The fast-growing world of apps offers a host of useful aids for walkers and hikers. We do love maps. They are wonderful, tactile items. Like a bookcase of great reads, a container filled with maps is to be treasured. A used maps collection reveals many stories of favourite walks and areas. In fact, if you’re are embarking on a remote walk you should never leave home without a map popped into a waterproof case and then placed in your jacket pocket or rucksack, alongside a trusty compass. However, there are numerous mapping additions in the 21st century and a wealth of great apps for your smartphone. As we have said, a map is your fail-proof method of navigation but a smartphone app can also be a wonderful asset when out in the hills and walking trails. You just need to remember that gadgets can stop working and batteries can always run out. The choice and range of walking and hiking apps is huge, so we have picked some of the most useful.
9 walkers’ apps for smartphones
Platform: iPhone and Android Cost: Free. This blog post is certainly not intended as an advert for our own App, but since we first wrote this post back in 2013, we have worked hard on developing our own app that not only works in tandem with our wide range of walking trips but offers much more. With the Macs App you have access to Global mapping, the same as many of the others offer below, but for free! The app has pre-loaded most of our tours, so you always have a backup in your pocket if you are feeling a bit lost. It runs in flight mode, so saves on battery and roaming charges and also keeps those pesky emails and interruptions at bay while you are immersed in the wilds. For more info and to download the app, you can visit our website or type Macs Adventure into the App Store or Google Play store.
Platform: Android, iPhone and Symbian Scales: 1:50 000 – 1:25 000 Cost: Free for some android phones, £9.99 for iphone The great thing about Viewranger is that it works without mobile coverage because the maps are stored on the phone. The app displays maps, records tracks, helps you to navigate and even shows you points-of-interest along the way. When you have an internet connection the app will show your actual position, too. You can also store and share your routes.
Platform: iPhone and iPad Scales: 1:50 000 – 1:25 000 Cost: Initial app is £4.99 but the price jumps steeply for further mapping Outdoors Great Britain offers the full range of Ordnance Survey maps all in one app. It can be quite pricey but once the maps are downloaded to your iPhone or iPad, you’ll have them for life. OutDoors will work anywhere regardless of phone signal and if you have an internet connection it will find your location in seconds. You can choose maps according to your favourite walking areas.
Platform: iPhone and iPad Scales: 1:50 000 – 1:25 000 Cost: Free to £40 RouteBuddy supplies topographical, aerial, road and Ordnance Survey mapping “to help you wherever you are or wherever you’re going”. This is a great route finder app although you do need to buy each OS map you require. The advantage is excellent way-point functionality. The RouteBuddy Atlas for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch is free from the iTunes store. There is also a paid-for app.
Platform: iPhone Scales: 1: 50 000 – 1: 25 000 Cost: Free version, as well as a more sophisticated £20 version The Memory Map mapping application turns your iPhone into an outdoors GPS. It allows you to view and navigate with OS maps as well as topo maps and marine and aviation charts (should you need them!). Maps are stored off-line so you can use them when you don’t have a phone signal.
Platform: iPhone Scales: 1:50 000 Cost: From £7.99 This GB Nat Parks app offers full access to viewing all of Britain’s fabulous national parks on UK 1:50K Ordnance Survey maps. This happens from the point of installing, which means that you do not need to download anything. It works brilliantly wherever you are without any worry about future planning or internet connectivity. The maps are clear and accurate, although you should remember that 1:50K doesn’t offer fine detail viewing.
Platforms: iPhone and Android Cost: Free If you’re looking for inspiration for where to walk, Sustrans app offers details and routes of more than 25,000 miles of walking and cycling networks across the UK. The aim of the app, created by the Sustrans charity, is to help people to make more of their everyday journeys on foot (or by bike).
Platforms: iPhone and iPad Cost: £2.99 Abvio is an iPhone app that uses GPS to measure the distance of your walks and hikes. In fact, Walkmeter continually records your time, location, distance, elevation, and speed. You can see the results on maps, graph and a calendar, which offers total results, such as how many miles you’ve walked in a month. This app could be the motivation you need to get out walking because you can even compete against previous walk times to beat your own previous best!
Platforms: iPhone and Android.
Cost: £10.99 Backcountry Navigator allows you to download topo maps for an offline outdoor navigator! Use your phone or tablet as an offroad topo mapping handheld GPS with the bestselling outdoor navigation app for Android! Explore beyond cell coverage for hiking and other recreation. Great for getting off-grid without any coverage, as long as you have downloaded first. Again, with downloading the maps, there is no need for using data.