Travel Apps

Should you use Gaia GPS for Hiking? [Review]

Raeesha Ikram
Raeesha Ikram
Contributor
https://www.clippings.me/users/raisha96Follow us on Linkedin
Travel Apps

Should you use Gaia GPS for Hiking? [Review]

Updated on: 
April 3, 2021
Reading Time:  
4
 minutes

Whether you are a seasoned adventurer or just looking to get started on a simple hike, there are many ways to get you both on the road and off it. Ask a person? Or take a map with you? Well, you would be able to do both, but you would surely miss out on things and even get lost, especially if you do not know how to read that map you packed before you stepped outside.

 To prevent you from getting into trouble, we bring to you the best ways to get started on your journey outdoors, or even make your already started journeys worthwhile. To get to know more useful apps like this, refer to our other reviews on AllTrails, Hiking Project, Komoot, and Outdooractive

In this review, we bring to you an app called Gaia GPS, a mobile phone application which could easily replace your old GPS device. Apart from giving you coordinates, this application includes so many different types of maps to fulfill your needs and requirements. You can use it anywhere in the world, although some features may only be available in certain countries.

Keep reading our review to see if it is the app that suits your needs.

Gaia GPS Logo
Image courtesy: Gaia GPS

What is Gaia GPS?

Gaia GPS is a mapping and navigation mobile application launched in 2009. The outdoor search site (trailbehind.com) created by Anna and Andrew Johnson in 2008, was transformed into what we know as Gaia GPS in 2009. In order to make sure that you are equipped with as much as information possible necessary for your adventure, Gaia GPS offers more than 100 maps according to the type, activity, and area where you would be adventuring.

The large pool of data and information available to you ensures that you will know about everything you need to know in order to get on your next adventure. The user-friendly interface, the availability of maps offline, and the quality of the maps which could easily replace Google Maps are some of the few features that would surely get you hooked on this app. If this is not enough to convince you of their commitment to providing the best service possible, perhaps their partnerships would reveal that they are dedicated to ensuring that accurate information is brought to their users and that every adventurer matters to them. Off Grid Trailers, Indigenous Women Outdoors, Outdoor Afro, She Jumps, and Mazams are a few of the organizations that they have partnered up with.

At present, Gaia GPS is available in both iOS and Android versions. It is compatible with many Apple devices but is limited to smartphone and tablet when it comes to Android. 

Best Hiking App
Photo by Boxed Water Is Better on Unsplash

How does Gaia GPS work?

Navigation

Apart from directly searching for waypoints or destinations, you can also manually insert coordinates in order to find where you want to head. The function to connect to other smart devices such as your Apple Watch and Apple CarPlay also helps with navigating your route, especially with its turn-by-turn navigation system.

Search and Save Routes

You can now easily search for individual destinations, tracks, roads, trails, waypoints, etc. and save them. Once you have saved an item which might be a favorite or even just a place that is worth another visit, you can easily access them from your saved items.

Offline Use

One of the most attractive features of Gaia GPS is the ability to use it offline. If you are worried about your mobile network coverage or data use, just simply download a section or sections of a map and use it for your navigation offline. 

Crowdsourcing

Gaia GPS allows its users to contribute to tracks and make the experience better for everyone. There are almost 2 million public overlay tracks available on Gaia GPS! They can be accessed on Gaia GPS maps, Satellite, and Gaia Topo, USGS Quad Maps among many other maps.

Safety

An attractive and also necessary feature of this app is that it is dedicated to the safety of its users. Gaia GPS ensures that they provide you with the most accurate information they have on trails, tracks, roads, and destinations, so that you can enjoy your adventure without any doubts or fears.

Gaia GPS Mobile App
Image courtesy: Gaia GPS


How much does Gaia GPS Cost?

For the most part, Gaia GPS is free and you can access most services Gaia GPS offers without having to pay for a subscription service. That being said, however, you will also miss out on a lot of great services and tools. If you do want to get the whole experience, we suggest subscribing to a premium membership that only costs $39.99 per year.  If you do opt for a free subscription, apart from losing access to various maps, you would also be missing out on the most important feature provided by Gaia GPS, which is the function to download maps for offline use in case cell service is not available where you will be going. 

Even if you do choose the free subscription, you would still be able to enjoy all planning features, creating routes, areas, and waypoints, and organizing, backing up, and sharing your data, among other features. Paid subscribers will have access to specialty maps (including NatGeo Trails and weather maps) and various activity maps, and the function to download and/or print custom maps.

Gaia GPS Maps
Image courtesy: Gaia GPS

What makes Gaia GPS attractive?

Customization

Being able to create your own routes and waypoints makes travelling a lot easier, and things get even better when you can save those routes and destinations you would like to go back to or explore when you have the time. If you have way too many things marked on your map, you could simply hide saved items and declutter your map to only see what you want for that one journey. Another great part of customization is the feature to trim your tracks. If you ever forget to finish your trip on your phone, you can always go back to the app and trim it short where the trail ends.

Backpacking and off-roading 

Using Gaia GPS is one of the safest ways for you to off-road and backpack. Being able to know where you are in real time, but also not sticking to a conventional road would ensure the best off-roading experience for you. Gaia GPS has partnered up with many associations and organizations (for instance, United States Forest Service) to ensure that you are provided with accurate information to find your way. 

Types of Maps

Like we said earlier, the maps available to you can be browsed through either type, activity, or area. Under type, you can access topographic, satellite, road, nautical, aviation, historic, NatGeo, and weather maps. Under activity you can see hiking, offroad, camping, backpacking, and backcountry ski, among other sports-related maps. Finally, under location you can access worldwide, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Europe, and Asia maps. These multiple maps will provide you with different details and information in order to find the trail, track, destination, or the waypoint you are looking for. 

What makes Gaia GPS bothersome?

Battery life

The user-friendly interface Gaia GPS offers being a mobile application can be at times be bothersome. Since you will be using a smartphone on your journey, its battery might drain much faster than your average GPS device. You might also have to make sure that your smartphone is both weatherproof and shockproof, since you will be using your smartphone a lot more on your journey in different circumstances. 

Availability on devices

Gaia GPS is a very flexible app when it comes to its availability on multiple devices. However, you have to be a devout Apple user to be able to use Gaia on your other devices. Unfortunately, for now, Gaia GPS is only available on Apple Smartwatches and Apple CarPlay. This could be a huge bummer to those who use android devices.

Unavailability of locations

If you are not from any of the locations mentioned in the area maps available, you may not be able to enjoy Gaia GPS. They may not have enough information on the destinations, tracks, and trails that you might want to explore. Even in locations where maps are available, some users complain of missing destinations, trails, etc. on Gaia GPS.

Hiking with friends
Photo by Holly Mandarich on Unsplash

Is Gaia GPS worth it?

Both types of subscription can be worth it, if it is the kind of app that would make your journey safer and easier. The free subscription is more than enough if you are not worried about cell reception. The paid subscription would also suit your needs with its large pool of data, maps, and features available. You would not, however, have a use for it if the app would not have any detailed maps for your area. This is something which you might have to keep in mind when approaching the app.

Your experience with Gaia GPS would mostly depend on your own smartphone device.  Some users on Google Play Store have reported the app’s dysfunctional nature on their smartphones. 

Use Pilot to plan your trip

Planning hiking adventures also involves essential gear check-lists, snacks to keep you energized, places to stay overnight, and many other concerns. Looking for an app to help you with it?

Pilot can help you plan unforgettable trips with your favorite people to anywhere in the world. As a social travel planner, Pilot also eases the burden of planning group trips by making real-time chats possible. Add that last-minute suggestion, vote in your choices or veto your dislikes, and gather all your travel details in one place. With Pilot, every trip is an unforgettable trip!