Whilst in El Chalten and Bariloche I knew we wanted to do hikes. Over the 4 days of hiking, I used a combination of apps to help us enjoy our hikes. I’ve listed the 3 below and described what I liked about each of them.

My requirements were:

  • Trail discovery. I wanted to find the best trails and maximise our time.
  • Downloadable maps. I wasn’t sure I’d have any network coverage
  • Works on both iPadOS and iOS. I wasn’t going to take my laptop with me. Planning on the iPad is easier than on the phone.

My requirements didn’t include navigation or recording since my Garmin Instinct series 2 would cover this.

Gaia GPS

App Store link

Gaia Screenshot

Gaia has the prettiest maps out of the three apps I tried. I downloaded maps for El Chalten, El Calafate, and Bariloche. Whilst the UI for downloading was clunky, it worked. Gaia offered an iPadOS version and a web version for its maps.

I found Gaia easy to use and reliable during hikes. It was easy to figure out which turns to take, and how much of our hike was left.

I ended up paying £51.90 for 12 months of access to their mapping.

All Trails

App Store link

All Trails Screenshot

Whilst Gaia had beautiful maps, All Trails helped us decide where we wanted to go. They have lots of trail reviews and pictures.

Unfortunately, All Trails doesn’t offer an iPadOS version and for that reason chose Gaia GPS over All Trails for downloading maps.

All Trails is an App Store Award-winning app, winner of the iPhone App of the Year. I can see why, the app has a great UX.

Garmin Explore

App Store Link

Garmin Explore Screenshot

I wish I had discovered this app before our vacation. The maps themselves don’t look as good as either All Trails or Gaia, but the necessary detail is there. And it’s free.

Its killer feature is the tight integration with my Garmin Instinct. During an active hike activity on the watch, I could open Garmin Explore, find a destination on a trail, Garmin Explore would create the course, sync it to the watch and start navigating. Seamlessly. Then I could see ETA, estimated time remaining, and ascent remaining on my watch without having to take my phone out of my pocket. It worked great.

Garmin Explore has an iOS and iPadOS version. It’s available on the web via explore.garmin.com The maps are downloadable by region, so it’s easy to download everything you need before hitting the trails.