Granted, sometimes you want to get out in the wild to intentionally get lost and be out of touch. But then again, it’s always nice to have at least a hint of where you are going. I get to test a number of GPS and navigation devices, some of which cost hundreds of dollars, but the GPS Topo USA from Gogal Publishing is a simple iPhone (or iPad) app that I’ve taken a shine to because it costs $6.99, and it can be used either online or offline.
On the one hand, you can use it as a GPs navigation device when you are driving to the lake or the river. But because it has 7.5 minute topographic maps included, it can also be used as a field compass, and it shows you your GPS coordinates and altitude. It also shows what the landscape features–for example, it will tell you if that closes path from your parking spot to the river involves hiking down a cliff. You don’t need a cellular connection because topi and road maps can be stored the system. You can also create waypoints by touching the map, or entering them manually.
The real skinny: If you’re going on a serious, hardcore backcountry expedition, you’re going to want to get a satellite unit that’s weatherproof, shock proof, and not just depend on your cell phone. Believe me, it’s worth the money, but you hopefully will never have to find out how valuable that is. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for an app that can help you steer around town, and also help you navigate your boat on smaller lakes, or hike into the park or forest to do some fishing and hunting, and you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg to have something you can easily figure out and trust, GPS Topo USA is a very smart, solid and reasonable option. I’ve found it to be reliable, and I think it’s a good value.