“AllTrails is a great option for beginner hikers, as it is laid out in a user-friendly way that doesn’t over-complicate simple things like finding a trail in the first place,” Ashley Tepen, owner, Hello Trail, tells SELF. “The free version lets you record your hikes, and you can read reviews from other hikers and even see pictures they have shared with the app to get an idea of what to expect.”
Additionally, the app’s Lifeline feature is a safety feature that lets your pre-selected family and friend contacts keep tabs on your whereabouts, by sharing planned start and finish times and locations as well as real-time location. AllTrails also has a premium version ($30), which allows you to download maps for offline use—particularly useful for areas where you may not have a cell signal, Tepen says.
Free on the App Store and Google Play
11. OnX Backcountry
This app features several map layers including topographic view (which shows the features of the land surfaces), avalanche danger, slope angle, and 3D view. Zach Frantz, an outdoor camping expert and founder of Wildland Coffee, is a fan of its ability to tell you where public/private land boundaries are, which keeps you from accidentally wandering onto someone’s property.
“Not only does OnX Backcountry have super high-quality trail descriptions, but they also have a summer mode and a winter mode so you can view backcountry skiing and snowshoeing routes in addition to hiking and backpacking trails,” he adds. “[It also partners] with industry organizations, such as Colorado Mountain Club, among others, to help make sure [the app has] the most up-to-date information on photos, route descriptions, elevation profiles, and local weather patterns.”
Free on App Store and Google Play
12. Pocket Earth Pro
This offline navigation map offers offline hiking, cycling, and street maps with GPS track recording and waypoint navigation, as well as travel guides that can be helpful if you’re hiking somewhere far from home. It’s suitable for beginners and advanced hikers alike, Brad McCartney, professional hiker and the owner and blogger at BikeHikeSafari, tells SELF. The user simply downloads the map—which they can use without the need for a cell phone signal— and gets started on their hike.
“I’ve personally used this app in every country in North America and throughout Central and South America,” he says. “It shows not only hiking trails, but roads and even the nearest McDonald’s—if that is your thing when you’ve finished your hike.”
$6 on the App Store
According to Catherine Xu, a travel photographer and blogger at Nomadicated, Maps.Me, is an excellent hiking app option if you’re traveling internationally or are going to an area with no cell service. That’s because, in addition to providing up-to-date offline maps and GPS navigation, it essentially functions as a travel guide by providing detailed information about hundreds of locations around the world.
One reason for its detailed info? The app uses data from OpenStreetMap, an open-source system that allows for contributions from the community, Xu says.