Travel Apps

Top 6 Best Hiking Apps (Free) You Need to Download in 2022!

Updated on:  
April 25, 2022
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Taarika Rajani
Taarika Rajani
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Are you looking for the best reliable hiking app to download for your next hiking trip? Don’t miss out on the 6 best hiking apps hikers like you will love, including why we think you’ll love them!

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We’re huge believers in disconnecting every once in a while to enjoy life. Hiking is a great way to exercise, release stress, and enjoy the outdoors all while disconnecting from the digital world. Spending time outside is one of the best things you can do for your mind and body, and there’s no better way to get out in nature than hiking new trails.

But at the same time, we cannot ignore the huge variety of tools that helps elevate your experience hiking or trailing outdoors. Helpful tools such as trail maps and tracking apps, as well as cameras and navigation apps, are excellent tools that you can use on your smartphones to make your hike as smooth and enjoyable as it can be.

Besides, you no longer need to pack a backpack full of tools to help you with longer hikes. All you’ll need is your smartphone with a few hiking apps downloaded.

But with the vast amount of hiking and trail apps available on the market, how do you know which is the best to download?
From finding new trails to learning about must-see sights at a location, the best hiking apps can definitely help make your experiences more memorable.

In this post, we’ll cover the best hiking apps for you to use for the ultimate adventure!
And don’t worry, most of the items here are free hiking apps (or at least they have a free version). You shouldn’t have to spend money just to enjoy some scenery while hiking or backpacking.

Let’s dive in!

What are the best apps for hiking?

So what is the best app for hikers?

From sharing custom trails with friends to navigation features to help you find your way on a mountain, the answer depends on your needs.

That’s why we’ve broken down six different but totally versatile types of hiking apps and explained the pros and cons of each app.

These apps are great tools to complement a travel planner app for when you need help finding the perfect hike as a tourist or for organizing local trips in your own neck of the woods!

Of course, if you’re new to the hiking world and looking for some advice, be sure to study the top hiking tips so you can feel at ease and prepared when planning your next adventure!

Here are the 6 best hiking apps you won’t regret downloading, each with their specialties!

  1. Best overall free hiking app: AllTrails
  2. Best hiking GPS app: Gaia GPS
  3. Best hiking AR-navigation app: Spyglass
  4. Best hiking trails app to discover new trails: The Hiking Project
  5. Best trekking app: PeakFinder
  6. Best hiking safety app: Cairn

Along with some honorable mentions!

Which one should you choose? What is the best free hiking app? What’s the best hiking and GPS integrated app? What’s the best hiking app for finding new trails, safety, or getting around different terrains? Read on to find out!

Top 5 best hiking apps in 2022!

1. AllTrails (iOS & Android: Free/$29.99 annually)

AllTrails is one of the all-around best hiking apps for novices and experts alike. All it takes is a few taps on your phone to find curated hiking, biking, and running trails for various lengths and difficulty levels. 

The app also lets you create custom trail maps, follow friends’ activities and read trail reviews from its user community. AllTrails hiking app is great because of the community-created database of useful information on different trails, as well as new off-the-beaten-path trails!

While the app’s premium paid version has additional features like offline off-route/3D navigation, and real-time overlays, the free version offers more than enough for most casual explorers.

And for more in-depth information, check out our AllTrails app review to see if AllTrails will be a good fit for your next hiking excursion!

AllTrails app preview on an iPhone
A preview of how the AllTrails app appears on your phone. (Image Courtesy: AllTrails)

Why We Love the AllTrails Hiking App

At Pilot, our goal is to help people live happier lives through shared experiences. AllTrails helps facilitate this really well.

The app makes it easy for you to share custom maps, routes, and experiences with family and friends. Real people contribute the reviews and pictures of many locations, making the app's information more honest and reliable.

A huge benefit for Apple Watch users is the AllTrails apple watch app, which allows users to Navigate using their Apple Watches to track and record their hikes and trails.

AllTrails is available on both iOS and Android.

2. Gaia GPS (iOS, Android: Free, $39.99 or $99/year)

Gaia, or Gaia GPS, is another super popular hiking app within the hiking community. With Gaia, you can find and explore new trails, see and save hiking/trekking statistics, and record your routes.

One of the most prominent features of Gaia is its comprehensive GPS feature, combining different types of maps for you to route and record your trails. 

With the paid version of Gaia GPS, you'll get access to offline maps and Gaia's entire map catalog. Recently, Gaia GPS partnered with Outside+ for their new annual premium version. Gaia GPS's annual version includes additional maps for skiing, mountain biking, and backpacking, which is great for frequent hikers, backpackers, and backcountry trekkers.

Alternative: If you're looking for GPS apps for other outdoor sports like mountain biking or backpacking, give Komoot a try! It's an alternative map routing platform that helps you plan action-specific routes in advance.

Make sure to read the full review of Gaia GPS if you'd like to learn more about the hiking app or purchase their memberships!

Access Gaia GPS on all platforms! (Image Courtesy: Gaia GPS)

Why we love Gaia GPS

While no smartphone app can replace a GPS device or paper map-based navigation, Gaia GPS is definitely the closest that replicates precise navigation. 

What we love about Gaia GPS is the versatility and quality of its free version! From weather forecasting to routing and planning out trail routes, you can do more than just hike with Gaia GPS.

Gaia GPS is available on both iOS and Android.

3.Spyglass (iOS, Android: $5.99)

Spyglass is a secretly awesome hiking app for outdoor navigation. While it’s not a free hiking app, it’s a one-time fee of $5.99 is more than palatable and definitely worth it.

With modern features like augmented-reality navigation, the app operates in 3D, shows you real-time object locations, and overlays directions over images and maps. It’s definitely one of the best hiking apps that utilize AR navigation.

Spyglass also has the power to turn your phone into a GPS receiver, altimeter, speedometer, star finder, coordinate converter, a pair of binoculars, and more.

Screenshots of SpyGlass mobile interface
Just a few screenshots of all the information Spyglass offers you. (Image Courtesy: Spyglass)

Why We Love the Spyglass Hiking App

Spyglass’s gazillion features will turn you into a proficient navigator and explorer in no time!

What’s more, the advanced object-location data features can really elevate your wildlife-spotting or star-gazing experiences.

4. Hiking Project (IOS, Android: Free)

Hiking Project is the best free hiking app that uses community-sourced content to help you pick and choose the perfect trail.

Users submit information like route descriptions, images, and reviews that are then vetted by an in-house team before they are added to the app.

The hiking app basically functions as a living guidebook that is constantly updated with new information and more reviews.

Plus, Hiking Project works offline, so you can use it literally anywhere your explorations may take you.

You can learn more about the Hiking Project app with our Hiking Project review that grades the quality of the app and goes into detail about the unique features so you can get the best out of it!

The Hiking Project Mobile Interface
Use Hiking Project app to learn about featured hikes in your area and read reviews. (Image Courtesy: Hiking Project)

Why We Love the Hiking Project Hiking App

All info on Hiking Project is contributed by real hikers who have actually "tested" the trails they write about. Hence, the app includes useful tips that aren't on just any website.

The Hiking Project is the best hiking app to learn specific things like how much water to bring or the best place to park your car to start off a particular hike right.

Another amazing bonus is that the app is free, and it doesn't have any built-in annoying pop-up advertisements, which makes for a great user experience.

5. PeakFinder (iOS, Android: $4.99)

Attention budding mountaineers and mountain trekkers—this app is for you!

PeakFinder contains information about more than 650,000 peaks all over the world and helps you identify the ones you find during your trips. It's definitely one of the best, if not the best, hiking + trekking apps out there!

From Mount Everest to that small hill you can see in the distance, PeakFinder uses your phone's location and camera to label the peaks you are looking at. The days of using your compass and map to triangulate different peaks are long gone!

The app also offers to label and name features within a 360-degree panoramic display.

Peakfinder mobile hiking app preview.
Use the app’s editor mode to capture locations and share them with friends. (Image Courtesy: PeakFinder)

Why We Love the PeakFinder hiking App

Hiking is as much about discovery and exploration as it is about health.

PeakFinder lets you learn all the names of the new peaks you discover, so when you talk about your weekend hike, you can say you saw Mount Owen instead of some nondescript hilly area.

6. Cairn (iOS, Android: Free/$26.99 Annually)

Cairn is a hiking and walking route app that can help you stay safe during your adventures.

You can use the app to share your real-time progress and location with family or friends for their peace of mind and yours too!

Cairn helps you plan routes by offering helpful estimates of how long you will take to complete a particular trail based on personalized data and points out areas with weak cell reception.

If you take longer than expected for your hike, the app also notifies your emergency contacts to let them know.

The premium version of the app lets you use its features offline and automatically sends live updates to your contacts.

Cairn hiking app preview features.
Cairn lets you share trip progress & find high coverage areas and navigate to safety! (Image Courtesy: Cairn)

Why We Love the Cairn Hiking App

Hiking is super fun but can also be dangerous if you're exploring unknown paths or unfamiliar areas. Cairn helps you get home safely and get back to where you need to be.

Honorable Mentions: Pokémon GO (iOS and Android, Free)

Looking for a way to spice up your daily walks or hikes near the city? Look no further than the super popular augmented reality game to play while hiking: Pokémon GO.

Created by Niantic, Pokemon GO allows you to catch different pokemon, battle other players, and explore different Pokéstops while on your walks or hikes.

If you're not familiar with what Pokémons are, don't worry! The app and community are super welcoming and fast to learn, allowing you to be hooked to the game immediately!

Catch Pokemons with Pokemon GO AR! (Image Courtesy of Pokemon GO)

Pokémon GO is available on both iOS and Android.

Honorable Mentions: Seek by iNaturalist / iNaturalist (iOS and Android, Free)

Have you ever looked at a flower, insect, or bird and thought to yourself, "What's the name of that species?"

What if I told you that you can contribute to environmental and conservation research on your hikes? 

By combining curiosity with discovery, Seek by iNaturalist allows you to identify faunas and floras on your hike based on images you take and your geographic locations by providing you a list of possible species based on the picture and location provided.

What's even better is that you'll be able to earn badges and achievements with the different species you discover!

Seek iNaturalist app preview.
Identify Fauna and Flora with Seek by iNatruralist! (Image Courtesy: iNaturalist)

What if I told you that you can contribute to environmental and conservation research on your hikes? Download the iNaturalist app and participate in citizen sciences by reporting the species you see on your hikes! Your efforts will help drive conservation and environmental science research and help protect endangered or threatened species!

Seek by iNaturalist is available on iOS and Android. iNaturalist app is also available on iOS and Android.

Go beyond with these Hiking apps!

Whether you're going hiking, trekking, mountain biking, camping, or more, the best hiking apps will accommodate for such. After all, a lot of the tools you use in the top hiking apps are linked to using GPS for navigation and tracking or using maps to route and plan ahead.

We've also mentioned fun or impactful hiking or walking apps like Pokemon GO and iNaturalist!

Regardless of what best hiking app you go with, you'll definitely be in good hands with these top picks!

Plan your trips with Pilot!

Hiking is enjoyed as a weekend pastime and as a travel activity. After all, hiking is often required to see some of the world's most beautiful natural sceneries!

If you're looking to go hiking during your trip, make sure to plan your adventures ahead with Pilot!

Pilot is your brand-new travel planner that helps you discover and build travel itineraries connecting you to resources everywhere. Make the planning experience more fun by collaborating with your travel buddies! Pilot makes it fun and easy to share and relive your favorite travel memories with many useful features! 

Did we mention that it's completely free? Try it out now!

Originally published on:  
October 1, 2020

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