Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

Recent changes in mapping technology

15th February 2022

There have been a few things that I have been meaning to write about in recent times but I never got around to doing that because of other distractions. Anyone who has been here before should know that I have a fascination with maps and the advance of technology has done nothing to change that. If anything, it has meant that two interests of mine come together: computing and hillwalking.

As part of going lighter weight, using the OS Maps app on my phone has become a common occurrence and I still bring paper maps with me on longer hikes even if I use phones with long battery life. The old skills remain invaluable when technology fails because of a lack of signal or electrical power.

The OS Maps subscription also means that you gain access to extra content on the associated web portal and that got a recent refresh. One advance is that it can be made full screen but a hardware driver issue meant that it would not work on one of my PC’s until I sorted the software problem.

Aside from the OS Maps app, I also have made much use of the ViewRanger app, especially on overseas trips. Ones to Ireland and Canada come to mind but the mix of content from existing providers with freely available mapping data proved to be a very useful one. That I managed to acquire enduring licences for some of these instead of subscriptions was an added attraction. It certainly made the option better in my eyes than what Geolives was offering through SityTrail even if subscriptions are how things are moving nowadays.

However, ViewRanger became part of Outdooractive so things changed. Because the pandemic kept me in the UK, I have not looked into the new operation so much but it could be something that I need to check for overseas escapades now that restrictions are easing again after the arrival of the Omicron strain of COVID-19 near the end of last year. Others have commented that the changeover has not been smooth but the free maps look comprehensive and I appear to have been able to carry over access to mapping data that I already had.

Speaking of travelling overseas, I am now a subscriber to Backpacker magazine and so have access to content from the Outside network. One part of that is GAIA GPS and the things are with hiking maps in the U.S.A. means that this is an interesting offering, especially if I get access through my existing subscription. When I tried before, I was able to see maps through its online portal but it would take an actual visit to really check out what is on offer. Though I am cautious, that might be more realisable than it has been for a long time.

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