Gaia GPS Premium Membership Review

TANG
Runner, Hiker, Radical Behaviorist

Gaia GPS is a trail maps and Global Positioning System (GPS) locator app focusing on a variety of outdoor maps and trail guides. The app offers a wide selection of exploration categories: Hiking Trails, Hunting Maps, Camping & Off-Road, Mountain Biking Trails, etc and features a huge international catalog of US, Canadian, European, Asian, and Oceania maps and trails. Given the variety of Gaia GPS, the app is ideal for a diverse outdoor and adventure seeking audience. 

 
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Overview:

I am not an intuitively tech-savvy person, but I found the Gaia GPS website and Android App easy to use and figure out.  There is a wide variety of map options available to fit your specific adventure needs and desires; with both the online and app access, it is easy to find maps and existing routes for your trip and add them to your account (they will then appear as overlays on the app).  There are several options for overlays, including routes you have created as well as points of interest such as trails, camping, and water sources. Off trail, I found this app particularly helpful when exploring Moab, UT to locate dispersed camping sites in the area.

 
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Features Included:

- Route planning

- Marking waypoints

- Recording trips

- Using GPS

- Backing up tracks to gaiagps.com

- Downloading maps for offline use

- Print maps from gaiagps.com

- Full maps catalog (over 250 maps and overlays)

  • NatGeo Trails Illustrated

  • Backroad Mapbooks Canada

  • ESRI World Imagery

  • France IGN

  • Swiss Topo

  • NeoTreks US Topo

  • US Hunting Maps (GMUs, private land, public land, others)

Specs:

- Battery Life: To this point, I have not used Gaia on extended trips so I am not sure how quickly it drains the phone battery with constant route-finding.

- Cost: approximately $40/year

Current Premium Membership Discount: Get a discount when you purchase via gaiagps.com. Save 20% when you buy a five-year Premium Membership, or 10% off your first year

 
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Pros:

- Easy to use and intuitive to figure out without much research

- See all the features previously noted; comprehensive and useful for all of your backcountry adventures

- No extra weight.  Most people are already bringing their smartphones into the backcountry anyway.

- Add maps for longer trails from the website to your account; will automatically appear as an overlay in the app

- GPS works in airplane mode


Cons:

- Some maps take a while to load on the phone screen. (Could be that my phone is an older Samsung; about 2 years old)

-One drawback is having to take out your phone to refer to the maps, and especially as a trail runner this can been a nuisance. But with the right pockets and advanced planning, it doesn’t have to be a real issue. I have primarily used the apps when on long trail runs, and have had no problems with connectivity and reliability.  I cannot speak much to accuracy, as I have no other method to compare other than post-run visual inspection from my running watch.


 
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Final Thoughts:

I have a lot more exploring to do with Gaia GPS, as I want to delve a bit deeper into all the map options.  Specifically, I hope to see how reliable it is for longer trips such as the Colorado Trail and bagging 14ers. However, after a few months and a few trips, I can say that this app is a great user-friendly resource to have in the backcountry.


For more about the app and company, here is a link to their website.