Hiking app has become important tools for any modern explorer by consolidating many exciting features in one package.

 

Technology has greatly changed the way that we hike. Until less than ten years ago, few people even had GPS units with them. Now everyone carries a mini GPS (along with a camera, phone and everything else) tool in their pockets. Smartphones have revolutionized the way we explore the world.

Whether you like to go hiking to get in shape or to explore areas where few humans have previously tread, hiking apps today can fit almost any niche. The trekking of today no longer requires lugging around large maps, compasses, and other equipment. It can all be found on your smartphone.

These apps provide GPS, hiking routes, nutritional content, emergency preparation, you name it—there’s an app. Online or offline, free or sometimes for a small price, hiking apps will make your next journey easy to organize and take care of you along the way.

 
 

If you do a quick search for a hiking app in the App Store or on Google Play, you will find a seemingly endless list of apps claiming to be the perfect one. Reading about all the different features to pinpoint the best one can take hours, sometimes much longer.

Lucky for you, we have already done the groundwork for you. We have experimented with many of the apps out on the trails and have narrowed down our favorites. Take a look below and check out our top three recommendations.

 

To Purchase: Spyglass

  • Platforms: iOS

  • Price: $3.99 (currently on sale)

If you had to purchase one hiking app, this is the one. Spyglass is one of the newest outdoor apps on the market and uses augmented reality to integrate your direct environment with the features it provides users.

Not only does it provide a complete GPS toolkit, but it also includes a heads-up display, a high-quality compass with map overlays, a gyrocompass, speedometer, altimeter, astronomical object finder, a sextant, inclinometer, angular calculator and more. The app uses your camera feature to give photos with data overlays. It truly combines many tools that you typically cannot find in one place.

 

While this is ideal for the outdoors and treks into the unknown, it is equally as good for urban life. Everything in the app is customizable from the colors of the displays and filters over your live picture, which improves it for either daytime or nighttime use. Whether you are out camping, hiking, photographing, or just driving around town, Spyglass can help you determine data such as altitude, distance from home base, and the exact direction you are facing.

If you are thinking of purchasing Spyglass, they provide online videos and even a manual that you can look at before you buy. It is not compatible with Android phones, but for the iOS hardware, it is universally compatible.

​For Safety: First Aid by Red Cross

  • Platforms: iOS, Android
  • Price: Free

The official app released by Red Cross is available worldwide and customizes specifically to your location. Even better, it is completely free. There is no other app out there that prepares you better before a trip and even provides services during the journey.

First Aid provides pre-loaded information so you can have instant access and even gives expert advice for everyday emergencies. Features include videos, diagrams, interactive quizzes, simple step-by-step advice, and GPS for nearby hospitals to assist users in any emergency situation. We will list in more detail some of the cooler parts of the app.

Right after downloading the app, the screen opens up to the learn tab. Here it gives information on how to deal with multiple health issues—allergies, broken bones, stings/bites, heat stroke, and unresponsive breathing, to name a few—and also answers many frequently asked questions on the topic. Each topic is explained with videos, diagrams, and short lists of information that is easy to process.

The next tab is dedicated to preparation. Topics cover all natural disasters and even manmade disasters, like chemical emergencies, and the consequences that result from these events. That means it not only covers hurricanes, floods, and volcanoes but also helps users on power outages, food safety, and pet preparedness.

Emergencies are the centerpiece of the tabs menu. You click on this for immediate assistance with a specific emergency and, within the United States, it even provides a call 911 button. It lists the same health issues found on the learn tab, but the information is more direct and to the point.

The final two tabs are dedicated to shorts quizzes and a hospital locator, yet the hospital locator does not work for any country outside the United States and related territories. In all other categories, however, there is no better app to keep you safe during your hikes and longer adventures.

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A Must-Do: Viewranger

  • Platforms: iOS, Android
  • Price: Free (plus in-app purchases)

This is a community-based hiker app that is used all over the world. The way it works? Trekkers can organize, navigate, record, and share their journeys with the large user base associated with the app. What’s more is, due to its extremely accurate GPS navigation system, it is claimed that many search and rescue teams rely on it for their work.

If you are willing to spend a little cash, you can buy and download high-res Ordinance Survey maps to use along with topographic maps for more than twenty countries worldwide. Not only this, Viewranger is compatible across the entire range of devices from iOS to Android to even Symbian and Amazon Fire.

By far the coolest feature of this app, however, is its use of augmented reality. This is the future of hiking technology. Using your phone camera, you can nearly ten million places, objects, points and landmarks around the world. The Skyline feature can label anything from mountains to peaks, cities and towns and even lakes, glaciers, trailheads and a whole lot more. And instead of using a satellite-based map, you can follow arrows directly on your phone screen that match the view you are seeing at the moment.

Along the way you can learn additional information about the route you are on and it gives you tips about alternative routes or side adventures. Best of all, even though cell coverage is better than ever, all of these functions work offline so you never have to worry about getting lost again.

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Top Apps for Top Exploration

 

There you have it—our top recommendations for hiking apps. These tools will help you hike farther, discover new places and see the world in the new ways. Even if you are old school and don’t love the idea technology, they are simply a good idea to have in your back pocket in case of an emergency. Because let’s be honest, exploring is fun, but it gets a lot less enjoyable when you get caught in the middle of a rain or snow storm.

 
 

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