11 best walking apps to help you step away from the screen

11 best walking apps to help you step away from the screen

11 best walking apps to help you step away from the screen

Step away from the computer. Win back your time in the great outdoors.

Whether it’s gathering supplies for a day hike or setting up camp, these days smart hikers are sure to pack their digital backpacks with apps to make the most of their hikes.

Don’t forget your gorp, and stay away from fat bears. Happy trails!

Pro Tip: These apps are tailor-made for hiking and the outdoors, but even the technology you rely on every day can be useful in nature. Google Maps often shows hiking trails, Instagram has some pretty inspiring accounts to follow like @wildernessculture, @theclymb and @unlikelyhikers, and plenty of smartwatches and fitness trackers measure altitude.

Routes and navigation apps

AllTrails

With 12 million downloads, AllTrails is one of the most popular apps out there for planning your hikes. It features over 200,000 hiking maps with helpful photos and reviews. AllTrails’ user interface makes it easy to explore and search for trails, and there’s a multitude of filtering options, such as difficulty and dog-friendliness. In addition, by activating GPS, you can record your route, including pace, distance, altitude, and save it or share it with friends. For backcountry hikers, there is also a pro version that allows you to use routes offline.

Price: Free or $29.99/year for AllTrails Pro

Available for iOS and Android

iPhone with AllTrails app open

Explore AllTrails’ huge collection of crowdsourced routes.
Credit: AllTrails

walking project

Like AllTrails, Hiking Project is a crowdsourced database of trails and hiking information. It also has trail reviews, photos, and general information about the hikes such as distance, difficulty, dog/family friendliness, etc. Hiking Project doesn’t have as many trails as AllTrails has mapped out (76,000), but maybe it makes up for that with its detailed descriptions of each trail that makes the app feel like a guide. In addition, unlike AllTrails, the Hiking Project offline functionality is a free part of the app.

Price: Free

Available for iOS and Android

iPhone with the Walking Project app open

Hiking Project is like a digital guide.
Credit: walking project

Gaia GPS

For general use, Gaia is a good card to have on hand. Use it to explore trails, navigate with GPS, find a campground, and even check the weather forecast. The app also offers a variety of different map options, including topographic, satellite, and NatGeo artwork. With the premium membership you can download maps and route info for offline use.

Price: Free or $36/year for the premium plan

Available for iOS and Android

iPhone on a mountain background with the Gaia app open

Search, navigate and camp all using one app.
Credit: Gaia GPS

National Park Service App

Created by the National Park Service, this is the ultimate app for visiting any of the 400+ national parks. Features include interactive maps, self-guided park tours, and general information about amenities and accessibility. There is also a way to download maps and information for offline use.

Price: Free

Available for iOS and Android

three iPhones with the National Park Service app open

A must-have for your trips to the National Park.
Credit: National Park Service

Guthook Guides

Guthook has all the usual features of a navigation app: GPS tracking, detailed maps, offline capabilities, etc. But the features are specifically designed for continuous walkers, bringing long-distance hiking into the digital age. Hikers can send updates and share locations with family and friends, locate supplies such as water sources and campgrounds, and access “city guides” that contain information all hikers need to resupply and get back on the road.

Price: Free to download, but specific hiking guides must be purchased

Available for iOS and Android

Three iPhones with the Guthook Guides app open

A thru-hiker’s new best friend.
Credit: Guthook Guides

binoculars

What sets Spyglass apart from other navigation apps out there is its augmented reality technology. The app overlaps a military-grade compass fine-tuned by your phone’s GPS, gyroscopic sensors, and accelerometer. Spyglass also has a rangefinder for measuring distance, a sextant and an inclinometer for measuring steepness. And when you’re done pretending to be Reese Witherspoon in WildSpyglass can also save the location where you parked your car.

Price: $5.99

Available for iOS and Android

iPhone on grassy background

An advanced compass you won’t want to leave at home.
Credit: Happy Magenta

Survival/Safety Apps

cairn

Sharing your abode in the wilderness can mean the difference between coming home safely and not. That’s why Cairn is a hit for walkers. It shares real-time location and progress with your designated contacts and automatically notifies them if you are late. Cairn also collects crowdsourced information about cell phone coverage so you know where to check in or get help if an emergency arises.

Price: Free or $4.99/month or $26.99/year for Cairn Premium

Available for iOS and Android

iPhone with Cairn app open

To stay safe and give your loved ones peace of mind.
Credit: Cairn

OutSmart Wilderness

This app is quite new to the scene but has received good reviews so far. Anyone who has ever ventured into the great outdoors knows that things can go wrong and that professional help is sometimes far away. This app helps you assess the emergency with a series of questions and then helps you treat and stabilize with wilderness first aid techniques. The app also includes more general survival and first aid information so you’re well prepared for your next big adventure.

Price: Free

Available for iOS and Android

An iPhone with the OutSmart Wilderness app open

Be prepared for even the worst-case scenario.
Credit: Outsmart the Wilderness

Nice hiking apps

Search by iNaturalist

While hiking is all about enjoying nature, this app helps you identify the world around you. Point your phone’s camera at a plant, fungus, or animal you’re curious about, and the app’s image recognition technology will identify it. Seek, a joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society, is designed for children and families. But really, it’s for anyone who wants to learn more about flora and fauna.

Price: Free

Available for iOS and Android

Search app open on iPhones

A high-tech way to learn more about your environment.
Credit: Search by inaturalist

PeakVisor

So you have reached the top and now you are rewarded with breathtaking views. But what exactly are you looking at? That’s where PeakVisor can help. Hold your phone’s camera up to the top you’re looking at and PeakVisor’s augmented reality feature will identify it for you and provide details about elevation, distance and also pictures and pertinent information from Wikipedia. PeakVisor also has a 3D mapping function and offline capabilities.

Price: Free or $29.99/year for PeakVisor PRO

Available for iOS and Android

An image of a mountain range with the peaks labeled

Identify the view as you enjoy it.
Credit: peak visor

air guide

There are plenty of great stargazing apps, but this one wins out because of its beautiful augmented reality design. Point your device at the sky and the app will identify planets and superimpose beautiful constellations. Sky Guide also sends you notifications of satellite sightings, astronomy news and alerts you to upcoming astronomical events. And since the best backcountry stargazing often coincides with poor mobile service, the app also works offline.

Price: Free or $39.99/year for Sky Guide PRO

Available for iOS, but check out SkyView Lite or Star Walk 2 for Android compatible apps

Sky guide app with a constellation on an iPhone

Make the most of stargazing in the hinterland.
Credit: Fifth Star Labs LLC