Who needs a handheld GPS when you can just download a hiking app, right? Well, not exactly (and you can check our our favorite handheld GPS here), but hiking apps can do a ton of things. If you’re an avid hiker and aren’t utilizing your phone to its full potential, you need to start. Right now. Hiking apps open up a world of opportunity for hikers. Whether you’re looking for the best navigation app out there, or you just want something inspirational to help you find new adventures, we’ve curated the best hiking apps of 2019 for you here.
Best Overall: AllTrails (and AllTrails Pro)
Available as both a mobile app and a website, AllTrails is probably the most popular hiking app on the planet–and it’s certainly the best. AllTrails uses the power of user-generated reports and photos to amass its enormous database of trails, trail reports, and trail conditions. There is simply no other hiking resource available that’s as comprehensive and up-to-date as AllTrails. If you’ve done any searches for hiking trails or adventures, you’ve no doubt discovered their website. However, you may not know about their app. The AllTrails app has the same function as the website, with the added advantage of being portable.
The entire AllTrails hiking database is available for the excellent price of free. You can find hikes, research trip lengths and elevation gain, and save your favorites for future reference with the free version of the app. However, should you like to track your progress while on the trail in the wilderness, you’ll need to upgrade to AllTrails Pro. It’s $29.99/year (or $59 .99 for a three-year subscription), but frequently goes on sale for $14.99. Whatever the price, AllTrails Pro provides a great value. The ability to pre-download trail maps and track your route in real-time is invaluable, and it’s something that used to require a handheld GPS.
Our rating: 5/5 stars: AllTrails is a one stop shop for all things hiking, and maximizes the capabilities of a mobile phone to create a useful resource for hikers.
Best Free Navigation App: REI Hiking Project
As a free navigation app and hiking resource for adventurers, REI’S Hiking Project is a must-see. Though the “project” part of the name definitely shows itself at times (the app is not very intuitive, and the trail database is very limited at the moment), the app is great for checking out more popular hikes and exploring new opportunities. What we like to use it for, however, is navigation: you can pre-download topographical maps of the area you’re going, and the app will track your location in real-time when you’re on the trail. It’s hard to get lost when you’ve got a resource like this in your back pocket.
The main drawback of this app versus something like AllTrails is that the trail database is much more limited, so you likely won’t be able to “follow the trail” in real-time to navigate. The trail routes simply aren’t in the app for the most part. However, at the price of free, this is a fantastic resource for hikers to take a look at.
Our rating: 3.5/5 stars: The app is fantastic for navigation features, but unfortunately that’s about as far as its utility extends; for discovering new trails and mapping out hikes, AllTrails is a much better alternative.
Best Fun App: Peakvisor
Ever been on the trail and wondered what that peak was off in the distance? Peakvisor’s got you covered. Although this app has nothing to do with your safety on the trail, it has a lot to do with your enjoyment. The app uses a combination of location services and local data to identify peaks simply by pointing your camera at them. It’s a lot of fun. This one clocks in at $5.99. No subscription, just the one-time fee.
Our rating: 4 out of 5 stars: The price tag is a bit excessive for a one-trick pony app like Peakvisor, but it provides endless entertainment and satisfaction to curiosity on the trail.
Gaia GPS is a great, expert-level navigation app. It costs money, but you’ll get access to high-quality maps and precise navigation.
Cairn is a unique app, one which tracks where users get cell service on trails, groups them by provider, and then lists them on the app so hikers who may need medical assistance can find a spot with cell service and call out.
Mountain Collector is another great app for hikers to discover mountainous routes.
If you have a favorite hiking app that’s not featured on this list, be sure to let us know in the comments! In the meantime, keep on adventuring.