Offroad GPS apps-

Joined
Apr 16, 2015
Messages
117
Location
Philipsburg PA
So, what OFF-ROAD GPS apps are we running and why. Emphasis on "OFF-ROAD". We all have different needs and requirements so saying one is better then the other doesn't help much. I know that some off road GPS apps just stink and aren't updated or have problems. Please specify what you use it for, if it was free/paid and other pertinent information because many of us (referring to myself.lol) don't even know what to look for in off road gps apps. I have downloaded a few different apps but they have not worked well or where hard to use. I'm looking for something with basic trail mapping ability with offline use that is easy to use. I'm using Polaris navigation right now but I don't have much time on it.
 

ChaseTruck

--
 
Joined
Apr 4, 2006
Messages
1,980
Not quite sure what info it is exactly you're looking for. I've used MacGPS Pro on my Mac laptop with a USB GPS receiver, and have pretty much transitioned to Gaia on an iPad2. Main reason is that my Mac has become a bit tired (it's vintage 2004, or so...), and the display is hard to read in the AZ or UT sun. Paid for USGS and USFS maps on the Mac, downloaded the same USGS maps free on Gaia. I've also used MotionX on the iPad, but map downloads take a really, really long time (compared to Gaia, same detail/zoom level).
I use Gaia to track & map my trail rides (just as I did with the Mac laptop), and I don't do off-road; where I go 'wheeling, everyone needs to stick to established trails. I find importing trails a bit cumbersome on the iPad in general compared to the laptop, but it works. I've also found it useful to lay out a track/route in GoogleEarth, and then import the resulting .kml file to the iPad to use as guidance when trying to run a new-to-me trail. In general, I actually prefer the laptop over the tablet, but a few thousand desert miles make a laptop keyboard somewhat crunchy compared to the iPad in a Griffin case. I thought about Gaia on the phone, but I really dislike the small screen size.

Plus side for the laptop: I've connected a USB desktop camera that I've mounted on the front bumper towards the passenger side. At the 'proper' angle, 15mph looks like desert racing on the screen...
 

Izzyandsue

Izzy
SILVER Star
Joined
Oct 31, 2014
Messages
4,263
Location
Charlotte, NC
I don't think there is ONE that is the best, so I use a few. They are cheap enough, think of a price of a couple of beers at a bar. So I use 3 apps plus paper maps as backup (iPad can overheat or crapout). My cab setup has the iPad mounted just above the radio level, easy to access. Here is my take, and yes, I use them on trails and off-road on unmarked forest trails. Bushwacking only on foot though.

GAIA GPS on ipad is the most versatile and easy to use for my use.
  1. Must download maps of area you will be operating in
  2. Has many different map views, from current biking, hiking maps to old USGS topos you can choose from
  3. Easy way to create tracks, waypoints, and add photos of waypoints to help remember "that cool campsite"
  4. Data for tracks shows time moving, time stopped, elevation changes
  5. Can call out distance while creating track, I find that very useful when wondering "how far am I from the main trail?"
  6. Your tracks will be "published" so you can see them on your GAIA account (free one) on your computer
  7. While creating tracks you can change info on the screen, I use elevation and current speed but you can customize it
  8. Very easy to upload new gpx tracks or waypoints from other sources
  9. Very easy to email information to others
  10. Can also have it on smartphone, and all your information is shared between devices. I prefer the big iPad screen as I am old
ScenicMaps
  1. You can buy the entire US and download into your iPad or iPhone, or sections at a time. I have both but mostly only use the East version
  2. Takes a good bit of memory to have it all, but you will always have a map of anywhere you are
  3. The downside is the maps can be missing a good bit of info, they can be a outdated and not have enough detail
  4. You can create tracks, easy to save and keep but a little clunkier than Gaia with a lot less options
  5. I use it strictly as back up, or just in case. I do use it for foot wanderings in the mountains or bushwacking, It does have a lot of foot trails pre-programmed so you can go off-trail and connect to another if that's your thing
  6. Any info will reside in the device it was captured on, so no PC connection
  7. Otherwise, rugged and simple with little detail
Avenza Maps
  1. This is a PDF map reader, not a map by itself like the others. You install the app, then buy or download free maps and "open with" Avenza and thats it
  2. Some clubs, like the guys working the Daniel Boone trail map, use this app to sell their map, simple to use and GPS will find you on the map
  3. My use, most of the time, is to view the NATGEO Trails Illustrated maps. I am a fan of those maps for their detail information of trails, topos, waterfalls, etc. I think they are awesome and have purchased a lot of them on the Avenza store
  4. The NATGEO maps cost the same as paper, but you can zoom in with incredible accuracy which helps a lot when you are blazing a trail.
  5. You can also create waypoints and tracks with Avenza, but not as reliable as GAIA.
  6. You can add KMZ files as layers to the NATGEO maps to save new tracks from other sources. Simly just select the KMZ file and "open with" Avenza and done. But you have to have Avenza openned with the map you want the KMZ file to go to. Otherwise nojoy
  7. You can rename way points and add photos, so you can remember "cool campsite here" stuff
  8. Unlike GAIA or Scenic, you can go off-map and have to change maps during a run, so its not continuous like any paper map would be.
  9. The NATGEO maps shows most USF roads and gates, including closed gates and seasonal gates, so if the gate is open you know if it was meant to be open or some yahoo broke the lock
So long response, but hope it helps with decision. There are other free aps out there I have tried, but were too clunky to work or needed too many steps for my liking. I need simple stuff when driving. In the end, to me, this stuff is cheap compared other crap I bought and never used. To me they are cheap, so I got them all.

Ipad holder from Toyota Land Cruiser (96-97) Dash Mount
 
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 24, 2016
Messages
60
Location
Tucson, AZ
Avenza changed their app so you can only download 3 maps at a time unless you pay $30 a year. Since this is the app that the parks seem to advertise this is a crying shame.

Chad
 

Izzyandsue

Izzy
SILVER Star
Joined
Oct 31, 2014
Messages
4,263
Location
Charlotte, NC
Avenza changed their app so you can only download 3 maps at a time unless you pay $30 a year. Since this is the app that the parks seem to advertise this is a crying shame.

Chad
Well, that sucks. They got too big for their britches. I can still download more than 3, must have kept my memory intact or grandfathered in.
Just looked and I have 10 maps downloaded on my iPad.
 

TexasJack

SILVER Star
Joined
Apr 5, 2010
Messages
1,338
Location
Dallas / Ft.Worth
I have been running MyToPo Maps from Trimble for some time and also used Scenic Maps as a backup along with several other Solutions.

Pretty much everything I have looked at but Timble's MyToPo sucks in one way or the other. Unfortunately, Trimble is discontinuing MyToPo Maps and and I am looking for a replacement. Nothing I have seen comes close. Very frustrating!

I need a solution with the following:
1. Very detailed topo maps.
2. Very detailed streets to detailed back-road trail maps for back country all over the US including private lands. I am OK with having to download large map sections.
3. Satellite photos (Very detailed, high quality and Up to Date)
4. Most importantly is the ability to have up hybrid maps such as Topo maps and Satellite photos/Topo maps and dirt road/Satellite phtos and dirts roads and be able to slide the focus back and forth between them.

Trimble's product could do all of the above.

Any suggestions on products that can do all of the above in an extremely high quality way?
 
Joined
Aug 16, 2012
Messages
1,434
Location
Sacramento,CA
I don't think there is ONE that is the best, so I use a few. They are cheap enough, think of a price of a couple of beers at a bar. So I use 3 apps plus paper maps as backup (iPad can overheat or crapout). My cab setup has the iPad mounted just above the radio level, easy to access. Here is my take, and yes, I use them on trails and off-road on unmarked forest trails. Bushwacking only on foot though.

GAIA GPS on ipad is the most versatile and easy to use for my use.
  1. Must download maps of area you will be operating in
  2. Has many different map views, from current biking, hiking maps to old USGS topos you can choose from
  3. Easy way to create tracks, waypoints, and add photos of waypoints to help remember "that cool campsite"
  4. Data for tracks shows time moving, time stopped, elevation changes
  5. Can call out distance while creating track, I find that very useful when wondering "how far am I from the main trail?"
  6. Your tracks will be "published" so you can see them on your GAIA account (free one) on your computer
  7. While creating tracks you can change info on the screen, I use elevation and current speed but you can customize it
  8. Very easy to upload new gpx tracks or waypoints from other sources
  9. Very easy to email information to others
  10. Can also have it on smartphone, and all your information is shared between devices. I prefer the big iPad screen as I am old
ScenicMaps
  1. You can buy the entire US and download into your iPad or iPhone, or sections at a time. I have both but mostly only use the East version
  2. Takes a good bit of memory to have it all, but you will always have a map of anywhere you are
  3. The downside is the maps can be missing a good bit of info, they can be a outdated and not have enough detail
  4. You can create tracks, easy to save and keep but a little clunkier than Gaia with a lot less options
  5. I use it strictly as back up, or just in case. I do use it for foot wanderings in the mountains or bushwacking, It does have a lot of foot trails pre-programmed so you can go off-trail and connect to another if that's your thing
  6. Any info will reside in the device it was captured on, so no PC connection
  7. Otherwise, rugged and simple with little detail
Avenza Maps
  1. This is a PDF map reader, not a map by itself like the others. You install the app, then buy or download free maps and "open with" Avenza and thats it
  2. Some clubs, like the guys working the Daniel Boone trail map, use this app to sell their map, simple to use and GPS will find you on the map
  3. My use, most of the time, is to view the NATGEO Trails Illustrated maps. I am a fan of those maps for their detail information of trails, topos, waterfalls, etc. I think they are awesome and have purchased a lot of them on the Avenza store
  4. The NATGEO maps cost the same as paper, but you can zoom in with incredible accuracy which helps a lot when you are blazing a trail.
  5. You can also create waypoints and tracks with Avenza, but not as reliable as GAIA.
  6. You can add KMZ files as layers to the NATGEO maps to save new tracks from other sources. Simly just select the KMZ file and "open with" Avenza and done. But you have to have Avenza openned with the map you want the KMZ file to go to. Otherwise nojoy
  7. You can rename way points and add photos, so you can remember "cool campsite here" stuff
  8. Unlike GAIA or Scenic, you can go off-map and have to change maps during a run, so its not continuous like any paper map would be.
  9. The NATGEO maps shows most USF roads and gates, including closed gates and seasonal gates, so if the gate is open you know if it was meant to be open or some yahoo broke the lock
So long response, but hope it helps with decision. There are other free aps out there I have tried, but were too clunky to work or needed too many steps for my liking. I need simple stuff when driving. In the end, to me, this stuff is cheap compared other crap I bought and never used. To me they are cheap, so I got them all.

Ipad holder from Toyota Land Cruiser (96-97) Dash Mount
Does the GAIA program automatically connect to the next map sector? I have Avenza maps and like it, but I am tired of having to stop so I can pull up the next map sector so my tracking history will continue...
 
Joined
Nov 15, 2016
Messages
457
Location
Palo Alto, California
Does the GAIA program automatically connect to the next map sector? I have Avenza maps and like it, but I am tired of having to stop so I can pull up the next map sector so my tracking history will continue...
If you use a "Collection" in the Avenza map app, you can group of a set of adjacent maps together and Avenza will switch between them when you location moves from one to the next. There is a bit of a lag because Avenza doesn't quite understand map borders perfectly but it generally works and is accurate. And I believe it will maintain tracks throughout a collection (although I haven't take a track since jan so may not remember correctly.
 
Joined
Aug 16, 2012
Messages
1,434
Location
Sacramento,CA
If you use a "Collection" in the Avenza map app, you can group of a set of adjacent maps together and Avenza will switch between them when you location moves from one to the next. There is a bit of a lag because Avenza doesn't quite understand map borders perfectly but it generally works and is accurate. And I believe it will maintain tracks throughout a collection (although I haven't take a track since jan so may not remember correctly.
Wow thanks, I will give this a try!
 
Joined
Aug 16, 2012
Messages
1,434
Location
Sacramento,CA
Well was able to figure out how to use the collection method and feel kinda stupid I never new I could do this.:doh: I was having my son look at the map to see what was coming up next and pull up the next map. He did have fun doing that though because he was always watching and ready to jump on it with excitement lol. Also confirmed they do charge for map downloads now. Luckily I drank a lot of coffee and downloaded 35 gigs of maps on the ipad when it was free...

Thanks Guys!!:beer:
 
Joined
Nov 15, 2016
Messages
457
Location
Palo Alto, California
Well was able to figure out how to use the collection method and feel kinda stupid I never new I could do this.:doh: I was having my son look at the map to see what was coming up next and pull up the next map. He did have fun doing that though because he was always watching and ready to jump on it with excitement lol. Also confirmed they do charge for map downloads now. Luckily I drank a lot of coffee and downloaded 35 gigs of maps on the ipad when it was free...

Thanks Guys!!:beer:
Not your fault. It's not all that discoverable. I stumbled on the use of collections as well.

I just checked. I can still download "Free" maps for free. Are you saying that Avenza is now charging for free map downloads? or will soon?
 
Joined
Aug 16, 2012
Messages
1,434
Location
Sacramento,CA
Maybe I'm reading it wrong? Seems like they are limiting the import of the "free" ones from their site. Guess someone with enough curiosity will find out lol.
 

esh

 
 
Joined
Apr 22, 2003
Messages
2,061
Location
Oregon
OSMAnd is worth checking out. The map data is often current due to the Open Street Map community. There is a free app with limited downloads and a $7 unlimited. The maps aren't as sexy as USGS contour maps but the actual roads and trails are good, and the app has good features (one of the better apps I've used at complete route auto-nav). It is a worldwide project so data is good wherever you travel.
 
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