Although today's Blogember challenge is to share your five favorite apps, I'm going to have to start with one - I am taking a class at my local REI that starts in an hour! (Have you checked out REI as a resource for learning about exploring the great outdoors?)
MapMyHike+ is a hiking tracker from the same company that produces MapMyFitness, MapMyRide, MapMyRun, MapMyDogwalk, and MapMyRun. (The plus versions of each of these apps are $2.99 for the iPhone; the standard versions are free.) With MapMyHike+, I am able to determine how many miles I hiked, get stats about speed and elevation gain, and refer back to my routes. MapMyHike+ also alerts me throughout my hike when I've reached a new mile mark and lets me know my average speed (cumulative for the hike).
I've used both EveryTrail Pro and MapMyHike+ to log my hikes over the past year; I've chosen to review MapMyHike+ here because it's been my go-to app more lately.
You can name your hikes (as I've done with the 8-mile Lassen Peak hike, below) or leave them unnamed; the app will still save your routes.
Accuracy varies, but that’s not due to the fault of the app itself. Without a GPS booster for your mobile device, elevation and mileage tracking in more remote areas may or may not be totally correct. I have done hikes with EveryTrail and MapMyHike+ running simultaneously, and the results are comparable even in their inaccuracies. For example, the Lassen Peak elevation change seems to be fairly solid. On the other hand, the Upper Yosemite Falls hike is clearly misrepresented in the graph below (although when I showed the graph to Mr. Petite Peaker, he said, "Well shoot, that’s sure what it felt like!"). It was a steep hike, but we weren’t climbing any 90-degree cliff faces! Clearly I lost GPS signal at one point, and it was picked back up at the higher elevation. (And yes, my phone’s battery was depleted before making the return trip!)
In general, I like being able to look back at old routes and see what I’ve accomplished. An app like MapMyHike+ can provide just the right amount of inspiration for going out there and doing what you can. With the option to add comments to individual hikes, I can also mark my favorites and challenge myself to do previously hiked routes with greater speed.
My Lassen Peak hike in MapMyHike+ appears below with my Pinnacles High Peaks hike in EveryTrail Pro beside, for comparison. The latter fell victim to incredibly spotting GPS coverage, but you get the idea.
Everything recorded in the app also syncs with the MapMyHike website, which provides more detailed (and larger-screen!) information and statistics. (See below.) There is also a whole networking side to the app, similar to EveryTrail, which allows you to view others' hikes (and use them as guides if you wish) and share your routes with friends or the public.
The bottom line: Like a food diary, any type of exercise diary can provide motivation for developing healthy habits. If you are a hiker – casual or experienced – I recommend MapMyHike+ for tracking your routes. If you are serious about hiking and do a lot of it in more remote areas with poor cell or GPS signal, you may want to consider purchasing a device to boost your phone’s signal, as any tracking app will record inaccuracies without consistent service.