A great smartphone app for outdoor recreation is Gaia GPS, I tend to use it to record my hiking activities around the urban core or use the downloaded maps when in the backcountry. In this video, I’ll show you some use cases where you can use Gaia GPS with your smartphone while out hiking.
Gaia GPS offers a basic & premium user model. The cost of premium per year is fairly cheap (as of 2020) and after several months of usage (especially living in Canada), premium is well worth it to be able to have access to so many map layers.
I still would recommend you taking a dedicated GPS device with you when in the backcountry and have some basic map navigation skills as battery management of your smartphone might be more important if you get into trouble while on the trail.
Scenario 1 – Route planning.
Let’s say that I want to do a hike for a set distance but not sure of my route if I have options, etc.. Using Gaia GPS I can create a Route and mark it out. I can set a starting point, like a parking lot which could be used when going off track and you want to navigate directly back your start.
Scenario 2- Track Recording.
You can record your hike, just like a GPS with Gaia GPS by tapping on the record button to record the track. You can add photos along the way or waypoints. This is a great way to add field data along the route.
Scenario 3- Navigate to a location.
With certain map layers, you can tap areas on a map like trails to get more information or to guide (navigate) yourself to it. This would be the same as with GPS waypoint navigation.
Scenario 4 – Map layers.
Gaia GPS offers dozen of map layers (based on your region) that you can toggle on or off. You have basic map layers or premium map layers. Certain image based map layers can have a transparency to it if you prefer a base layer underneath.
Scenario 5 – Offline Maps.
Another powerful feature of Gaia GPS is being able to download offline maps. Perfect for situations when you are in no service areas. You can select from you map layers which ones you want to download offline or the tiles necessary for a track.
Scenario 6 – Sharing Your Hike.
Once you have your hike done, you can categorize, file and document your hike on the Gaia GPS web site where all Gaia users can view it or you can share your hike with friends or just for yourself. This is a great feature for those who nice Garmin Adventures. In other videos I’ve shown you how you can import GPX tracks from Garmin GPS into Gaia GPS.