Maplets – The Offline Map App with GPS

Maplets includes freely downloadable maps from city, state, and national parks, bike trails, hiking trail, mass transit routes, ski resorts, you name it.

Maplets is an iPhone App and an Android App that lets you track your location using GPS on an offline map that you’ve downloaded to your phone or tablet. Once you purchase the app, you can download any map you want for free. Maplets redistributes 10,000 maps of city, state, and national parks, ski resorts, mass transit systems, you name it.

You don’t have to have any navigational skills to read the maps which are simply electronic versions of the free paper maps that you’d get when you visit a place that hands them out. While Maplets is a great app for hikers, really anyone can use it. You don’t need to be connected to cell phone service or the Internet, but you do need a GPS-enabled device like a smartphone.

For example, you can map your position on a map using GPS (blue dot) or create pins (red pin) to mark a location for future reference
For example, you can map your position on a map using GPS (blue dot) or create pins (red pin) to mark a location for future reference

In addition to being able to view maps on your phone, you can map your position using GPS, create pins on the maps, and share your location via email or social media.

You can even draw a route with your finger in red on a downloaded map (left), export the GPX file, and import it into Gaia (right) or another more sophisticated mapping app
You can even draw a route with your finger in red on a downloaded map (left), export the GPX file, and import it into Gaia (right) or another more sophisticated mapping app

Maplets also lets you draw routes on maps that you download using your finger (in red). You can export a route as a GPX file, and even import it into a more sophisticated mapping program like Gaia, shown here on the right.

The Good

  • Every map download is free, with new maps added all the time.
  • Shows your GPS position on the map
  • Fast Display – Much faster than viewing the equivalent PDFs on your phone
  • Once maps are downloaded, they are stored on your phone/tablet for quick offline access
  • Share your location via email or social media
  • Share routes or export them to other apps

The Bad

  • Maps provided can be out of date
  • Limited selection of maps (10,000 to date)
  • Publishers can’t sell maps through Maplets (all maps must be freely available today)

It’s pretty amazing how powerful and simple Maplets is to use. And you don’t have to be connected to the Internet or cell service to use it, as long as you can use your GPS.

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  1. For less than the cost of a Caramel Macchiato at you-know-where, I think I may do this. It might not have all the maps I want, but it will have enough to give me a serious case of camping fever.

    Are you going to do any evaluations of other mapping apps?

    I use Backcountry Navigator Pro and it’s possibly the best ten bucks I ever spent… unless my wedding license almost 44 years ago cost that, then BCN would be my second best ten dollar investment!

    • I think so. I’ve decided to integrate a smartphone navigation component into my map and compass navigation courses and have already been evaluating apps in the field for a few months. I think smartphone navigation has reached the stage where it can complement map and compass and it’s so MUCH better than a dedicated GPS device. I like it for the simple reason that it makes people plan their trips more (since they have to download the maps required for local storage).

      I have a post on Monday that I think you’ll find relevant to the subject.

      My second best investment was an iPhone 6. Not really, but it’s a huge improvement.

  2. Philip, I’ll have to agree with you that smartphone technology has finally come far enough now that using offline GPS navigation with dedicated apps has finally surpassed the dedicated GPS devices we once used. Once you put your phone in airplane mode to disable all the other wireless radios, the battery life is pretty good as long as you keep the screen off. The screen is usually the biggest killer of battery. I still have a backup 10,000 mah battery pack that I use as well.

    On my old Android phone I used Backcountry Navigator Pro. A bit pricey for an app at $10, but totally worth it. I still use that device as a dedicated “offline” smartphone on wi-fi only since I upgraded to an iPhone 6S. On my iPhone 6S I use Galileo.

    The thing I love best about Galileo is support for the Open Street Map project, or OSM. I use vector maps offline, and download sections of the OSM map for the area I’ll be in.

    If you haven’t checked out OSM yet, go to Great alternative to Google, and it actually shows known state and national trails on the map!

  3. Hey Philip you might want to check out Topo Maps. I like that it has the actual topo maps. I am on a SAR team and I use it a lot on our searches which include a lot of off trail assignments at night. I am not very technical and mostly what I use it for is just my location on the map but there are other things you can do too that I just haven’t checked out.

  4. I’ve heard some of the higher end dedicated GPS units have great sunlight readability which has been an issue with smartphones. How is the iPhone 6 series in that regard? A couple years ago on Franconia Ridge, I thought the battery on my Samsung S4 had died, however, the display had been washed out by the sun and I couldn’t give it enough shade to see anything onscreen whatsoever. It’s also happened to me in the deserts of west Texas. Out in the desert, I use satellite photography overlays as much as topographc and I need to be able to see the screen. A couple months ago, I got a Galaxy Note 4 because it was supposed to have the best outdoor readability of any Android device. It’s better than the S4 but still not too impressive in my eyes (pun not necessarily intended).

    • I usually don’t have a problem, but I find that it helps if you manually adjust the brightness settings to maximum instead of letting the light sensor auto adjust brightness for you. It uses the battery a bit faster, so keep the display off when you aren’t actively looking at it, but cranking the brightness certainly helps. I’ve noticed the brightness on my 6S is better than my old S4. Contrast is better on the S4 howerver.

      • On my S4, I get the brightest by manually moving it up. On the Note 4, the brightest setting comes from automatic. There was a Windoze phone that had even brighter sunlight settings but I didn’t want to go the M$ route. From what I hear, the super AMOLED technology that’s being used so much is great on contrast and color saturation indoors but it’s inherently not as readable in direct sun. Of course, if a display is spectacular indoors where 98% of the use is, the sales will stay strong. It just leaves us backpackers with Marty Feldman “Igor eyes”.

  5. I’m having problems with the “Post Comment” button scrolling off bottom of the screen with my lengthy, pithy perusals so I’m adding this…

    My smartphones have better battery life than my older dedicated GPS units had. I can also recharge with a juice pack or keep a few extra batteries with me since my Samsungs have replaceable batteies. I used to change AA lithium batteries in my GPS 1 to 2 times a day when on the trail, a pricey proposition. My Note 4 will go at least 2 days on a charge in airplane mode while using the GPS, which I leave on the entire time I’m hiking because I like to review the tracks and data later. I turn it off when stopped for the night. The smartphone has a larger screen and more map options and I also have plenty of other reading material on it. Sometimes, if I have a cell signal, I send gotcha “Look where I’m at and you’re not!” photo messages to deserving friends. Hey, they do it to me!

    • I have the opposite experience. My old etrex ran for 24+ hours on a pair of AA batteries, but Backcountry Navigator Pro will drain my phone pretty quickly- maybe 5 hours- if I leave tracking on.

      • BCN Pro likes it best when Battery Saver is off. It tracks most accurately in that mode. In my experience, it is a battery hog in that setting. When Battery Saver is set to ‘Extended’ it doesn’t track as closely and seems to truncate points and show direct lines between them as your path, almost as if you had set the time interval between fixes to a much greater period. It still chews through the battery on my current phone pretty quickly. I no longer use the Note 4 I referenced in this post.

        I contacted BCN about the issue and they let me know the lesser track precision in the battery extended mode is an Android issue. I don’t know what the solution is. I’m sure they are trying to develop workarounds there at Crittermap.

        I often use BCN but on the AT, I just stick with Guthook.

  6. It will show current position–but it will track in real time so you can export your actual hike? That would be super useful for my own logs.

  7. Is this serving the same function as PDF Maps?

  8. one thing to keep in mind, a dedicated GPS with buttons will perform much better than a touchscreen in cold temps.

  9. Sounds similar to Maprika (

  10. What do the red lines mean on the maps?

  11. What do the red lines mean on the city maps?

  12. How would you compare to GAIA? Been using this app for several years in southeast US.

    • Maplets uses pre-existing paper maps which are usually higher quality than gaia and geocodes them. It’s limited to areas that have paper maps though. Gaia maps are assembled on the fly from different data points so you don’t get curated and checked data like trails or roads. Maplets is way better and way cheaper if you in hike places overseen by conservation areas that sell paper maps because Gaia has very poor data quality controls and uses a lot of free data sources that have errors.

  13. From what I can tell Maplets is no longer available for Android. It’s a shame.

  14. I just want to say thanks for the good info Philip. I downloaded Maplets a few months ago and have used it quite a few times in the Ohio parks, forests, etc. It’s been better than Gaia and Alltrails in quite a few instances.

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