Tag Archives: apps

Bushwalking Equipment | Can I Really Do Without a Smartphone?

As a bushwalker, can you afford not to own a smartphone? Which smartphone apps can replace dedicated equipment? What are the limitations?

Over the last few years technology has made smartphones invaluable to bushwalkers, replacing many of the devices, which previously had to be bought and carried individually.

Probably the first device carried by bushwalkers to be incorporated into the iPhone was the still and movie camera. Today’s smartphone has a high quality camera which can take video and stills, including panoramas, mark each with the location at which the photo was taken, and then upload it to the web using wifi or mobile (cellular) data.

Next, the GPS became available, allowing routes to be mapped live, waypoints determined and marked, and distances accurately determined. Recently, apps which allow the viewing of calibrated digital maps have become commonly available, and some apps now incorporate the navigation features found in a dedicated GPS. High resolution colour screens make viewing these maps and navigational features easy. Modern smartphones have built-in compasses which can be calibrated and are accurate enough for the day walker, but not accurate enough for bearings over long distances.

Then high quality heart rate sensors came on the market which could pair with a smartphone, initially using a “dongle” plugged into the earphone socket but more recently using low energy interference-free Bluetooth.

Some apps even use the smartphone camera and built-in light to measure blood flow pulses in a finger, without the need for an independent sensor. Fitness training had become more scientific!

The next advance was the ability to measure heart rate variability (HRV) (see previous post), using the powerful analysis capabilities of modern smartphones. Initially measuring HRV was only possible with expensive laboratory based equipment, but soon Polar had incorporated this ability into some of their top-of-the-line wrist computers. In the last few years, this technology has migrated to the smart phone, allowing bushwalk training to be fine tuned.

Bush walkers visiting remote areas often feel the need to take emergency devices with them to obtain help if an emergency occurs. We are all familiar with personal location beacons (PLBs) which can transmit a message, including location, to an overhead satellite, and from there to emergency rescue services.

SPOT gen3 s can send a message via satellite to your emergency contacts or to the same rescue service. Version three is much better functionally according to the reviews, but has a more expensive subscription.

Recently smartphone apps (GetHomeSafe) have become available which can send an SMS or email, if a bushwalker fails to return on time, without the need for any action by the “injured” or “lost” person or instantly in a critical emergency to a contact list or even rescue services directly, including the current location, participant details and a route plan. “You don’t need a working phone (be within range) or even to be be conscious for an alert to be sent.”

Bush walkers on day walks and within range of a mobile tower, up to 70 km from a high enough vantage point, can add weather and tide apps  and the ability to visualise routes or places in 3D using Google Earth.

We now have GPS, fitness, navigation, mapping, emergency notification and weather services available at low cost in the one device! The only problem is a lack of battery capacity, but even this can be overcome to some extent with a solar charger.

What is next?
How do you overcome these limitations?
Where will the future take us?

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Bushwalking Fitness | Pt 3 My Choice of Smartphone Apps for Fitness Training

Which apps should I choose to monitor my fitness? How should they be integrated? How should I fine tune my training, using the data collected?

As mentioned in the previous two posts, Part 1 and Part 2, technology incorporated into the smartphone and low cost, high quality apps now enable bushwalkers to monitor their fitness and training program in a way previously only achievable by elite athletes working in an  exercise laboratory. Both of these posts should be read as they provide necessary background for this post.

To maintain a high level of fitness, the bushwalker needs to be able to

Many of these can also be monitored by advanced wrist computers incorporating GPS and heart rate monitors, but these usually lack the versatility of a smartphone.

Measuring Personal Fitness

Polar Beat has an in-app purchase which allows your to do a Fitness Test (see previous post for more details) which you can then match with VO2max norms for your age and gender. This should give  similar results to the values produced by Polar OwnIndex® found in many of the high-end Polar wrist computers, but I have found them to be about 5 points lower.

iThlete, BioForce HRM, and HRV4training use HRV as an indicator of fitness, with higher values indicating higher fitness levels. I am currently trialling both iThlete and HRV4training and may continue with both, as they offer slightly different but important features.

iThlete enables you to log important “environmental” factors such as sleep, fatigue, training load, muscle soreness, stress, mood and diet and check for correlations with HRV scores. HRV4training automates the HRV measuring process, giving the option of lying down or standing or both. If this option is chosen, the difference between standing and lying down is automatically calculated and can give valuable information about fitness, as the difference increases with fitness.

Logging Training Sessions

Precision Pulse HRM monitors, HRaverage and HRmaximum, kCal burnt, and training load, as measured by an objective TRIMP score, determined by time in each training zone and heart rate. Without this knowledge, training loads become rather subjective, especially if there is variation in the type of activity, volume and intensity, and therefore affect the reliability of the HRV data.

I have been using Walkmeter ( Apple) for about 5 years and find it to be an excellent app for maintaining a log of your training sessions, including GPS location, Activity, Route, kCals, Heart Rate, Elevation climbed and Duration, which can then be graphed and mapped or viewed live. Most importantly it is very user friendly, making excellent use of the remote controller on the earplug to control start/stop, playing of motivational music and user defined voice announcements such as pace, time, progress in relation to worst, medium, best previous times for the route. This means you don’t have to take your iPhone out of your pocket to control the app. It has the ability to automatically stop if you are stationary for more than a user defined duration, which is very handy. All of this information can be shared live using social media, if you are so inclined.

Polar Beat offers some of the above features  such as measurement of distance, calories, speed, heart rate, and provides voice announcements and map location,  but appears to be not yet fully developed. It does however integrate well with the Polar website.

Planning Future Training Sessions

Both iThlete and HRV4training provide bushwalker friendly advice about the day’s training session by relating  the morning’s heart rate and HRV measurements to previous days.

Careful analysis of data provided by Walkmeter, such as average and maximum heart rates, time in each training zone, and duration in relation to previous times, can provide a limited guide, but lacks the predictive ability of the first two apps..

Social Media and Web Integration

Many fitness apps allow social media integration with Facebook and Twitter, and may allow upload to a proprietary website, for more detailed analysis.

Related posts

Bushwalking Fitness | Pt 1 Smart Phone Apps to Fine Tune your Bushwalk Training
Bushwalking Fitness | Pt 2. Using a Heart Rate Monitor and a Smartphone to Measure Fitness Variables

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Bushwalking Fitness | Is stretching a waste of time?

Is static stretching a waste of time? Does static stretching before exercise prevent muscle soreness and injury? Can static stretching beforehand reduce power during a bushwalk?

With a couple of  almost 3000m Canadian mountains (Mt.Begbie near Revelstoke and Mt Tupper near Roger’s Pass) to climb in September, and with the festive season having played havoc with my fitness, I have again made my annual New Year’s resolution to improve my fitness.

Mt Begbie, Revelstoke (© goldenscrambles.ca)
Mt Tupper, Rogers Pass (© Selkirk Mountain Experience)

My usual weekly keep-fit regime involves 3 or 4,  45 – 60 minute walks on rugged and hilly tracks near my home, interspersed with a Pilates class or two, and as I approach a major bushwalk/climb, 1 or 2 bushwalk-specific weight resistance sessions at my local gym. In hot weather, I cool down after  my morning walk with a 1 km swim.

While annual gym fees are substantial, cutting back on my wine consumption by a glass a day, more than pays for the cost! This training schedule may seem excessive to some, but I’ve found that to enjoy a bush walk, and in some cases a 10-12 hour day with a heavy pack, that a high level of fitness is needed. As I get older, it takes more effort to reach and maintain the same level of fitness.

Training Route, Brownhill (3.83 km)

I find that, as I usually train on my own, I need some incentive to improve and for this I  use the highly regarded iPhone app Walkmeter which enables me to compare my times from walk to walk and from stage to stage within the walk. It even allows me to select background music with appropriate BPM (beats per minute) and gives me feedback throughout the walk as to how I rate compared with my best, median and worst times at key points ( see map above) along this route. All of these statistics, including calories burnt, can be viewed online , exported to Google Earth (kml or gpx files) or shared with your training partner.

As I have been noticing a little calf muscle soreness during these walks, I thought I would investigate if a stretching regime could help. To my surprise, I found that the benefits of stretching were rather controversial.

Researchers Robert Herbert, Ph.D., and Marcos de Noronha, Ph.D. of the University of Sydney conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 10 previously published studies of stretching either before or after athletic activity. They concluded that stretching before exercise doesn’t prevent post-exercise muscle soreness. They also found little support for the theory that stretching immediately before exercise can prevent either overuse or acute sports injuries.  (When to Stretch – Experts Recommend Static Stretching After Exercise ©2013 About.com. All rights reserved.)

Part 2 of this post outlines a bushwalk training session which has been designed for me by a professional trainer and includes a warm up with dynamic stretches, training walk, and a cool down including static stretches.

Other Bushwalk Fitness related posts (9)

Bushwalking Fitness
Bushwalking Fitness | Stretches for Bushwalkers
Bushwalking Fitness | Planning a Bushwalk Training Session

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iPhone App Review | Tide Prediction

Have you ever wanted to a walk safely along a beach, across a tidal estuary or around a rocky headland? Well of course you could check the BOM website from home before you left, but what if you had forgotten and only had your iPhone with you?

Sometimes knowing when high tide is going to be can be critical to planning a safe bushwalk. There are many locations where part of the walk will be along a beach, around a headland or across a tidal estuary. Often the guide book will warn that if the tide is high you must take and alternative inland route or even camp and wait for the next low tide. Being caught on an exposed headland as the tide advances is not much fun.

In Australia, I have used this information to safely plan walks along the Great Ocean Walk in South West Victoria and along the South Coast Track in Tasmania.

The following list of iPhone apps includes one that is actually a weather app which includes tides as one of its features.

AU Tides Pro

AU Tides Pro Screenshot

Contains downloaded database for 2010-2012, which means you don’t need to be connected to the internet

World Tides 2012

Contain downloaded database for 2012 only, which means you will need to buy a new version at the end of 2012. This app only allows access to tide predictions 6 days ahead. World Tides uses the Simply Harmonic Formula and harmonic constants provided by the UKHO to give 7 day tide predictions without the need for an internet connection. Features: Moon/Sun Rise/Set times, large slidable tide graph, recent locations, built in zoomable map, gps sensor, search, and details page. 

Pocket Weather AU

Pocket Weather screen shot

I have used this as my weather app for over a year and don’t see the need for an additional tide app. It does need internet access which makes it useless in remote areas, unlike the other three which actually download the tide database. Weather is sourced directly from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) – an Australian Source for Australian Weather! #1 Weather Application in Australia, Best Australian App winner, Staff Pick in iTunes Store many times –

Shralp Tide (FREE)

Shralp Tide Screenshot

No network connection is required, so you can check anytime, anywhere. ShralpTide displays the current tide along with the high and low tides for the current day and the next 4 days. Includes an INTERACTIVE FULLSCREEN TIDE GRAPH in landscape mode. Turn the device on its side then touch the screen to see the tide at any time in the 24 hour window. Shralp Tide does not include all of the tide stations in the world. It has good coverage of the US and Canadian coasts as well as Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Beyond that there is spotty coverage of international locations.

The benefit of an iPhone tide app is that the calculations are done automatically for you if you select one of the non-standard ports. Of course, your iPhone probably has a GPS, in which case the app will work out what is the appropriate location on which to predict your tides.

You can of course use the Bureau of Meteorology’s tide predictions available on their website, which are based on a series of “standard ports” around Australia. In Tasmania, Hobart is one of the five standard and one secondary ports with calculated tide predictions available. Time differences for a limited number of other secondary ports are provided so you can work approximate tide times yourself by adding or subtracting the time difference.( see map below)

From BOM

I don’t know the technical side but my iPhone app Shralp Tide gives the following for Wednesday 28 December for the first high tide.

  • Maatsuyker Island (south of the bottom of Tasmania) high tide at 1.31 am as 0.69m
  • Hobart: high tide at 12.34 am of 1.05m
  • Bramble Cove : HIgh 3.17 am 0.78m

Bathurst Harbour is not listed nor Port Davey; you must use Bramble Cove.

BOM Tasmania gives Hobart as the nearest standard port and lists tides at secondary “ports” as a time difference from Hobart

Hobart HIGH at 1:02 AM 1:07m

  • Maatsuyker Island +0:25 H:M
  • Bramble Cove, near Port Davey is -0:48 H:M
  • Hobart 0:0

Using these differences the iPhone app gives a pretty close estimate except for Bramble Cove which seems to be way out!

PS Don’t forget to allow for daylight saving if not done automatically by the app.

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iPhone Apps for Bushwalkers Revisited

It’s over a year since I began reviewing iPhone apps for bushwalkers. During this time I have tried hundreds and found that I only use a few regularly.

While there are hundreds of iPhone apps useful to bushwalkers and growing every day, what you personally find useful is determined by your past experience, the type of walking you do, your interests,  and your willingness to be dependent on high tech devices.

After trying most, I regulary use only a few of these. On bushwalks, my choice will vary as it is dependent upon on the duration of my walk, and hence how important it is to save battery power,  and upon how much non-walking time I will have available.

My iPhone Apps

Navigation: Bit Map, Declination, Maps, Google Earth, Compass
Field Guides: Good Reader, BooksApp, Kindle, Aus. Birds (Morecomb), Field Guide Fauna Museum Victoria, Bird in Hand, WhatBirdNZ, Wikipanion, MyEnviro, FrogLog
Bushcraft / Survival : KnotsGuide, SASSurvival, Knots, GoneTrekking
Camp Food: Jamie Oliver’s Recipes, Poh’s Kitchen, Nigella Quick (….LOL)
Fitness: Walkmeter, Beat Monitor, Cadence, iHandy Level
Weather: Pkt Weather, Rainspotting, Clouds, iBarometer, ShralpTide, Clouds,WeatherNZ
Travel: Frequent Flyer, Webjet, Plane Finder, Lonely Planet, Trip Advisor
Astronomy: Star walk, Star Guide
NZ: WeatherNZ, WhatBirdNZ, SnowReports
Photography: Flickr
Medical: Elastoplast, MediProfiles, St John NZ

Disclaimer: Navigation using your iPhone always needs to be backed up with a compass, map and a dedicated GPS. 

I have written reviews of many of these iPhone apps previously in this blog, several articles about how to use iPhone apps in general while bushwalking, and detailed articles which focus upon iPhone apps for navigation, fitness and NZ.


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Bushwalking Fitness | Pt 4 Motivate Yourself to Train by Monitoring Fitness Levels

How do you motivate yourself to do daily exercise and maintain the fitness levels so necessary for multi-day bushwalks in mountainous terrain? How can you monitor your fitness and see the improvement?

 I have just come back from two weeks in NZ, one week of which included carrying a 25-30kg pack with all my mountaineering gear, in addition to my normal bushwalking gear and food up and down 2400m high mountains. I am glad I spent almost a year getting fit, because with early starts (4.30 am) and long days (11 hours) pushing knee deep through soft snow, not only was strength needed, but also endurance.

My strongest motivator was to monitor my weight and fitness levels on a daily basis and seek inspiration from the long term trends, using a combination of my smartphone training app (iPhone Walkmeter), body composition monitor (Tanita InnerScan), and Polar wristwatch fitness test. In addition, I joined my local gym, when they had a special discounted rate, and they monitored my attendance, sending me an email or phoning when I missed too many sessions. I was able to see progress during these sessions too.

My Walkmeter iPhone app has been used by me on almost every training walk I have done over the last year. It has enabled me to set up training routes and see the improvement in my times over the year. I love the way it speaks to  me during the session and tells me how I am going compared to my best, median and worst efforts on the route, or if I wished, other “competitors” at regular intervals along the walk. My competitive spirit soon had me trying to beat my best! When I repeated the route, it enabled me to compare lap times or perhaps just record times at intermediate stages eg my turn around point. If I wanted to share my progress on Google Maps with others I could have used email, Facebook or Twitter to update them every few minutes and receive feedback.

Walkmeter iPhone app main screen

The main screen can be customised. Mine currently shows

  • Route name
  • Activity: walk, cycle, run etc
  • Walk Time
  • Distance
  • Speed
  • Time remaining
  • From best
  • Remaining distance

At the bottom of the screen, there are buttons for

  • Stopwatch: the start up screen
  • Map: uses Google maps and your inbuilt GPS
  • Calendar: with icons showing whether it was your best, median or worst time. This shows summaries* on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis.
  • Routes: shows history of time and speed and a leaderboard
  • Graphs: speed and elevation
  • Zones: monitor heart rate, bike speed and cadence with sensors
  • Remote control: using your audio cord buttons
  • Competitors: import your competitors or training partners data
  • Twitter, Facebook and email updates

* Summaries show: Count, Total distance, Total walk time, Total ascent and descent, Total calories, Average walk time, Average walk distance, Average speed, Fastest speed, Average calories, etc

Tanita Innerscan Body Monitor

My Tanita Innerscan has enabled me to monitor my weight on a daily basis and at the same time using the electrodes built into the base plate to measure Weight, Body Fat %, Body Water %, Daily Caloric Intake, Metabolic Age, Bone Mass, Muscle Mass, Physique Rating, and Visceral Fat Rating.  I have found the Metabolic Age to be the most useful, as this measurement has  correlated well with my fitness level measured using my Polar wristwatch. You must measure at the same time each day to achieve comparable results.

During the year, my metabolic age went from 44 years to 35 years, my weight from 82 kg to 77 kg, and  my body fat % from 21.6  to 18.2. I found these results a pleasing confirmation that my training sessions were achieving what I had hoped.

My Polar wristwatch was used initially to monitor my heart rate to make sure that I was exerting myself enough to improve my fitness. It soon revealed that walking on the flat, even at my maximum speed, was not going to improve my fitness much, so I was soon climbing the hills nearby. Without realising the inadequacies of training on the flat, I would  never have achieved my goals.

Initially I set up the in-built programs to decide my training program and monitor my fitness, but soon found that I could not customise the programs sufficiently to match my training sessions, which were largely determined by my immediate environment ie steep roads, hills climbs with steep descents, and flat walking tracks.

Its most valuable feature was its ability to detemine aerobic fitness (VO2) levels to a high degree of accuracy, but simply attaching the heart rate monitor and resting for 5 mins, while it did some sophisticated analysis. Reading the literature shows that the readings it provided closely correlated with those measured by highly sophisticated laboratory testing equipment.

Over the year, my fitness level, as measured by my Polar watch, went from 46 to 52 (VO2 ml/kg/min) which meant that I had improved  from that of an elite 50-59 year old to that of an elite 20-29 year old. Great positive reinforcement!

The training sessions and the pain had all been worthwhile!

WARNING:  Try to make the speed at which you are walking as realistic as possible (3-5 kph) by gradually increasing the weight you are carrying as you get fitter. Walking at too high a speed produces unnnatural leg and arm actions which can lead to soreness and don’t really help your fitness. I monitored my speed using Walkmeter and whenever it got too high or plateaued I added some more weight.

Eight additional  fitness posts available in this blog

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Bushwalking Fitness | My Bushwalk Training Music

To be able to successfully train for bushwalking using background music, you must first select music with a range of suitable BPM and then be able to vary the BPM depending on terrain. Find out how to do this, get some iPhone app recommendations and my iTunes playlist.

Firstly it is important to realise that choice of music  for bushwalking training is a very personal matter. Everyone’s playlist will be different and depends on their age and musical upbringing. Mine covers pop, country, metal, R&B, reggae, but mainly rock from the 60’s to the present.

While I may like the drum beat of a rock band, someone else might like the trombone of a Bavarian oom-pah band to pace themselves. For others, the regular beat of a metronome may be sufficient.

The essential selection criteria for me were:

  • enjoyable
  • distinctive beat
  • suitable range of BPM ( beats per minute) for my hilly terrain

I have published my iTunes Bushwalk Training playlist (80-140 BPM) so you can check out my choices by playing a short clip.

This playlist is for use during bushwalk training over hilly terrain, with walking speeds between 2 – 7 km/hr. Music tracks were selected because they had a distinctive beat (BPM) between 80 and 140 and because I had the songs already. They cover pop, country, metal, R&B, reggae, but mainly rock from the 60’s to the present.

I used MIxMeister BPM Analyser (Mac), Beat Monitor and Cadence Run DJ (iPhone apps) to select suitable music. Remember that the first section of many tracks has a different BPM than the remainder, so the first 30 seconds may not be a good guide.

Read other related articles on bushwalking fitness.

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Bushwalking Fitness | Using Music BPM to Maintain Your Training Rhythm and Intensity

Find your training regime is a little too boring? Want to train to music but don’t know how to select suitable music? Not sure what BPM ( beats per minute)  you need?

Many people enjoy walking while listening to music but I must admit I have seldom felt the need. I enjoy looking around, listening to the birds and enjoying the solitude or chatting with fellow walkers.

Now for serious training, I have recently changed my mind. When I am struggling up and down my local “mountains” carrying a 15 kg pack,  I need all the assistance I can get to stay focussed and keep in rhythm.

To do this, requires careful selection of the music; just any old music won’t do, even if it is my favourite rock genre. There is no point listening to music which has a slower rhythm than that of your walking or is so fast that you can’t keep up and lose rhythm.

Fortunately there is low cost ( FREE) software available for your computer and iPhone which allow you to analyse your favourite music and work out the beats per minute (BPM). Once you know this you can select suitable music for each of the stages of your walk eg slower uphill , medium on the flat, and faster downhill.

Selecting the right BPM depends on the slope you are walking along not just your speed eg 5 km/hr along the flat will have have a different number of paces per minute than 5 km downhill, since your stride length will vary. It is of course possible to walk fast on the spot.

While there are guides available the final decision will depend on your preferences, how your walk, whether you use poles, and the terrain. Analyse some of your favourite music and then arrange the music by BPM before transferring to your iPod or smart phone. Then as you walk skip from track to track until you find a suitable BPM. Back at home, group similar tracks with the same BPM together as playlists, named 80-99, 100-119, etc. When you are walking you can then swap between playlists as the slope varies or you wish to change the intensity of your workout.

Alternatively, use a pedometer for each stage of your walk to determine steps per minute
 and select appropriate music from your list. Even better, use an iPhone app Cadence to select suitable BPM from your play list without needing to group them at all and easily up or down the BPM to suite the terrain or intensity.

If you search the Web you can find playlists available for download for walking, jogging and running, but there is nothing that compares to your own music.

Next time: selecting suitable genres for training, and some of my selections.

See related fitness posts

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Bushwalking Navigation | How to Choose the Best iPhone GPS App

Which navigation features do bushwalkers need?  Which features do a selection of the iPhone GPS apps have? How do you decide which of the iPhone navigation apps suits you best?

 There are thousands of navigation apps for the iPhone, but only a small number are designed for non-motorists. From these I have selected just a few supporting the iPhone’s built in GPS and compass sensors which could be suitable for the needs of bushwalkers, trampers and hikers. I was going to eliminate those that only use lat/long for locations or don’t have metric units, but there are many friends who read these blogsand who live in the USA.

You should make your choice based upon your intended use, not on the number of features available, as often compromises need to be made by developers to fit in more features. Better to have a few key features fully developed and easy to use, than a multitude of features which are very limited in their capabilities.  Key deciding factors will be whether you wish to share your bushwalking with others via the web, whether you want to plan your hike using complementary desktop software and sync with your iPhone later and whether you really only want to view maps and need a limited set of GPS features.

Free versions of apps are often available which allow you to test features before purchasing and this option should be fully explored. Beware of seemingly low priced apps that require you to purchase each additional map or pay to use their integrated website. Some apps may initially seem expensive, but come with a full quota of high quality 1:50K topo maps preloaded.

A few of the most frequently mentioned iPhone navigation apps in bushwalking/hiking /tramping circles are

Which are the features that the ideal bushwalk navigation app could possess?

Disclaimer: The accuracy of the data in the table below is limited by the quality of the information supplied by the developer and, if critical, should be checked by emailing Support at the address above.

Features MapApp NZ Mud Map Bit Map Motion X GPS Memory Map
Offline Map Viewer, with fast scrolling and zooming
Ability to load, tile and show maps in a large number of formats


• #5
Display current position centred on map and share in realtime
• No


Display position coordinates in UTM and lat / long
• #4
Support metric units
Show tracklog (route taken) and allow trackback.
Create and edit waypoints and link to form routes
Import/export waypoints, tracks and routes (multi format)
Share routes and waypoints via email, the web or Twitter
View SOG, VMG, distance to and bearing to waypoint.
Show current speed, max speed and time to destination
Use compass to give current heading (course)
Display total ascent /descent and gradient graphs for a route
Live speed and altitude graphs.
Show sunrise / sunset and tide times
Placename index for searching
Voice announcements of user specified data
Desktop software which syncs with iPhone
Geotag waypoint and integrate photos taken along route
Background track logging with low battery consumption
Multitask with audio and phone
Search | GoTo
Links from POI to Wikipedia
1 Limited access to topo maps for Australian bushwalking areas
2 Topo50 NZ maps included in purchase price. One app for north island and one for south island, containing all NZ 50K maps
3 Topo50 maps for NZ are available free of charge but you need to buy additional maps for Australia eg iTOPO 1:250,000 maps (4×4 and Outback touring) • Westprint Outback maps (4×4 and Outback touring) • Gregory’s touring maps (4×4 and Outback touring) • Melway Street Directories• VicMap  1:25K
4 Lat / long only hence useless for bushwalkers but may be great for hikers.
5 Can acquire maps, .kml, .kmz, zip, by email. Can use OziExplorer  maps or scanned and calibrated maps
6 Limited access to USGS maps. Additional maps for a fee.Time limited Demo period on most maps to see if it is the map you want to buy and keep.


Unfortunately for trampers and bushwalkers there does not seem to be any ideal GPS app for the iPhone which also allows the use of high resolution uploaded maps. Either the maps available are of insufficient quality or if they are suitable then the GPS has limited features.

  • Bit Map allows the upload of high quality user supplied maps but has only a basic set of GPS features.
  • MotionX GPS has superb GPS features, equivalent of any dedicated GPS, but seems to lack suitable maps for Australian bushwalkers
  • MapApp NZ has superb free maps preloaded but, other than the ability to show current location, has  no other GPS features.
  • Memory Map has limited access to Australian maps but has a good range of GPS features.

Related Postings

Bushwalking Navigation | A Glossary of Frequently Used Terms 
iPhone Navigation and Map Viewer App Review | Bit Map 3 by Nixanz
Review: The iPhone’s Navigation Potential for Bushwalkers and Hikers 
Bushwalking Navigation
iPhone Apps

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iPhone App Review | Rainspotting for Bushwalkers

Ever wanted to know whether you should take a rain jacket on your training run? Should I have an early lunch at the hut we have just reached before the rain hits? Should I put on my rain jacket or do I have time to climb that hill before it rains? Do I need to cool my nuclear reactor artificially or can I wait for the rain? When should I put up or take down my tent?

From iTunes Store

This is a fun application to use and I use it almost daily. Rainspotting will tell you whether rain is approaching, its direction, how fast it is approaching, when the rain should reach your location, how long it will last and its intensity.

From iTunes Store

It does this by interpreting the local weather radar and doing a few calculations.

From iTunes Store

Coverage for most of the Australian population, including capital cities in all states and most of the regional centres, is free but for other locations there is a fee to pay. The app requires an internet connection and uses the iPhone’s location services to send the appropriate data.

Settings include changing the distance from your locations, the units for approaching rain speed and use of colours in the meteorological services profile chart.

Read more about Rainspotting from the iTunes Store.

Related Posts

Plan Safer Bushwalks: Weather Forecasts and Climate Records
Weather and Climate

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