A walk through the woods with a folding map and compass has flair, but this should also work with mobile – Stiftung Warentest checks five hiking apps for effectiveness.
Works with an app: With a smartphone and the right software, the next trip can be planned and navigated along the way. Stiftung Warentest Try five popular apps. Yes, it still exists: the good old walking map. A loyal companion has its kinks and cracks, but its use is not self-evident. The alternative are hiking apps for smartphones, which outdoor enthusiasts are meant to purposefully navigate.
How well does it work? And what should you pay attention to?
Stiftung Warentest took a look at five hiking apps that users downloaded most frequently from the Google Play Store: Alltrails, Bergfex, Komoot, Outdooractive, and Wikiloc. Full versions tested for iOS and Android. The offer ranges from card packages from four euros to premium versions for 60 euros per year. All providers also offer free versions that offer less functionality. Navigation, for example, is sometimes not possible.
Tours can be planned via the provider’s website or using the respective app. The large computer screen provides a better overview, although our testers liked the route layout through the Komoot app better. Services can be used to search for paths of other users or create paths yourself, for example to avoid excessive paths. The filters help to find the right rides, for example in terms of the difficulty of the hike.
RESULTS: Two providers convince
Among other things, testers wore hiking boots themselves to test the applications: at Lüneburg Heath, Berchtesgaden Alps and Harz Mountains. They also checked navigation in the required sections and in the presence of obstacles such as road closures.
Komot and Outdoor Active outperformed the two hikers and got a “good” score according to the score in the “Test” magazine (Issue 10/2021). Both apps are the only ones that display arrows for precise route guidance. Testers also liked the voice prompts from the app providers. So the cell phone can stay in the pocket during the tour. According to Stiftung Warentest, the providers Alltrails and Bergfex are more suitable for experienced hikers, as stocks, remaining distance and walking time are missing. On Wikilocs, experts lacked guidance details on standard maps.
At some point, every one of the apps tested failed – at a roadblock in the Harz Mountains. The testers routed all services to a part of Harzer Hexenstieg that had been closed for months. All that remains is to return.
Tips for use on the go
Experts advise downloading the maps before the tour and then using them offline. This is consistent with full versions and is recommended in large parts of Germany. If you use voice navigation, reduce screen brightness and turn off other applications, you can also save battery power. If you trust technology only when hiking, you should take a power bank, that is, an extra battery, when in doubt.
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