Gaia GPS Test Drive

Enjoyed a long weekend at Davis Mountains State Park over this Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. Turns out we did the same thing last year over the same weekend at the same park. Different site. Habits die hard I guess. Looking back over the years it seems to be split between Davis Mountains and City of Rocks State Parks.

Both are pretty remote and contain poor cell phone coverage, if any. Mostly not. Which brings me to the topic of this particular article. Gaia GPS. I’ve been experiencing degrading reliability with my go-to app, All Trails, for hiking. I’ve been a user of All trails since 2015. Subscribed to the pro-version since 2016 to be able to download map data because where we hike there is no cell phone signal. That renders most hiking/biking/running apps useless to me. What do these fuckers think? That we all hike where there will only have reliable cell phone coverage? Some apps, like Map My Run, will not even start up without signal. Ridiculous. My wife gets plenty of aggravation out of that every time.

A particularly useless update about 2 years ago to All Trails made it crash upon opening a large map. I had downloaded the entire area of Lincoln National Forest from Cloudcroft down to below Sunspot, NM. That’s maybe around 25 miles north and south, with a swath of about 10 miles east and west. All Trails became useless at that point. Worked great for a few years prior to this. Since we had no cell phone coverage (which is actually my preference) that means we spent an entire long weekend without being able to use All Trails. Which also meant sticking to known, well marked trails or roads. No cross country hiking. Boo. Upon returning home I made a much smaller map to use and it quit crashing. Back to the large map – crashing again. Currently, it drops map data. I have to switch to another layer and then back to regain visibility of the map I downloaded as well as my progress.

That’s when I made it a point to find another app to rely on. Enter Gaia GPS. Read a lot of nice things about it. Plenty of features I’ll never use. But it did seem to excel at downloading offline map data to use and track my hikes. I like having USGS topographical and satellite maps. So I gave it a shot. A yearly subscription to it was around $50 which included a membership to some other set of online resources that as of now I have no interest in and probably will never use. But hey, it’s the price of admission.

I set up my areas, this time around the entire area of Davis Mountains State Park to include Fort Davis Historic Site. As expected, no signal in the park. The downloaded map populated and the app tracked our progress up the mountain and down into the old fort and back. It does just a good a job at tracking me as All Trails did when it was working, and then some. I like that it not only tells me how much elevation I have ascended, but also descended.

For now, I’m sold on it. Will definitely be using it for the year of the subscription. Meanwhile, I just received an email from All Trails telling me the yearly cost was going up and will renew in February. Fuck All Trails. It has now fallen victim to Cancel (subscription) Society.