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Look, the AllTrails app is fine
I use the AllTrails app. My friends use the AllTrails app. We all use the AllTrails app. BUT…
If I see someone using the GaiaGPS app, I figure they know what they’re doing.
If I see someone using the Avenza Maps app with NYNJTC maps, I feel they have the best possible Catskills map to hand.
If I see someone using a map and compass, I know they have their shit together.
If I see someone navigating a trail with the AllTrails app, suddenly, I’m not so sure…
The AllTrails app is a great tool for researching popular trails, and even getting some current beta on trail conditions. But the intel is crowdsourced, so the quality is highly variable. You have people on there saying a hike with 500 feet of elevation gain is “a serious hike” and other people on there saying a hike with 5000 feet of elevation gain is “easy”.
It’s a good idea to parse AllTrails comments carefully. Ask yourself: “Is this person at the same level as I am? Does this comment make sense for me?”
Secondly, the AllTrails app doesn’t do enough to prepare new hikers for getting on the trail and heading into the wilderness. For example, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an in-app reminder to pack The 10 Essentials.
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Love the Learning
I love our phones and the amazing hiking apps we now have. I love how technology has opened up the trails, and the wilderness, for more people from more diverse backgrounds.
I even love the AllTrails app! I’ve been a member since January 2019. Feel free to follow me there. Is AllTrails Pro worth it? For me, I think so. I pay for their pro level service…
But it’s important for new hikers to be prepared, to have some basic safety skills. Having a back-up navigation plan is so important. In the backcountry, a little redundancy goes a long way.
Learning to use a map and compass is one of the best things you can do for your safety — and it’s also super fun.
Having an app ain’t it. Batteries die. Phones die. An app can’t teach you how to navigate well. It’s a skill you need to build in the field, through experience.
AllTrails vs Gaia GPS?
You don’t have to choose. I use both.
I use AllTrails for quick research and trail conditions. I also record my hikes with It, as backup. For for me, AllTrails is for research and for back-up.
On an actual hike, I use GaiaGPS — because it’s less visually noisy, and it has finer trail details.
These are issues common to all hiking navigation apps. But the AllTrails app is the 800 lb gorilla in this market, and its user base leans more beginner. These are long-established complaints that AllTrails has not yet adequately addressed.
What do you think? LMK in the comments below…
Good discussion on the Instagram post…
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