BackCountry Navigator, GPS on your Mobile Phone

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BackCountry Navigator for your Smartphone

BackCountry Navigator GPSI have been a fan of handheld GPS units in the back country since my wife gave me a Garmin eTrex Legend almost 10 years ago. However, as this summer season approached and I had many trips lined up, I soon realized that my Garmin Legend would not do the trick. Each time I tried to load a map for the area I was heading to I would get “not enough memory error”. My old Garmin only has 8mb of built-in memory and no option for adding extra memory.

This was a dilemma, did I want to go out and buy a new GPS system or go back to the old standby of map and compass? Loving my Android based phone I decided to see what was available in the Market place. This is where I found Backcountry Navigator.

Backcountry Navigator is a GPS for your Android based phone that works even when you do not have cell service. This interested me, could it really be true that I could use my Android based mobile phone in the Backcountry as a GPS? I had to get it and test it out.

Backcountry Navigator sells for $9.95 in the Android marketplace so I thought I would purchase the full version and test it on my next trip.

BackCountry Navigator Does it Work?

BC Nav in ActionI have taken it on two trips, a backpacking trip in Kananaskis Country which was a 3 day trip with some off trail hiking. The second trip was just this past week which was a 7 day canoe trip in northern British Columbia.

BackCountry Navigator performed flawlessly and was accurate to about 30-50m. I was able to create waypoints, tracks etc. It has an easy to use interface with a few views like Map, Compass, Trip Data etc. The detail of the map download was fantastic so I was able to compare waypoints with the old fashion map and compass bearings. I was consistently amazed at the accuracy of the GPS on the Android and the BC Nav app.

If you are looking for a new GPS I would suggest that you give this great app a try. It has all the functions of any of the Basic GPS units out there. The app also supports importing tracks, in GPX or KML format and export of GPX format.

The only drawback was battery life on the mobile. I use a Samsung Captivate, and would put the phone into Airplane mode and I would get about 8 hours of battery life with the BackCountry Navigator app running all day and recording my track and manually setting waypoints at different intervals. I would charge my phone at night with my solar charger so that solved my battery issue.

BackCountry Navigator is available in two flavors, Android and Windows Mobile. This review is only on the Android version of the app.

BackCountry Navigator Map Sources

With a large selection of available map sources, it has the ability of offline maps by selecting the area you are going to travel in and then clicking download. Use offline topo maps and GPS on hike trails without cell service! The GPS in your Android phone can get its position from GPS satellites, and you don’t have to rely on your data plan to get maps. Have more fun and safe GPS adventures in the backcountry.

[info]Available Map Sources
OpenStreetMaps and NASA Landsat data worldwide. topo maps of US and Canada.
OpenCycleMaps showing terrain worldwide.
USGS Color Aerial photography.
UK Ordinance Survey Explorer Maps.
Topographic Maps of Spain and Italy.
Outdoor maps of Germany and Austria
Topo maps of New Zealand[/info]

Learn more about BackCountry Navigator features for the app in the Android Marketplace.

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