How To Use Your Apple Watch And Gaia GPS For Hiking

In this video, I’ll show you how to use the Gaia GPS Apple Watch app to record a hike or outdoor activity. First thing you’ll need to do is to download the GAIA GPS smartphone app on your iPhone and the watch app should automatically download onto your Apple Watch. If it doesn’t simply go into your watch app on your phone and enable the app.

From the watch, you just need to find your Gaia GPS app and open it. From here you will have three main screen: Music controls, settings & notifications and main controls (Record, Navigate).

This video will focus on recording hikes, and not navigating routes, mainly because it doesn’t seem to work on for me just yet. But the track recording works very well is a good alternative when you don’t have a GPS handy.

The main thing to note while recording your track, is that the Gaia GPS needs to be the top app, meaning that you can’t switch apps on your phone this will pause the recording until you switch to Gaia GPS. The best way around this is to lock the app so Gaia GPS is locked on your watch face.

Previous versions of this watch app would. Mirror the smartphone app, meaning that the recording was done on the phone, not on the watch. The version used in October 2021 uses the GPS data from the watch leaving you to use the Gaia GPS app on your phone to lookup maps, create routes and other things.

Once you are done recording your hike the Apple Watch will transfer the track data to your phone pretty much within a few seconds. You can then review the track under the saved tab and edit accordingly.


How To Export Gaia GPS Tracks to Garmin

In this video, I’ll show you how you can export a track saved in Gaia GPS and import it to Garmin Connect or Garmin Explore. Here I’m using iOS so this will work on iPhone and IPad, but will also work in Android and on your desktop. Here I’ve recorded a hike using the Gaia GPS Apple Watch app and have it saved in Gaia GPS along with a few photos.

During this hike, I couldn’t use my Garmin device (batteries were dead) but I want to add this hike into my Garmin Connect history or Garmin Explore library for future use. From Gaia GPS, I should be take to export the track as a GPX file and then import it to either Garmin Connect or Garmin Explore.

Step By Step

  • Go to your SAVED section in Gaia GPS and select a track, route or waypoint you want to export. Click on MORE and EXPORT, select GPX.
  • (Garmin Connect) SAVE your GPX as a FILE.
  • (Garmin Explore) If you have Garmin Explore app installed on your device, you should see the EXPLORE ICON in the share pop-up window and SELECT.
  • (Garmin Connect) log into Garmin Connect via the desktop and click on the Import Data icon
  • (Garmin Explore) the GPX file will be automatically imported into the Garmin Explore Library as a new collection, ready to be sync to a Garmin Device.
  • (Garmin Connect) BROWSE and upload the GPX file you just saved and upload.
  • (Garmin Connect) Once the GPX file has been imported, edit the activity and upload photos as needed.

More Gaia GPS Tutorials Here

Check out my playlist on other topics related to Gaia GPS and Garmin Devices.


What To Look For When Buying a Running GPS

What the look for when buying or upgrading a running GPS is getting more complicated than it used to be 5-7 years ago. There are so many options to choose from. I get asked for my thoughts on which specific models to look for, so I decided that this post should be about factors to consider.

Consideration 1 – Outdoors or Indoors?

This one is pretty straight forward; where will you be spending most of your time running? On a treadmill or pavement?

  • Outdoors: Display in sunlight; tone/alerts volume; weather/water resistance; GPS accuracy
  • Indoors: bluetooth capability; smartphone compatibility; calibration accuracy

Consideration 2 – Weather

Do you live in a location where you can wear a t-shirt all year? Snow? rain? If you will be wearing up to 3-4 clothing layers, then using a heart-rate wrist GPS running watch may not be the best choice.

Consideration 3 – Your Level

Are you currently in a Learn to run or Couch to 5k program? An entry level watch will probably be sufficient as you will most likely need an interval timer for 10&1’s.

Do you use tempo, fartlek, Vo2 max and other similar jargon on a daily basis? Then you are probably doing half, full marathons or even triathalons. In which case you probably will look for a higher-end watch to get those advanced features of display fields.

Consideration 4 – Journal & Sharing Habits

Big advantage of GPS watches is the ability to extract the workout into a portal and see your improvements over time. Certain portals like Under Armour, Nike are big on communities and sharing on your social media account.

Consideration 5 – Your Training Program

Are you doing heart-rate training? 10 & 1’s? Do you need to create complex programs based on your fitness program? Depending on the answer will help your steer between entry & high end models.

Putting it All Together

Now that we looked at the considerations, let me generalise and try to make some buckets to help you with some examples. What follows is mainly based on my experience using a handful of these products (that you can find the how-to’s)


These are getting really good at detecting when you are walking, running and sleeping. If you are looking for general activitiy tracking, there is a reason why this is on a lot of people’s wrist. The web & smartphone portal are super easy and helps you track your progress.

Consider the fitbit Charge, fitbit Alta or fitbit Blaze as top choices.



There are a lot to choose from, it boils down to how many checkboxes did you get from the above considerations? The more you got checked off, the high-end you are looking at. At that is because you are probably serious with your training.

Consider the Vivoactive, Forerunner 230, Forerunner 920 and fenix 3



You are serious with your training, probably spent money on a training program, was told to use Strava or doing a custom heart rate training program.

Consider the A360, M400


The GPS runner series is fairly adequate and contains some of the next level features you might move into as you progress.

Consider the TomTom Runner & TomTom Cardio.

Apple Watch

WatchOS 3 really improved the Workout app so that those of you looking at the series 1 Apple Watch will be able to get an experience similar to the above competitors. The Apple Watch series 2 improvements like built-in GPS really puts it on par with the rest of the GPS running watches. The choice is simple, choose Series 2 if you don’t want to carry your phone with you on a run. If you don’t mind and on a budget, get the series 1.

Consider the Apple Watch Series 1 & Apple Watch Series 2


Apple Watch Demo & Tutorials

You will find on this page short tutorial videos allowing you to explore or research the features of the Apple Watch. We’ll be focusing on some basic features and the fitness capabilities. So check this page often!

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