Tested three hiking apps for the iPhone 4 while hiking…

Rating: rated 3 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $5 and $20


Tested three hiking apps for the iPhone 4 while hiking and found good and bad, the bottom line: there is more work needed to improve apps and phone.


  • Fast information
  • Great maps
  • Good interface with pictures and movies


  • Wrong information
  • Crashes
  • Cost

This is a review of iPhone apps for hiking. I have three apps and just wanted to test how good they are and find problems, which may help others.  

The first thing is my opinion is that this is only good for day hikes, or people with some kind of solar charger or power pack. You are limited to 10,000 feet and temps no lower than 32 degrees. I know that you can exceed these limits but at your own risk. I would consider this a secondary backup and not primary due to the above limits, the phone is not waterproof or strong, if you drop it you're out of luck, but you can buy a heavy duty case which will help, but it will add weight.

The apps tested are Tom’s GPS, AllTrails (Pro version) and Navigator Pro by Trimble. 

Tom’s GPS is free, the display is alpha numeric only but it display Latitude and longitude as well as UTM with Altitude in meters only. I would take a picture on my screen for trail head or point of interest, you must have a map with this app but found it very easy to operate, I did have a problem that you may have to wait a few seconds for updates and sometimes the data is just wrong, check your map.

ALLTrails (Pro) app is very easy to use and gives great access to many trails, you can upgrade for $20 a year and have the ability to print maps of areas that you plan to hike. I did find errors on this app. I did a test hike to McGinty Mountain in San Diego County, this app gives you driving direction but it can’t be trusted. It took me to a road called Peg leg Mine and cross street of Lyons Valley Road.  While it’s in the area it was off by approximately 1 mile. 

The program also crashes which you can send error reports, I found while reviewing past trails this would cause it to crash. It shows your progress in miles and gives you map of different types and the ability to take pictures, movies or just pin to mark locations of interest. Marking waypoints was the hardest of all 3 apps. Online it had the best information about trails and 2nd best about information of your trips. I don’t feel it’s worth the $20 per year, most of the information can be found online with a little work.

Navigator Pro was the best out of the three. It allows waypoints and will point in the right direction when trying to get back to the trail head. It also allowed pictures and movies, but if the movie is too big you will get warning about the size of the file.  It cost $5, what a deal, but wait if you want to be able to upload a map to your iPhone you have to pay, want weather info pay, etc., etc.…  

The Internet site is very good; it will add the history of your trips and give you information about miles, meter and time for one trip or all. I did see the data on some of my waypoints which said 140 miles per hour, this is like my etrex vista h which did this, I would just delete that waypoint or set my speed to no greater than 4 or 5 mph, you don’t have this option with Navigator Pro. 

Final thoughts, if you want a GPSR you should buy one, and I feel Alpha Numeric is the best way to go, I have Topo map on my Garmin but at the same time if you are going into the wilderness you should use a compass as your primer navigational tool and use the iPhone as 2nd or maybe 3rd backup. 

While using the phone it’s great to get all your information from 1 unit, at the same time you are compromising yourself. Garmin is good for 20,000 plus feet, waterproof (30 minutes), lower and higher temp rating. The pictures are good from the phone but I found my camera has a higher quality and the unit is waterproof.

I have all 3 apps on my phone, but the best for me is Tom’s GPS and taking pictures on the screen to mark locations, for now I will keep my phone in my backpack, keep my compass around my neck and map in my pocket.

Update 02-27-2013; Just got update for Tom's GPS and now has meter and feet.

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