Most of you may already be familiar with the term ‘hiking’. Hiking primarily is an activity where one goes on a long walk. However, there are certain elements that distinguish it from the plain act of walking. Hiking is usually done on all kinds of rough terrains where it is comparably harder to walk.
Originated from Europe, this activity has grown a lot and is a common thing to practice now. It is not a sport, and it is done for the purpose of pleasure.
Hiking is also seen as a form of exercise or working out, as not only it requires endurance and stamina, it also improves both of them if practiced regularly.
There are a bunch of preparations you need to make before you decide to go hiking. One of them is planning your hike.
It is understandable that the pleasure of hiking lies in exploring new, unseen places and discovering things you didn’t know existed, but a planned hike will be more meaningful in terms of experience than an unplanned one.
Whether it is a nearby forest, mountain footing, or hilly area, you will need to plan your hike thoroughly in order to make the most out of your hiking trip, and most importantly, for a safe hiking trip.
There are several mobile applications available on the internet that will help you with your hiking trip, and we’ve shortlisted the best among them for you.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the best hiking apps that you can install on your smartphone to make sure that your hiking trip is safe and that you enjoy a great hiking experience.
Why the need for hiking apps?🤔
Some might think, why the need for such hiking apps anyway? To an extent, it is acceptable that an unplanned hike gives a lot of thrills and is more fun. However, there are some other things we should take into consideration than just thrill and fun.
Our safety, the best route for hiking, hiking locations nearby, recommended gear and stuff like that are of equivalent importance. In this section, we’ll be discussing some of the perks of hiking apps, which are greatly helpful in making our hiking trip worth it.
Getting ideas for hiking:- Hiking apps will let you know about the best hiking spots around you. You can also find hiking spots in locations that are distanced from you.
This way, these apps will let you learn about some of the best hiking locations that can give you a great hiking expert. You can use these apps to even plan routes and stops, thus proceeding smoothly with your hiking trip.
Navigation:- As mentioned earlier, it is important to take our safety into consideration while planning a hiking trip. Hiking apps will assist you in choosing the best possible route for your hike based on the info available on the internet. This will ensure your safety all the time and will eliminate the possibility of getting lost.
Knowledge:- Hiking is all about getting to discover new stuff that you weren’t aware of before. Hiking apps have useful info on the best hiking locations. They’ll give you details about certain plants and wildlife. Hiking apps will educate you about things related to hiking you didn’t know before.
Keeping track of your performance:- As mentioned earlier, hiking is a form of exercise. Hiking apps will give you important info such as distance covered, calories burnt, total time taken, pace, etc. All this information can be really helpful in deciding your overall performance during hiking.
Now that we’ve covered the reasons to use these hiking apps, let’s now take a look at some of the best hiking apps that we’ve shortlisted for you.
Best Hiking Apps – Our Top Pick👌👌
1. AllTrails: Hiking, Running & Mountain Bike Trails
The first application on our list of the best hiking apps of all time is AllTrails. This application is easily one of the top contenders for the position of the best hiking apps to ever exist, and its features justify our statement.
Packed with numerous features, this app is our greatest ally for hiking. The catalog of this application is full of nearby destinations for hiking and even other forms of activities like biking, horse riding, backpacking, and running. The GPS activity tracker of this app is useful for keeping a tab on our hiking activity.
Besides that, the app gives you access to the AllTrails community, a community where one can find plenty of inspiration for their next hike.
AllTrails will give you information about the hiking locations and spots around your location, and you’ll also get to use a trail map for navigation. Trail maps are great tools for navigation while hiking or cycling. It is equipped with hundreds of trail maps and maps that you can download offline for navigation.
With this feature, you can kiss goodbye to the possibility of getting lost in an unknown location. There is a feature called Lifeline in the pro version of the AllTrails app, that lets you assign safety contacts.
These safety contacts will be aware of your hiking plan and will be able to keep a track of your progress. The AllTrails application also gives you a regular update of air quality, pollen concentration, satellite weather, and light pollution. This is useful info that will aid you in preparation for your hiking trip.
AllTrails app comes with a pro version as well. The pro version offers some extra features for an annual subscription. Lifeline, ad-free user interface, off route notifications, and real-time map overlays are some of the features that are included in the pro version of AllTrails.
2. Gaia GPS: Hiking, Offroad Maps
Developed by TrailBehind.Inc, Gaia GPS is your ally for accurate navigation and hike planning. Just like the AllTrails application, the Gaia GPS app also features trail maps for its users, which makes navigating through almost all sorts of locations a piece of cake.
Gaia GPS app was designed with the latest cutting-edge technology and is a perfect tool for planning a hiking trip.
The best part about Gaia GPS is that this application is not just about hiking. This app works as a single solution for various activities such as hunting, camping, skiing, exploring, and hiking of course.
This is precisely why Gaia GPS features maps and trails that are constantly monitored and updated quickly. This is why the accuracy of Gaia GPS is second to none. This app also acts as your guide on your hiking trip, suggesting locations to set up your camp or nodes for marking checkpoints.
Depending on the location, Gaia GPS may also assist you in finding nearby resources such as water bodies and such. Besides that, there are several features of this app that are meant for activities other than hiking. This application is a one-time solution for almost every activity that involves exploration.
Be it camping, Overlanding, mountaineering, mountain biking, skiing, trekking, and hiking, the Gaia GPS is likely to be a complete package of assistance that’ll guide you thoroughly throughout the whole journey. In terms of GPS tracking and navigation, the accuracy this app comes with is exceptional.
There are some features that come with only the premium membership of this app. These include the feature of downloading maps for offline viewing, satellite imagery, weather forecasts, etc.
The free version of Gaia GPS works perfectly fine, but with the premium subscription, you’ll be getting a ton of features to enhance your hiking experience even more.
3. Outdooractive (Formerly ViewRanger)
Outdooractive is an app that is slightly different from the other hiking applications in this article. We’ll discuss what makes it different later in this section.
Outdooractive primarily is a massive navigation application that inspires exploration. The community is full of itineraries that are helpful and will assist you in finding the best routes and locations for hiking.
You’ll find the community eagerly sharing their hiking experiences and info, which you can take into account in order to enhance your overall hiking experience. You’ll also get the chance to share your hiking experience and info with others.
The route navigation feature is one of the most useful features of ViewRanger. Route navigation makes use of the GPS tracking system in our smartphone to accurately tell our present location in accordance with the route we chose with all of the extra information needed to complete a hiking trip safely.
The route navigation feature will also allow you to choose and mark certain points along the route that can be used as a stoppage, camping spot, or waypoint. The route navigation feature will highlight them in real-time during your journey which in a way will also help you avoid getting lost.
Now let’s talk about the feature that makes ViewRanger different from other hiking applications. This application is equipped with augmented reality technology that allows you to navigate and view the terrain in 3D.
When it comes to activities like hiking, this feature is of great use and completely eliminates the possibility of getting lost. The AR feature of ViewRanger is its best selling point.
Besides that, it is also equipped with guidebooks that will educate you about several things along your planned route. ViewRanger, especially because of its AR viewing feature is a very strong contender for the spot of the best hiking applications of all time.
4. Google Maps
You have probably been living under a rock if this is the first time you’ve heard the name of this globally used application. Google maps is a worldwide used navigation application that has more to it than many of us know. It is the biggest navigation application out there and the database of this application is simply massive.
You can say that almost no corner of this world is hidden from it. This is precisely why this application is a great tool for hiking enthusiasts as well.
The feature of downloading maps offline is often underestimated, and many apps charge for a premium membership or for a pro version to give this feature.
However, Google Maps offers the feature of downloading maps offline and saving them for later for no price whatsoever. You can download a map, choose your waypoints, devise a trail or you can simply follow a trail that already exists.
Yes, that’s right. Popular trails in hiking locations in Google Maps are shown to others as well. This way, you’ll know the route you’re planning to take is entirely safe.
One of the most useful features on this app other than the super accurate GPS tracking system is the feature that allows you to download an offline trail map that you can customize as per your choice. This is where things get interesting.
You can design a route for yourself as per your choice in any location once you choose a certain point as your starting location, and then you choose an endpoint. You can download this customized route offline and view it later whenever you go for exploration.
This will help you stay on the way all the time so you don’t have to worry about getting lost at all. All of these features make Google Maps one of the best hiking apps available on the internet.
Wikiloc is a rather simple application, and that is precisely what makes it ideal. It basically is an application that lets you view topographic maps from all across the globe without any data usage. Yes, you read that right.
You’ll be able to access any of the hundreds of topographic maps available on the Wikiloc app without the need for an internet connection.
This makes it an ideal navigation app for hiking, as often during hiking people end up at places where the internet doesn’t work or is weak.
With the help of Wikiloc, you won’t have to worry about getting lost or not knowing the way ahead of you. You can simply access the topographic map and find a way out without any data usage.
Before being able to use this app, you’ll need to create an account and register it first. You can share this account with your close contacts, and that will let them know about your hiking routes and plans.
Not only that, Wikiloc provides you with over 70 activities that you can choose from, and extract information and view trails/maps on the basis of that information.
These activities include hiking, running, biking, MTB, skiing, etc. Depending on what you choose, you can record routes, add waypoints and share that info on the internet via the Wikiloc app.
With an internet connection, you can choose to share information such as your current location and the route you took with your family in case things take an unexpected turn and you feel the need for some help. Wikiloc is equipped with features that will ensure your safety to great extents.
Aside from the features mentioned so far, Wikiloc has features like live tracking, weather forecast, finding existing trails, advanced search filters, etc.
The feature of viewing topographic maps without the need for the internet can be a true lifesaver and is indeed the best feature of Wikiloc.
6. PeakVisor: 3D Maps & Peaks Identification
PeakVisor is yet another unique app in this list of the best hiking apps of all time. The app is suited best for activities like mountaineering and hiking.
It is packed with tones of useful features, some of which are super cool and give a futuristic touch to navigation. Let’s take a look at some features of PeakVisor.
PeakVisor gives you access to a huge number of topographic maps from across the world that are greatly detailed and accurate. The terrain modeling in these maps is precise making navigation easier than it ever was.
You can view maps in 3D for a better experience and it will also give you an insight into the complete area effectively.
However, the main attraction of this app is the feature of mountain identification. Using the latest image recognition technology with the GPS of your phone, PeakVisor is able to identify and name mountains/mountain peaks that are in the range of your phone’s camera. This feature has more to it than it seems on the surface.
Along with the name of the mountain peak, PeakVisor will also display a detailed profile analysis of them giving you an accurate idea of the situation of the environment around you. You can also access educational info that PeakVisor draws out from the internet after quickly recognizing the mountain peak.
As far as hiking is concerned, the 3D map feature of PeakVisor has all of it settled. You can see a vast network of hiking trails in hiking locations near you. You can also see spots that act as waypoints or camping spots while hiking.
Also, all of the data available on PeakVisor is downloadable, so it can work perfectly fine with no internet connection as well. Using features like trail maps, GPS tracking, and route navigation, your hiking trip is definitely going to be a safe and memorable experience.
7. Hiking – Guthook Guides
If we talk about the popularity, this application far surpasses any other hiking-centric application out there on the internet. Guthook Guides is known for having over 35,000 miles of trails stored in its databases, and you know what that means.
You can easily find multiple trails around your location using Guthook Guides, which will make devising a route for your hike a piece of cake. What makes this app ideal for hiking is the information stored in its databases.
This app is designed by hikers themselves, so they’re aware of what hikers seek. The trails on this app come with a whole lot of extra yet important information.
This information includes locations of waypoints along the trail, spots ideal for camping or stoppage, distance, elevation, water sources, and other topographic information. All this detailed information will make you plan your hike thoroughly and you won’t have any unnecessary concerns.
Guthook Guides makes use of the GPS service of our phones to provide an elevation profile view and a detailed navigation route as well. We also can create a custom route for our trip. This feature is of great help when we want to hike in new, unexplored locations.
The data this application provides along with the locations of waypoints is quite detailed and covers everything that counts as important info while setting up a waypoint or a camp.
Guthook Guides have access to literally hundreds of trails all across the globe. However, you’ll have to purchase each trail individually, or you can choose to buy the full trail guide as well.
The app itself is still completely free to use, but you’ll have to purchase in-app trails to use them or to plan your hike beforehand. Except for the trails, all of the features mentioned in this section are available for free in the Guthook Guides app.
8. FATMAP: Hike, Bike, Ski Trails – 3D outdoor maps
As the name suggests, FATMAP is an application used mainly for navigation and route planning. FATMAP is a feature-packed application that’s ideal for hiking and other outdoor activities.
This application is a great tool for mountain sports and for hiking as well. Equipped with precise and accurate 3D maps of almost all hiking locations around your area, this application is all you need for your navigation needs while hiking.
The 3D maps in this application are constantly being updated and are in sync with real-time information. The best part about using FATMAP for planning a route is that this app will make use of your preferences and choices to devise a route that best suits them.
It means that the route FATMAP will suggest is the best possible route for you. You can also choose the type of activity before deciding on a route that will help FATMAP to find a more apt route. Besides hiking, the activities included in FATMAP are mountain biking, trail running, resort skiing, backcountry skiing, etc.
FATMAP also offers the feature of offline maps. You can download these maps and plan routes beforehand to ensure your hiking plan goes smoothly and uninterrupted.
Satellite imagery is a feature not many pay much attention to, but when it comes to hiking in mountain regions, they have plenty of significance.
Satellite imagery in FATMAP is of great quality and accuracy, in both seasons, summer and winter. This application is equipped with advanced terrain analysis tools which are super effective in navigation. The app also allows you to keep a tab on your adventure and record it for the purpose of recollection.
Developed by FrogSparks, MyTrails is an ideal application for hiking. What makes it different from other applications in this list is that this application has zero ads, and you don’t have to pay anything to achieve that.
Surely there are certain in-app purchases, but the app itself is totally free to use and features no advertisements whatsoever.
It is equipped with an orientation map that makes use of the GPS service of our smartphones to navigate in real-time.
While hiking, the app will also display details such as altitude and speed while displaying tracks. Topographic maps in MyTrails are greatly accurate and we also get the option of saving them for later use.
The app lets you add waypoints to your trails while navigating which is a really useful feature. Other than that, you’ll get access to offline maps as well.
Your entire planned route will be displayed precisely with your added waypoints and will alter in real-time as you move along the route. With a simple and ad-free user interface, MyTrails is an apt contender for the spot of your hiking ally.
10. Hiking Project
This is probably the simplest, most forward navigation app on this list of the best hiking apps of all time so far. It has a massive 74,000 miles of trails data stored and the maps shown in this app are greatly detailed.
Planning a route using the Hiking Project is rather easy, and the route planner will constantly receive updates in real-time. Trail maps are highly precise and detailed.
The elevation profile feature of the Hiking Project is far more detailed than any other app in this list.
Hiking Project will search and tell you about the best hikes around your location, and it will even provide you with a number of possible routes you can choose as per your choice and preference.
You can also track your location along the planned route using this app via your phone’s GPS service. The Hiking Project truly is the ideal application for hiking.
11. Cairn: Hiking & Outdoor Trail Safety
Next, we have Cairn. You can use this app to record your route, find cell coverage spots, download maps for offline use, and get stats about your route.
It is named as one of the best map apps for navigating the wild. As well as it is filled with different features. For instance, you will get to enjoy the live tracking feature.
You can share your GPS location with your contacts during a trip or hike. So in case, if something happens to you, your loved ones will get to know about it. They will also get important information needed to make informed rescue initiation decisions.
In addition to that, you will be able to download topo maps which are designed specifically for outdoor pursuits. Plus, you will be able to get live distance, elevation gain, ETA stands for 4000+ hiking routes, and more.
Moreover, the app is pretty flexible, and you can not only use it for hiking but for backpacking, trail running, skiing, cycling, rock climbing, camping, and more.
What’s more? The app can be downloaded free of cost, and it is available for Android and iOS devices. However, some features of the app are only available to premium users.
PeakFinder is another feature-rich app for hiking that you can download. However, the app is only made for people who love mountains. So if you are planning a trip to the mountains, the app will help you to find the perfect spot.
The app provides a 360-degree panorama showing all the peaks and mountains. Also, it works completely offline and is available worldwide.
Along with that, the app is aware of more than 850’000 peaks from all across the globe. So you can find information about any hill or mountain next to your place or around the globe.
As far as the app’s features are concerned, the app works offline and offers you a real-time rendering of the surrounding landscapes in a range of 300km/200mil.
Also, it offers you a digital telescope that lets you select less prominent peaks. You can select a viewpoint by GPS, showing the solar and lunar orbit with the rise and set times, and so on.
However, unlike the other names, the app is not free to download. Instead, you will need to purchase the app to get started with it. But yes, it only has a one-time fee and has an affordable price tag.
13. OS Maps: Explore hiking trails & walking routes
Next, there is the OS Maps. This app is only available if you are planning to explore Great Britain. As it only offers you outdoors saturated in Great Britain.
You can use the app to walk, hike, bike, run or ramble across stunning paths throughout the Great British countryside. It allows you to find local paths and walking routes. Along with that, you will be able to find new and exciting map routes and discover amazing cycling and hiking routes.
However, most of the features on the app are available to the paid users. And if you switch to the premium plan, you will be able to unlock the detail and accuracy of OS leisure maps across the whole country.
Plus, you will be able to view, create and sync your activities between desktop and mobile. Using a desktop, you can use a 3D Aerial Layer to plan a route, see the terrain, explore in stunning 3D with route fly-throughs and print maps as well as has many other features.
If you are into camping, then Recreation.gov is the best app that you can try out. The app is made for discovering American camping areas.
And it offers you a one-stop solution to finding unique camping destinations. You can easily return to your favorite spot or discover a new one by searching for the campsite.
Plus, using the app, you will be able to find and book campsites and experiences. You can also review location details for your trip and quickly access information on existing reservations from almost anywhere.
Moreover, it also lets you search for unique campgrounds and individual campsites across the country. You can even discover personalized recommendations based on your location, filter search results by what is important to you, and more.
Even, you can view photos and maps of campgrounds and campsites. So you will be able to know about a spot better.
What’s more? The app also offers you real-time availability and location information for individual sites, pay for select campsites and activities on the spot by scanning a QR code, learn about passes and tickets that get you into your favorite spots, and more.
15. Spyglass: GPS, compass, and maps toolkit
For my next pick, I have the Spyglass. This one is an essential offline GPS app for outdoor and off-road navigation. It comes with lots of tools that help you to navigate in a better way.
For instance, it can be used as binoculars, heads-up displays, hi-tech compass with offline maps, GPS receivers, and more. Plus, it saves custom locations and navigates you precisely to your location.
Also, it shows maps and uses augmented reality to show you detailed GPS info, measures distances, sizes, angles, and so on. Moreover, it comes with special compass modes and calibration methods that offer you an accurate and advanced digital compass.
Using the 3D augmented reality feature, you will get to see object positions, info, and directions to your location.
Also, you can use the app to save your current position, add a point from maps or manually enter location coordinates. You can also use the app to track positions of Polaris, Sun, and Moon with arc second precision.
So you can use these data points to calibrate the compass for maximum accuracy. What’s more? The app is absolutely free to download, and it is available for both Android and iOS devices.
16. Komoot: Cycle, Hike, MTB, Run
You can also have a look at the Komoot. This is also one of the best hiking apps available out there. The app allows you to plan your hiking, road cycling, or mountain bike adventure.
Along with that, it offers you turn-by-turn GPS voice navigation. So you can keep your focus on the road and not on the app.
It also allows you to download your planned outdoor map. So you can go to hiking paths where there is no network availability. Plus, you will be able to differentiate hiking trails, singletracks, paved roads, mtb trails, terrain, and land cover with one glance.
Moreover, you can also see Komoot community’s favorite places and see highlights on the trail map. So you can find spots for snack breaks or find good places to visit as you like.
As well as the app is absolutely free to download and use. Also, it allows you to sync your mobile app with a desktop app. So you can plan your route on a computer and sync it to your Android or iOS devices.
Even, it supports a bunch of other devices. Such as Garmin, Wahoo, Sigma, Bosch, and others.
Next, there is the Outdooractive. This is also one of the top apps that can help you plan your hiking, cycling, mountaineering, or other outdoor activities.
The app comes with the latest vector apps, which offer you accurate hiking and cycling trails details. Also, you will get to know about the protected areas and information about other outdoor activities.
It also has a global database of trails. So you can find newer hiking, cycling, and skiing spots with full details, elevation profiles, directions, and photos. Moreover, with its Route Planner, you will be able to plan and create routes based on your preferences.
Also, you can add text and photos to your maps and publish them within the community or share them with your friends or family. So if you are planning a trip with your friends, this feature would be helpful.
You can also record your own tracks, including duration, distance, altitudes, and an interactive altitude profile. Moreover, you can download the app absolutely free, and it is available for Android and iOS devices. However, some features are only available to premium users.
In this article, we went over some of the best hiking applications on the internet available for our smartphones. Hiking is a fun activity that involves a lot of thrill, energy, and surprises.
It is important to plan a lot of things before hiking, and planning a route beforehand is crucial as well. The apps mentioned in the list are shortlisted on the basis of their functionality and usage. These applications will make sure you get the best out of your hiking experience while ensuring your safety.