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JasonG

Best Topo app for Android?

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Seems like Gaia and Backcountry Navigator Pro are popular, but what do you use and are you happy with it?

 

I've been using Avenza pdf to look at USGS quads, but I think I'm ready to pay for something with more functionality.

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I use OSMAnd.

 

It uses openstreetmap as its data source instead of USGS topo, and places that see a lot of traffic are better mapped out, but places that are out in the middle of nowhere are often poorly mapped.

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The best one, truly? It was called rmaps.. it is no longer on google play store. There is a version on github https://github.com/xavier-b/RMaps-xavPatch

 

it is free. it allows you to download in unlimited amounts, google terrain and USGS topo/USA topo, along with all sorts of other maps (imagery) and save it for offline access. paired with GPS status https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.eclipsim.gpsstatus2&hl=en

 

and you have a fantastic program for basic navigation. I don't ever really run my phone GPS to record tracks (though I have on day trips), but mostly for acute navigational needs to make sure I'm going over the right rise or drainage, etc...or evaluation in the tent the night before. Anyways that combo works fantastic, GPX can be imported in, tracks can be recorded over, waypoints, etc.

 

 

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elaborate on what you mean by seamless and high resolution. Google terrain is google terrain and USGS is USGS..

 

I recorded a video just now.

My downloaded Google Terrain and USGS. I kinda zoom around and show you what I have available offline. But then I select Google Satellite and start to download a new offline map...

 

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The navigation apps are usually independent of their data source. So you can look at USGS topo maps with Gaia GPS or with RMaps and they'll look the same, or you can look at Google Terrain and they'll look the same. What will differ is the selection of map sources, and the user interface and whatnot.

 

Here's an overview of the different data sources:

 

* USGS topo: probably the best thing there is in the US, great coverage, pretty decent accuracy, and the resolution is good enough. Sometimes things are a little bit out of date. The biggest downside is that it only works in the US. In Canada, we have CanTopo, but it's not as good.

 

* Google Terrain: I don't know where they get it from, but Google has surprisingly good elevation data, and their maps are nicely "hill-shaded". Unfortunately, apart from bodies of water, they have pretty sparse coverage of the backcountry.

 

* Openstreetmap: May appear as other names, comes in a lot of different styles. The best outside of North America, for the most part. The elevation data that comes with this is some form SRTM data, which is pretty good, but it has funny blind spots here and there, particularly on pointy features or sharp notches.

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Thanks for the video. All that was stored on your phone? How much space did it take up?

 

I guess what I'm getting at is that I do all my planning on my home computer and am just looking for something where I can easily download Canadian and USGS map tiles for offline use to take into the field. If its Rmaps or something else, whatever.

 

Just trying to figure out what everyone is happy with. Thanks for the info thus far, will have to check out rmaps.

 

 

Edited by JasonG

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sorry for delayed response. What Alan Trick said is correct more or less imo. I like Rmaps because it is free and only limited by how much space you can spare to download. Theoretically if you have the space you could load down every single USGS to the max zoom and every bit of google terrain for the earth. I am not sure how much space it takes up but the USGS and Google Terrain go to a zoom-level 16. Google Satellite goes up to zoom level 20. As the zoom-level increases each step it takes progressively more space. If you go to 1:42 on my video you'll see to download the entire Wind River Range more or less on google sat, at the max zoom, is 20gigs. Keeping in mind if you have a 64gig phone (ok most don't but..) that's fairly incredible to have all that data offline while in the BC. At zoom level 16 I think I had it going for 5,600 tiles @ 80mb total. What I do for GoogleTerrain and USGS is to download much of North America at the widest zoom and that only takes perhaps 10-200mb depending on if you are doing levels 1-8 or whatnot, and gives very broad wide coverage. Then when for instance I am visiting the Wind Rivers, or Sangre De Christo, or Assiniboine, will download my desired area at max zoom (gterrain/USGS). I am pretty sure the can-topo is accessible through there, and if it isn't might be able to be added..ostensibly there is an online server somewhere hosting it that it can be linked to/downloaded from.

 

The interface is basic and I like that. I just need occasional check-ins to determine location/direction/track, not 'flight by instrument' via my phone.

 

free, maps don't expire, simple interface (to me), and ability to download gterrain and usgs offline with ease makes it worthwhile. PM/ask if you want more detail/help with rmaps.

 

edit: but i do all this from my phone, it doesn't have a computer front-end to do the work and push to the phone, might be a deal breaker if you desire that. It will load GPX and overlay it on the map though..

Edited by Water

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I'm a big fan of Gaia... have used it for 5+ years, and it keeps getting better.

 

If you have the option of external SD card, do it, and then space is not much of an issue... I have all the places I typically get out to in WA downloaded at full resolution with no problem. Gaia is working on the link between computer planning and trip planning... they have a tool that will auto-route you on trails, saving some laborious clicking.... it's not quite there, but the only thing I've seen of its kind. Other than that you can easily shoot over gpx files from any other site (hillmap, caltopo etc) to your phone and they pop right up...

 

I find more than the software, the hardware is the key. I upgraded from an iphone4 to a galaxy s5 recently, and the battery performance and gps accuracy is way better.

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Big fan of Locus maps here. Lots of available maps out there. Sometimes you have to do a bit of conversion work. You can d/l all sorts of online stuff (GE etc) for use later. Make sure you run the Locus maps tweak app to get access to extra sources.

 

Only thing that really bothers me is that it is a multi stage process to mark a waypoint.

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Well, that is what I'm talking about, made by Avenza. I prefer seamless maps for trips where I'm jumping quad boundaries, though for single quads PDF Maps works fine.

 

But maybe you're saying there is a way to look at USGS and Canadian topo quads seamlessly with (Avenza) PDF maps?

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single quad PDF maps? I think those are only available to those with AOL dial-up connections. ZINNNNNG!!

 

I've noted a few of the responses above talking about needing to do conversions etc to use maps... and I need to reiterate how awesome GaiaGPS is... it does cost money, I think $10 (of which I get none) but it basically turns your smartphone into a high end Garmin. Seamless GPS maps. satellite if you want to as well. Get a phone with expandable memory (screw apple) and it's the best thing going!

 

I've noted great performance with my galaxy s5, including picking my way down Muir in a pingpong ball last week... accuracy was within a few feet of our uptrack.

 

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Hey Jason, I've been using a Delorme Explorer with the companion Earthmate app and have been mostly happy with it. If you're in the market for a satellite communicator and SOS button it might be something to consider. I suspect that the free or cheap apps above will cover most of the functionality if you aren't looking for two way comms when you're in the woods.

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Thanks guys. Just due to the ease of use, I'm probably going to get Gaia. It looks pretty sweet and I won't need to fiddle with anything to get it to work well.

 

Jason- I already have a PLB and I'm not looking to get something that I can text with. I did check out the InReach at NSAW and was impressed. I can see why it could be a popular option. But I'm a cheap bastard and don't want to pay the monthly fee....

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I'm on iPhone and love GAIA GPS. I don't use even a fraction of the functions, but it's pretty amazing and has proven VERY useful for cross country travel situations. No more taking the wrong gully, ridge, creek, spur trail, logging road, etc etc. No more troubles finding your way to spots where you've dropped a pin.

 

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If you've already got a "button" then it makes sense to keep the map app simple. I was looking primarily for an SOS button and was swayed by the mapping and com's.

 

It came in handy when Krissy was on the volcano tour in May, I could watch their progress from my desk at work every morning. It was a lot of fun. That said, I think only two messages have ever been sent from our device, one just to try it and one to let me know that Krissy had locked her key in the truck at a TH and that the Delorme battery was dying. The message sent after she plugged the Explorer back in 2 days later.

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