Archive for San Gabriel Mountains Discussion Forum

The free forums are now under new ownership, a full announcement will be made shortly Forum Index -> Gear & Fitness

What do you think of smartphone topo maps?

May have been asked before, just wondering what everyone thinks about smartphone offline topo map apps. Anyone ever tried any? I would assume they are ok for day hikes, nothing too extended. I've seen a few advertised and was curious on their productivity. My friend used hers when we did Mt. Lawlor, and it seemed pretty good.

I use Backcountry navigator on android . I have stopped using my garmin. I have learned to manage the battery and make it last all day. ( in airplane mode, and not recording a track) You can use the usgs, usfs, google sat images, caltopo maps etc. It was free to try and 9.99 to buy. Only app i ever bought, best $10 ever spent.

I use "TopoMaps" and "Gaia" on my iphone. They rock. Hard.

The only bad thing in using Apps is eating the batteries. Like HVYDRT mention they do seem to drain them. I have to try the airplane mode to see if that works for me. I was going to carry a Morphie to charge the battery once it gets low. Took a hike the other day and the other hikers phone was drained and he was tracking our trail I used my GPS. Currently use the All Trails app on short hikes but thinking on changing once I get the battery issue figured out. Thanks for the tip hvydrt.


My iPhone goes through power like crazy when I use something like Map my Run but I just bought a small solar charger, so it can keep it going as long as I need to.

Thanks for the app suggestions. I don't want to buy a GPS at the moment and as I usually buy and carry a map with me of the area I am at, I think I am fine for now. However something like an app for my phone would be nice.

I use an app called "PDF maps" on my iPhone. I just get the topo map I need (sometimes free in their store), then download the KMZ file and its perfect! I have gotten through overnighters with that app. Haven't invested in a solar powered electronic charger yet, but its been very good for medium-advanced adventures. I keep my phone on airplane mode and only use it if I really need to see if I'm on track. Even without cell reception, it can detect pretty accurately where I am.

I've got an Android based phone.  Seems like Backcountry Navigator is the recommended app; it's what I use anyway.  Works well but the battery gets eaten quickly if I'm recording tracks.  

I also have a Garmin eTrex 20 that I use to record tracks.  I really like recording tracks so I can refer to them later.  

My most recent:  Mt. Williamson and Peak 8160+ done with my daughter, age 5.


missy wrote:
Even without cell reception, it can detect pretty accurately where I am.

Cell service is only useful to speed up the initial fix. Past that it gets you nothing.

dima wrote:

Cell service is only useful to speed up the initial fix. Past that it gets you nothing.

Location Services on the Iphone use information from cellular, Wi-Fi, and GPS networks to determine approximate location. So even minimal reception, its able to tell me where I am, which is pretty amazing! Forum Index -> Gear & Fitness
Page 1 of 1
Create your own free forum | Buy a domain to use with your forum
For many GPS tracks, Google Earth KMZ files and Google Maps for the San Gabriel Mountains and beyond, please visit my website: