Gaia GPS Navigation for Overlanding
For our first few overlanding trips we kept local, it had not been long since we’d had the Shogun imported from the UK and we knew little about the 4×4 in terms of medium to long term / journey reliability, if something went pop we wanted to be not too far away from home. That was back in November 2020 and touch wood the Shogun has proven to be a strong old beast. [of course..!]
For route planning we started with Google maps but found that offline [even with the map downloaded] it was too blurry to make out depending on how far you zoomed in plus we were using the phone which is okay but the bigger the better for gps display.
First up was acquiring a tablet for display plus a mounting system for the dash, we opted for a Lenovo tabM8 [gps enabled 9″ tablet] and a Scosche Magic Mount. Next it was down to choosing the app itself.
Why we chose Gaia GPS Navigation for overlanding
Being honest it was the one that kept coming up time and time again whether it was searching the net or watching Youtube reviews etc to discover the options Gaia was always mentioned and in the main recommended as one of the best GPS apps you can get.
The free version of the app isn’t much of a performer, at least not for the overlander or anyone going to where there is no signal, the premium version however enables you to navigate offline so this is the one to go for, at around €30.00 for a annual membership it doesn’t break the bank either which is why we opted to go straight for that.
Planning Your Route
We won’t detail the in’s and out’s of route planning here as that would take forever, our advice is to hit Youtube where you will find dozens of tutorials on how to use Gaia as well as a few handy videos for beginners, we found these particularly useful, by its very nature gps looks complicated then you add in all the features Gaia offers and it can look daunting.
Keeping things simple Gaia allows you to build a route – this is best done on your PC or laptop at home, you decide on your starting location and add your points as you go, Gaia will ‘snap’ in the route between the points creating a trail, you can zoom right in to discover remote tracks, add waypoints and more.
Gaia also offers map layers which depending on your location may be handy for your route and in general what your preference is to view your gps, for example we use the satellite layer with the streets layer, you can also change the opacity in order to view both at the same time. At first all of these options look complicated but it really is quite easy, just like any app or program, once you find your way around it things become much clearer.
The Overland Dilema…
When planning your route there is one thing to be aware of, there are options including hiking, cycling and driving. Gaia will snap in your route sections based on the option you have chosen. The image above shows what can happen when you plan a hiking route – you can and up on a trail not suitable for vehicles or a footpath.
The main issue with this is that many hiking trails are suitable for overlanding and are often a better, more challenging drive. A driving route can [not always] be a bit tame so it pays to use the satellite view during the planning stages and make sure that the road is suitable for a 4×4. This applies of course if you plan your route in hiking mode which is something we tend to do as certainly in Andalucia many of the driving routes are tarmac roads which is not what we want..!
Do we recommend Gaia GPS?
Yes we do, besides from all of it’s features there is one thing that Gaia does for us and that is it stops us from getting lost, driving aimlessly around the Spanish sierras is hit and miss at best so knowing where you are going plus where you have been is crucial for a successful trip [it also reduces the risk of arguments!]
There are a multitude of features Gaia offers, you don’t need them all, most you will never use but once you become more comfortable with the app you can start adding waypoints, manipulate your layers, import routes driven by others and a whole lot more.
For the price, features and functionality balance the app is well worth it.