Technology and platforms to help make hiking more accessible
By Jacey Gibb, Distribution Manager
Great Inclinations is your go-to source for diving into the world of casual hiking in and around the Lower Mainland. Because hiking’s not just for assholes anymore.
2018 is a wonderous time to be alive. Take eating out, for example: I can look up restaurants around my apartment, browse their menu online, read reviews, check Google Maps for what hours they’re busy, and even order from them online. I can have food delivered right to my door from traditionally sit-down restaurants through websites like Skipthedishes or DoorDash—but this article isn’t about my eating habits.
Technology’s transforming our world, and it’s also changing the way we hike. Here are a few technologies and online platforms that can help you up your hiking game.
The website Vancouver Trails
Do an Internet search on almost any local hike, and Vancouver Trails will likely be your first result. They’re a go-to website for hiking around the Lower Mainland, and for a good reason. They’re flippin’ fantastic and have nearly everything you need to know before setting out on a hike. You can search for trails on a regional map, or look up specific hikes to know about their difficulty level, how long the trail usually takes, or what months you can hike in. Vancouver Trails also includes if the hike is accessible by public transit, or if you can bring your four-legged furred friend with you. If all that wasn’t enough to convert you, they usually go into exhaustive details on how to get to the trailhead and where you can/can’t leave your vehicle, which can sometimes be tricky to figure out on your own.
The app AllTrails
Similar to Vancouver Trails, AllTrails gives you crucial information about different hikes, while also coming in an easy-to-use app format. You can read up on previous hikers’ comments, check out reviews, keep an ongoing wish-list of hikes you want to try, and perhaps the most wonderful feature—download a map of the trail, in case you’re a constant worrier like I am. Make sure you do it ahead of time though, since you need to be online, and lots of hikes take you out of cellphone service. Best of all, the app is free! A premium version is also available, but all of the features I mentioned can be found on the free version.
Handheld GPS devices
Shit happens when you’re in the backcountry, and a handheld GPS can be a crucial safety net. They range quite substantially in price—from just over $100 to over $1,000—but you can snag a basic one for about $120, like the Garmin Etrex 10. It has a battery life of 25 hours, is fairly lightweight, and it tracks your route to and from your starting point. It’s also helpful if you’re someone who likes to do some off-trail exploring, as it helps you retrace your steps back to the main path.
The app PeakVisor
If you’ve ever been exploring the backcountry and found yourself staring out into a mountain range, debating with your hiking partner about which mountain is which, PeakVisor is for you. Using a combination of your phone’s location tracking and camera, the app can identify different mountain peaks, and it gives you it’s exact altitude too. The app also comes with a handy dandy compass. It’s not the most useful app for hiking, but it can help settle an argument with mountain know-it-alls.