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What Is The Best Hiking App


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Patti Dilworth



Embarking on a hiking adventure can be an exhilarating and rewarding experience. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, having the right tools and information at your fingertips is invaluable. That’s where hiking apps come in. These handy applications are designed to enhance your outdoor experience by providing a wealth of useful features, including trail maps, GPS tracking, weather updates, and even social networking capabilities.


In today’s technology-driven world, hiking apps have become a popular go-to resource for outdoor enthusiasts. With just a few taps on your smartphone, you can access a treasure trove of information that will help you plan your hike, navigate trails, and ensure your safety along the way. But with so many hiking apps available in the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for your needs.


In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the benefits of using a hiking app, factors to consider when choosing one, and compare popular hiking apps to help you make an informed decision. So, whether you’re looking for a hiking app to track your progress, discover new trails, or connect with like-minded adventurers, read on to find out which app is the best fit for your hiking needs.


Benefits of Using a Hiking App

Using a hiking app can revolutionize the way you approach your outdoor adventures. Here are some key benefits of utilizing a hiking app:

  1. Trail and Route Navigation: One of the primary advantages of hiking apps is their ability to provide detailed trail maps and navigation tools. With these apps, you can easily find the best routes and trails for your desired difficulty level and terrain type. This ensures that you stay on the right path and minimizes the risk of getting lost.
  2. GPS Tracking: Hiking apps often come with built-in GPS functionality, allowing you to track your location in real-time. This feature is particularly useful when exploring unfamiliar territories or off-the-beaten-path trails. You can easily monitor your progress, measure the distance covered, and estimate the time it will take to reach your destination.
  3. Trail Information and Descriptions: Hiking apps provide comprehensive information about various trails, including length, elevation gain, difficulty rating, and key landmarks along the way. This enables you to choose trails that suit your fitness level and preferences, ensuring an enjoyable and fulfilling hiking experience.
  4. Offline Accessibility: Many hiking apps offer offline maps and content, allowing you to access vital information even in areas with limited or no internet connectivity. This is especially beneficial when hiking in remote locations or areas with weak signal strength. You can download maps and trail data in advance, ensuring that you have access to crucial information when you need it the most.
  5. Weather Updates: Weather conditions can play a significant role in the success and safety of your hiking trip. Hiking apps often integrate weather forecasting, providing you with up-to-date information on temperature, precipitation, wind speed, and other relevant factors. This helps you plan your hike accordingly and make informed decisions about gear and clothing.
  6. Emergency Assistance: Accidents can happen even to the most experienced hikers. Some hiking apps offer emergency features that allow you to quickly send distress signals or call for help in case of an injury or emergency situation. These features can be lifesaving, particularly when hiking solo or in remote areas.

Overall, using a hiking app can greatly enhance your outdoor experience by providing you with valuable information, navigation tools, and safety features. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, these apps are an indispensable companion for your hiking adventures.


Factors to Consider When Choosing a Hiking App

With a plethora of hiking apps available in the market, it’s important to consider certain factors before choosing the one that best suits your needs. Here are some key factors to consider when selecting a hiking app:

  1. Features and Functionality: Evaluate the features and functionality offered by the app. Does it provide trail maps, GPS tracking, weather updates, or social networking capabilities? Consider which features are essential for your hiking trips and ensure that the app provides them.
  2. User Interface and Ease of Use: A user-friendly and intuitive interface is crucial for an enjoyable user experience. Look for an app that is easy to navigate, with clear and concise menus. Avoid apps with cluttered layouts or confusing interfaces that may hinder your usage.
  3. Offline Access: Check if the app allows you to download maps and trail data for offline use. This is vital for areas with limited or no internet connectivity. Being able to access maps and information offline ensures that you can navigate trails even in remote locations.
  4. Trail Database: The size and quality of the trail database is an important consideration. Look for apps that offer a wide range of trails, including popular ones and lesser-known gems. A comprehensive trail database increases the likelihood of finding hikes that match your preferences and interests.
  5. Community and Social Features: Consider if the app offers features that allow you to connect with other hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. Some apps have a community aspect where users can share their experiences, post trail reviews, and provide useful tips. Engaging with a community can add value to your hiking experience.
  6. Compatibility and Device Support: Ensure that the hiking app is compatible with your smartphone’s operating system. Check if it supports both iOS and Android devices. It’s also worth considering if the app supports additional devices such as smartwatches or fitness trackers, providing a seamless integration with your existing gear.
  7. Reviews and Ratings: Research and read user reviews and ratings for the app you are considering. Pay attention to feedback regarding accuracy, reliability, and overall user satisfaction. Genuine user reviews can give you valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the app.

By taking these factors into account, you can make an informed decision and select a hiking app that meets your specific needs and enhances your outdoor adventures.


Comparison of Popular Hiking Apps

When it comes to choosing a hiking app, there are several popular options available. Let’s compare some of the most well-known hiking apps:

  1. AllTrails: AllTrails is a popular app that boasts a vast database of trails, ranging from easy strolls to challenging hikes. It offers trail maps, GPS tracking, route features, and user reviews. The app provides detailed information such as trail difficulty, length, elevation gain, and photos. It also allows users to download maps for offline use and offers a premium version with additional features.
  2. Gaia GPS: Gaia GPS is known for its extensive mapping capabilities. It provides topographic maps, satellite imagery, and weather information. Gaia GPS allows users to record tracks, plan routes, and import and export data. It offers offline access to maps and downloadable maps for different regions. The app caters to both hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts, including bikers, off-roaders, and campers.
  3. ViewRanger: ViewRanger is a feature-rich hiking app that offers detailed trail maps, GPS navigation, and route planning tools. It provides access to a wide range of trails worldwide, along with trail descriptions and difficulty ratings. In addition, ViewRanger offers augmented reality features, allowing users to identify mountains, lakes, and other landmarks using their device’s camera. The app also supports offline map viewing and has a strong community of outdoor enthusiasts sharing their experiences.
  4. Hiking Project: Hiking Project is a user-friendly app created by REI, designed specifically for hikers. It offers an extensive database of trails with detailed information, including photos, elevation profiles, and user reviews. The app uses GPS to track your location and provides real-time navigation. Hiking Project also allows users to download maps for offline use. The app focuses on community-driven content and encourages users to contribute trail data and updates.
  5. Komoot: Komoot is a versatile outdoor app that offers hiking, biking, and mountain biking routes. It provides detailed maps, turn-by-turn voice navigation, and weather forecasts. Komoot allows users to plan their own routes or choose from a selection of recommended routes based on users’ preferences. It also offers offline map access and integration with fitness trackers and smartwatches. Komoot encourages user-generated content, allowing users to share their own routes and photos.

Each of these hiking apps has its own unique features and strengths. Consider your specific needs and preferences, such as trail availability, mapping capabilities, offline access, and community engagement, to determine which app aligns best with your hiking goals and preferences.


User Reviews and Ratings

When it comes to choosing a hiking app, it’s important to consider the experiences and opinions of other users. User reviews and ratings can provide valuable insights into the app’s usability, reliability, and overall satisfaction. Here’s a summary of common feedback from users of popular hiking apps:

  1. AllTrails: AllTrails receives high praise for its extensive trail database and user-friendly interface. Users appreciate the accurate trail information, ability to filter trails based on difficulty level and length, and the option to download maps for offline use. Some common criticisms include occasional inaccuracies in trail details and the need for a premium subscription for advanced features.
  2. Gaia GPS: Gaia GPS is highly regarded for its excellent mapping capabilities and detailed topographic maps. Users appreciate the ability to plan and track routes efficiently and the availability of offline map access. Some users have mentioned a slightly steeper learning curve with Gaia GPS, but once mastered, it provides a comprehensive range of features.
  3. ViewRanger: ViewRanger receives praise for its easy-to-use interface, comprehensive trail database, and excellent offline map functionality. Users appreciate the augmented reality features and the ability to navigate trails with precision. Some users have reported occasional GPS inaccuracies, but these are generally minor and do not detract from the overall positive user experience.
  4. Hiking Project: Hiking Project is well-liked for its user-friendly interface, accurate trail information, and strong community engagement. Users appreciate the ability to contribute trail data and updates, as well as the availability of offline maps. Some users have requested more advanced features and customization options, but overall, Hiking Project receives positive reviews for its simplicity and reliability.
  5. Komoot: Komoot is praised for its seamless user experience, detailed route planning tools, and integration with fitness devices. Users appreciate the ability to customize their routes and receive turn-by-turn voice navigation. Some users have mentioned occasional issues with route accuracy and the in-app purchase of certain region maps, but these do not hinder the overall positive user experience.

It’s important to note that user experiences may vary, and what works well for one person may not be the same for another. Reading user reviews and ratings can help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of each hiking app and determine which one aligns best with your specific needs and preferences.



Choosing the right hiking app can greatly enhance your outdoor adventures, providing valuable resources and enhancing your overall hiking experience. After considering the benefits of using a hiking app, exploring the factors to consider when choosing one, comparing popular hiking apps, and reading user reviews and ratings, you are now equipped with the information needed to make an informed decision.


Remember that the best hiking app for you ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences. Whether you prioritize an extensive trail database, accurate mapping capabilities, offline access, or community engagement, there is an app out there that aligns with your requirements.


To ensure a seamless and enjoyable outdoor experience, consider the features and functionality offered by each app, the user interface and ease of use, offline accessibility, the size and quality of the trail database, community and social features, compatibility with your devices, as well as the insights provided by user reviews and ratings.


Some popular hiking apps to consider are AllTrails, Gaia GPS, ViewRanger, Hiking Project, and Komoot. These apps offer a range of features and benefits, catering to different hiking styles and preferences.


By leveraging the power of hiking apps, you can unlock a world of trails, navigate with confidence, track your progress, and access vital information right at your fingertips. So, whether you’re an avid hiker or just starting your hiking journey, download a hiking app and embark on your next adventure with confidence.