Long Term Review: iOverlander Travel Resource App

In the fall of 2014, I wrote a small review of an upstart web and app-based travel resource called iOverlander. At the time it had equal potential to be a runaway success, or just one of a million great ideas to vanish into the cyber-ether. Three years later, the iOverlander platform is a proven winner with many of the most well-traveled people in our community giving it due credit for helping them create their own overland journeys.

The iOverlander app was created to meet the primary needs travelers face every day: where to sleep, eat, get fuel, find a mechanic, or just help locating a pretty place to catch the sunset and snap off a few pics. The best way to accrue this type of information is of course through fellow travelers. Managing that influx of data, and ensuring it’s accurate and useful, is no small task. When iOverlander launched 3 years ago, it’s safe to say the catalog of information available was rather thin, if not patently nonexistent in some popular travel destinations.

It was during my recent interviews with Lisa Morris and Jason Spafford, the dynamic duo behind Two Wheeled Nomad that I once again heard mention of iOverlander. Their positive review was echoed shortly after by Richard and Ashley of Desk to Glory. It got me once again logging onto the iOverlander website and mobile app to see how the project was developing. Although there remain a few voids on their map, I was extremely impressed with how much useful information now populates their database.

What I like most about the system is the familiarity of the interface and the simplicity of the navigation. The Google background map is something I use often, so it’s a comfortable tool to use whether I’m in my home state or climbing high into the Andes. On a recent trip to Peru I continually checked the app to judge the accuracy of the listed resources and was impressed every time.

Like most map-based mobile apps, to get the maximum utility out of the system you’ll need either WiFi connectivity or an active cellular signal with data capability. For use outside of those scenarios the mobile app allows users to download maps of specific areas with the first three downloads incurred at no cost. Subsequent downloads are only $1. Even a shoestring budget can afford a buck.

For travelers inclined to contribute information there are well-defined methods for sharing that data in one-off submissions, or in bulk data dumps. The information provided is vetted, checked for accuracy, and the coordinates confirmed before being listed in the resources. Anyone who has managed these types of crowd source projects has to appreciate the insane headache such an endeavor creates, although iOverlander has done well to keep it all dialed in.

Every traveler, regardless of experience and aptitude, has at some point in their travels been at a loss of where to go for food, sleep, or other logistics. The ability to quickly tap into a mobile app to locate a mechanic, hostel, or even just a level plot of ground to drop a tent, is priceless. I admit, I didn’t know 3 years ago if this project would have legs, but it clearly does. And those legs are on the move. www.ioverlander.com

Screen shots and samples

(Above) Clicking on an icon opens a pop-up window with all of the pertinent information relative to that resource. I’ve stayed at the Llangonuco Lodge outside of Yungay, Peru several times and found the information listed on the iOverlander app very accurate. (Below) Some icons designate actual campgrounds whereas a few pinpoint little more than flat ground worthy of a night’s sleep. Although I have only tested the database in select locations in Peru and Ecuador, they seemed reliable and informative like the listed camping location near Keshua Lake, Peru.

(Below) If in a mechanical jam, there are extensive listings for repair shops throughout their global map system. A few even include details about the level of expertise a given shop has. This is the type of information that makes or breaks a trip.

For those inclined to submit information to the iOverlander team, the interface to format the pertinent details is easy to navigate and quick to complete.

For more information check out he website or download the Android or iOS mobile app.

Christophe Noel is a journalist from Prescott, Arizona. Born into a family of backcountry enthusiasts, Christophe grew up backpacking the mountains and deserts of the American West. An avid cyclist and bikepacker, he also has a passion for motorcycles, travel, food and overlanding.