I’ve been using the AllTrails app for several weeks now in preparation for the Dolphin Trail I signed up to later this year. The reason I chose it for my App of the Week is simple; it offers exactly the info I want as a new hiker. Before I get into why it’s my App of the Week, here’s a snapshot.
- AllTrails is available on iOS and Android
- Suited for hiking, biking, bird watching, camping, MTB, etc
- Find spots by location, length, difficulty, etc
- Each listing has pics, reviews and ratings
- Follow community members for a social aspect
- Free to use and there’s a paid AllTrails+ option
There’s a good reason 50 million people are using this app. It is a specialised app for those who want to take up various outdoor activities and easily find things to do. You sign up, and create a profile (or not) and start exploring. The profile page has tabs for your feed, photos, reviews, activities, and completed.
Settings include preferences for units, map type, data source, email updates, details privacy tweaks, etc; and linking to apps like Garmin, Apple Health, and Facebook.
The app can be used on a free basis if you don’t want to subscribe to AllTrails+ though they prompted me several times to try the paid version. The longer you spend time on it, the more often you will see the prompt.
It is simplistic with navigation; you have five tabs: explore, community, navigate, saved and profile. It can be regarded as a graphic heavy app because all the listings show with images.
How I’m using it
As mentioned, I signed up for a multi-day hike and want to train for it. AllTrails lets me create lists, and add hikes to it. I can search by length of hike, and difficulty. This is makes it really simple to start off with easy hikes, and move on to moderate and difficult ones with each month. I also created another list for what others have recommended to me so I can add them to my main list.
But each listing is so detailed. You can see from a snapshot view with a thumbnail what the overall rating is, how many have rated, where it is located, and length. You can also scroll through a carousel of images before going into the list, and add it to your list. I love how well-thought the UX is.
Once you go into a listing, there is even more useful information. It is far superior to Google Maps. There is a description, view of the trail on the map, reviews, images, and how old it is. I love how detailed the reviews are, it tells you things like if the trail is clearly marked, has a coffee shop, how steep it is, and some users share how long it took them (for the age). A lot of these reviews are the deciding factor for me (and my friends).
Zooming into the map
Another thing worth pointing out is the level of detail on the maps, which shows you the route you will cover. You can view it as an AllTrails map, satellite, terrain, road, etc. The elevation gain is also handy when deciding what you’re comfortable with; it’s colour coded too. You can also see surroundings and things like eateries nearby. Honestly, it really helps manage your expectations whether you’re new to this or have been doing it for a while. If you haven’t been to the spot before, it’s super useful.
One other thing worth mentioning when searching, is the amount of filters. Apart from activity, length, suitability (wheelchair, dog, child, pram, paved etc), you can search by most popular, closest, or newly added. The distance from you feature (mentioned below) is part of the paid version. You can also search highly rated hikes, too. But I find this could be subjective based on how fit a person is vs. where you’re at.
There is a 7 day free trail on the paid version, AllTrails+ but I’ve not signed up to it. It offers extras like preview 3D flyovers, offline maps, alerts for wrong turns, find trails by distance from you, unlock more map details, explore ad-free and print maps for back-up. I’m not that into it that I need such features.
I love the app and find it invaluable for the purpose it is intended – finding and saving my hiking trails. I have the option to review and upload pics, which I want to get more into. I love that I can create different lists, save places and check out the reviews and vital info before deciding if it’s worth the hike.
As I ramp up my level of difficulty, it also helps finding spots based on that. I am currently searching easy and moderate hikes around 5-6km, and a month before my adventure, I will switch to finding hard hikes, and perhaps longer ones.
I don’t like how often I’m prompted to upgrade to AllTrails+ the longer I spend time on the app.
Recharged is an independent site that focuses on technology, electric vehicles, and the digital life by Nafisa Akabor. Drawing from her 16-year tech journalism career, expect news, reviews, how-tos, comparisons, and practical uses of tech that are easy to digest. firstname.lastname@example.org