With today’s digital resources, planning a memorable backpacking trip has never been easier. Here are five websites and apps for planning, recording and sharing your outdoor adventure.
AllTrails: With more than 6.5 million registered users, this helpful app is one of the world's most popular backpacking resources. The intuitive platform allows you to easily plan your trip and find new routes. Using the map view, you can browse through areas, tap on pins and learn all the important details about a trail. Every trail includes a variety of information, including distance, reviews, elevation gain, photos and more. You can also find out if dogs are allowed and whether you will have to share a trail with bikes or horses. You can opt for a paid pro option to gain access to real-time map overlays including route planning, weather, print maps and much more.
lnt.org: Created by The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, this informative website is designed to educate outdoor enthusiasts to appreciate, respect and enjoy the outdoors responsibly. It includes helpful information and blog posts that center on the seven principles of LNT outdoor etiquette: planning ahead, traveling on durable surfaces, proper waste disposal, leaving what you find, minimizing the impact of campfires, respecting wildlife, and being considerate to fellow outdoor enthusiasts. It's a great resource for backpackers who may not be familiar with contemporary Leave No Trace etiquette.
ViewRanger: Although it doesn't include as many trails as some of the larger apps, ViewRanger includes a lot of lesser-known trails with more detail. The creators have partnered with official mapping agencies in two dozen countries to gain highly detailed topographic maps. Route guides are all submitted by individual users, the Parks Service, outdoor brands and tourism agencies. Within the app, you can plot routes and add points to follow. You can also add specific points of interest to check out later, or flip on the app’s Buddy Beacon, which allows you to view and share locations with friends, family and followers.
Komoot: Focused on more intuitive navigation, Komoot makes it easy for users to plan and keep track of their outdoor adventures thanks to accurate turn-by-turn navigation. From the dashboard, backpackers have three options - Highlights, Collections and Tours. Highlights include trails recommended by the Komoot community. Collections are trails which have been carefully curated by the Komoot team. Tours offer detailed breakdowns of routes and include notes, photos and other information. Once you tap the "Plan" icon, you can select an activity, input an end destination, and the app will plan the most efficient route. When you are finished, the app will show the elevation, distance and estimated time you will need to complete the route. You can also zoom in on your elevation profile to access a range of finer details.
Gaia GPS: One of the most versatile apps for outdoor adventure, Gaia GPS can be used as a hiking app, backpacking resource, hunting guide or off-road map. It even includes specialized information such as public and private land ownership. Use Gaia to seamlessly sync your backpacking data between all of your phones, computers and tablets. You can also use the app to share trip plans, browse popular trails and record your trips.
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