Best Hiking Apps
Hiking is great for losing weight and increasing fitness. A walking workout with a variety of hills builds leg strength and burns calories.
Tracking your hikes is a good way to maintain motivation, and to watch your improvement as time passes.
Smart phones with built in GPS capabilities have a wide variety of apps that can be used both to track your hike progress, and display maps so you don't lose your way!
Hike logging apps
Many of the popular hike-logging apps have associated websites, so you are not limited to the app interface on your phone.
These websites display more advanced statistics than what is available within the app, and you can see how fast you were walking, you can view photos and videos taken during your hike, and you can know for sure just how steep those hills really were.
My personal favorite, and one of the most popular apps, RunKeeper is mostly used by runners. But it does provide many other categories of activities - hiking, cycling, walking, and more.
You can even enter stationary cardio activities, such as treadmill workouts. RunKeeper works together with many partner applications to track strength training, sleep habits, and weight/body fat measurements.
A map with speed and elevation statistics is logged as you hike. Other statistics are calculated using these values. You can choose to upload the tracking data only at the end of your hike, or automatically as you are walking (although this drains the battery faster).
Photos can be taken from within RunKeeper, and are uploaded to the website and pinned to your map. Maps can be edited, so even if your phone loses its GPS or cell tower connection, you can create an accurate record of your hike.
The RunKeeper website has social features built in - you can build a motivating team with your friends, hold competitions, automatically post your activities to Facebook or Twitter to stay accountable. RunKeeper can also connect to other services, such as FitBit (a pedometer and sleep tracker), and more.
Of course, you can set your profile and all activity to be private, Street Team only, or public - you don't need to share your maps with anyone unless you choose to.
The RunKeeper app is available for free on iPhones, Android, Windows Phone 7 and Nokia phones. Both the app and the website are updated regularly.
A membership option is available, providing more detailed statistics on your activity. I find the free logs and statistics enough to keep a good record of my hikes.
The TrailGuru app is based on Google Maps and recorded trails can be viewed in Google Earth.
TrailGuru tracks speed and elevation, but not much else. The website is much simpler to use than many other activity logs, with fewer statistics. You can manually add activities, without an associated map.
All activities count towards earning achievements, helping members to maintain motivation. TrailGuru can automatically post your activities and achievements to Facebook, and there is a friends feature built into the site.
TrailGuru works on iPhones, Android phones and Garmin devices.
Updates to the apps and TrailGuru website are sporadic and development is slower than the other products mentioned here. If you are looking for a simple tracking app, without the bells and whistles, this is a good choice.
MapMyFitness is a site that takes data from multiple tracking apps, and manual input using the website, to track your fitness and nutrition. The run and cycling tracking apps are available on Android and Blackberry, and the fitness tracking app is available on the iPhone.
MapMyFitness has an active and supportive community, with forums, groups, events, challenges and a friends list. Privacy settings allow you to show your profile and your activities only to those you choose.
Through the website you can view your completed hikes with their statistics, including speed, elevation, and more. Photos taken within the app while on the trail, are pinned to the map.
There are many good hiking, running, walking and cycling routes saved by other users. These make planning hikes in less familiar areas easier. However, to load the maps within the app requires an active cell tower and internet connection.
MapMyFitness is designed to be used as an everyday tracking tool, logging all workouts (not just your hikes), as well as tracking food, morale, weight, sleep, and providing a journal function.
The membership options remove advertisements and provide access to more detailed statistics. Paid members also receive access to training plans and better customer support.
This is a good choice for those wanting to track more than just their hikes!
What are your favorite hike or tracking apps?
Let us know in the comments below!