Best Over-Landing Navigation Tools
Overlanding is all about the journey, am I right? Getting lost and discovering new areas is what we live for. But what if you get lost, and can’t find your way back home? Not knowing where you have ventured off to and not being able to map yourself back on track can become extremely frightening. Most over landers/off-roaders carry a variety of popular navigation tools from paper maps all the way to digital and SOS devices. These navigation tools are not only to help you stay on the correct trails (or help you navigate off them) but can become useful to you when cell signal is no longer available. Obviously, there is no single product or service that will be the perfect solution for everyone, but it is necessary to own a few great sets of navigation tools for safety reasons. Today we will talk about a few of the top-rated over-landing navigation tools sworn by those who have a love for the outdoors, whether it’s on two wheels or four.
Paper Maps – I know what you’re thinking…but sometimes you have to go a little old school. We are all familiar with the standard Atlas and Gazetteer maps (hello 70’s road trips!) This type of map was once the most popular navigation tool amongst, well everyone. Being that they are made from paper, it can make it a little more difficult to navigate the trails on your own. On the plus side, if you do not have service where you are or your device dies, you’ll always have your handy dandy map. You can find these maps for every U.S. state in pretty much any big box store or even on amazon. They are very detailed with information on the state’s landmarks, national parks, rivers, campgrounds, hunting areas and pretty much every piece of outdoor information you could need.
Google Maps- Can you even use google maps for off-roading? Well, obviously. Google Maps are perfect for your highway travel, but you may run into issues once you decide to venture off the beaten path and lose service. If you plan to go this route, you’ll need to first download the map of area you are traveling to, this way, you’ll have your map whether you have service or not. Now Google Maps may not have every road bookmarked on your map, so this is a good secondary choice if you get lost.
Gaia GPS- I promise, this will be one of your go to apps! The Gaia GPS is an all-in-one navigation app for backcountry travel. This outdoor app allows you to view your location in real time, so you always know where you are on the map. By dropping waypoints to mark trailheads, trail junctions, water sources, favorite campsites, and viewpoints, you’ll be able to stay on track with the Gaia GPS. The features on this app are endless – it was designed to be an all-encompassing app for off-roaders and over landers alike. Easily record your distance, total ascent, and speed all while keeping track of the trails you have previously been on. It also includes all kinds of data you will need to know for camping, including information about whether an area is public or private land and even what the weather will be like. I will say that my favorite feature this app provides to us is the community sourced information, that gets updated in real-time with information based on what other users say.
Topographic Map- A topographic map shows how the ground is shaped and provides a way to calculate the height and depth of the features on the map. This can be extremely useful when planning your outdoor adventure. For instance, if you check out your trail map on a topographic map, you’ll be able to determine the elevation and make an educated decision when heading in that direction. Topographic maps show the heights of features a variety of ways, including contour lines, relief, and color. You can also count on this map to also show other kinds of geographic features, such as roads, railroads, rivers, streams, lakes, boundaries, place or feature names, mountains, and much more.
Ultimately, after much research, we decided to use the all-encompassing Gaia GPS app for a multitude of reasons, and one being that it can be used offline or online, in conjunction with the paper map. (Just in case) We are ready to see what this app can do for us! Until then, see you out on the trails.