hiker using phone

7 apps for hardcore hikers

Not all who wander are lost, but if you’re heading out to the backcountry, you might want to try few of these apps.

They’ll point you in the right direction and make sure you get there and back again safely.

Lake Superior hikers

Your phone’s GPS knows where you are and how to get you from Point A to Point B, even when you’re out of range. Why not use it?

We’re starting our list with two popular GPS apps (one for Android, one for iOS). They can both download maps for use when you’re out of mobile range.

Bonus tip: Heading out on a long haul? Bring an external battery or solar charger to keep your phone powered up.

GPS Essentials

Price: Free

Platform: Android

Website: http://www.gpsessentials.com/

GPS Essentials has a heads-up display that lets you look where you’re going. Plot your waypoint, then hold up the phone like you’re snapping a picture. Your GPS data is layered over the live view from the camera.

MotionX GPS

Price: $1.99

Platform: iOs

Website: http://gps.motionx.com/


MotionX GPS has a clean, clear interface and good documentation. This highly rated app supports a broad selection of map types. Use it on land or water to enjoy your favourite outdoor activity.


Price: Free

Platform: iOS (Android in development)

Website: http://www.cairnme.com/

This crowd-sourced cellphone reception map helps you find reception when you need it, and if you don’t make it home, it identifies your last-known location to rescuers.

Cairn is a backwoods insurance policy. You can post your route, share your trip plan with your emergency contacts, and check in along the way.


Price: free

Platform: iOs, Android

Website: http://downloads.accuweather.com/

Into every life a little rain must fall. But if you prefer to get to shelter first, you’ll appreciate this weather app.

Accuweather gives you a minute-to-minute, hyper-local forecast and extreme weather alerts based on your GPS location. You can even customize your forecast to your preferred outdoor activity.

In case of emergency…

Backcountry hiking has its risks. Equipment gets damaged. Matches get wet. People get lost or injured. It’s best to be prepared.

Though real-life emergencies seldom reach the scale of Revenant or Cast Away, first aid and survival skills can definitely come in handy.

The following two apps work even when you’re out of range.

Canadian Red Cross First Aid

Price: free

Platform: iOs, Android

Website: http://www.redcross.ca/training-and-certification/first-aid-tips-and-resources-/first-aid-app

Red Cross app

This app provides step-by-step instructions and video tutorials for first aid, extreme weather and emergency scenarios.

Survival Guide

Price: free

Platform: iOs, Android

Website: Google Play / iTunes

survival guide

This basic app, based on the U.S. Military Survival Manual, shows you how to build a fire, signal for help, and find water, food and shelter, and more.

Ready for your next adventure?

Test-drive a few of these apps. They can keep you safe and comfortable on your next out-trip.

And when you take the path less traveled, that can make all the difference.

Note: A physical map is a crucial piece of hiking gear, especially when tackling tough trails. Power sources can fail, and our staff is keen to make sure our hikers make it “there and back again” safely.