Global Positioning System (GPS) devices were once expensive devices that were used only by the select few. More recently however this has changed, with Smartphones having GPS embedded, most people now have a GPS device already in their pocket.
Viewranger (http://www.viewranger.com) is a free outdoor GPS app that runs on both Android and iOS, that allows for route discovery, plotting, tracking and navigation all while on the go. There is also a wide selection of free and premium digital maps that can be stored offline from providers such as Ordnance Survey, OpenStreetMap, Bing and many more.
I have been using Viewranger for well over 3 years. My initial reason for using Viewranger was because it allowed me to share my route with my family and relatives, while also letting them know my location while I’m up on the fells on my own using the BuddyBeacon feature.
Plotting my routes with Viewranger is simple thanks to its web based interface. Routes can be plotted, saves and synced to the mobile app all within a few clicks. Routes can also be plotted using the android app, but can be a bit fiddly. There is also a huge selection of free and paid for routes available for you to pre-load, in-case you’d rather someone else did all the hard work.
The track recording facility keeps tab of your route and location while out hiking it can also put key information such as grid references, compass, GPS location, trip distance, speed, estimated time of arrival and distance to end at your finger tips. On completion tracks can then be export or synchronised back with the web based interface.
New features with the Viewranger app also include “Skyline”. Skyline allows you to explore the outdoors using augmented reality. While this is a nice feature and has allowed me to identify several mountains that have eluded my knowledge for many years, the results can be hit or miss and will vary based on the quality of the device and its calibration.
Overall, Viewranger is a great GPS app, providing accurate information about your walk with a wide range of high quality offline maps and an easy to use interface. It can be downloaded from the links below.
WARNING: While GPS devices can provide people with a lot of information easily. They often give a false sense of security. Mountain Rescue are regularly called out by people going walking unprepared. Batteries can and do regularly die, GPS signal can also be easily lost, so please ensure you have other means of navigation also, such as printed maps and a compass (and know how to use it).