Map apps are one of those things that I can’t seem to have enough of. Each one I’ll spend my time trying to figure out what it’s strengths and weaknesses are. For the most part all have the same basic core functionality, the difference is in the ease of use and the perks. Gaia is the latest such download.
By ease of use I mean does it do the few things I’m interested in easily, such as..
- Find signal quickly
- Offline maps
- Decent map layers
- Current location marker
- One click waypoint creator.
- Route making
- Easily exportable maps, routes
- Shareable data, waypoints, routes and maps
As for the Gaia app, I’d say it does everything fairly well I seem to be my worst enemy by either forgetting to start tracking my route or stop tracking my route. What is different with gaia is that the data is automatically uploaded to the web. I can later go online and print maps showing my layers or routes and waypoints. I can change the map layer from topo to satellite imagery for example and share it.
One other cool thing Gaia owns Outdoor Magazine and also has live and video outdoor and adventure films. Some are very cool. Now the caveat to that is that some of those features are a paid subscription. The money isn’t a lot but it isn’t free either.
I somehow weaseled a free or maybe a promotional subscription by going through the signup process then quitting? I’m not 100 sure how it happened but I will probably resubscribe when the subscription lapse, so if that’s their plan it worked.
us topo maps
USA Topo Map has been my staple for years. It’s a free download from Googles play store and is very functional.
The one thing it seems to lag behind is, sharing and map printing.
There is no online presence or account, so everything is done on the phone. for instance, if you wanted to share a waypoint, you have to export it, open a mail app on your phone, find the file to attach to an email.
Map sharing my work around was “print” it to a pdf that is saved on the phone then go into my mail app and share. There is no way to scale the map or add information after the fact.
But… it is free and very functional.
Trailforks is another very popular GPS app. The free version is limited, and I wasn’t 100 sure that I wanted to subscribe for the added functionality. Now with that said I see that if you subscribe to Gaia it comes with Trailforks as well. I’m not sure how that works since it’s two apps I can only assume that the company falls under the same umbrella, (the two websites look very similar).
After writing this I found what appears to be an even better GPS Application- Avenza. What I liked best about this app was the ability to download maps so that they are available offline. I downloaded the entire Maine Gazetteer, which is a staple for Maine backroad navigation. I was also able to import PDF maps that were made offline and use in the app.
Unfortunately for me my smart phone became inoperable due to water, and I no longer have a smart phone 🙁