Best navigation/GPS/map apps for iPHone and iPad

BradWarren

New member
Trimble Navigator

I've used Trimble Navigator. You can cache maps for use when there is no data signal. If you pay for the ELite, I think $30/yr., and you can make maps on your computer which is much easier than the small screen on your phone, and then transfer it to your phone. I'm still getting comfortable with it and haven't used it a lot, but I really like the feature of on computer planning.

http://www.trimbleoutdoors.com/http://www.trimbleoutdoors.com/
 

DesertBoater

Adventurer
Has anyone played with the Benchmark Maps apps? They're currently only available state by state (and limited at that) but I really like their paper versions and would be interested in an electronic version if it was worthwhile.

Cheers,
West
 

Beowulf

Expedition Leader
The benchmark ones were free when first released. I downloaded them then. Have they started charging for them now?
 

DesertBoater

Adventurer
I was looking on their website today and they were selling them on a state by state basis at $4.99 each. They only had NM, CA, and OR up, but I've sent them an email inquiring as to when the rest would be available. From what I've read, and I'd love to see how functional it actually is, one of the capabilities of their apps is to overlay weather radar onto the map as well as tracking your position to allow the user to see what's coming (assuming you have service...). Seems like a cool function. Anyone have any experience with it?

Cheers,
West
 

robgendreau

Explorer
I'd encourage folks to take a look at the Trimble apps. They bought MyTopo, and use those maps, which I've found useful for road trips (shaded topo).

And although someone already mentioned the Trimble Outdoors, http://www.trimbleoutdoors.com/, there's also Trimble's http://www.gpshuntfish.com/.

The Outdoors section has an iOS/Android app, Outdoors Navigator, for phones. And MyTopo Maps for tablets (and an app for training/competition, and one for geocaching).

The Hunt/fish section has an iOS/Android app for phones, GPS Hunt (or Fish) (formerly Cabela's Recon), and a GPS Maps (iPad only).

They're very similar, but have different map choices available if you subscribe to their Elite service (I thought, and was told by support, that the Elite membership would apply to ALL these apps, but it doesn't at the current time. They're thinking of changing that (I told them my vegan friends will NEVER use Hunt even if it has maps they need ;). All are free to try, as is a two week trial of Elite. The Pro versions of the apps add ability to store maps for offline use; you download from Trimble).

Aside from the nice MyTopo maps, you can use other base layers (Bing, Open Street Maps, aerial; no Google). Then put a layer on top: public lands, several types of weather maps, forest roads. The layers are different in Hunt than in Outdoors Navigator, and whether you subscribe to Elite. And whether you have Pro (mainly high zoot stuff like a different choice of datum and UTM coordinates. Rather confusing, so check out the features matrix on each different website.

And speaking of website, you can use theirs to plan trips with the Elite membership. Or to store trips you made or drove with your mobile device; they sync easily. Not sure if you could also do turn by turn, but you can import GPX and export to a Garmin, or from the website to kml or gpx. It'll even put trips on a calendar. You can share your trips online if you wish

They also have a nice compass and nav tool with the standard GPS stuff.

I definitely preferred the GPS Hunt to the Outdoors version, mainly because of the forest roads and land use stuff (nice to see where there's public land to camp on, and although the forest road coverage is spotty and not as good as some of the USFS road info coming on line (search "avenza" to see a cool tool for that)). GPS Hunt also has nicer weather info (moon phases and such), and hunt specific stuff like blood tracking and ballistics. All let you attach photos, videos, and sound to waypoints.

I found sometimes that overlays were slow to load, even on the website. And both had some quirks, like the follow-streets tool worked on the Outdoors website, but not the GPS Hunt website (??). So far tech support has been prompt, but there does seem to be disorganization among all these products (and Trimble does WAY more on the technical and professional side). And the downloads for offline use, as in many apps, tend to be way too big. I use Avenza's app, which is great for this, but some stuff is too big in their case as well. I definitely like Motion X's implementation, where you can download a limited number of tiles. What I really want is a way to carry the big files so I can route plan on the road without a connection, but with the iOS I'd need a computer to sync to in order to do that (although I haven't explored using an SD card and the reader for this; knowing Apple this would be too useful).

Trimble (and Avenza) are heavy hitters in the navigation/cartography worlds, and I'm hoping both these apps improve with age and use. I like Motion X a lot, but want more. In this case it was more USFS and land use mapping. But that's not all the app maker's fault; the USFS and BLM need to start making more of their stuff available digitally.

Rob
 

robgendreau

Explorer
Thought I'd post separately on another app I like that I don't think has been mentioned, Gaia GPS. This is another example of an app I got early on, and it's been steadily improving and adding features. For Android and iOS.

It's similar to the Trimble apps in that you can start with a base map and then add overlays. Where it kicks over Trimble, Avenza or Motion X or others is in the selection of maps. It basically allows connection to any "TMS tileserver," or tons of online resources for mapping.

There's OpenStreetMap (several flavors), Google maps and views, New Zealand topos, Canada topos, CalTopo (an awesome resource; worth checking out www.caltopo.com), USFS visitor (the big old ones you buy, NOT the topo ones!), etc etc. I mean you can overlay 1930 topos if you want, maybe not trivial if you're a ghost town fan).

Let me emphasize: you can use USFS and NPS visitor maps, and they're georeferenced! So you can say open one of those nice little maps Death Valley rangers give you and drop a waypoint on it. Sweeet. It also has a great collection of POIs. E.g., on the DVNP map I mentioned it had one for Pyramid Pk; click on it and it takes you to www.summitpost.com to find the way up. Or the Chicken Ranch (it takes you to wikipedia for that one ;). The POIs show up in categorized list, so you can just go to say "campgrounds" and then tap them to get directions. And these directions take you right to Apple's nav app, so you have turn-by-turn from wherever. Or it will guide you within the app, if you're going crosscountry or hiking.

Like Motion X, you can select certain tiles to download for off line use. In my experience, it's also one of the fastest at rendering maps.

If you a map geek, this is for you. It has syncing (to their own cloud source) for sharing, as between tablet and phone, e.g. And you can email a gps track using a certain string in the subject and it will import it. They even have a website where you can attempt to modify your own maps for use in Gaia GPS. And they have a "download maps along track" feature that really makes it easy to download what you need.

I'm not particularly fond of their navigation along a route screen; it shows the map along with direction, distance, etc. I like the compass views in some other apps better, but having the map right there is nice in certain situations. And I like the recording feature, which I more often use than the "guide me" to feature.

Like Trimble, they also have a premium subscription service. The selling point is the ability to customize map layers. In the regular app you have the choice of many layers, but only one at a time. With the premium service, you can have several, say satellite and Nat'l Park Map. And you can adjust the transparency of each. You can do this offline and then download your custom map to your phone.

I haven't investigated all the iOS apps out there, but this one definitely seems to the best in terms of map coverage. Better than even Avenza's. And they have great tech support. At $20 I found it the best out there; worth it just for the USFS maps.

Rob

PS: I added a CO Motor Vehicle Use Map by downloading a tif and rectifying it with Gaia GPS's open source website, http://warper.gaiagps.com. You can go to the link below and see the map overlaid on OpenStreetMap, and adjust the transparency (hit the "preview" tab). I then used the site's ability to create a gaia URL which I emailed to myself, and then opened it in Mail on my iPhone, clicked it, and it imported this map into Gaia GPS. Pretty easy.

See the map here: http://warper.gaiagps.com/maps/494
 
Last edited:

Recommended books for Overlanding

TacomaJack09

Observer
I wanted to give this thread a bump as I just purchased a Dual BT GPS for my Ipad2 wifi only. Are there anymore thoughts on the best off road navigation app for the ipad? Anyone ever use the Mud Map 2 app? Its a pretty hefty price for an app $99 http://www.mud-maps.com/ Apparently it comes with detailed maps of Australia but there map store has US maps. Just wondering what the consensus is on the best app for the $$ or just the best app in general. I have a big trip coming up and I'm sort of depending on the app to get me through (I will have traditional maps as well).

Thanks Expo!
 

roguetraveller

New member
I have Mud Map 2 on my iPad and its awesome, works just as good as a fixed GPS. The online store has options to change countries to purchase the maps you need.
 

robgendreau

Explorer
Their store seems to only have USGS topos; is that true for the US? Their Austalian stuff looks great but I wouldn't limit myself to topos in the US. Check the thread on how to add maps to Motion X; that might save you $$
 
Top