Hiking is a great way to keep fit and clear the mind, whether in the mountains, by the sea or in the middle of the countryside. Many applications dedicated to hiking are available on the stores. Here is our selection to better find you there.
Before you start
A few clarifications are in order before starting. Know first of all that in the world of cartography, applications dedicated to hiking or bike rides are designed above all for those who are used to reading topographic maps, who know how to use a compass and who are used to arid and unwelcoming interfaces. But other simpler applications also exist.
Finally, it is surely a no-brainer for seasoned hikers, if you go for a hike, remember that your phone will consume more battery than normal when using these applications. So remember to charge your phone to the maximum when you leave, or even bring a backup battery. From this point of view, nothing will replace a good old paper map.
Visorando, one of the references
In summary :
- Interface claire
- Versatile in terms of activities
The Visorando application is one of the benchmark hiking applications. Very complete, the application supports several activities (walking, mountain biking, skiing, horse riding, canoeing, etc.) that the user selects beforehand. You then have to define the duration of the activity, its level of difficulty and whether or not you want to return to the starting point.
The application then submits a list of hikes with a series of information (number of km, elevation, duration). By clicking on the hike of your choice, the interface allows you to define the desired base map (Topo IGN, Satellite IGN, OpenStreetMap hiking, OpenStreetMap and OpeStreetMap cycling). Downloading the map to your phone is possible.
A “Details” tab provides a complete description of the hike, along with valuable advice to avoid taking the wrong path in difficult places. Finally, another “Reviews” tab allows you to view feedback from other users. In short, Visoranda is both very comprehensive and very practical.
ViewRanger GPS, a solid traveling companion
In summary :
- Intuitive and easy to use
- Free maps to download
- Kyrielle options
ViewRanger is definitely one of the best hiking apps of its kind. It has a big advantage over its competitors: it is not necessary to have a Bac + 5 in hiking to understand its interface. Everything is beautiful, clear and modern: using it is a real pleasure.
Its second good point is that it is free and that it allows you to download a handful of free maps. They are not as precise as a good IGN map, but they are ideal for a walk of a few hours in the countryside, on well-marked paths.
For the more picky, ViewRanger has a catalog of simply gargantuan maps in its shop. It is possible to sort them by country (Germany, France, Belgium, United States and Canada and even part of Eastern Europe), by brand or by category.
Regarding the application itself, its options are endless. We find the traditional compass, but also the scale, the possibility of switching to night mode, to mark your hike, to record your route, etc. Cherry on the backpack, the basic version is free, there is no shadow of an advertisement and it is regularly updated.
Komoot, to easily find a hike
In summary :
- A hike in a few clicks
- Interesting filter system
- Very comprehensive data panel
Komoot is an easy to use application: indicate the activity practiced, your physical condition (the degree of difficulty, in other words), the type of hike (loop or one way) and your current position. A map then allows you to select points of interest (bridges, waypoint, chapel) from which the app will imagine the hike.
A search tab offers you the opportunity to filter the type of walk, including the must-sees, natural sites, passes or refuges, to name a few. You can then save the hike or click on the “Navigation” tab which will guide you through your outing. The camera option directly available in the interface can also be useful for capturing a moment in one click.
Once the hike has been selected, the interface indicates a plethora of information about it: from the type of routes to the type of surfaces including the elevation profile. Completeness much appreciated. Only Komoot cards are available free of charge.
MyTrails, for the initiated
In summary :
- Well-designed application
- Lots of settings and options
- Less easy to use than others
This application selection is completed with MyTrails. Unlike other apps of this type, MyTrails doesn’t really push for buying, hiding its paid cards at the bottom of a menu in settings. What is most appreciable here is the loading speed and fluidity of the application.
MyTrails offers a lot of settings and options in its menus, which insiders are sure to appreciate. For the most novice, this can quickly become a headache. Differences in height, highlighting of tracks, notifications near navigation points, recording of the route and gestures are part of the peculiarities of the application which seems less easy to use than those mentioned above.
Bonus: recognize the flora that surrounds us
Walking is good, but knowing exactly what to see is even better. With PlantNet, it is possible! This application could be loosely summed up as a “Plant Shazam”. The application works as follows: you take a photo of a plant, you enter it in the application, you specify which part of the plant is it (leaf, stem, bark, etc.), then all this will be compared in the database data from PlantNet to give you a result.
Problem: you have to be connected to the Internet, something which is rather rare when you go on certain paths. So there are other offline alternatives like Forest Keys, the application of the National Forestry Office that offers a way to easily search for plants in front of us, offline. It’s not as intuitive as taking a simple photo and having the answer, but at least you won’t need an internet connection.
One thing to consider for the vast majority of these applications is thatthey are hardly ever supplied with complete and detailed maps. Some of these apps do offer free maps, but they’ll never be as good as IGN or Michelin maps. The “good” cards are chargeable and often require an annual subscription. For example, to take advantage of very good IGN maps, you have to pay a subscription of between 6 euros and 85 euros per year to have access to the entire catalog of the French cartographer.
Why does this price vary so much? Because the applications use one or more of its services and donate part of their income to French society. However, count on average 20 euros per year to access a large part of IGN’s catalog unlimitedly and offline. That’s the price of a single card and as long as you have a fairly large tablet or smartphone screen, it’s a very good investment.
For this price, however, you will have access to excellent maps, very precise with the difference in level, the points of view, the slightest bit of trail or forest path, in short everything you need to orient yourself correctly.
Note also that we are talking about IGN maps because they are references in the field, but that these applications have the good taste to offer for some of the hundreds of other mapping companies at very different prices and in different countries. other than France. It’s up to you to see what is best, but always make sure to check that they can be viewed without having access to the Internet. We don’t want to lose our precious readers on a careless mistake.
If you’re interested, you can also find our best running and trail running apps!