Find out why Alex Roddie awarded Outdooractive ‘best buy’ in his review of digital mapping and apps
At the time of writing most of ViewRanger’s features have now been added to the new app, although the interface is more complex and some features are more difficult to find. The main interface includes the map view, any planned routes or waypoints you’ve added to the special ‘My Map’ mode, and buttons for route discovery, planning, tracking, and ‘My page’ (your social profile on the app, including planned routes). To get a grid ref, you have to tap on a location, then tap through to ‘Details’ to get a list of coordinate formats (OS Grid listed near the bottom). This is much less convenient than ViewRanger’s approach.
For subscribers, the app offers OS mapping at both 1:50K and 1:25K plus comprehensive international maps. Even if a dedicated topo map isn’t available for the country you need, the fallback Outdooractive map has contour lines, paths, and topographic features. You can save sections of any map for offline use or click through to a planned route and then download all the necessary maps for that route. I did encounter a bug while downloading offline maps for a very long (500km+) planned route, but mostly this works well. You can display multiple routes and waypoints simultaneously on the map using the ‘My Map’ mode, but they can’t be colour coded.
Route planning is excellent thanks to a reliable snap-to-path mode that works worldwide. When planning you can see the distance, expected time, and total ascent/descent. The app will also reliably record your walk and you can import and export GPX files (although this needs an internet connection). There’s a large library of community routes you can access, and you can optionally publish your own for friends to use. Other features include Skyline augmented reality (see peaks around you in real time), a 3D preview of your route, and much more. There is a good website for planning on your computer. You can also display a layer showing national long-distance trails.
A few ViewRanger features are still missing, such as more advanced control over points of interest, display of distance to route start/finish, and display of spot heights. However, I’ve been in touch with the team at Outdooractive and have been assured that these features are on their way in future updates.
Outdooractive may not be powerful enough for advanced users with specific needs, such as working with lots of complex GPX files or GPX import/export while offline, but it’s comprehensive, stable enough, and for most users it does everything you’ll need. The cost is also reasonable.