I have been using Ordnance Survey’s Memory Map GPS Navigation Software for hiking for over 10 years now. Initially the mapping was loaded on my computer, which I then used to print A4-sized maps of the sections the walks. This meant I could print just the sections I needed, and avoided having to carry a number of heavy maps.
More recently I’ve added Memory Map to my phone. This doesn’t mean the end of carrying paper maps (I still carry them for safety – a phone battery can go flat!) However, it does mean that I no longer have to worry about walking ‘off the map’ that I’m carrying. I can also change my route safely and still have mapping available. This is particularly important when I’m walking with children, as we may have to stop earlier than planned or leave the route completely.
As my knowledge and confidence with technology grew, I started using my phone’s GPS for route finding. A few years ago I was looking for a GPS unit for safety on more remote walks. On my search I came across the waterproof Toughphone Defender Pro which had GPS and a good camera. Then I realised that instead of carrying three different pieces of technology (phone, camera and GPS), I could just take one to do everything. Now when out walking I just take the phone out of my pocket, take a picture or two, check texts and my position all on one unit.
The OS 1:50,000 mapping can be loaded onto my phone. It will work with the GPS independently of the phone signal. If your phone has a large enough memory, you can have the maps for the whole of the UK on your phone. This has saved me days of walking on long distance walks and it’s so much safer to know exactly where I am.
With the location switched on, the mapping will show where you are. You can set it to track you, leaving a line where you’ve been. This can be transferred between devices too, via a cloud if necessary. Really useful when looking back at walks you’ve done, to remember exactly where you went. It’s also especially helpful for writing my blog posts of the walks!
Mapping and GPS for hiking
For years I had trouble with my phone getting damp on long distance camping trips. The Defender Pro solved this and did brilliantly on the Cape Wrath Trail, TGO Challenge and LEJOG. However, I managed to crack the screen and break the battery fixing. It was no longer waterproof, making it useless for hiking.
So I’ve had to look around for another phone. I would have purchased another Defender Pro, but I’m now using the Ulefone Amor 3W. It does the same job but has a longer battery life and was quite a bit cheaper. I have reviewed this phone here. It was easy to load the Memory Map and all the saved routes. The Memory Map pack can be used on up to 5 devices. If you stop using one, you can port the licence to a new device without losing it.
I don’t know where I would be now if I hadn’t had the Memory Map software and a waterproof GPS phone. I’ve spent over 40 years hiking in the UK and have had many navigational errors over the years, some more dangerous than others. My worst near-misses have been leaving ridges in cloud and thankfully I’ve been lucky, but it could have ended differently. I still can’t count and work out mileage accurately enough to be safe. It’s made life so much easier since I invested in the Memory Map software and a waterproof phone.
For the best mapping and GPS for hiking, I can’t recommend the Memory Map software and these waterproof phones enough. They work really well together. If I hadn’t had them, I don’t think I would have completed a number of the walks I’ve done.
Disclosure: This review contains some Amazon affiliate links. This means I receive a small payment for any purchases made as a result of clicking on the link, at no additional cost to you. These payments help to finance the costs of the site and have not influenced my review of the product.