Jump to content

Mapping software


Recommended Posts

Nowadays, there are many choices of software you can use in the field for mapping and GPS guidance. Some of the more popular names are Gaia, Earthmate, CalTopo, AllTrails, OnX, Google Earth, and more. These are typically downloaded for use on your smartphone. There are also dedicted GPS handheld units by companies like Garmin.  My main software is Gaia as I find it user friendly and visually provides me with most of the information I'm looking for. If you sign up for the Pro version (~$40/yr) you have access to many specialized maps, literally a few hundred.


I also use CalTopo as it provides some specialized features/information that I want while in the field. The good news is that you can toggle between softwares quickly. Running multiple mapping softwares simultaneously may use up more of your battery but if that isn't an issue it may be beneficial. I'll do that when I'm in a new area and bushwhacking to a location. Having access to different maps can be important. Last year, a fellow sasquatcher and I were trying to get to a certain location but we ran into a cedar swamp and the trail around it wasn't visible on the map I was using. Pulling up Google Earth and looking at the area at different times can help to see what you're dealing with especially when it comes to water.


How do you learn how to use any of the mapping softwares? There is always YouTube. I've found bits and pieces of features explained that I was looking for but nothing comprehensive.  For those looking to use Gaia for the first time, or to hone your skills with it, there is a 19-module course at Backpackinglight.com. It costs $47 and walks you through things from soup to nuts. It may be worth you while.




There is also a class for Garmin InReach users. Most of us probably don't use it's features very often and in an emergency could you alert someone or authorities about your predicament and carry on a digital conversation to help you through it? Use of these devices needs to be practiced to the point it is second nature because you may be injured or scared and not thinking straight at that moment or teetering on losing consciousness.





Link to comment
Share on other sites


  • Create New...