Planning an off-road adventure in 2024? Whether you’re hiking deep into the backcountry or overlanding across remote terrain, having the right navigation apps can make all the difference.
The top-rated off-road GPS apps for Android and iOS allow you to download detailed offline maps, track your route, access voice-guided turn-by-turn directions, and more – even when outside of cell service.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
- The key features to look for in the best off-road navigation apps
- Reviews of the 10 top-rated options for Android and iOS
- Detailed comparisons of each app’s offline capabilities, maps, routing, tracking, and special features
- Tips for planning your trip and selecting the right navigation app
Let’s dive in and find the perfect app to confidently navigate your next off-grid adventure!
Table of Contents
What to Look for in the Best Offline Navigation Apps?
When you’re miles from any cell tower or wifi signal, your navigation app needs to be ready with robust offline features. Here are the key capabilities to look for:
- Offline maps – The ability to download detailed maps for states, regions, countries, or worldwide for when you lose connectivity. Offline maps should include topographical details, landmarks, trails, and points of interest.
- Voice navigation – Voice-guided, turn-by-turn driving or walking directions that continue to work offline. Audible navigation is especially helpful when you can’t glance at your phone.
- Trip planning – Build routes complete with multiple stops and waypoints before your trip. Easily customize routes and share trip plans across devices.
- 3D/topo terrain maps – Highly detailed topographical and terrain maps that show landscape contours, elevations, difficulty ratings for trails, off-road paths, and more.
- Tracking features – Record details like distance, speed, elevation, and location coordinates on your hike or overland trip. Share live tracking with others.
- Recreation focus – Maps and features tailored specifically for outdoor activities like hiking, biking, skiing, overlanding – not just basic road navigation.
- Real-time alerts – Get notifications for upcoming turns, speed changes, road hazards, and other warnings to stay safe. Alerts work offline as well.
- Waypoint marking – Drop customizable waypoints and points of interest (POIs) onto maps for easy navigation tracking and trip planning.
- Search tools – Find destinations, trails, campsites, landmarks and points of interest quickly – even without a data connection.
The best off-road navigation apps will include a combination of these key features to guide and orient users anywhere while offline. Let’s look at the top options:
The 10 Best Offline GPS Navigation Apps for Android and iOS
Based on offline capabilities, recreation-focused features, maps, routing, trip planning tools and user reviews – here are the top 10 off-road navigation apps for 2023:
1. Gaia GPS
Gaia GPS consistently ranks as a top pick for hikers, backpackers, and other outdoor adventurers thanks to its world-class topographical maps and robust feature set.
With Gaia GPS, users can download detailed topographic hiking and cycling maps worldwide down to 1:24,000 scale – including trail networks, landmarks, and unlimited offline access.
Beyond just maps, Gaia GPS packs in a full set of useful backcountry features:
- Plan routes with elevation profiles to assess hike/bike difficulty
- Track your progress with GPS position and save trails
- Build and share custom maps with layers like weather and cell coverage
- Access 500,000+ curated POIs like campsites, trails and local tips
- Use waypoint tracking to easily navigate long routes
- Record stats like distance, speed, elevation gain and more
With access to global topographic hiking maps and advanced outdoor-focused tools, Gaia GPS is arguably the most full-featured option for off-the-grid adventures.
2. Polaris GPS Navigation
Specifically built for off-road driving and overlanding, Polaris GPS Navigation uses a database of over 300,000 miles of OHV and snowmobile trails across the United States and Canada.
With Polaris GPS Navigation, users can:
- View trails by vehicle type – ATV, UTV, snowmobile, etc.
- See trail difficulties – from easy green circles to extreme black diamonds
- Navigate turn-by-turn with voice guidance
- Track your route and save trails from each outing
- Access trail maps, hazards, openings and closures
- Download maps for offline access when remote
Whether tackling muddy ATV trails or charting a path through snow-covered forests, the trail-focused maps and robust offline access from Polaris GPS Navigation make it a top pick for off-road driving.
With detailed offline maps available for 220+ countries worldwide, MAPS.ME is one of the most versatile options for global offline navigation.
The app offers entirely free access to global OpenStreetMap data including:
- Detailed maps down to walking trails and footpaths
- Offline map downloads by country/region with unlimited access
- Turn-by-turn walking and driving directions
- Navigation tools like route planning, search, bookmarks, etc
- 60+ map layers like cafes, hotels, gas stations and more
- Traffic data in 85 countries with hazards, speed limits and more
MAPS.ME delivers a surprising amount of functionality for a free app. For hikers, bikers or anyone planning an international trip, it’s a top choice for offline navigation and trip planning worldwide.
4. Scout GPS Navigation & Maps
Another favorite for outdoor recreation, Scout GPS Navigation provides a wealth of worldwide topographic, marine, and specialty maps that can be downloaded for offline access.
Key features include:
- Global topographic and public land maps from TomTom
- Turn-by-turn voice navigation and directions offline
- Tools for planning, tracking and sharing trips
- Ability to identify camps and public recreation sites
- Elevation profiles and 3D map views
- Integration with satellite weather and visibility data
Scout GPS excels at custom trip planning for hiking, boating, overlanding and other backcountry travel. With ample global map data and a clean user interface, it’s a flexible choice for offline navigation.
OsmAnd (OpenStreetMap Automated Navigation Directions) is a free, open-source navigation app based on OpenStreetMap data and maps.
All OpenStreetMap map data can be stored locally on your device for true offline access and navigation. OsmAnd offers:
- Worldwide OpenStreetMap mapping data at multiple zoom levels
- Turn-by-turn walking, hiking, biking, and driving directions
- Elevation profiles and contour lines for assessing hike/bike routes
- Unlimited map downloads and offline access
- Navigation alerts, nearby POI search, and trip recording
For hiking, OsmAnd uses specialty maps to provide trail difficulties, downhill and ski maps, contour lines, and land use/cover – perfect for assessing backcountry routes.
Optimized for hiking, mountain biking, road cycling, and other outdoor activities, Komoot is a versatile option to plan sport-specific adventures worldwide.
With a focus on recreation, Komoot provides:
- Detailed hiking and biking maps powered by OpenStreetMap
- Offline region map downloads for Android and iOS
- Turn-by-turn voice navigation tailored for biking/hiking
- Elevation profiles and grades for assessing route difficulty
- Planning tools to map, share and export routes
- Activity tracking with photos, weather, and statistics
- Curated points of interest for hiking, biking, ski tours and more
For bikepacking journeys and long-distance hikes in backcountry areas, Komoot has the specialized maps and features to stay on track.
7. CoPilot GPS
The CoPilot GPS navigation app offers detailed voice-guided turn-by-turn directions, speed limit alerts, lane guidance, and other navigation features that function completely offline.
Users can download highly detailed vector maps for entire states, countries, or terrestrial regions worldwide to access offline, including:
- Street-level mapping across North/South America, Europe, Australia
- Topographical landscape and terrain maps
- 3D map perspectives
- Offline search for millions of restaurants, hotels, gas stations, etc.
CoPilot GPS is optimized for in-car navigation but also works for hiking and outdoor navigation thanks to diverse global map data and robust offline capabilities.
Navigator GPS Navigation & Maps lives up to its name with highly detailed voice-guided turn-by-turn directions, specialized global maps, and a trip planning suite.
The app offers:
- Offline topographic, nautical, and specialty maps worldwide
- 3D terrain maps with landscape visualization
- Lane guidance, speed limit warnings, and voice navigation
- Trip planning and route optimization based on vehicle type
- Global maps tailored to bike/pedestrian/car navigation
With ample worldwide topographic maps, the ability to fine-tune routes for different travel modes, and voice guidance – Navigator is a flexible option for overseas travel and cross-country adventures.
9. Galileo Offline Maps
Trusted across the globe for reliable offline navigation, Galileo Offline Maps offers detailed maps for 150+ countries.
Useful features include:
- Offline topographic and terrain maps for hiking, biking, driving
- Search for destinations and addresses without connectivity
- Turn-by-turn voice-guided navigation
- Create routes with multiple stops and waypoints
- Unlimited use of offline maps once downloaded -AR navigation mode for walking directions
- Global petrol station, parking, hotel and restaurant searches
With extensive worldwide map data, navigation tools, and trip planning features accessible offline, Galileo is a top pick for international travel and exploration.
10. Sygic: GPS Navigation & Offline Maps
Last up is Sygic, providing turn-by-turn GPS navigation combined with downloadable TomTom maps for offline access.
Notably, Sygic offers:
- Detailed 3D offline maps of North/South America, Europe, Australia, etc.
- Voice-guided navigation for driving, walking, and public transit
- Traffic alerts, speed limit warnings, lane changing cues
- Planning tools to set destinations and routes
- Offline search for millions of POIs like gas, food, hotels
- Road trip route optimization by destination and stops
Sygic combines robust offline mapping capabilities with advanced on-road navigation features – perfect for long road trips that go through areas with unreliable cell coverage.
Key Features to Compare
When selecting the best navigation app for your needs, compare the key features that enable off-the-grid use:
- Offline maps – Does the app allow downloading regions/countries/worldwide? How detailed are the offline topographical and terrain maps?
- Navigation – Does it offer turn-by-turn voice guidance offline? Can you set walking, hiking, biking, driving directions?
- Trip planning – Can you map multi-stop routes, build waypoints, set destinations, and share trips?
- Tracking – Does it record hike/ride stats like distance, elevation, speed? Can you export GPX files or share live tracking?
- 3D & specialty maps – Does it have contour, topo, trail and public lands maps? Can you view map perspective in 3D?
- Alerts & Warnings – Do you get offline voice alerts for upcoming turns, speed changes, road hazards?
- Recreation focus – Are the maps tailored to outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, trail use? Or mainly road navigation?
- Search – Can you find local POIs, trails, addresses offline or just online?
Consider where you’ll be traveling, what activities you’ll be doing, and which features are a must-have vs. nice-to-have. This will help narrow down the perfect navigation app for your needs.
How to Pick the Right App for Your Next Off-Grid Adventure?
Here are some tips for selecting an offline navigation app that fits your next trip:
- Identify where you’ll be – If traveling domestically, regional apps like Gaia GPS or Scout may work well. For international travel, MAPS.ME, Navigator or Galileo may have more worldwide maps.
- Consider your activities – If hiking or biking long distances, look for topo maps and recreation-focused apps like Gaia, Scout, or OsmAnd. For overlanding, Polaris GPS has specialized OHV trail maps.
- Check map availability – Make sure the app has offline topographical maps available for your destination(s). Compare map details like trails, landmarks, terrain contours.
- Test offline features – Download an app and map region ahead of time. Disable wifi/data and test voice navigation, search tools, tracking, etc. to ensure it works offline.
- Optimize for your device – If using a wearable or basic smartphone, prioritize apps with clear UIs like MAPS.ME that don’t drain battery. Tablets can handle more robust apps.
- Factor in cost – Apps like MAPS.ME, OsmAnd are free. Others have one-time fees or paid subscriptions. Weigh the cost against extra features.
Doing some quick comparisons and tests beforehand ensures your navigation app is ready to guide your off-grid adventures worldwide!
Go Further – With the Right Navigation App
Whether you’re embarking on a backcountry hiking trip, international bikepacking journey, overland odyssey, or any adventure in between – using an offline navigation app enables you to travel further and with greater confidence.
Being able to download maps for anywhere, access turn-by-turn voice guidance, track your route, search local POIs, and plan multi-stop trips – all without cell service – provides freedom and safety.
No more getting lost! No more losing the trail or path! Just reliable, robust navigation at your fingertips.
The top 10 apps profiled above are leading the way in offline GPS navigation tailored specifically for hiking, biking, overlanding, and other outdoor recreation. Each strikes a balance between in-depth features and ease of use.
So whether you’re planning a weekend hike or an ambitious cross-country road trip – pick the navigation app that fits your destination and activities. Download your offline maps and let the journey begin, technology paving the way!
With unlimited access to detailed offline maps, the ability to track your adventures, and turn-by-turn voice guidance – modern navigation apps open up a world of possibilities. You can travel further while staying right on track.