Once smartphones incorporated GPS capabilities, it was only a matter of time before someone developed backcountry navigation apps.

The inherent limitation of smartphones as backcountry mapping tools was the lack of a cell phone signal in the bush; without a signal, you couldn’t access online map. To get around this, GPS backcountry apps allow you to download topographic maps before heading into the wild. Then you can rely on the phone’s GPS to indicate your location on the map.

One cool feature of these apps is the ability to plan and track a trip, save the details for future reference, and share maps online. You can also mark waypoints and geotag photos that will appear on the saved maps.

A number of apps have emerged in recent time. Here are three we like:

Backpacker GPS Trails (Android and iPhone)

Gaia GPS (Android, iPhone, iPad)