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Trekking in Patagonia: Top 8 iPhone apps

A hiking holiday in Patagonia, the remote expanse of wilderness at the end of the world, used to be a means of leaving all modern technology behind. However, with the advent of smartphones, there is an increasing understanding of how technology can now enhance our enjoyment of our natural surroundings. Like a Swiss Army Knife for the 21st Century, a smartphone equipped with the right apps can replace multiple bulky pieces of equipment, cutting down valuable weight and enabling you to trek further for longer. There is a huge range of apps aimed at the outdoors sports community, especially if you’re hiking in less remote areas of North America. But what if you’re planning a trek in Patagonia, where phone signal is patchy to non-existent and only major roads are marked? Well, we’ve yet to come across an app dedicated to hiking in Patagonia, but in the meantime, here is our pick of best apps for this unique environment.


Gaia GPS appGaia GPS - Offline Topo Maps and GPS Tracker

Top of the list, Gaia GPS for iPhone contains topographic and road maps covering the whole world, setting it apart from the host of other GPS trekking apps that focus solely on North America. Another crucial advantage of this app is that you can download and store maps for the area you’ll be exploring before you set out, for use later on if your mobile signal drops out, making it perfect for isolated Patagonia. The GPS itself is unaffected by phone signal as it works using satellites to calculate your current position, although it is worth noting that it may take a little longer than usual to find you. Gaia lets you record the routes you follow and take geo-tagged photos that are linked to the location in which they were taken, so you can easily share your adventures via social media. It’s also fully customisable, so you can use whichever units you’re used to and change the colours and sounds to suit your taste.

Price - $9.99

iTunes Rating - 3.5 stars


Star Walk appStar Walk

This award winning educational app is fantastic anywhere in the world, but it really comes into its own in starry Patagonia where light pollution is almost non-existent and the wide open spaces give you all-embracing views of the cosmos. It’s not exactly a hiking essential, but if you’re taking your smartphone anyway it’s a fantastic little bonus. Star Walk is part of the ‘augmented reality’ app family, meaning you point your camera at the world around you and the app overlays extra detail on top. In this case, you align the sky above you with the sky on your screen for information on constellations, planets and even satellites. This is a simple concept beautifully executed as the fantastic graphics and interesting facts instantly enhance your stargazing experience.

Price - $2.99

iTunes Rating - 5 stars

Army Survival Guide AppArmy Survival Guide

Whilst there’s always the possibility that you might become hopelessly lost in the vast Patagonian steppe, the chances are that the US Army Survival Guide will be more use as a quirky conversation piece as you huddle round the fire at a cosy refugio. Still, with a wealth of information on everything from finding water to lighting fires and some basic emergency medicine, it’s a great resource to have at your fingertips. There’s even a chapter on predicting weather conditions, if you fancy trying to stay one step ahead of Patagonia’s notoriously fickle climate. The guide is downloaded to your phone, so as long as you have enough battery-life remaining you can access it at any time.

Price - $1.99

iTunes Rating - 4.5 stars

Camp Food AppCamp Recipes

Food is a hugely important issue when hiking, as you try to consume enough calories to keep you going to the top of that next hill. But why settle for boil-in-the-bag breakfasts and freeze-dried dinners when you can take a whole camping cookbook along with you? Camp Recipes has over 700 tried and tested recipes that are suitable for cooking whilst camping out. Recipes can be sorted by category, cooking time and keywords, so you can easily select the perfect meal for any hiking situation. This app caters to all tastes, for appetites large and small, meat-eaters and veggies. It even features survival recipes in case you get really stuck.

Price - $1.99

iTunes Rating - 5 stars

Orienteering Compass AppOrienteering Compass

There are some hikers who are ready to move on from traditional navigational tools, but can’t quite bear to leave all of the work to the GPS just yet. For those who prefer the look and functionality of a good old-fashioned compass, the Orienteering Compass app is the solution for you. As it makes use of your phone’s satellite positioning technology, this exact replica of a baseplate compass will keep you on the right track even without an internet connection or phone signal, just like the real thing.

Price - $5.99

iTunes Rating - 4.5 stars

Sunrise AppSunrise

This simple app is the perfect tool to help you calculate exactly what time to set off on your trek to catch the sun rising over the huge granite towers of the Torres del Paine National Park, or to see just how much longer you can stay huddled in your sleeping bag. The Sunrise app not only calculates the exact time of sunrise, no matter what your location, but also calculates the time of sunset, twilight and solar noon if you happen to need that information too. The app uses your phone’s GPS to find your location so you don’t have to programme your coordinates, but if for any reason the phone loses its GPS signal, Sunrise has a self-contained list of locations around the world for you to choose from.

Price - $0.99

iTunes Rating - 3.5 stars

Backpacker Checklist AppThe Backpacker Checklist

Worried that you might forget something when packing for your hike in Patagonia? Or perhaps you’re more concerned that you might have brought too much? The Backpacker Checklist is a nifty solution to packing anxiety and is much more than just a list of essentials. The app allows you to select from a huge choice of items to decide what you need, what you might bring, and what you’ve already packed. Not only that, but it also allows you to check the weights of different items to help you decide what you could probably do without. The checklist can be uploaded to the internet and shared with other hiking companions, so you ensure that nothing has slipped through the cracks. Now all you have to do is remember to download The Backpacker Checklist, and everything else will take care of itself!

Price - $0.99

iTunes Rating - 3 stars

Backpacker Checklist AppPoint de Vue

Point de Vue is much like Star Walk, but for mountains! From your location or anywhere in the world, Point de Vue presents an alternative view of the landscape allowing you to identify peaks as far as 200 km away. Patagonia is home to the southernmost section of the Andes, so there is no shortage of mountains to choose from and learn more about. Simply set your location using GPS - or manually if all else fails - and the app will supply you with information on the elevation and distance of mountains within range; you can even sort summits by size. As long as you make sure to download the information for the peaks you’re visiting before you leave for Patagonia, you’ll be able to access it once you’re out in the wild.

Price - $3.99

iTunes Rating - unrated



Perhaps you have a favourite hiking app that doesn't appear on this list? Maybe you're an Android user with some tips for other smartphone users? We'd love to hear your feedback so don't hesistate to get in touch and feel free to share this post!