I have hiked extensively in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Nepal and through South America and other parts of Asia.
This experience in the mountains and in different terrain such as temperate forest or dense jungle (Papua New Guinea) has provided me good exposure to what Apps work well in the mountains.
It is always best to tell someone where you are going on a hike and when you expect to return. Always bring ample water and supplies you need such as a correct clothing, first aid kit or a means of signalling for help. Hiking with friends or in a group is advised for in-experienced hikers.
Reception may not work in some locations, which means these Apps may require you to download Maps while offline, before you commence your hike. This is also advised.
Here is a short-list of Apps I use when hiking and are accessible to all.
AllTrails is a great free app for hiking. It allows user to view trails on a map, while reading reports from recent hikers which can catalogue the conditions of the trail. For example if a road to the trailhead was snowed-over, or if a part of a trail had been diverted due to landslide. AllTrails gives users the ability to see elevation gain and trail length and estimated times. Users can also leave comments on the AllTrails App for other hikers to see which is very helpful in understanding hike or trail difficulty levels. AllTrails is also a good tool for mountain biking.
MapsMe is a free app for hiking which lets you download maps offline. MapsMe has a very simple layout and is user friendly which features clearly outlined on a plain background. I often use MapsMe for simpler hikes and its route to and from function is helpful in determining elevation gain. However MapsMe does not always give an accurate time for hike distances and is less detailed than other hiking apps
Strava is a free app for hiking which allows users to track and map their hikes, runs, trail runs or activities and either share that data with friends or keep it in your personal Strava Profile. If you link Strava to your smartwatch like Garmin or Apple watches, you are able to see your heart-rate and stress levels at different intervals of the hike, which is a great tool when trying to improve fitness. I do personally think Strava is less user friendly than MapsMe and Alltrails and I do not use Strava as a map or trail finding app, but rather as an app to track your hike data (elevation etc).
FatMap is a free app for hiking which allows user to see maps in 3D. This topographical feature allows you to make out the shape of mountains or the surrounding terrain, and for this reason is a crowd favourite for other sports like mountain biking or skiing. Being able to see a map in 3D gives an added layer of perspective and also a very cool view of what is around you such as rivers or lakes. For that reason FatMap is a great addition to your hiking app toolbox!
This is a short list of the best free apps for hiking that I use. There are a wide variety of other apps available for users also which may better suit your needs. Other hikers like pack-list apps, or even back-country cooking apps which are also great tools.
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