How to

19 May 2016

The Best Apps for Hiking Route Planning

I don’t know about you, but one of the things that I loathe the most about hiking prep is the actual checking of the map routes. The best path isn’t necessarily clear, and the last thing you want is to have to pull the map out in the pouring rain, trying to figure out which landmarks correspond to what direction.

There’s no need for that anymore, really, mobile and app technology has advanced to the point that, even if you are in the middle of nowhere, you can still access the necessary information to keep you on the right track. Of course, it’s not necessarily obvious which apps are worth their salt and which are just going to lead you astray. Here are a few of our top picks.

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The benefit of Viewranger is that all the mapping information you need is actually stored in the app’s internal memory, so neither GPS, nor a signal is actually required. It shows routes, navigation data and landmarks, and your progress can even be recorded and shared once you get online access back so that other people can try and go the same way you did. Map data is pulled from the British Ordinance Survey, as well as data from OpenSteetMap, OpenCycleMap and Bing Aerial.


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Spyglass is probably the most visually striking hiking app on the market right now. As well as all the GPS features you might expect, Spyglass has an augmented reality feature which shows you distances, directions and additional information overlaid across your camera view. You can use it to navigate by starlight, measure altitude, use a rangefinder reticle and plot waypoints on a map.

Weather Live

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Even if you’re not minded towards outdoor activity, this is an app worth having. Weather live is probably the best all-around weather forecast app on the market, featuring a custom layout, real time visualisations of weather patterns, cloud mapping, warnings and alerts for bad weather or drops in temperature, a pressure change indicator and much more. You can also do extremely specific location searches using a range of different parameters, including latitude and longitude, so if you are going somewhere cut off from distinct landmarks or roads, you can still check what the weather is doing.

OS Mapfinder

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View ranger uses OS information as a part of its data, but OS Mapfinder gives you unparalleled access to every single OS map on the market. Buy and download any Explorer or Landranger map and it will immediately become available offline, complete with route recording and planning tools. You can look up place names and grid references, check the lengths of different routes and look up tips on how best to navigate the maps you download.

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop.