My New Favorite Phone GPS Backpacking and Hiking APPS

My New Favorite Phone GPS Backpacking & Hiking APPS

I’ve been on a search for one good, multi-use hiking app for a long time.  I’ve been through them all, and Gaia GPS is the one I’ve stuck with for the longest amount of time.  It seems I’m always finding more uses for it.  Gaia is Greek for “earth.”

This is an unsolicited, unpaid review of Gaia GPS.



Many hikers love CalTopo.  Gaia GPS includes CalTopo maps.  Some of the maps available to you are:

  • National Park Service maps (awesome!!)
  • US & USGS Topographic maps
  • U.S. Forest Service maps
  • OpenCycle, OpenHiking, & OpenStreet maps
  • MapQuest & USGS aerial imagery
  • NOAA boating charts
  • Aviation IFR & VFR charts

And what can you do with these maps?

  • Create preplanned routes
  • Download publicly-shared routes
  • Save maps to your phone to be available offline
  • Record your own tracks to share publicly, if you desire
  • See every statistic you could think of for your hike

The great thing about the Gaia hiking app is that it’s cloud-based.  You don’t need computer software or cables, just the app.  It’ll work on any Android & iOS device.

You can find routes or create your own on your computer, and they’re automatically transferred to your phone.  Any tracks that you record with your phone will be available on your computer.

One other thing I’ve noticed about Gaia, compared to some other hiking apps, is how smooth it is.  The map is totally smooth while you pan it, and doesn’t blink as it does on some other apps.

Gaia is very intuitive and easy to use.  Creating waypoints and tracks is easy, you can quickly switch between UTM & Lat/Long, and data is easily saved & organized.

Need more info than just a map?  Gaia will also show you the weather forecast, show a radar overlay for storms, and give you the tides.

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