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Best app for offline backcountry use : I Phone

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Now I do like paper maps, I can use a compass I have a real GPS but my phone knows exactly where it is because of satellites. Unfortunately if you know where my phone is you know where I am too.. so much for the tradeoff.

For ambles in the woods near home I just like to stuff my phone in my pocket and go off in the woods. Hence I have a camera.. And if I had the right preloaded map I would also have an at hand topo map for where I am. Too many times have I ambled on my nearby trails and wondered just where the H I am? I know I am a blue dot on a fuzzy green or plain white background. But with no cell service...I need a reference point for the satellite to install my blue dot on the map.

Requirement. Having hung around here long enough it must be free. Or if not free cheep and worth the money. I am not requiring the precision of a surveyor.

I am kind of fed up with my GPS as the map requires teen age vision. I need a screen bigger than a postage stamp. And my phone has a nice big screen.

So what say ye for app?
 
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I like my paper maps too, but it is nice to have a back up in your pocket. I like On X Hunt. Use it for hunting, but just as much for backwoods paddling. It is a subscription per state, but there is a free trial I believe. It lets you look at distances, topography, and satellite when planning trips too. I carry a bank charger and small solar panel charger to keep the phone running. When I am solo I carry a spot or in-reach to keep the wife sane..ish.

Bob
 
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I'm using Avenza Maps on an Android phone, have downloaded about a dozen Ontario top maps free and they can be used offline in combination with the phone's GPS... tracking and waypoints are easy to record and store. They have tutorials on youtube to help explain how to use Avenza for both iOS and Android so the two may be different in some ways.

Download is free here, click "get the app"...

https://www.avenzamaps.com/

Once you have the app in your phone, on the same page, click "get maps" and maybe "visit the map store".... you should be able to find your maps by entering a key word, or words, then searching..Download and they'll be stored in Avenza.

Once you've practiced a bit it should be easy to open Avenza on your phone, select the map, then hit "start tracking" ...turn the phone off to save battery power once the GPS knows where you are, Avenza will keep tracking you with the phone off.. To mark waypoints along the way, or to find out where you are, you'll have to turn the phone back on. At the end, you can see the entire track and then save or delete. At least, that's the way it works in Android.

Avenza's enjoyable to use and should be reliable, once you're familiar with it. Let me know if there are any problems, maybe the Android version isn't too different.
 
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I like Gaia GPS on my iPhone. I'm using a free version. Gaia allows you to download maps (you can choose from among several map sets) to your phone for use when you are away from the cellular network. While on net, you highlight an area of map and save it to the phone. Then, off network, you can put your phone in airplane mode to reduce battery use, and still see your blue dot on the map. The mapping data is robust, although I find Alltrails provides better mapping of hiking trails. I've not tried Alltrails when off network, and don't even know if it has the ability to save maps.

I've used the downloaded Gaia maps on river trips where there is no coverage and it has worked well. I'll just add, it's a little unsettling if you go hiking off the river and walk off the map you downloaded. It feels like you've gone off the edge of the known world.
 
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The best app for backcountry phone use is the reminder chime to leave the damn phone back in the car.

I am not a cell phone user. I have an ancient Nokia in the truck. In the last 10 years I have made a total of maybe 6 calls on it. And received one, when I forgot to turn it off.

I know YC specified “offline”, but having been on backcountry trips where someone discovered that they had a signal, and suddenly seen everyone whip out their phone in eager anticipation, was disconcerting.

OK, I have appreciated folks with phones who could provide a recent weather update in areas where I had no signal on the weather radio. But making and taking calls, checking e-mails and Facebook, playing Candy Crush. . . .come on people, that is the antithesis of why we’re here.
 
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The best app for backcountry phone use is the reminder chime to leave the damn phone back in the car.

I am not a cell phone user. I have an ancient Nokia in the truck. In the last 10 years I have made a total of maybe 6 calls on it. And received one, when I forgot to turn it off.

I know YC specified “offline”, but having been on backcountry trips where someone discovered that they had a signal, and suddenly seen everyone whip out their phone in eager anticipation, was disconcerting.

OK, I have appreciated folks with phones who could provide a recent weather update in areas where I had no signal on the weather radio. But making and taking calls, checking e-mails and Facebook, playing Candy Crush. . . .come on people, that is the antithesis of why we’re here.

Pay attention to the Original Post. Your side track has nothing to do with what I want to do with the phone. I specified OFFLINE use. I am not on your trip and you are not me. I specifically wanted to use my phone for off line map use especially in the North Maine Woods where there is no reception for a hundred miles and we know that..
 
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I like Gaia GPS on my iPhone. I'm using a free version. Gaia allows you to download maps (you can choose from among several map sets) to your phone for use when you are away from the cellular network. While on net, you highlight an area of map and save it to the phone. Then, off network, you can put your phone in airplane mode to reduce battery use, and still see your blue dot on the map. The mapping data is robust, although I find Alltrails provides better mapping of hiking trails. I've not tried Alltrails when off network, and don't even know if it has the ability to save maps.

I've used the downloaded Gaia maps on river trips where there is no coverage and it has worked well. I'll just add, it's a little unsettling if you go hiking off the river and walk off the map you downloaded. It feels like you've gone off the edge of the known world.

That is where it could come in handy. on the coast when a fog bank comes in. Guiding people into a fog bank.. all of a sudden they are all members of the Flat Earth Society and they are paddling to and over the edge..

I looked at Topo + and now onto look at Gaia.
 
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Pay attention to the Original Post. Your side track has nothing to do with what I want to do with the phone. I specified OFFLINE use.

Easy there Kim, I understood that. I acknowledged as much.

I know YC specified “offline”, but having been on backcountry trips where someone discovered that they had a signal, and suddenly seen everyone whip out their phone in eager anticipation, was disconcerting.

I’m not on your trip, am not speaking for you, and you are not me.

I was simply trying to describe the insidious, seemingly addictive I-phone nature some folks cannot resist when they find they have a signal.

Without the occasional “side track” our discussions here would be far less campfire-like.
 
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Easy there Kim, I understood that. I acknowledged as much.



I’m not on your trip, am not speaking for you, and you are not me.

I was simply trying to describe the insidious, seemingly addictive I-phone nature some folks cannot resist when they find they have a signal.

Without the occasional “side track” our discussions here would be far less campfire-like.

I will take a Dogfish Ale please. But not Punkin Ale which I read as Pukin Ale.. A Palo Santo Marron would be nice and even a White.. Namastase.
 
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Another vote for Gaia GPS, which I just used in the wild for the first time. It's very intuitive compared to some other iPhone GPS stuff I've tried. I downloaded a topo map of a big hunk of Maine around Millinocket/Baxter/Chesuncook/Allagash, etc. Highlighted the roads to Allagash Lake and used that on CarPlay to guide me there. Then used it to record a track as I paddled from Ede's to Ice Cave and back.
 
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When I bought my inreach, I downloaded a program on my phone so that I could text directly from my phone to the in reach. I was very surprised to learn that I had also downloaded a complete topo map set for wherever I was. I was also surprised to learn that my Samsung phone had GPS capability. One day while skidooing, I became somewhat turned around while looking for a lake. This was way past cell phone coverage, but I pulled out my phone, and was shocked as hell when the earthmate app showed me where It was. I has pretty much the same capabilities as my garmin.

Iphones have built in GPS capabilities too, so it will work when there is no coverage. The earthmate app is free, and can be downloaded for Iphone.
 
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I don't see anything wrong with replacing a GPS device with a phone, esp since phones have become a far more versatile.device. Anybody here notice how much phone photography has developed and how fast that tech has progressed over the past several years.... the news reports suggest there's more coming with refinements to silicon, software and camera design. I still prefer my bombproof & waterproof pocket camera but at some point, it will fall too far behind as far as capability goes and the decision will need to be made whether to buy another dedicated camera or go with the multipurpose phone. Hmmm...

Phone use in wild areas with no cell coverage is going to increase, according to news reports... Elon Musk and SpaceX are sending up 10,000 or more satellites to provide cheap internet access anywhere in the world, so all tech heads will need is an antenna about the size of a laptop and the phone plugs into that. IIRC service begins at the end of this year. Boeing and the rest of the competition will send up their own satellites to drive prices down further, and some businesses are planning on providing software and hardware upgrades to phones to make satellite access even easier.

PS...what really grates on my nerves in remote spots is airplanes flying overhead. That includes drones. And people talking endlessly non-stop, that includes phone use.
 
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As noted, the built in GPS-enabled smart phone paired with the right app/maps will do everything a Garmin stand-alone GPS unit will do when you are off the grid. Not sure if the phone is as durable as a Garmin. But if you already own the phone (and you likely do unless you are an an atavist like Mr. McCrea), it just makes sense to save the money on a stand-alone GPS.
 
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My dog is an atavist. Primitive loving and cuddly. I suspect Mike is too. My dog is a Carolina dog mostly.
I tried a test run on Topo+ the free version. It said I had walked 2.12 miles but the trail is only .75 miles long. My track looked like my dogs with sniffing wanderings. But my dog was not wearing the phone.. Off to test Gaia on the same trail.
 
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But Mike knows my comments about him are all in good fun.

It’s hard to get upset when you have to stop and Google the meaning of a word. Probably why I enjoy reading George Will and bantering with Glenn.

And yes, I probably would revert to the primitive characteristic my remote ancestors. Mike lost, Mike need make found.
 
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