The Best Apps for Hikers of 2021

Best for Hikers BadgeWhen it comes to the best apps for hikers, AllTrails earns our top pick as it is the ultimate source for trail maps, reviews, and descriptions. With these resources, AllTrails makes it as easy as possible to plan your next hike. But if AllTrails doesn’t meet your needs, we found several other great hiking apps that help outdoor enthusiasts get the most out of their adventures. Here are the best apps for hikers to try.

Top Apps for Hikers to Try

How We Chose the Best Apps for Hikers

To find the best apps for hikers, we focused on four key features: maps, GPS capabilities, distance tracking, and offline availability. These features help hikers plan their trips and stay safe while hiking in areas with spotty cell service. We also looked at apps that offer unique features that enhance the hiking experience, like identifying plants, wildlife, and mountain peaks.

Choose the hiking app that’s right for you

Finding the right hiking app depends largely on the type of hiking you do. AllTrails, for example, is great for casual hikers and enthusiasts alike that want to find popular trails near them, while apps like Guthook Guides are tailored towards thru-hikers and those interested in longer trails. Consider what type of hikes you’re interested in before choosing one of the apps on our list.

Safety first

When hiking, whether on populated trails near city centers or on more rural trails, it’s important to put safety first to prevent yourself from getting lost or experiencing any accidents. Many of these apps have hike planning features that you should use to ensure you are familiar with your trail before embarking. While most of these apps offer offline capabilities, it’s always a good idea to bring tools, like compasses and maps, to help you stay on track in case you aren’t able to access your hiking app.

Our Hiking App Reviews

AllTrails — Top Pick

AllTrails App feature

Download: Android | iOS

AllTrails is one of the most popular hiking apps available and is our top pick as the best overall app for hikers. AllTrails makes it easy to find new trails, get directions, read reviews, and read trail details from other hikers. These descriptions include details like whether or not a trail is pet-friendly, elevation, length, and more. While the free version is great for casual hikers, enthusiasts will likely prefer to pay for Pro, which provides several unique features, like the ability to download maps for offline use, for $29.99 per year. This subscription includes safety features, like Lifeline, which lets your friends and family know where you are, and the app tracks your GPS location while you hike to help you stay on track.

Notable features:

  • Free version available
  • Subscription plans: Pro: $29.99/year
  • Support available: Email, Help Center, Ticket
AllTrails Pros & Cons
What we like What we don’t like
Detailed trail descriptions Best features locked behind subscription
Able to search trails by tags  
Great social features  

Gaia GPS — Best Free Version

Gaia GPS App feature

Download: Android | iOS

Gaia GPS is a popular hiking app for navigation, and its free version offers several great features that are commonly locked behind the subscription services of other similar apps. Gaia GPS’ free plan lets users plan routes, record tracks, discover trails, add waypoints, and view virtual topographic maps. For $39.99 per year, you can upgrade to Premium and unlock other great features, including offline maps, specialty maps for certain countries, air quality maps, wildfire condition maps, and mountain biking maps. The app also generates a trip stats report after your hike for a more detailed look at your journey.

Notable features:

  • Free version available
  • Subscription plans: Premium: $39.99/year
  • Support available: Help Center
Gaia GPS Pros & Cons
What we like What we don’t like
Great free plan Offline use limited to Premium version
Generates trip stats reports Limited customer support options
Includes a built-in compass  

onX Backcountry — Best Maps

onX Backcountry GPS Trail Maps Image

Download: Android | iOS

The free version of onX Backcountry includes plenty of helpful features for hikers, including custom waypoints, localized weather reports, and 24K topography and satellite maps. There’s also a GPS tracking feature that allows you to record the speed, distance, and duration of your hikes. By upgrading to an onX Backcountry Membership, you’ll unlock extra features such as offline mode, public land boundaries, and a guidebook that lists over 54,000 campsites and 450,000 points of interest. If you’d like to try out these bonus features before you commit to a purchase, there’s a free trial available that provides you with full access to the app for seven days.

  • Free version available
  • Subscription plans: $29.99 for initial year, $39.99/year for renewal
  • Support available: Ticket, FAQs
onX Backcountry Pros & Cons
What we like What we don’t like
Accurate, high-definition maps No live customer support
Detailed weather reports
No ads, even with free version  

Cairn — Best for Hiking Safety

Cairn App feature

Download: Android | iOS

Cairn is considered by many to be an essential app for safe hiking. Some of the app’s standout features include real-time location sharing, downloadable offline maps, trail status updates (e.g. sunset alerts), and past-due notifications that alert your safety contacts when you’re on a trail for longer than expected. The app also maps out areas with cell reception and lists ETAs for hikes. For certain key features, like location sharing and offline use, you’ll have to upgrade to premium for $26.99 per year, while the free version offers basic features like maps and trails.

Notable features:

  • Free version available
  • Subscription plans: Premium: $26.99/year
  • Support available: Email, FAQs
Cairn Pros & Cons
What we like What we don’t like
Real-time location sharing Key features are locked behind Premium
Status updates  
Safety notifications  

PeakVisor — Best for Mountain Identification

PeakVisor App feature

Download: Android | iOS

Whereas most of the apps on this list are designed to help users plan hikes, PeakVisor aims to help you get the most out of your hikes by identifying mountain peaks. You simply open the app, point your camera at a peak, and the app uses image data and your GPS location to identify the peak and provide additional information, like altitude. The app even advises photographers on the perfect time to take a picture of a given mountain peak. The free version of the app lets you access most of its features, but to use the app offline you have to upgrade to Pro for $3.49 per month.

Notable features:

  • Free version available
  • Subscription plans: Pro: $3.49/month
  • Support available: Email
PeakVisor Pros & Cons
What we like What we don’t like
3D compass and altimeter measure peak altitude Offline use requires Pro subscription
Identifies mountain peaks anywhere in the world Limited customer support options

Guthook Guides — Best for Thru-Hiking

Guthook Guides App feature

Download: Android | iOS

Guthook Guides is one of the most popular apps available for long-distance and thru-hikers. The app helps users discover hikes, trails, and wilderness regions across the world and features hiking guides to help users get the most out of their trips. Trail maps are GPS-enabled and can be downloaded for offline use. For each hike, you’ll find information like campsite locations, water sources, elevation, and distance. The app is free to use, but you’ll have to pay for each individual hiking guide (prices vary). It also offers a unique custom trail-building feature for hikers that want to forge their own paths.

Notable features:

  • Free version available
  • In-app purchases: $1.99 – $59.99 per item
  • Support available: Email, FAQs
Guthook Guides Pros & Cons
What we like What we don’t like
Comprehensive guides for thru-hikes In-app purchases can be expensive
Campsite and water source locations  

Hiking Project — Best for Finding New Points of Interest

Hiking Project App feature

Download: Android | iOS

Hiking Project is a crowd-sourced hiking app that offers detailed descriptions of trails based on user-provided information. The app is very similar to AllTrails with the unique addition of ‘Gems’ — points of interest along each trail. Users can sort trails by popularity or search by region or trail features. Before starting your hike, you can view detailed descriptions, including reviews, trail conditions, and wildlife that you can find during your hike. The app does not require any subscription or in-app purchases, making it a great free alternative to AllTrails.

Notable features:

  • Free version available
  • Subscription plans: None
  • Support available: Help Center, FAQ, Email
Hiking Project Pros & Cons
What we like What we don’t like
Completely free to use No distance tracking
Detailed trail descriptions  

Seek by iNaturalist — Best for Plant Recognition

Seek by iNaturalist App feature

Download: Android | iOS

One of the great things about hiking is being able to enjoy new environments, including wildlife and plant life. Seek by iNaturalist is an image recognition app that allows users to identify plants and wildlife while on their hikes. If you come across a plant or animal that you don’t recognize, open the app and take a photo of the subject, then the app will identify it and provide additional information about the species. Users can earn badges and achievements as they discover new species. Seek is completely free to use and does not require an account to get started, making it a great and free way to enhance your hikes.

Notable features:

  • Free version available
  • Subscription plans: None
  • Support available: Help, FAQs, Email, Forum, Guides & Tutorials
Seek by iNaturalist Pros & Cons
What we like What we don’t like
Free to use App requires very clear images to work
Accurate plant and animal identification  

PeakFinder AR — Best for Identifying Peaks

PeakFinder AR App feature

Download: Android | iOS

PeakFinder AR is a peak identification app similar to PeakVisor. Users can use the app’s built-in camera to identify any mountain peak they come across on their hikes. The app uses a 360-degree panoramic camera to capture amazing images of peaks and mountain ranges. What makes PeakFinder stand out from PeakVisor is the app’s built-in photo editor and ‘teleportation’ feature, which allows users to get a bird’s-eye view of any mountaintop. Users can tap on mountain names to bring up additional information about the peak. PeakFinder costs $4.99 to download, but there are no in-app purchases or subscription fees.

Notable features:

  • Free version not available
  • Subscription plans: None
  • Support available: Email, FAQs
PeakFinder AR Pros & Cons
What we like What we don’t like
One-time purchase No free version available
Built-in photo editor  
AR capabilities  

National Park Trail Guide — Best for Hiking in National Parks

National Park Trail Guide App feature

Download: Android | iOS

Whereas most of the trail-finding apps on our list focus on providing trail details for hikes around the world, National Park Trail Guide aims to provide comprehensive hiking guides for US national parks. The app gives users detailed trail descriptions, including campsite locations, difficulty ratings, guided tour information, lodging options, food and drink sources, and more. The app includes a ‘best of’ list for users to find the most highly-rated hikes in any given national park, and the app is completely free to use with no subscription plans or in-app purchases.

Notable features:

  • Free version available
  • Subscription plans: None
  • Support available: Email, FAQs, Help Center, Live Chat, Phone
National Park Trail Guide Pros & Cons
What we like What we don’t like
Completely free to use No distance tracking
Detailed trail descriptions  
Comprehensive trail guides  

SAS Survival Guide — Best for Learning Survival Skills

SAS Survival Guide App feature

Download: Android | iOS

This app is an accompaniment to the best-selling book that has been printed and reprinted for over 20 years. Unlike other apps on our list that are designed to help users plan hikes, SAS Survival Guide focuses on teaching relevant survival skills that help hikers stay safe while in the wilderness and take care of themselves if they get lost. This includes how to safely camp, how to make a solar compass, how to handle snake bites and other animal dangers, and more. The app can be used offline, and it includes video lessons to help users understand more complex survival topics. The app costs $5.99 to download and does include in-app purchases.

Notable features:

  • Free version not available
  • In-app purchases: $3.99 per item
  • Support available: Email
SAS Survival Guide Pros & Cons
What we like What we don’t like
Teaches relevant survival skills No free version
Includes video lessons In-app purchases on top of purchase price

Hiking Apps: Features Summary Table

Hiking Apps Comparison Table
App Subscription Fees Features
AllTrails — Top Pick Pro: $29.99/year ✓ Maps
✓ GPS
✓ Offline Use
✓ Distance Tracking
Gaia GPS — Best Free Version Premium: $39.99/year ✓ Maps
✓ GPS
✓ Offline Use
✓ Distance Tracking
onX Backcountry — Best Maps Membership: $29.99 for initial year, $39.99/year for renewal ✓ Maps
✓ GPS
✓ Offline Use
✓ Distance Tracking
Cairn — Best for Hiking Safety Premium: $26.99/year ✓ Maps
✓ GPS
✓ Offline Use
✓ Distance Tracking
PeakVisor — Best for Mountain Identification Pro: $3.49/month ✓ Maps
✓ GPS
✓ Offline Use
✓ Distance Tracking
Guthook Guides — Best for Thru-Hiking $1.99 – $59.99 per item ✓ Maps
✓ GPS
✓ Offline Use
✓ Distance Tracking
Hiking Project — Best for Finding New Points of Interest None ✓ Maps
✓ GPS
✓ Offline Use
X Distance Tracking
Seek by iNaturalist — Best for Plant Recognition None X Maps
X GPS
✓ Offline Use
X Distance Tracking
PeakFinder AR — Best for Identifying Peaks None ✓ Maps
✓ GPS
✓ Offline Use
X Distance Tracking
National Park Trail Guide — Best for Hiking in National Parks None ✓ Maps
✓ GPS
✓ Offline Use
X Distance Tracking
SAS Survival Guide — Best for Learning Survival Skills $3.99 per item X Maps
X GPS
X Offline Use
X Distance Tracking