My favourite apps for hiking

My favourite essential and fun bushwalking apps - Emergency+, Fires Near Me, GaiaGPS, Peakfinder and iNaturalist

My phone goes on every hike, in a pocket for quick access. I use it as my camera, to navigate and for safety. These are my favourite hiking apps.

Safety – Emergency and Fires

Emergency+ is a free app developed by the Australian Government and emergency service providers to help you provide your location coordinates if you should ever need to call Triple Zero. The app uses any available mobile network, but cannot work without mobile coverage so is not a replacement for a PLB. This simple and lightweight app is available for both iOS and Android and everyone should consider installing it.

Fires Near Me is a free app provided by the NSW RFS to help you access information on fire ratings, hazard reduction burns and active fires in your area. You can also set watch zones to receive notifications.

Where am I? Are we there yet?

GaiaGPS is a navigation app that works on both iOS and Android, tablets and desktop browser. I use it to plan new routes, and to track and navigate when out hiking. GaiaGPS has Australian topo maps which can be downloaded for offline use. It also has satellite imagery and open street maps. Try out the free version, but pay for the full version with offline NSW Topo maps – it is worth the price so you don’t get lost in the bush.

There are alternatives including AllTrails, Avenza, OsmAnd, but GaiaGPS is my preferred choice, having tried many of the others. My review if navigation apps for hiking and my review of navigation apps for 4WD explain why I love GaiaGPS.

Peakfinder is a paid app that is good fun. It works offline to help you name the peaks around you and find out their height. You can move around and fly over the a mountain range to see the peaks hidden behind. Snap a picture and the names of the peaks will be included on your photo.

Other useful apps

I also use these apps for bushwalking

  • Red Cross FirstAid app is a useful first aid manual on your phone, but not a substitute for getting hands-on first aid training
  • Weatherzone+ for forecasts and warnings, rain radar, tides, sunrise and sunset times, etc
  • iNaturalist for recording my observations in nature
  • Garmin apps for my Garmin InReach and my motorcycle Zumo GPS
  • Packlight is an app that is handy reminder checklist when you are going on a trip. LighterPack is also useful, but only available as a website, not an app.

But is your battery charged?

Of course, an app is useless if your phone is flat, so make sure your phone is fully charged before you head out into the bush.

Manage your battery usage when hiking by closing unnecessary apps, suspending notifications, turning off bluetooth, using low power mode, and putting your phone into airplane mode. If you are heading out for multiple days, pack a battery powerbank.

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