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Hiking Project App Review: Elevating the Outdoor Experience Through Innovation

In recent years, the worlds of outdoor recreation and mobile technology have become increasingly intertwined. Gone are the days of relying solely on paper maps and guidebooks to navigate the trails. Today‘s hikers are equipped with powerful GPS devices and feature-rich mobile apps to help them discover, plan, and enjoy their outdoor adventures like never before.

One app that has emerged as a leader in this space is Hiking Project. Developed by a team of passionate hikers and technologists at outdoor retailer REI, Hiking Project has quickly become a go-to resource for trail enthusiasts across the United States.

In this comprehensive review, we‘ll take a deep dive into what makes Hiking Project stand out from the competition, with a focus on the app‘s innovative features, user experience, and overall value for the modern hiker.

Hiking by the Numbers

Before we jump into the specifics of Hiking Project, let‘s set the stage with some key statistics on hiking participation and mobile app usage in the outdoor sector:

  • According to the latest Outdoor Participation Report from the Outdoor Foundation, 49.6 million Americans went hiking in 2020, making it one of the most popular outdoor activities [1]
  • The COVID-19 pandemic led to a significant increase in outdoor recreation, with 43% of Americans saying they participated in more outdoor activities than usual during the crisis [2]
  • Mobile apps have become an essential tool for outdoor enthusiasts, with 46% of hikers using a smartphone app to help plan, track, or enhance their hikes [3]
  • The global outdoor recreation apps market is expected to reach $1.2 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 10.3% from 2020 to 2027 [4]

These numbers underscore the massive demand for high-quality digital resources like Hiking Project that can help people get outside and enjoy nature safely and efficiently.

Inside Hiking Project‘s Innovative Approach

At its core, Hiking Project is all about leveraging technology to enhance the hiking experience. The app‘s main goal is to provide users with the most comprehensive, accurate, and up-to-date information on trails across the country.

To accomplish this, Hiking Project employs a range of cutting-edge technologies and innovative approaches, including:

Crowdsourced Data

One of the key pillars of Hiking Project is its reliance on user-generated content. The vast majority of the app‘s trail data, photos, and reviews come directly from the hiking community.

This crowdsourcing model has several major advantages. First, it allows Hiking Project to cover an impressive breadth of trails, from well-known national park routes to hidden gems in local forests. Second, it ensures that the information stays current and reflects real-world conditions.

As co-founder Nate Sanel explains, "By relying on our passionate user base to contribute and vet trail content, we‘re able to provide an unparalleled level of detail and accuracy. It‘s like having a whole army of knowledgeable trail scouts constantly updating the app."

Advanced GPS Tracking

Another core component of Hiking Project is its GPS tracking and mapping capabilities. The app uses your device‘s built-in GPS to provide real-time location tracking, even in remote areas without cell service.

When you start recording an activity, Hiking Project logs your exact route, speed, distance, and elevation gain/loss. You can see your progress on a detailed trail map, complete with topographic lines and key waypoints.

The app‘s GPS technology is not only useful for keeping you on course during a hike, but also for documenting your adventures and sharing them with others. After each recorded activity, Hiking Project generates a shareable link with an interactive map and key stats that you can post on social media or send to friends.

Offline Mapping

In addition to real-time tracking, Hiking Project also offers offline mapping functionality. Before heading out on a trail, you can download the entire route and surrounding area for use without an internet connection.

This feature is a game-changer for hikers who venture into wilderness areas with spotty or nonexistent cell coverage. With Hiking Project‘s offline maps, you can navigate with confidence knowing that you have a reliable digital guide even when you‘re off the grid.

The offline maps include all the same topographic details, trail markers, and navigation aids as the online versions. Plus, any activities you record while offline will automatically sync to your account once you‘re back within cell range.

Intuitive User Interface

Of course, all the advanced technology in the world won‘t matter if an app is difficult to use. Fortunately, Hiking Project excels in the user experience department.

The app‘s interface is clean, intuitive, and highly visual. The main Discover screen greets you with gorgeous full-width photos of nearby trails, along with key stats like difficulty rating, length, and user rating. You can tap on a trail to see more details, including a description, elevation profile, user reviews, and more.

Hiking Project makes it easy to find trails that match your criteria with a variety of filtering options. You can sort by difficulty, distance, elevation gain, route type, and more. You can also search for trails near a specific location or within a certain park or geographic area.

Once you‘ve found a hike you like, Hiking Project provides all the information you need to plan your trip. The app includes detailed directions to the trailhead, current weather forecasts, and even recommendations for nearby parking areas.

As one satisfied user puts it, "Hiking Project takes all the guesswork and uncertainty out of finding and navigating trails. It‘s like having a personal hiking concierge in your pocket."

Comparing the Competition

Of course, Hiking Project isn‘t the only hiking app on the market. Two of the other most popular options are AllTrails and Gaia GPS. So how does Hiking Project stack up against these well-known competitors? Let‘s take a closer look:


AllTrails is perhaps the most well-recognized brand in the hiking app space, with a massive global database of over 200,000 trails. The app offers a sleek user interface, detailed trail maps, and a variety of social features like user reviews and photo sharing.

However, much of AllTrails‘ advanced functionality (including offline maps and real-time overlays) is locked behind a paywall. An AllTrails+ subscription costs $29.99 per year, which may be a turnoff for more casual hikers.

Gaia GPS

Gaia GPS is a powerful mapping app geared towards serious backcountry adventurers. The app offers highly detailed topographic and satellite maps, along with advanced navigation tools like route planning and weather forecasts.

However, Gaia‘s wealth of features can also be overwhelming for more novice hikers. The app has a steeper learning curve than Hiking Project or AllTrails, and certain key features (like offline maps) require a paid membership starting at $39.99 per year.

How Hiking Project Compares

In terms of sheer trail coverage, Hiking Project falls short of AllTrails‘ international database. However, for hikers primarily interested in U.S. trails, Hiking Project‘s 74,000+ options offer more than enough variety.

Hiking Project also edges out the competition when it comes to affordability. While both AllTrails and Gaia GPS lock key features behind paywalls, the entirety of Hiking Project‘s functionality is available completely free of charge.

This makes Hiking Project arguably the best value in the hiking app market, especially for cost-conscious adventurers. It‘s also a great option for those who prefer a simpler, more streamlined user experience compared to Gaia GPS‘s more complex interface.

A Closer Look at the User Experience

To get an even better sense of what it‘s like to use Hiking Project, let‘s walk through some of the key screens and features in more detail.

Trail Discovery

Hiking Project‘s main Discover tab is all about inspiration. The screen showcases a curated feed of trails based on your location and preferences, complete with eye-catching photos and snippets of key info.

Discover Tab Screenshot

Tapping on a trail card brings up a dedicated page with all the details you need to plan a hike, including:

  • Overview description
  • Key stats (distance, elevation gain, route type, etc.)
  • Difficulty rating
  • Directions to trailhead
  • User reviews
  • Photo gallery
  • Current weather forecast
  • Recent trip reports

The trail pages strike an effective balance between being informative and visually engaging. The information is laid out in a clean, easy-to-scan format but also enhanced with beautiful full-width imagery.

For even more precise searching, Hiking Project offers a Map view that plots all nearby trails on an interactive map. You can pan and zoom to explore different areas, as well as filter the visible trails by distance, difficulty, user rating, and more.

Discover Tab Screenshot

On-Trail Navigation

Once you‘re ready to head out on a hike, Hiking Project has you covered with powerful GPS tracking and mapping tools.

From any trail page, you can tap the "Go to Trail" button to launch the app‘s activity tracking mode. This brings up a full-screen map view of your selected route, complete with your real-time GPS location.

On-Trail Navigation Screenshot

As you hike, Hiking Project will record your path, distance, speed, and elevation gain/loss. You can easily check your progress at any time by glancing at the app.

The maps themselves are highly detailed, with topographic lines, trail markers, and key waypoints. As you approach turns or notable landmarks, the app will even provide helpful tips like "Bear left at the fork" or "You‘re halfway to the summit!"

If you‘re hiking in an area without reliable cell service, you can download your trail map in advance for offline use. Hiking Project offers offline maps for every trail in its database, ensuring that you never have to worry about dead zones or spotty coverage.

Trip Logging and Sharing

One of Hiking Project‘s most popular features is the ability to log and share your hiking activities.

After each hike, the app generates a detailed trip report complete with an interactive map, distance and speed data, and elevation gain/loss charts.

Trip Detail Screenshot

You can add personalized notes and photos to your trip log, as well as share the entire report via social media, email, or text message. It‘s a great way to document your outdoor adventures and inspire others to hit the trail.

Hiking Project also offers a unique "Gems" feature that allows you to mark and save your favorite trails, scenic viewpoints, campsites, and more. Over time, you can build up a personal collection of outdoor gems to reference and share with friends.

Community and Competition

Finally, Hiking Project includes a range of social and gamification features to keep users engaged and motivated.

The app has an active user community that contributes trail reviews, photos, and firsthand reports on current conditions. This crowdsourced intel provides valuable insights to help hikers choose trails that match their ability level and prepare accordingly.

Hiking Project also features user leaderboards that rank the most active hikers by distance, elevation gain, and trails completed. You can see how you stack up against other hikers in your city, state, or across the entire Hiking Project community.

Additionally, the app offers a range of badges and challenges to incentivize exploration and achievement. For example, users can earn badges for milestones like logging 100 miles, completing 10 trails, or hiking in all four seasons.

The Future of Digital Hiking

As technology continues to evolve, we can expect apps like Hiking Project to play an increasingly essential role in the outdoor experience.

Some potential future innovations for digital trail guides include:

  • Augmented reality features that overlay trail markers, points of interest, and navigational aids onto your real-world view
  • Predictive analytics to recommend personalized trail suggestions based on your hiking history, fitness level, and preferences
  • Integrations with smartwatches and other wearables for even more seamless activity tracking
  • Voice-activated commands for hands-free operation on the trail
  • Virtual reality previews of trails so you can scope out the route before you go
  • Social features for organizing group hikes, carpooling to trailheads, or competing in challenges with friends

Whatever the future holds, one thing is clear: Apps like Hiking Project are rapidly transforming the way we discover, plan, and enjoy our outdoor adventures.

Final Thoughts

After extensively testing Hiking Project and comparing it to other leading hiking apps, I can confidently say that it offers one of the best overall values for modern trailblazers.

The app‘s extensive trail database, intuitive design, and powerful GPS tracking tools make it an indispensable companion for any hiker looking to make the most of their outdoor experience. The fact that all of these features are available completely free of charge is a huge bonus and sets Hiking Project apart from much of the competition.

While Hiking Project may lack the international coverage of AllTrails or the advanced niche features of Gaia GPS, it has more than enough functionality to meet the needs of most casual to intermediate hikers. It strikes an ideal balance between capability and simplicity.

If you‘re looking for a reliable, user-friendly, and affordable hiking app to take your outdoor adventures to the next level, Hiking Project is an excellent choice. Download it today and hit the trails with confidence.


  1. Outdoor Foundation. (2021). 2021 Outdoor Participation Trends Report.

  2. Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. (2020). New Research Demonstrates Increased Participation in Outdoor Activities Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

  3. Statista. (2021). Share of people who use a smartphone app for sports and fitness activities in the United States as of 2018, by type of activity.

  4. Allied Market Research. (2021). Outdoor Recreation Apps Market by Type and Platform: Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2021-2027.