It’s no mystery that Gaia GPS is the best hiking navigation App. But the Next Gen GAIA GPS Hiking App is vastly improved. The new maps are stunningly sharp and legible. It is much faster, and easier to use. And possibly the best feature of Next Gen GAIA GPS is the full line of National Geographic Trails Illustrated Maps. They are most trusted and highly-rated maps for America’s top outdoor destinations.
Lead photo: you get the exact same level of detail and quality on the Next Gen GAIA GPS as on the highly regarded paper versions of National Geographic Trails Illustrated Maps. Better yet, you get ALL the NG TI maps with your GAIA PRO subscription!
Over the past four months I have been testing beta versions (and this release version) of the Next Gen Gaia GPS from the jungles of Columba, the mountains of Cuba, technical canyoneering in Utah, and hiking the BlueRidge Mountains. Here’s my take on the pros and cons of the new version:
Pros – Next Gen GAIA GPS Hiking App
- Addition of National Geographic Trails Illustrated Maps, the most trusted and highly-rated maps available for America’s top outdoor destinations. They give you current trails, distances, and other official park info. Vs. USGS TOPO maps where this info is 50 years out of date or just missing.
- New vector-based maps look sharp and beautiful at every zoom level, with incredible legibility! The new vector map engine is much faster than the old raster-based one. Finally map files are much, much smaller, saving space on your phone.
- Great battery life. In non-tracking mode, I can get 7+ days of average GPS use before recharging. But more impressive, I can even run it in full tracking mode at around 2% battery drain per hour! That means I can generate 4+ days of beautifully detailed GPS tracks before I need to recharge my iPhone. See more detail how to best manage battery life…
- A more intuitive and faster user interface with icon-based top and bottom control bars. (There is also an option to close all menus down to get maximum map area! See screenshot below.)
- Worldwide vector basemap so you are never without at least one map type!
- Powerful search function that allows you to quickly jump to a location like “Yosemite,” or “Half Dome.”
- And a great Trip Stats Bar
For more information see: How to use Gaia on your Smartphone as the Best Backpacking GPS
Cons – Next Gen GAIA GPS Hiking App
- I am not a big fan of the folder management system for maps, tracks and waypoints. It could use huge organizational improvements. I would like an “active folder” function where all new tracks, waypoints, and maps are automatically added to it. And it needs a way to bulk select and manipulate waypoints. Moving them into folders one by one, doesn’t cut it.
- Right now there is no way to completely disable the GPS. Now this is not such a big deal since GAIA only uses it briefly to get your position. And it is extremely battery efficient. But I am sure that some power users, wanting map viewing only, will want the option to disable the GPS.
- If you have a large inventory of maps in the old version, the new GAIA will attempt to automatically download all of them. Many users may be fine with this. Some may want more control to only download a few of their old maps. [A work around: You can stop the automatic download, delete the old maps you don’t want, and then resume the download.]
Important User Tips for GAIA. See: How to use Gaia and your Smartphone as the Best Backpacking GPS
Gaia GPS Website – the new version is iOS only at this point*
- The classic Gaia GPS app (iOS) will no longer be available on the App Store after May 22.
- People can continue to use the classic app with no interruption.
- Existing app users get an extended free trial with the new Gaia GPS. The more recently they bought Gaia GPS, the longer the trial (between 30 days and 2 years free).
- Also, existing users with “GaiaPro” subscriptions from the classic app get access to the new app at no additional cost, including all Premium maps.
* Android Classic GAIA PRO users do get upgrades to include National Geographic, and NeoTrex maps. Not so bad, since the NG Maps are one of the best feature of the upgrade.
The old Gaia GPS cost $19.99 and had an optional $39.99/year GaiaPro subscription. The new Gaia GPS has a free trial, and two price levels.
- For a limited time, the new Gaia GPS app costs $9.99/year for the Member level, or $29.99 for the Premium level.
- The Member Level lets you use the full app, and all but a few map sources – try it free for 7 days.
- The Premium Member Level gives you access to sources like National Geographic Trails Illustrated, hunting data, and other specialized maps.
And if this pricing seems a bit confusing here’s a FAQ on Gaia Pricing, Levels, and Features.
Many Great Maps to Choose From
One of the great strengths of GAIA is the wealth of maps available, free with your subscription. Some of my favorites are:
- National Geographic Trails Illustrated Maps
- MapBox HD Maps – Outdoors, Satellite and Streets (all excellent, and vector-based)
- GAIA Topo (also excellent vector-based topo maps)
- USGS TOPO Maps
- Satellite Imagery
- Neotreks topo maps for the US
And a growing line of special and international maps
- Alaska TOPO
- New Zealand TOPO
- A number of international, official country maps for Europe. E.g. France and Spain