Offline topographical maps for your phone

I recently starting playing around with a few Topographical map apps for my phone and found “All-in-one Offline Maps +” to be super useful. It allows you to save sections offline, so there’s no need for cellular signal. We used it recently in Cederberg and it was very helpful in confirming our location on the map when we weren’t 100% sure, or helping us navigate back to our campsite through the rocky maze on top of Groot Krakadouw. Unfortunately it looks like it’s only available for Android users.

Anybody else have good experiences with other apps for offline navigation?


I have hiked with a friend of mine who swears by Avenza Maps which can also be used offline. It works on a 1:50 000 topographical map and you can check your position on the map. Very helpful in the mountains when it is cloudy or mist comes in and also works on android and iOS.


Wikilock is awesome (and free), but the problem with phones for navigation is that they aren’t waterproof and battery life is terrible. I use a Garmin Dakota 20 GPS, which works pretty well. It takes 2 AA batteries for a full day of hiking (depending on weather - it uses more if it is colder and less when warmer). I use custom made Drakensberg maps on the device - which work very well. It’s fun - kraals are marked as museums…


I left my phone on flight mode for the entire trip and the battery easily lasted 5 days with the odd map usage.
If I need to use my phone in bad weather, I use a PocPac:
A phone is obviously no replacement for a dedicated GPS, but I found it quite handy being able to use my phone in that setting.

That sounds awesome-i went hiking with a group the mnweni summit in drakensberg 2months ago-leader had a Garmin and had no signal! Got us lost 3 times-frustrating

Snapshots of maps on your phone definitely works great. For those that don’t know how it works, here’s how to do it for Google maps.
Step 1 - open Google maps
Step 2 - Go to the are you are going to explore. Zoom in or out depending on how large an area you want to capture
Step 3 - on the top left of your screen will be three lines or dots. Click on it
Step 4 - select “Offline maps”. Your map copy will now reflect directly below under downloaded maps. You can rename if you want to (click on 3 dots to the right of the map name)

Whalah, you have a soft copy of your map, which will be saved for 30 days

I generally tend to overdo things a bit as I hate getting lost, so I have a GPS (2 actually), a soft copy on my phone as well as a paper map and compass. yes, gps signals can get lost, yes, batteries can run out, yes, devices can stop functioning due to water ingress, yes, paper maps will get wet or blown away, hence my approach.

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I use Avenza (as mentioned by @Douweg), which I’ve found great. If you are low on storage space on your phone you can simply delete the topo maps you don’t need at that time and re-download them. Additionally there is an app for Microsoft PC that you can use on your desktop. If you sign in, you can then sync your maps between devices and use it to plan at your PC before heading out.

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I have been using Locus Maps Pro on Android and it’s outshone some purpose built GPS units.

I downloaded the full South African topographic maps from the link below and loaded the map on Locus.

Used locus during my DGT as a reference every now and then. Navigated prodominantly on my suunto ambit 2

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I have had good luck with two apps after having tried a bunch.

The free version of that allows you to save offline maps over largish areas, and is fairly easy to use. I have found particularly in the Cederberg that its landscape take on the OpenStreetMap base have a lot more detail than most other base layers. It does track and alerts, suggests/share hikes, can import GPX files and easily mark locations from GPS or through lat/long inputs. Can also plot/plan trips at a desktop that can be pushed to mobile which is nice. Rather like the ability to quickly get a cross section to visualize altitude change!

Overall been very happy moving over since GaiaGPS lost its free offline mapping. Main problems would be I find its download of offline maps to be slow, and you have to make sure you set your screen not to lock while it does it or it can corrupt maps.

GPS Essentials has also been great, though I find the interface rather fiddly. What it does have is a fantastic customisable dashboard. I have it set up to give me lat/long, altitude, bearing, temp, sunrise/sunset and time to, GPS signal quality, moon phase etc. Really awesome to have at a glance and is my go to when using a map. Have been happy enough with it that with a couple of phones in the group I’m probably stupidly not carrying a compass anymore.

The one thing I would love to see is the Sllingsby maps available in a easier digital form. Might actually buy the current digital versions and georeference them as a base layer. The level of care and detail in their Cederberg maps in particular is lovely to see and has proved useful time and time again.

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I use Oruxmaps. Their free version is no ads, so it was kicked off the playstore (free version is the same as donate version, available on their website) I started with the free version, but donated anyway. I have collar cropped my digital 1:50000 topo maps and converted them for Orux. (Sqlite files)
Load them on an SD card in your old smartphone with no sim card and you have full offline GPS. I use Solar bank charging for my Samsung Active phone. Tracks, backtracks, routes, waypoints, photo waypoints, stats, geocaching and more, excellent.

Probably hadn’t updated the software - its happened to me a couple of times with Garmin.