also has the emergency 911 single button contact.
In addition, it allows you to donate and volunteer for the Red Cross, and have access to their first aid courses.
SAS Survival Guide
This app is an all in one package to gear you up for the wilderness trail. It is based on the book by John Wiseman and contains all of the contents in the book and some more, to aid the hiker on the go.
First aid information, along with an illustrative library of medicinal and poisonous plants is also included in the package. The app also allows you to download related videos by the author. It also comes with a Morse code guide for extreme survivalist situations.
Back Country Nav is one of the most widely accessed map repositories. And it works fine even if you are offline. So, no network coverage worries, if you constantly like getting deep into nature. The maps are sourced and updated from several acclaimed libraries like Open Street-maps and NASA Landsat.
It also has support for trails in multiple countries like Spain, Germany, Austria, and New Zealand in addition to the US.
Map My Hike
One of the most acclaimed tracking apps to cover your trail. With this app, you need not be constantly afraid of getting lost. The inbuilt sensors allow for accurate speed and distance measurement, on the map displayed.
In addition, you can also see the routes other people have taken towards the same destination. It also has a feature which enables you to constantly look for other trails around you, for someone who is constantly trying to get off the popular trail for something more adventurous.
This is one of the best free apps around. It uses GPS and accesses the trail maps from a wide repository. You can even use it offline at absolutely no extra charge. And it allows you to print the maps. It can also be used as a good organizer if you are a frequent hiker.
Its widespread popularity is also because of its regularly updated maps and trails from various countries like Canada, USA and New Zealand.
Ever come across the difficulty of finding the appropriate knot for a particular job. I bet we all have. And it becomes more frustrating when you are on a hike. Fortunately, Knots 3D can come to your rescue.
It tells you all about the kind of knots that should be tied in different situations. And after that, it teaches you how to tie that exact knot, with 3D video tutorials. A really useful app, given you only hikes in the areas where there is network coverage. Well, you could as well have become a network tester for cellular companies!
Water Drink Reminder
It’s easy to get too engrossed in the hike, and even forget to drink water. Personally speaking, it often happens to me. And this app helps solve that. It simply tells you to drink water as the name suggests.
The app graphs the amount of water you have had and further synchronizes the data with Google Fit. It periodically reminds you to have more water as well. Not to mention, how important keeping yourself hydrated during long trails is. And what’s better is that it comes free of any charge.
Offline Survival Manual
As the name suggests, this is exactly the thing you would need in the wild. It covers a no. of topics including foraging and survival strategies. This app is open source.
Among the things you can refer to, are tying knots, learning to identify poisonous plants, managing stress, and also about the best techniques in bad weather. It even has a guide to set up the fire and give psychology tips.
Pet First Aid by American Red Cross
Fancy taking your dog out for hikes with you? Dogs love hikes, and often outrun you! And a dog as a companion can hardly get better.
However, it’s also important to be able to tend to their injuries on the spot, and this app makes sure you do so in an informed and educated way. It also has a section for cats, and the possible mishaps are organized in different sections. You can even set veterinary appointments in it.
This app takes the edge because of its great layout and functionality. The layout itself can be fully customized, in accordance to your wishes.
It provides highly accurate information on wind direction, speed, humidity, precipitation, and linear visibility, which are very important on the trail. It also provides information on rain patterns all across the globe. The excellent weather portal makes it a good choice for hikers.
Chimani – National Park Guides
This app is even better rated than the National Geographic app. Can you believe that!
It contains information on US National Park Services. But hold on, not just that, it also contains information on memorials, national parks, monuments, historic sites, seashores, battlegrounds and a lot more. Truly, an adventurer’s dream!
The fun part is that it has an interactive platform, wherein the user gets points for every place visited. The app even works fine without internet using GPS.
REI Co-op National Parks Guide
The Rei co-op guides to National Parks is designed by the hiking experts at Rei to provide comprehensive content on the trails in National Parks including Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and several others.
You can check your chosen trail from a plethora of options set up by hikers. Information regarding trail difficulty, resting and camping places on the way are also present in an illustrated manner. It also works offline, and you can use your GPS to track the hike. Not only that, your location can also be sent out in the case of an emergency.
A really good GPS tracking app as I can say from experience. It helps you to mark out and study several hiking trails, before you set off, or when you are at a junction. Further, you can also customize the routes and download them offline for printing.
The app also allows you to keep track of your hiking speed and distance covered. You also have the option of color coding the different trails to avoid confusion. This app would pretty much suffice all of your basic hiking needs.
View Ranger is a navigation tool meant for the purpose of hiking in unknown territories. With accurate navigation, this app also offers free downloadable maps, so that you don’t have to depend on cellular coverage.
It offers live updates of distance covered, and the time taken for different patches of the trail. With a trail library of about 9 million hiking locations across the globe, this definitely is an app to check out. It also simplifies location sharing, if you were to be in an emergency situation during your hike.
Theodolite is creative and visually appealing navigation app. It comes packed with several tools like a navigation calculator, an inclinometer, and a compass amongst several others.
With accurate navigation and good GPS enabled maps, it definitely is something a hiker would want by his/her side. The app works just fine without internet connectivity in case you were worried about cellular coverage again. It is not only good for hiking but for skiing, yachting, and kayaking as well.
And surprisingly enough, it also comes with an inbuilt monocular that offers both 2x and 4x zooming.
We, wild hikers, are often unstoppable by wind or tide. But, as far as local diseases go, they need to be dealt on a cautious front. Cures A-Z is a great repository for hundreds of diseases and is available offline. You can find treatments and several dos and don’ts concerning the disease.
In addition, it also has a guide for medicinal herbs with a comprehensive section on where and how to find them in the wilderness. It also keeps you aware of your requisite nutritional intake.
For one who often likes going rough and light for hikes, it’s a great guide. Even for a beginner, this provides enough material to bank on during an emergency.
This isn’t a navigational or resource providing app while you are on trial. But, it serves the purpose of preparing you up before embarking on that trail.
It’s easy to create notes, and useful accessibility of the older ones makes it a good option for hikers and backpackers alike. Features like easy editing, and multiplication of needed resources along with a choice of several colors to make the lists are quite appealing.
Plantifier is a fun app to add the much-needed spice to your hiking, should the trail get monotonous. This actually is a plant identification app. If you see an unknown plant, just snap a picture and upload it. Experts in the field will comment and
help you out with the identification. You can even comment on other’s posts.
After a plant is identified by somebody, other users can cast votes on whether the identification is correct. Over time, it has become a wide repository of plants and herbs. This can actually be very helpful for foraging while you are on trail.
Ever deep into a trail, with the sun almost about to set? Happens often with hikers, and what becomes more daunting is when you don’t know a place for camping. This app helps you to find the right camping grounds on your trail.
The app also allows you to leave reviews and comments of these camping grounds. Further, you can filter camping grounds based on activities, distance, and several other factors to be able to go for the one that would suit you the best.
Komoot — Cycling & Hiking Maps
If you often get lost in planning your hike, this is just the app for you. You can check available routes, detours and plan accordingly. You can even download the offline maps.
The app has a fairly easy user interface and caters to both hikers and bikers. The first region you choose comes for free in offline mode after you download the app. You can purchase extra regions or even all of the regions in a single package.
This indeed is one of the highly used apps in this arena.
Icon Torch – Flashlight
We all know how important a flashlight is when hiking. It can suddenly get dark, and the only thing that can show you the way is the flashlight. But, if somehow it fails, you can always use your smartphone for some light.
Most of the smartphones already come with a flashlight. It’s actually the camera flash which is used for the purpose. However, there are still some that don not come with it. This app is meant for these hikers, who would want to have a backup to their normal flashlight kits.
Wiki Camps is another app for searching suitable camping grounds. This app has a wide repository of camping grounds, even in the most remote areas, owing to its widespread popularity.
The app itself is filtered by region in the app stores, and there are apps running for US, Canada, UK, New Zealand, and Australia at the moment. But this set is likely to increase in the future.
This app is even more useful if you are an RVer looking for specifics like the availability of sewage disposal facilities, or water in camping grounds.
This app is specifically meant for mountain lovers and hikers. It is very simple and easy to use as well. It offers the location, statistics, and routes to all the mountains in a chosen area.
You will be rerouted to other important information regarding that trail once you chose to know more about it. Further, you can also import maps from other apps using GPX files to be used in this app. In addition, it has an interesting layout wherein you can tick the visited mountains, for future reference.
The app hiking support?
Some people think that using smart technology might lessen the excitement of a hike. However, I believe that adding a smart navigation tool with a wide library of knowledge that can help you survive in the wild, is a great advantage. It makes sure that
you enjoy those trails, without any doubt at the back of your mind.