Released last night, the new GAIA GPS app is the first of its kind to include NatGeo Trails Illustrated maps. Other updates include snap-to-trail routing planning and a visual overhaul…

Posted by Logan Watts

The new app is a huge leap for Gaia GPS, with tremendous technology, feature, and usability improvements. Starting last September, eleven people worked on the design, engineering, and cartography for the new Gaia GPS. The beta tester group had about 80 participants, including professional guides, long distance hikers, backcountry skiers, hunters, off-roaders, mountain-bikers, and others – a broad cross-section of the Gaia GPS community.

Release Notes

The new Gaia GPS app displays maps more beautifully, makes map downloads smaller, and includes an expanded map catalog with the exciting addition of National Geographic Trails Illustrated. The new Gaia GPS also adds a great search experience that lets people easily find trails and parks. And, throughout the app, we refined the user interface and design elements to make backcountry navigation simpler.

New Gaia GPS App

Overall, changes include:

The ”mapping engine” has been totally replaced

  • maps are faster/smoother
  • Gaia Topo and some other sources are now displayed as ’vector’ maps – that means the labels stay crisp as you zoom in/out, downloads are smaller, and other benefits.

More maps

  • all users can now access MapBox Satellite, Outdoor, and Streets
  • Premium Members can access National Geographic Trails Illustrated, as well as Neotreks

New Gaia GPS App

New search feature

  • autocompleting search on map
  • search for parks, trails, places, and addresses
  • tap parks, trails, and other features on the map to get info

The iPhone interface has been greatly refined

  • tabs along the bottom with major functions
  • unified icons for buttons, refined colors/fonts/layout
  • improved every screen, from login/signup, to the map, to saved data

Other improvements

  • better interface to name things like tracks/waypoints (names get suggested if you are online, and you can set color/icon as you make things)
  • big overhaul to Saved/Details views for tracks/waypoints/etc
  • refined Trip stats view
  • fullscreen control in map toolbar
  • long-press fullscreen for additional map display options
  • option in iPhone settings to disable background GPS use


What happens to the classic Gaia GPS app?
The classic Gaia GPS app will no longer be available on the App Store after May 22. People can continue to use the classic app with no interruption.

Do existing users get access to the new app?
Existing app users get an extended free trial with the new Gaia GPS. The more recently they bought Gaia GPS, the longer the trial (between 30 days and 2 years free). Also, existing users with ”GaiaPro” subscriptions from the classic app get access to the new app at no additional cost, including all Premium maps.

How did the price change?
The old Gaia GPS cost $19.99 and had an optional $39.99/year GaiaPro subscription. The new Gaia GPS has a free trial, and two price levels. For a limited time, the new Gaia GPS app costs $9.99/year for the Member level, or $29.99 for the Premium level. The Member Level lets you use the full app, and all but a few map sources – try it free for 7 days. The Premium Member Level gives you access to sources like National Geographic Trails Illustrated, hunting data, and other specialized maps.

For more on GAIA GPS, check out our Using Your Smartphone as a GPS article, or visit the iTunes Store

  • Tom Anderson

    Android doesn’t appear to be updated yet. Most recent release in the Google Play store was 4/20/17. Assume a new version for Android is coming?

  • Smithhammer

    The updates sound sweet, but…..I just bought GAIA a month ago, and now I have to buy it again if I want to keep using it beyond the “free trial period?” That’s a little weak, imo.

  • According to their marketing, you get a credit. It’s a little confusing, but here’s the full FAQ:

  • Aileen G- Gaia GPS

    Tom, due to the amount of work that went into the new app, this release was just for iOS, though we also pushed the NatGeo maps to Android. We have plans to start updating Android soon, too. If you have GaiaPro in Android, you can access NatGeo from the More Layers menu under GaiaPro maps. If you don’t have GaiaPro, shoot us an email! (

  • Anna Johnson (Gaia GPS)

    Hi Smithhammer,

    If you purchased Gaia GPS a month ago you, you’ll get a 23 month subscription to the new app for free. You can also continue using the old app for as long as you like.

    Overall, we thought it was a reasonable compromise for existing users, and we thought most people would be happy to support our efforts and buy a Membership eventually.
    We’d of course refund or work with anyone who isn’t happy with these options. You can get in touch at

  • Smithhammer

    Great! Thanks for the reply, Anna. That seems very reasonable. And of course, I’m going to upgrade anyway – the new version sounds like too big of an improvement to pass up. ;-)

  • Christian Bischof

    I have just completed a 3 week bikepacking trip from the north of germany to the southern coast of france. I used my phone as the only navigation aid and used the Locus pro app (, which served me really well. However, I have to admit, it has more maps to choose from for europe…

  • Cass Gilbert

    If you’ve just bought it, you’ll get the new one for 2 years free – given it’s now a yearly subscription – which will cover the cost of your initial outlay. Plus, you can keep the old version, though I expect it will no longer be updated.

    That’s how I understand it, at least. Perhaps best to check.

  • Michael Dachs

    I already know I’m updating

  • Andrey

    What I don’t understand is why do you(Gaia guys) take money to access maps available from OSM for free? There are many other fast and free apps which uses truly vector map(small size, unlimited zoom) and the same source — OSM. The only advantage of Gaia – is detailed maps for *some* regions(which cost more money).

  • Although they do use some open source maps, OSM is just one of the many map layers that’s accessible from the app; I think they probably pay licensing fees for others. And in their defense, app development is extremely time consuming. As mentioned in the press release above, “Starting last September, eleven people worked on the design, engineering, and cartography for the new Gaia GPS.” Gaia App isn’t just access to maps; it’s also route planning, navigation and a lot more. I personally think it’s pretty cheap considering what you get. I use it all the time. And for the record, I advocate for their product because I use it and it’s really good. We have no affiliation with Gaia from an advertising perspective.

  • Locus Pro is really amazing – said it before but it just keeps getting better (if you are willing to brave the learning curve). Will use it this summer for navigating again, besides RidewithGPS for route planning.

  • garudablend

    how detailed are the Gaia maps of Baja?

  • Idle Prentice

    I’m a premium member with the original app, on iPhone. I went to the normal store where I buy apps, downloaded the new Gaia (logo looks identical, so it might be confusing if you’re looking for an updated logo) and downloaded it. It immediately recognized that I was a premium member, and my username and password were already in. All my dozens of previously saved trails were already there. The new interface is “brilliant” looking – it’s the only way I can describe it. Its so crisp and sharp it almost hurts your eyes. This is going to be great for looking at the map while the phone is on my handlebars. Effortless, seemless upgrade. Highly recommended. Can you get some stuff free other places, yeah…but this is one stop shopping for me. I will keep Ride With GPS but will probably cancel some of my other map app subscriptions. Thanks Gaia.

  • Mark Troup

    Unfortunately, I updated before realizing that the app I had already paid $20+ for was going to start charging me a yearly subscription fee. I will just be using Google Maps/Google Earth in combination with MapOut from now on. Disappointing.

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