Monday, February 12, 2018

Gear Review: Gaia GPS. A New and Possibly Better Hunting/Hiking Maps App





A few months ago, I was contacted by the developers of  Gaia GPS. (https://www.gaiagps.com). They offered a 3 month subscription for me to download the app and use it everywhere I hunt.  I snapped it up and used it (hunted with it) in South Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Arizona.  In addition, I tested it (called up areas I hunt in these states from the comfort of my living room) in Michigan, Texas, Oregon, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Florida.  

 
Michigan area showing Private and Public (shaded) land

The screen-shot above shows the iPad picture of the app. I use it on an iPhone 7S while hunting. When I get a cell signal, or WiFi, all the data is uploaded across my devices.

Across the top, the first logo shows (when selected) the accuracy of the gps signal, then the ‘take a picture’ icon, expand the screen, layers, more menus, search, find me.  The boxes above the main screen can be personalized to whatever data you want to see.  Below that is the compass heading, selectable between true and magnetic.

Of course, many places I hunt have no cell signal.  In fact, even if there is a cell signal, I will turn my phone to the “airplane” mode to 1) stop all battery killing background operations, and 2) keep the gps running and tracking. If you need the maps while hunting, you can use the available cell system, or download the map ahead of time (like the last spot you know you’ll get service) and use airplane mode and a stored map you create. 

The “layers” icon is the real bonus!  Here is where you’ll find all the cool maps.  

Public Land Layers for Michigan

You can see that I’ve selected Michigan Public land overlay maps. When I hunted there last October, the National Forest maps were readily available. But, there are a gazillion acres of STATE Forest, all huntable, and the maps are not so easily obtainable.  As you can see, it’s all available in the layers. Pretty good cell reception up there, too. (But, don’t plan on it.) 

Once you record a track, you’ll be asked to name it and save it. You can make notes (e.g., shot 4 limits today over Biscuit-eater, or I’ll never hunt with this guy again!)  Then you can view it on the website and your other devices. 

My New Mexico cast with Blue

Here’s a screenshot of a saved track from December 12, 2017.  This is my track (that’s where the phone is), but, in the title, you can see I was running my puppy, Blue.  You can plainly see the roads and that I was on BLM land most of the time and on State Trust Land a portion of the cast. Total distance, time, and climb or descent is also saved. I don’t have it in my notes, but this would be New Mexico.  On the left side of the track is where you’d see notes and any photos I took while on the cast.

I’m not going to hit every detail. I used it on the ground and it worked every time. I’ve only covered 40% of the capabilities.

I could go on and on, but here is the bottom line: I like it better than other apps out there. I just bought another year of Premium Membership ($60). To me this app is the iPhone of the industry- it’s made to work and flow intuitively. If you can’t figure something out, it’s because you’re thinking too hard. It gives me all the layers I need, and plenty of capability.  And, it’s $40 cheaper than other apps!  I know I’ve been a strong proponent of gps apps. This one is in front now and I have it as BUY. Don’t go west without it. 

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