The best walking apps: Time to go exploring with your phone

Walking apps like Ordnance Survey, AllTrails and Komoot are transforming the way we hike. Our guide tells you the best ones to download

Walking apps have opened up the great outdoors to novice and expert walkers alike. The apps allow you to find well-trodden paths and plot new, adventurous hikes. You can check out what is on your doorstep, track your exact location as you walk, and work out timings, elevation and distances.

But which walking app is best for you, and do you need to pay a subscription to get the most out of it?

In this guide we review the most popular walking apps in the UK, so you can decide which one to download.

Recommended

Best overall

OS Maps


Who’s this for?
Walkers who can read a map, who want to plot their own routes and explore the countryside.
Komoot app
Recommended

Best community app

Komoot


Who’s this for?
Social walkers wanting to share photos and routes, and link up with others. Excellent planning software but serious walkers will miss OS mapping.
Recommended

Comprehensive routes

Outdooractive


Who’s this for?
Serious walkers and travellers who want to use detailed worldwide mapping to create and follow routes.
Recommended

Best for beginners

AllTrails


Who’s this for?
Great for beginner walkers or those exploring new areas.
Memory map app logo

Easy route plotting

Memory-Map for All


Who’s this for?
Experienced walkers wanting a very simple app for detailed mapping and route planning.
walking app logo

Simple but powerful

Topo GPS


Who’s this for?
Experienced walkers who want to keep their details private.
walking app logo

Fun features

Fatmap


Who’s this for?
New walkers looking for inspiration and community features.
walking app logo

Great for backpackers

Hiiker


Who’s this for?
Backpackers and travellers looking for route inspiration and recommendations from other hikers.

Walking apps vary from a basic electronic map with the ability to plot and record routes, to more extensive offerings featuring photos, reviews, searchable databases of routes and online communities.

Some even have dual live tracking, which enables another person to follow your hike in realtime, together with an emergency beacon.

Two walkers looking at a phoneCredit: Shutterstock / Daisy Daisy
Using a walking app on your phone can open up the countryside

What to consider when choosing a walking app

Most apps are available on both Apple and Android devices, but some can also be used on a computer, which is useful when planning routes.

Apps that use GPS tracking will put extra strain on your phone’s battery. A flat battery won’t help you follow a route or call for help. On an all-day walk, watch your usage and carry a back-up power pack just in case.

Most apps require a phone signal, so don’t rely on them in the mountains or remote areas. Download your route to your phone before starting and take a map and compass – and know how to use them.

What do you want the app for? If you are a beginner walker, an app with basic maps but a searchable database of routes will be great for you. For the more experienced, a detailed map with good route planning features might be more suitable

How we tested the best walking apps

We tested the most popular walking apps available in the UK. There are other outdoor and fitness apps available, but our focus here was those with mapping and route planning functionality.

For each app we’ve examined its key features, and with the most popular we’ve included a review by an outdoor expert who uses it.

In our test we focused on:

  • Routes: Was it easy to find walking routes around a given location and were they reliable to follow? Was it easy to plot your own hike, save it, then follow it out on the trail?
  • Mapping: We looked at how detailed the maps are on the app. Are they most suitable for town and easy country walking, or do they include features that allow you to explore further afield into the hills, mountains and remote parts of the UK?
  • Usability: Is the app easy to use and can you get started quickly, or is it going to take several YouTube videos and the help of a friendly teenager to understand it?

OS Maps Overview

Best overall

OS Maps

Recommended
Competitive

Less features than other apps, but if you want a simple but detailed mapping app where you can search for routes and plot your own, then this is a great choice.

Route planning

Mapping

Ease of use


Who’s this for?

Walkers who can read a map, who want to plot their own routes and explore the countryside.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Detailed mapping on subscription plans
  • Easy to navigate
  • Follow routes as you walk
  • Creating routes can be fiddly

Expect to pay

The basic version is free, but we recommend the £28.99 a year premium subscription for detailed mapping. OS occasionally offers discounts on the premium package.

Ordnance Survey printed its first map in 1801 and is Britain’s national mapping agency. Its maps are very detailed and are respected across the world.

The OS Maps app offers a free version, which allows you to search for routes near you and plot your own. However, the detailed Explorer and Landranger maps are only available on subscription.

three images of the OS walking appCredit: Exceptional.com
Three views of the screen display on the Ordnance Survey walking app

What we like about OS Maps

This app is all about the map. It has no-frills detailed and accurate mapping coverage of the UK. It’s a simple, uncluttered app that’s easy to use and search for routes. You can download and print different maps from the app to take with you when you walk. The fly-through and 3D features on subscription are fun.

What we don’t like about OS Maps

The free version only has basic mapping. To benefit from this app you need to pay to access the more detailed mapping levels. For route planning, it’s great in national parks, because it has a snap-to feature, which follows public rights of way – but it’s more fiddly to use to plot a route elsewhere. Also, you can‘t view multiple routes at once.

Our tester says

Reece Robinson is a mountain leader and rock-climbing instructor. He says: “I use the OS Maps app mainly on my phone as an easy reference, but I also use it from a laptop to print a paper map of the area I need.

“It’s great to be able to quickly reach into my pocket, open the app and see exactly where I am. The app is also very useful for planning a route before I set off or tracking my route while out and about. It gives me lots of useful info such as time taken, distance, height gained, and my current position as a grid reference. It also has a built-in compass, which is useful.”

A man on a snow covered mountainCredit: Reece Robinson
Robinson uses the OS app as an easy reference point

We say

A great, no-frills app for detailed and accurate mapping. It doesn’t have the same online community as other apps and it can be fiddly to plot routes outside of national parks.


Komoot Overview

Best community app

Komoot

Komoot app
Recommended
Competitive

A good option for beginners wanting to plan and then share their walks with others. Great for finding and planning new routes, but mapping lacks detail.

Route planning

Mapping

Ease of use


Who’s this for?

Social walkers wanting to share photos and routes, and link up with others. Excellent planning software but serious walkers will miss OS mapping.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Easy to use
  • Voice navigation
  • Creates routes by ability
  • No OS mapping

Expect to pay

Komoot is free to download, with one regional map, then you can purchase more maps (a single region is £3.99 and a bundle £8.99) or opt for the £59.99 per year Komoot Premium.

Komoot is based in Germany and became established in mainland Europe before becoming popular in the UK. It has a basic free package with one map region included. You can purchase further mapping packages, including area and worldwide mapping, or choose the premium package which includes on-tour weather, multi-day planning and live tracking that enables you to share your location with an emergency contact.

Images of the display of walking app KomootCredit: Exceptional.com
Three views of the screen display for Komoot walking app

What we like about Komoot

Komoot’s big selling point is route finding and planning. The app opens on a ‘Discover’ page rather than a map.

To help you find your next adventure there is a library of route collections, tours and users’ routes, which include photographs and comments. Planning your own hike is simple. You pinpoint your starting point, add a destination, and Komoot will come up with a walking route based on your experience level. It even includes details such as whether the route is on roads, paths or tracks.

Out on the trail, there is voice navigation and turn-by-turn directions. The app will record your walk and you can upload photos before sharing it with the online community.

What we don’t like about Komoot

The mapping is basic and lacking in detail. Those heading for the mountains would be wise to take an OS printed map as well – something that equally applies to all walking apps – but it’s fine for town and countryside rambles.

Our tester says

Kate Garner, community lead for outdoor group Adventure Queens, says: “Komoot is brilliant for finding, planning and recording walking, running or cycling routes, and particularly useful if you are planning to share your routes with others for group activities.

“I organise walks for the Shropshire Adventure Queens group and love the amount of information that Komoot provides. It really helps people understand the distance, the elevation, the type of terrain and the availability of amenities.

“It’s social and lovely to share what you’ve been up to and connect with others to see what inspiring adventures they’ve had. It’s also easy to record and upload activities through your watch or phone.”

A woman runner on a mountainCredit: Kate Garner
Garner loves Komoot for it’s planning and community features

We say

A great app for a beginner walker or those wanting it for route finding and planning. There’s a great online community to share your walks with and get inspiration from. But the mapping detail is a real drawback if you are walking in more remote terrain.


Outdooractive Overview

Comprehensive routes

Outdooractive

Recommended
Competitive

Detailed maps, excellent route planning and an active community. Not as easy to use as other apps, but if you are serious about walking in the mountains or remote areas, then this could be perfect for you.

Route planning

Mapping

Ease of use


Who’s this for?

Serious walkers and travellers who want to use detailed worldwide mapping to create and follow routes.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Detailed mapping
  • Create and follow routes
  • Active online community
  • Free version is very basic

Expect to pay

The Basic package is free, whilst Pro is £2.23 a month for more detailed mapping, and Pro+ is £4.45 a month, which offers premium and 3D mapping.

Another walking app that has its headquarters in Germany, Outdooractive claims to be the world’s largest platform for outdoor tourism.

You can browse trails and walking route suggestions with descriptions and photos. You can plot and record your hikes and then share them with its large global community. There are also online travel guides for your worldwide exploring.

Three views of the screen of a walking appCredit: Outdooractive
Three views of the display screen of the Outdooractive walking app

What we like about Outdooractive

Outdooractive’s plus-points include a great range of detailed worldwide maps, fast route planning and a big online community.

The app has something for everyone, from a Sunday stroll to an alpine adventure. You can browse route suggestions, photos and reviews.

It’s straightforward to plot your own routes and then follow them. You can share them to the online community. You can also download routes or print them out and follow voice guidance on the trail.

It’s also good for worldwide holiday inspiration, with travel guides to get you out adventuring.

What we don’t like about Outdooractive

There is a huge amount of detail on this app – possibly more than a beginner needs. It does take time to learn how to get the most from the app. Plus, a paid subscription is also needed to access detailed maps.

Our tester says

Mountain leader Tom Hanna, from North Yorkshire, says: “This is the app I use the most as it has an extensive range of maps for subscribers, including Ordnance Survey and Harvey Maps in the UK. The planning process is straightforward and easy to use. The ‘snap to path’ model works well and the app produces accurate statistics for routes.

“I also really like the community routes, which have provided inspiration for my personal walking and when planning tours for the company. I think it’s a great app for all abilities.”

A man in front of a stone wallCredit: Tom Hanna
Hanna says the Outdooractive app has a lot of useful features for walkers

We say

A comprehensive walking app that can take you from your first steps in walking all the way through to mountain and worldwide treks. However, it takes time to learn to use, so other apps may be better suited to novice walkers.


AllTrails Overview

Best for beginners

AllTrails

Recommended
Competitive

A great option for beginners to easily find and follow routes, including dog, child and wheelchair-friendly trails. However, the mapping is not very detailed.

Route planning

Mapping

Ease of use


Who’s this for?

Great for beginner walkers or those exploring new areas.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Huge database of routes
  • Child, dog and wheelchair-friendly route options
  • Easy to use
  • Mapping not detailed

Expect to pay

The basic version is free but you’ll pay £29.99 for AllTrails+, which allows you to download routes, receive off-route notifications, and stay connected to an emergency contact.

AllTrails is a US-based global walking app, which is designed to help people discover the outdoors. You can create and follow your own routes, but the main selling point is the browsable collection of curated walks (almost 6,000 in England alone).

Enter a location and it finds ready-made routes, including mapping, description, difficulty level and other useful details such as whether it is dog friendly and a weather forecast.

Three views of a walking app
Three views of the screen display in the AllTrails walking app

What we like about AllTrails

AllTrails is one of the most inclusive apps, with dog-friendly, child-friendly and wheelchair-friendly routes. You get access to road, satellite and topographical maps (although not with the level of detail of OS Maps), as well as details such as time, distance, top speed and weather forecasts. There are even GPS directions to guide you to the start of your route.

The subscription version allows you to download maps, see them in 3D, gives you alerts when you go off trail and a chosen safety contact can track your progress.

We also love that AllTrails has planted more than 10,000 trees to date and is donating one per cent of its profits to environmental initiatives worldwide.

What we don’t like about AllTrails

Many of the routes on the app are created by volunteers. This can result in irrelevant or inaccurate information – so check out the reviews before you set out.

The mapping isn’t very detailed and you need to subscribe to be able to download maps.

Our tester says

Marlon Miah is the founder of the 20,000-strong Hiking Buddies walking group.

He says: “I have been using AllTrails for around a year and, overall, it’s spot on. It’s very user-friendly and takes about 20 minutes to get used to. I’m not very tech savvy and I’m fine with it.

“I love how easy it is. You put in where you want to hike to see what routes they have, and you can look at photos, how far it is, how technical it is and reviews. You can also save a route you have done to show your friends or just keep for yourself.

“The only downside I’ve found is that some old routes might not be true to the GPS location, and that could be down to a mixture of things, but I’d stick to the well-known routes and trails.”

A male walker in the snowCredit: Marlon Miah
Miah says the AllTrails app is easy to use and great for beginners

We say

AllTrails is a brilliant app for beginners looking for off-the-shelf walks in a particular area. It’s also great if you are visiting somewhere you don’t know and want to see where to walk. You can create your own routes, but its main selling point is the browsable collection.


Memory-Map for All Overview

Easy route plotting

Memory-Map for All

Memory map app logo
Competitive

A simple app with no community features but great for route plotting.

Route planning

Mapping

Ease of use


Who’s this for?

Experienced walkers wanting a very simple app for detailed mapping and route planning.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Simple to use
  • Detailed mapping
  • No route suggestions
  • No online community

Expect to pay

Memory-Map for All is free to download but it’s £24.99 a year for the detailed Ordnance Survey mapping. Or you could opt to pay £124.99 to download all the OS maps in perpetuity.

Memory-Map has been around for more than 20 years and was creating mapping for PDAs (handheld computers, now replaced by smartphones) when the iPhone was just a twinkle in Apple’s eye.

Now the developers have launched Memory-Map for All (MM4A). It’s a simple app that’s all about creating your own routes and the maps, with no community involvement or inspiration.

Three views of the screen of a walking appCredit: Memory-Map
Three views of the screen display in the Memory-Map for All walking app

What we like about Memory-Map for All

It’s got a great map view screen and is uncluttered. You get full OS mapping with subscription, route planning and recording, easy GPX import and export and offline capabilities.

What we don’t like about Memory-Map for All

There are no route suggestions and no community aspect, if those features are important to you.

Our tester says

Tom Hutton is a mountain bike guide, mountain leader and outdoor author who uses Memory-Map for All. He says: “The OS mapping can be downloaded onto a hard drive and your phone at a reasonable price.

“On the hard drive, it’s a useful planning tool and maps can be printed and laminated easily enough.

“On the phone, it’s a functional navigation app, which is simply to check where I am on the map. I don’t tend to draw or follow routes on the app. I also don’t use it to record or share info. For those reasons I love it and rely quite heavily on it.

“But it does drive me mad trying to manage which maps I have already bought, which are already downloaded, which are online and which need downloading. And downloading to my phone seems to take hours, even rested against my router.”

We say

A simple app for route planning and recording using OS mapping. You need to subscribe for it to be worth using on your phone.


Topo GPS Overview

Simple but powerful

Topo GPS

walking app logo
Competitive

A simple but powerful app for those who just want mapping and route plotting features.

Route planning

Mapping

Ease of use


Who’s this for?

Experienced walkers who want to keep their details private.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Reliable
  • No personal data required
  • Easy route planning
  • No route inspiration

Expect to pay

Topo GPS is free, but to benefit from the detailed topo mapping you’ll need to pay. Prices range from £0.79 for four squares of 4km x 4km or you can pay £24.99 a year for the full UK OS mapping.

Topo GPS is a simple app but it works well. You need a subscription for OS mapping and you can download worldwide maps if you are travelling abroad.

Three views of the screen of Topo GPS walking appCredit: Topo GPS
Three views of the screen display of the Topo GPS walking app

What we like about Topo GPS

This walking app is reliable and fast. You can easily plot and record routes by activity, and add photos and waypoints. It has a good range of the official topographic maps of many countries – making it great for active overseas travelling.

It also never saves your data, a major plus for those who value keeping their details private.

What we don’t like about Topo GPS

There are no community features on this app. It has OS mapping on subscription, but only the 1:25000 at present. If you are travelling, you’ll have to pay to add each country’s topographical maps to the app, which can be costly.

We say

A simple but powerful app for anyone who isn’t interested in any community aspects and prefers to keep their own data private.


Fatmap Overview

Fun features

Fatmap

walking app logo
Competitive

Fun and easy to use, and beginners will love the community inspiration. However, more experienced walkers may find route planning frustrating.

Route planning

Mapping

Ease of use


Who’s this for?

New walkers looking for inspiration and community features.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Easy to use
  • Community-based
  • Interactive features
  • Integrates with Strava and fitness watches
  • Lack of offline features

Expect to pay

Fatmap is free to download, but to take full advantage of its features you’ll need to subscribe to Fatmap Explore. It costs approx £26.50 a year.

Fatmap was bought by Strava in January 2023. It’s another community-oriented app where you can discover new routes and share them with other users.

Three views of the display screen of the Fatmap appCredit: FATMAP
Three views of the screen display of Fatmap walking app

What we like about Fatmap

It’s great for route planning and inspiration. It integrates with Strava and GPS watches. Route planning is very easy and it has some fun interactive and 3D features that are helpful for visualising routes.

What we don’t like about Fatmap

The free version is very basic, and you need to pay a subscription to get OS maps and global topographical maps. Some functions don’t work offline either, such as route planning.

We say

This is a fun and easy-to-use app, especially for beginners looking for inspiration. More advanced users may find the app cluttered, and gaps in its offline functions – such as route plotting – are frustrating.


Hiiker Overview

Great for backpackers

Hiiker

walking app logo
Competitive

A great app for long distance hikers and backpackers. It is still new and there have been a few technical glitches, but its popularity is growing.

Route planning

Mapping

Ease of use


Who’s this for?

Backpackers and travellers looking for route inspiration and recommendations from other hikers.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Community recommendations
  • Great for travellers
  • A few technical issues
  • Mapping can be frustrating

Expect to pay

This app is free, but like others you need to pay to benefit from topo maps. It’s £41.99 a year but there are sometimes discounts available.

A new arrival to the walking apps world. Hiiker was founded by Irishman Paul Finlay, a keen long-distance walker who wanted to create an app to help people discover the world’s long-distance trails.

Now Hiiker boasts thousands of backpacking and hiking routes with reviews, photos and places to stay.

Three views of the display of the Hiiker walking appCredit: Hiiker
Three views of the screen display in the Hiiker walking app

What we like about Hiiker

The main screen is clear and the subscription version gives you Harvey Maps, OS maps and international topographical maps. This is another community-focused app with loads of route and accommodation recommendations too. You can plan and record your routes and there is a huge database of trails and recommendations you can browse for inspiration. You can also download maps for offline use.

What we don’t like about Hiiker

The free maps are very basic, so once again you really do need to purchase the subscription if you plan to go off exploring in wilder areas. Planned routes are also not shown on the main screen; you have to tap through to another screen, which may frustrate many users.

What we say

This is a new app that is growing in popularity. There have been a few technical issues, which the developers say are being ironed out. But for backpackers this could become a very useful app for exploring worldwide.

Phillipa Cherryson

Written by Phillipa Cherryson she/her

Updated:

Phillipa Cherryson is a senior digital editor for Saga Exceptional. Phillipa has been a journalist for 30 years, writing for local and national newspapers, UK magazines and reporting onscreen for ITV. In her spare time she loves the outdoors and is a trainee mountain leader and Ordnance Survey Champion.

  • instagram
  • Email