Having an off the grid adventure doesn’t mean you need to necessarily be without your gadgets for too long. In fact, it is typically good advice to go into the wilderness with some form of connection to the outside. GPS navigation is something that simply can’t be taken for granted though. While it has proven its usefulness to infinite degrees, it’s something that is heavily dependent on having a reliable data connection. When you’re leaving the grid and going out into the wilderness altogether, then this isn’t likely to be a realistic option in most places.
Thankfully, there is a solid workaround for many and that is offline mapping. Yes, it will require users to frequently update their maps while they have a reliable data connection at home, but entering the wilderness equipped with some form of mapping device will prove itself quite useful even if it is slightly out of date. It will be possible to navigate roads and various terrain towards civilization again with success thanks to having at least some degree of knowledge regarding your position. Similarly, if all hope is lost and you’re completely stuck somewhere, knowing your precise coordinates will enable rescue services to find you and bring you towards safety.
2019 has seen a sharp rise in offline maps entering the app market and these are the best picks for this year and the years to come:
Google Maps: Offline Edition
Google Maps is bundled onto many devices today, but few users actually know about its offline functionality. Google Maps Offline allows users to download maps of the area they intend to visit in order to have a current and precise overlook of their position as they travel. It’s particularly useful for road runners and hikers who are sticking with established roads, but it is also useful for terrain walking as it will give a good indication as to the direction and distances between points and how to navigate safely back towards their starting position.
Google Maps is data-heavy, so will require a good WiFi connection to download larger areas of maps. Users should also understand they won’t receive any of the “live” updates associated with Maps like traffic updates and roadwork indications, but there will be access to other features associated with Maps like shop opening times and bus schedules.
Maps do not store indefinitely and a saved map will expire after 30 days. It’s important to keep this function refreshed and up to date before leaving home.
Sygic GPS Navigation
The Sygic system is based on TomTom’s network of GPS maps for drivers. It is perhaps one of the most comprehensive offline mapping solutions that provide 3D views of a person’s current position and road feature indications. It is also packed with safety features for drivers that include lane position assistance and other driving navigation tips.
It is a user-friendly app that is strongly targeted towards drivers, but pedestrians and walkers will also find it somewhat useful. It includes the same sort of 3D richness available to drivers in the pedestrian version but is perhaps more limited in terms of its assistance to walkers. It is a good app for finding nearby tourist destinations but yields to Google Maps when it comes to finding out just about everything about a local town in terms of shop availability and times.
Here WeGo Offline Maps
Here WeGo is hailed as the direct competitor to Google Maps and is especially popular with walkers who have no data access whatsoever. It claims to work with just one bar of signal and provides guidance in over 100 countries worldwide. What’s more, is the maps aren’t particularly large in terms of file size. It is a very minimalist approach when compared to Google Maps and only includes the bare essentials of a mapping app, but it could very well prove to be a lifesaver when out in the wilderness and this app should be considered the absolute minimum when it comes to having an offline map solution. While simple in its design, Scott from https://www.sellmyphone.co.uk/ believes it is one of the better offline mapping solutions as it appears to require less battery life than other leading offline map apps on the market today. This could also be a lifesaving trait of the app when extended wilderness navigation requires more regular use of a limited battery resource.
Like Here WeGo, Maps.me is another minimalist mapping app that is regularly updated in top global locations around the world. Unfortunately, these regular updates are forced on users and it is something that you’ll have to check before setting off on your journey rather than having a downloaded solution that’s ready to go at any time as in Here WeGo. It is possible that you could find yourself in the wilderness and unable to use this app because of a required update.
Regardless of the map app chosen, it’s important to keep a check on it before setting off to ensure all of the latest map updates are available. Leaving civilization only to find you’re without any means of navigating back to safety is a true test of fortitude that can be avoided entirely by performing simple checks to ensure everything is in order prior to heading out. Each of these apps offers an excellent safety net though when it comes to finding your way back home.