As Modern Foragers, we rely heavily on GPS technology. It goes way beyond getting un-lost! We want to know where we are, were we are going, and how to get back to the car at anytime. We need to navigate back to past hotspots and save newly found spots to our digital collection. We want to see satellite maps and high quality topo maps on big screens. We want to take photos and see last years photos. We want to know how far we have walked. We want to do all of this without a cell connection. When we get home, we want to interact with our data on our desktops.
Our new favorite solution for this is a GPS app for your phone: Gaia GPS with the Pro option. Last Summer we started using “Gaia GPS: Topo Maps and Hiking Trails.” As time went on, we used our Garmin GPS less frequently and have stopped using the other phone GPS apps (Onyx and TopoMaps+). Gaia is free to download on the app store, but it’s definitely worth an upgrade to the Gaia Pro system which is only $39 a year at Gaiagps.com.
Here is a video that goes through its features:
10 Reasons we love Gaia GPS for Foraging
- Gaia GPS has an intuitive and easy interface on the phone that is a joy to use in the field. If you have ever used Garmin GPS, you will know what I mean when I say Joy!
- It has several favorite map layers we use for mushrooming (it seems to have hundreds of layers available), but, these five are typically better than Garmin maps!
- USFS 2016 Maps – probably our most used for day-to-day
- NatGeo Trails Illustrated – excellent maps!
- ESRI World Imagery Satellite Maps – high quality satellite imaging
- Gaia Topo Vector – Great topo maps when we really want to focus on topo
- World Shaded Relief – Makes your topo maps and satellite maps more 3D. Love it!
- Maps can be downloaded ahead of time for use outside of cell phone range.
- Maps autosync to Gaiagps.com – We always have the maps we need.
- Gaiagps.com offers full admin and editing on all the maps, waypoints, tracks, etc. so you can manage your digital maps from your computer. It also has a handy organization structure that allows you to remove un-needed digital assets from your phone’s memory. All through a browser (err… sorry Garmin, Basecamp, or whatever you call your glitchy desktop software, sucks.)
- Gaiagps.com allows both Kristen and I to synch our data and mingle it, as every husband and wife foraging team desires!
- Gaiagps.com integrates with my iPhone’s excellent camera. I can see all the photos I took right in the app.
- It works on our iPad.
- At Gaiagps.com you can easily “print” your map… or, print to a pdf. If you buy “Rite in the Rain All Weather Copier/Laser Printer” you can print it to weatherproof paper (we save it as a pdf and take it to the local copy shop to print on color laser printers, but, we provide the paper in 11×17 size). It is nice to have custom printed maps of your forage areas!
- You can import Modern Forager burn morel fire maps in as a separate layer!
2 Problems with Gaia GPS, Nothing is Perfect
- Phone GPS is not as reliable (in the deep forest for instance) nor as accurate (Garmin gets you within several feet).
- It can run down your batteries. Plan ahead for this and employ battery saving methods.
Turns out, staying un-lost and ensuring you find your car at the end of your tired day is kind of fun. This $39 tool is well worth adding to your quiver. Put more mushrooms in that basket!
What do you think? Please comment below and share your own tips for a successful hunt! Check out our CA, OR, WA & ID morel burn maps if you are so inclined.