Best GPS for hiking/boating in rural areas

iOS and iPadOS

I own Blindsquare and it is great in town, but now I need a iOS GPS app that will let me capture a route in a US National Park and enter my own POIs on that route. Any suggestions?



Submitted by Bat on Sunday, June 14, 2015

Search the site for an app called Ariadne GPS. You can save any set of coordinates as a favorite and be alerted when you approach them.

Submitted by Weary Mouse on Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I was looking for this information in general, and found this great web page titled "How to use the iPhone as a GPS mapping device for backpacking"
from which I at least got the information that by using iOS 8.3, I can still use GPS while in airplane mode which saves an awful lot of battery life and thus reduces the need to carry my own weight in back-up batteries for my 5S. But then you need off-line maps. They consider Gaia GPS to be the best app for this purpose.
But the authors are clearly sighted. So, I looked and found the entry for Gaia GPS on Applevis:…
The poster indicates that the app was only partly accessible but that the developer was working on it. That was two years ago and nobody had any further comments on it.
I used Ariadne once on a climb up and down a mountain in New Mexico. I was with a friend, but I marked the place we started from at the bottom so I could try to use it to find my way if we somehow got separated, which wasn't likely. Ariadne includes altitude so we enjoyed seeing both how far and how high we had climbed, but that's all she is really useful for.
I do plan to contact the developer of Gaia and see if there is anything that they have done during these two years. I suggest you do also, as it seems they really need to hear that there are blind people who would use it. But because I'm a generally restless person, I will probably fork over the $20 and buy it before I hear from them, because I want to try it myself. So I will report back either way.

Submitted by Weary Mouse on Thursday, November 12, 2015

I rread the above comment and got excited about what sounded like a great app, and in my enthusiasm I went and bought the thing, not even pausing to try the light free version. Well, it's not accessible at all. Just a blank screen from a VO perspective. Really, it's sucky to post something like this. Perhaps the above user is a low vision Zoom user, but guys, if that's you, VO is free on your phone. If you're going to post here about an app and even include a link, check first to see if it's VO accessible.

Submitted by Weary Mouse on Thursday, November 12, 2015

There are a collection of apps put out by Guthook's Guides which show promise:
I've tried their Appalachian Trail app, and don't know if the results carry over to the other apps. They are not cheap but, I think, worth the $$. They are designing apps for long distance hikes, but they are as useful for someone who wants to hike any section of these trails. So, for example, the AT Hiker app allows you to purchase sections of the guide for about $10 each, with a collection of the entire trail for $69.
What you get is a largely inaccessible map, an inaccessible elevation profile, and a very accessible databook. The Databook allows you to get a list of all waypoints on the trail, or categories of waypoints like "next reliable water source." For each waypoint you are given the altitude, some descriptive information like "cross this old logging road and enter the woods". and a place for comments, kind of an on-line register where other hikers might leave comments like "this brook was completely dry today."
From each waypoint, you can go back to the main list or go directly to "next reliable water" and "next camping or shelter." and tell you how far each is.
There is a button with the vague label "74 location" which activates gps. When you do this, if you are not on the trail you are told how far you are from the nearest waypoint on the trail, and if you are on the trail, all the waypoints indicate how far you are from each one. For example, you might have
small stream .4 miles back
Mystery Lake .2 miles ahead
Trail Shelter .8 miles ahead
So, it's not a turn by turn map of the trail, but, after you have gotten the information about a trail you can glean from other sources, when you are out there, if you think you have gotten off the trail, you can quickly check, and if you think you got turned around and went the wrong way, you only have to hike .1 of a mile and see that the numbers are going the wrong way. And you can check to see what kind of elevation highs and lows you have coming up, the only problem is you have to go into the entry for each waypoint to check it's elevation. It would be much nicer if the elevation were there in the summary listing, or if there were text attached to the points in the elevation profile.
The best thing about this app compared to the accessible GPS apps you may have used is that all the information is available off-line. If you are running iOS 8 or later, you can still access GPS when your phone is in airplane mode. In airplane mode, you can use your iPhone off-line and the battery will last much much longer than usual. Sighted users claim much more battery life in airplane mode than I get so I guess VO does also drain battery. But, just using the iPhone for this app, my compas, and going on-line for short periods to check and send email and spend a little time with my guidebooks each day, I was able to go three days with my iPhonne 5S on one full charge and 40% of a second charge from a back-up battery. Which is a lot of time to be able to have access to GPS information. Clearly, a more powerful backup battery would have let me do more for longer. I think I saw one from Anchor that will give 7 full charges for about 12 ounces. And the iPhone 6 will also let you go longer.

The unfortunate thing about maps comes down to something I don't understand about how maps work on the iPhone. If you open a map in this app, you basically get what you get in Apple Maps, which you can also open from the app. You can find all the roadways and track them, more or less, with tactual and auditory feedback. But you can't access the trail they have overlaid on the map. I'd be curious to know if Apple has tools for adding trails to it's maps that *integrate with the maps or if there really is no easy way to do it.
I've hiked some short sections of the Appalachian trail in New York. I gathered information from two guides to the AT, several books available on either BookShare or Kindle, and I made up my own overview of each hike, including details from this app. But when I was actually hiking, the only thing I really had patience to check was this app which worked quite well for me.
Of course, these apps have limited use as they will only help you keep to trails that are part of a popular long distance trail. But for what they do, they seem to do it quite well.

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