Gear we Like: Navigation Apps

The Wndsn flagship Telemeters and Quadrants can do alot of things to help you navigate your way in space and time, like how much distance between Point A to Point B, whether it is to the nearest landmark or to the moon. It can help you determine the time of day without a watch. What these instruments are unable to do is to tell you what street you are on, or navigate from one to another.

Carrying a paper map around may not be the most up-to-date, EDC friendly option, nor can a paper map give the user the resolution necessary to navigate appropriately. Digital Navigational assistance is ever in demand for you, our intrepid explorers. The matter of the Best Navigation Apps was brought up recently in the Wndsn Telegram Chat.

The most popular option world-wide for a variety of applications and the backbone for most map alternatives was OpenStreetMaps for its crowd-sourced information, emphasizing locally derived knowledge. Available on a variety of platforms including Apple and Android, the good news is that if your area has dedicated map nerds, the information tends to far exceed whatever might be found on Apple or Google sourced maps. The bad news is if your area does not have dedicated nerds, then the information is lacking. However, this gives you the user the potential to develop skills and resources and support the community.  OSM are often updated in real time whenever natural disasters are occurring and have been used in many other humanitarian contexts.  There are customisable themes for your specific area of interest, including the latest one, #HailHydrant.

The backcountry adventurer or professional living in the US and Canada, will find Caltopo supreme. Caltopo takes a base layer map and allows the user to build more information to be added on top, and allow customizable stacking of additional layers as needed by the user.

Caltopo is looking to add much information as they operationally can manage, and have partial information for Norway, Finland, Sweden, and less information for Iceland, Mexico, and New Zealand with Australia to be added soon.

The Urban or Light Trail Explorer will find useful, with its app available on Android and IOs. The maps are based on OSM that downloads to your phone and has the potential for much greater detail on amenities in a city, as well as its own wallet and token if you are crypto inclined. You can share your routes with friends!

For those driving, or looking for a Google Maps alternative, HereWeGo rated high, with its GDPR compliance, real-time traffic information, and large Points of Interest database. It was developed first by Nokia after buying out some lower startups in the early 00s, and has been commercial owners in Audi, BMW, and Daimler. It is as close as you can get to Google Maps and still maintain privacy.  All timestamps used for navigation are deleted when you finish your session. The one noted downside is the maps are not as up to date as Google. HereWeGo also has an offline component for travelers.

Have a beloved item that is crucial to your kit that you think the world needs to know? Submit your review to, subject line: Gear we Like, following the format linked here.

Gear we like