Whether you’re looking for a place to camp or trying to find a route for your next backcountry hike, there are a variety of resources available to help you plan and navigate your trip. Within a few minutes you can book a campsite online or download the maps you need for the backcountry. Below are some of our favorite online resources:
There are a handful of apps and websites that make it much easier to plan and navigate your next backpacking trip. In addition to accessing thousands of trails and itineraries online, you can also track your location, elevation, or pace during your trip without access to wireless or data. Your GPS still functions properly with cached data on your phone - you just need to make sure you download the maps beforehand and have enough battery power for your trip. If you are depending on your phone for navigation, it is beneficial to carry another power source for your phone like an external battery or a solar charger. We also always bring a physical map and compass on our trips.
Alltrails has the advantage of having thousands of prerecorded trips on their platform, with the ability to specify length, location, or difficulty when looking for the perfect hike. The forum section also allows you to get latest information on trail conditions, and you can get directions to each trailhead without having to toggle between a bunch of different apps.Once you find the hike you want to do, you can also download the trip route and maps for offline use via their platform if you pay a membership fee. The AllTrails app provides basic navigation functionality for your trip and is one of the most user-friendly apps out there. A membership also allows you to download maps for offline access. Other apps may provide more functionality and detail for backcountry navigation, but AllTrails is great for planning purposes. For more information go to the AllTrails website at www.alltrails.com
If you’re looking for an app that provides broad functionality for a reasonable price, Gaia is a great option. We like Gaia because it comes preloaded with a lot of campsites and routes, and you can easily plan or import a route from your computer before your trip that can be used offline during your hike. A $20 annual membership gives you access to different base map options, cached maps, and other perks. The offline navigation features are both user-friendly and detailed, and this is a great all around option for folks who don’t need too much customization for their maps but want to access pre-built trails and track their pace, location, and elevation. For more information go to Gaia's website at https://www.gaiagps.com/
Although there’s less functionality for reviewing and finding new hikes, BackCountry Navigator shines when it comes to navigation in the backcountry. You can find and import existing routes from most external sources, mark waypoints and resupplies, and save your favorite campsites for future reference. We really like that you can download and toggle between different types of maps and different pre-loaded trips, and there’s a lot of functionality for backcountry navigation. With the added functionality for navigation, the user interface also takes a bit of getting used to, but you also have a lot more bells and whistles to play with. Note that compatibility with IOS is limited, so Gaia may be a better option if you have an IPhone. More information can be found at www.backcountrynavigator.com
Car campgrounds come in a variety of shapes and sizes- from busier campgrounds with amenities like electricity, water, and bathrooms to backcountry sites that require you to dig your own fire pit. Some spots require permits or reservations, while others have yet to be discovered! Below are some of our favorite resources for planning a car camping trip.
Hipcamp is a mission-driven marketplace where you can list, discover, and book campgrounds and accommodations on private and public land. Whether you’re looking for a scenic spot to pitch your tent or planning a nature-filled getaway, Hipcamp is a go-to guide to getting outside and camping.
We like Hipcamp because you can find a lot of different types of campsites based on what types of amenities you're looking for. To book, go to www.hipcamp.com
The easiest way to browse popular campsites on public land is with ReserveAmercia, which allows you to browse different campsites, check availability and amenities, and book online. ReserveAmerica covers America’s most popular camping destinations on public lands, and it also directs you offsite to booking services as needed (like recreation.gov).
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