4X Overland Adventures https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com Where the pavement ends your adventure begins! Wed, 09 Sep 2020 23:36:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Adding a Straight Awning and Awning Room to Our Trailer https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/adding-a-straight-awning-and-awning-room-to-our-trailer/ https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/adding-a-straight-awning-and-awning-room-to-our-trailer/#respond Tue, 21 Jul 2020 18:35:46 +0000 https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/?p=3137 Updated on 8/13/2020 - Photos with the additional quick-release mounts added. Yet another modification to our trailer. Since we don't have an RTT on top this is another way to expand the footprint of the trailer. For us, this room 8x8 will be used when camping with the dogs. Wife and dogs will be inside [...]

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Updated on 8/13/2020 - Photos with the additional quick-release mounts added.

Yet another modification to our trailer. Since we don't have an RTT on top this is another way to expand the footprint of the trailer. For us, this room 8x8 will be used when camping with the dogs. Wife and dogs will be inside the trailer and I will get chucked out to the awning room like Fred Flinstone. This setup can be used as a bug room as well. With its large size a cot can be placed towards the outer edge and still leave plenty of room to move in and out of the awning room. At 8x8 4 adults can also sit in the room comfortably to keep out of the elements.

Because of the fender walls, you can't get the awning perfectly flush to the side of the trailer. We are working on a few potential solutions to seal the wall panel and door area of the trailer. An update will be posted if we come up with a viable solution. One possible solution would be to stitch in another zipper to make a smaller hatch door. This would keep 75% of the interior wall zipped up and sealed.

One modification is the ability to move the awning forward when parked and back when moving with little effort. This will help place the awning door forward enough and also keep the awning in a more secure position when moving. For this solution, we are using 2 quick-release bracket systems from Ironman 4x4. The quick-release system makes it easy to remove the awning entirely for trips where we don't feel it will be needed. Parts are listed below.

Ironman 4x4's awning and room are similar to what ARB offers. With the awning being slightly cheaper. We have a hybrid setup with the Ironman awning and an ARB room. I was able to find better pricing at the time for the ARB room. We are happy with the quality of each and looking forward to tweaking and improving this setup over time.

These photos are from the first time we set everything up. In fact, the awning was installed the night before leaving for this trip.

When deploying this setup along with our 23Zero Peregrine 270 awning and walls the local tax authorities are likely to want to charge us property tax! We could even attach out OZ Tent RV-5 tent to either side of this setup for even more sleeping capacity. Yes, we are silly with all of our gear and proud of it!

Buckeye Reservoir on the Rimrocker Trail in Colorado.

Our 23Zero shower room can swing aft to clear the room with the bracket made by Off Grid Trailers.

All 3 walls can be mesh only or fabric panels.

Shown with awning as close to the trailer as possible. We have since moved the awning outward and will continue to tweak the setup.

In order for the awning door to line up with the trailer door the awning needs to be pretty far forward. We didn't like that as a permanent setup. By adding two additional quick-release mounts it is easy to move the awning forward and aft as required.

Additional brackets allow the awning to move approximately 14" forward and aft.

Forward position. The back of awning is forward of the end of the shower enclosure.

"Driving Position" the awning is as far back as we can get it.

Parts List:

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A comment about our reviews https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/a-comment-about-our-reviews/ https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/a-comment-about-our-reviews/#respond Tue, 07 Jul 2020 00:50:04 +0000 https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/?p=3124 A random person we will call, Dan, because that is the name he used without legitimate contact information accused this site of being paid to write reviews. Specifically for Gaia GPS. We ARE NOT paid to write any reviews period! We do offer a way to receive a discount on your Gaia GPS membership. [...]

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A random person we will call, Dan, because that is the name he used without legitimate contact information accused this site of being paid to write reviews. Specifically for Gaia GPS.

We ARE NOT paid to write any reviews period! We do offer a way to receive a discount on your Gaia GPS membership. That is an affiliate link which is very common in this industry. It has also been stated in many articles that we do receive a small fee IF people sign up with Gaia GPS.  This is vastly different than writing fake reviews. We have used Gaia GPS for over 7 years. We have also tried just about every other navigation app out there. Especially if it is on the iOS platform which we prefer. We pay annual fees for other apps so we can constantly monitor what they are doing and if there is some other feature or app we end up preferring.

Our reviews are an opinion. Take it or leave it. With regards to Gaia GPS if we find an app that works better we will gladly use it. We will also gladly write about it. If a future review on a competing product does not sing its praises it is not because someone paid us to say so. It will be because based on our opinion it is not better.

In case anyone is confused there is now a link at the bottom of every page which shows who we have affiliate links with. I do not know how else I can make it any more clear. We will ALWAYS disclose if someone has furnished 4XOA with a product for review. Guess what, that does not mean the review would be glowing or favorable.

Integrity is everything and we will defend it when wrongfully accused. If you don't like our reviews or feel that referral fees/affiliate links are the same as being paid to write fake reviews that is up to you.

This horse has been beaten to death enough. We love Gaia GPS and have worked with them for years to help make it a better app for the overlanding/offroad community. This is why our reviews are favorable. When there are things we don't like we mention it. There are no strings attached.

Safe travels

Chris, owner 4x Overland Adventures LLC.

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The Importance of Current Fire Information – Gaia GPS Map Layer https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/the-importance-of-current-fire-information-gaia-gps-map-layer/ https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/the-importance-of-current-fire-information-gaia-gps-map-layer/#respond Wed, 17 Jun 2020 00:45:48 +0000 http://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/?p=3090 Gaia GPS offers the most map types and layers of any navigation app. Having a great topo map doesn't always show the full picture of where you are planning on traveling. If you are from out of state you may not have heard of a recent fire to an area you are wanting to [...]

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Gaia GPS offers the most map types and layers of any navigation app. Having a great topo map doesn't always show the full picture of where you are planning on traveling. If you are from out of state you may not have heard of a recent fire to an area you are wanting to explore. The Gaia GPS Wildfires(Current) layer is an excellent resource. This layer shows current fires and fires within the past calendar year.  The public lands layer displays additional details including BLM areas and state trust land. By visiting the corresponding website additional details on current restrictions can be found. Knowing areas of state trust land in Arizona is important. Accessing state trust land requires an annual permit.

When you are planning your next adventure, especially out of state where you might not be familiar with current fires are be sure to add the wildfire layer to Gaia GPS. You can save 20% or more on your Gaia GPS membership subscription by visiting GaiaGPS.com/4XOA.

Sample Screenshots - Bush, Sawtooth, and Woddbury fires near Phoenix, AZ.

Gaia Topo Layer with Wildfires (Current) Layer. Bush Fire near Phoenix, AZ Tonto National Forest. https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/maps/6773/

What a difference a few days make - 

We recently took a trip up to one of our favorite locations on the Mogollon Rim near Payson, AZ. Just an hour after we returned a car fire started a now huge wildfire near the exit we use to return home. Less than 24 hours later the highway was closed. 72 hours later the fire is now over 65,000 acres with zero containment. One of the most popular recreation areas in the Phoenix area for hiking, OHV riding, off-roading, and target shooting is now completely on fire. The area will never be the same although it will return to some normalcy in a few years. This is the 3rd area in a year where the AZ community spends a lot of time that has been impacted by wildfires. The largest was human-caused by someone being careless with fire. Non-native grasses and plants have taken over a lot of the Arizona desert. It is causing great damage when fires start.

Fire growth after 72 hours. Gaia Topo Layer (6/16/20)

iPhone Screenshot

Fire Details Screen

General Fire Resources:

The following websites are excellent resources on current fires and campfire restrictions throughout the united states.

InciWeb - InciWeb shows current fire information including up to date restrictions and maps for fires in the US
US Forest Service - Home page for the US Forest Service. You can search for individual forests by state
BLM - Bureau of Land Management - Learn about BLM fire restrictions by state

gaiagps

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Great Western Trail – Utah Adventure Image Gallery https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/great-western-trail-image-gallery/ https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/great-western-trail-image-gallery/#respond Sat, 06 Jun 2020 00:15:45 +0000 http://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/?p=3024 All Rights Reserved © 2020 4X Overland Adventures. No use granted without prior permission.

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All Rights Reserved © 2020 4X Overland Adventures. No use granted without prior permission.

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Great Western Trail – Grand Staircase Trip Report Part I https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/great-western-trail-grand-staircase-trip-report-part-i/ https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/great-western-trail-grand-staircase-trip-report-part-i/#respond Fri, 05 Jun 2020 22:10:54 +0000 http://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/?p=2923 There are many iconic trails in the west. The Great Western Trail is one of the lesser-traveled routes. The GWT starts at the southern AZ border and extends all the way to the Canadian border. There is no official well-detailed website with information on the Great Western Trail. Some information can be found at [...]

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There are many iconic trails in the west. The Great Western Trail is one of the lesser-traveled routes. The GWT starts at the southern AZ border and extends all the way to the Canadian border. There is no official well-detailed website with information on the Great Western Trail. Some information can be found at gwt.org but it appears to be incomplete.  We have researched different routes including a section of the trail near Capitol Reef, UT which is only for quads and single-track vehicles.  On this trip, we focused on the section from Williams to the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

Day 1-2 route map created using GPX Editor for Mac.

The Grand Staircase is an area in Utah we have not explored enough. For more information visit, visitutah.com

This trip was a combination of areas we have explored in the past combined with a few new adventures. It was special because we got to take our friend Ashli from Gaia GPS on her first overlanding trip! We use Gaia to plan and navigate all of our adventures. Check out her personal blog at tentside.com. She recently wrote a great article on getting her Ham license.

There is very little off-roading required on this trip. While 4WD is required in sections, especially when towing a trailer, this is a true Overlanding experience with mostly wide-open dirt roads.

Our meetup point was near Williams, AZ in a popular dispersed camping area. Simple camping, nothing epic but easy to find and convenient to start the trip. If you have additional time starting the Great Western Trail from Jerome, AZ is a good location with lots of history and scenery on the way to Williams.

Highlights -

  • Grandview Lookout Tower Grand Canyon South Rim
  • Camping at the edge of the Grand Canyon
  • Searching for Condors
  • Exploring the edges of Lake Powell
  • Cliff ascent on Smokey Mountain Road
  • Slot Canyon on Cottonwood Canyon Road and the Grosvenor arch

Day 1 -
After a reasonable wakeup time, we headed into Williams to fuel up and meet another couple who was joining us for the night. You can start in Williams or you can drive a few miles to the east and start. We opted for the later to save a bit of time. This portion of the trail is paved until it transitions to a wide dirt forest road. This is a popular area for OHV users so be aware of other vehicles. The crowds will quickly thin as you move north towards the Grand Canyon. There are many dispersed camping opportunities. After enjoying the peaceful drive we reached the historical Grandview Lookout Tower. A slow steady climb up the steps provides a unique view of the South Rim.

Once our visit was complete we headed a short distance south to set up camp. There are many dispersed camping sites in the near area but don't be surprised if some are occupied on the weekends.

Day 2 -

There are 2 options for this segment. Exit to the north past the Grandview lookout tower to highway 64 or continue on dirt following the GWT. This section of the park was closed during our trip due to Covid-19 restrictions. When open one reason to pass through the south rim is it will give you an even greater appreciation of the tranquility of the north rim. As you exit 64 to the east the small Navajo town of Cameron is a good place to refuel. Your next opportunities are at Gap, Marble Canyon, and Cliff Dwellers. Cliff Dwellers is typically much cheaper than Marble Canyon. The food at both locations is good. I personally love the omelets at the Marble Canyon Lodge. Sadly the Navajo nation was in lockdown. It was an eerie experience compared to all of our other times in the region.

Grand Canyon overlooks off of highway 89a

As you turn off of 89a north of Cliff Dwellers to rejoin the GWT there is a closed gate be sure to close it after you pass through. The easy dirt transitions to a small easy 4x4 section as your traverse a small canyon.

After about 30 minutes of driving, you will come to the first of several north rim overlooks. Camping on the edge of the Grand Canyon is an incredibly unique experience. It can get very windy so be prepared.

From this overlook you can see the 27 mile and Hansbrough Richards rapids.

We explored each overlook and opted to camp at one we had not been to before. After some adult beverages, a great meal of tacos, and a nice sunset it was time to go to bed and ponder what was next.

Not a bad spot to make carne asada tacos with fresh veggies and rice.

Day 3 took us to the edge of Lake Powell and our hottest night of camping yet. More in part II!

For additional photos visit the trip photo gallery.

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Our Gear List https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/our-camping-gear-list/ https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/our-camping-gear-list/#respond Sun, 10 May 2020 15:57:42 +0000 http://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/?p=2600 Over the past 7 years, we have tried and tested a wide variety of camping gear. This is a list of what we pack and bring on a regular basis. We believe in buying quality gear that will last for years vs cheap disposable gear. Some of this comes down to personal preference. A [...]

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Over the past 7 years, we have tried and tested a wide variety of camping gear. This is a list of what we pack and bring on a regular basis. We believe in buying quality gear that will last for years vs cheap disposable gear. Some of this comes down to personal preference. A chair we love another person may not be comfortable in. This is what works for us.

All of our gear is well organized. 90% of it remains in our trailer making it easy to get away on a moment's notice. If you don't own a trailer having everything well organized can save time packing along with reducing the chance of forgetting items. How we have organized has changed through the years based on the different trailers we have owned. Read our storage article for mini-reviews of the product we like. The common theme has been store items in clear tubs as much as possible and label everything else.

If you are just starting out we hope you find this list useful. Everything is a trade-off and we constantly reevaluate what we pack and how we pack. Clicking the Buy button will take you to the retailer's website or Amazon for more information.

On your mobile device tap the + sign to see product images.

Camping Gear

Product NamePriceDescriptionInfo
Revel Trailhound LED Lights$24.99-$29.99These copper wire lights work great along our awning.Buy
Blue Ridge Overland Gear Tire Storage Bag XL$179.99If you are tired of your other brand trash bag falling apart upgrade to this monster bag from Blue Ridge Overland Gear. Easy to take on and off of your vehicle, built to last, made in the USA with a lifetime warranty. Buy
https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/orangescrewlg.jpgOrange Screw - The Ultimate Ground Anchor$19.95In soft dirt and sandy conditions standard ground stakes won't do the job. When you want to secure your valuable gear we suggest the large orange screws. We own a mix of the large and small styles. Pack of 2.Buy
https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/orangescrewlg.jpgOrange Screw - The Ultimate Ground Anchor - Small$26.95Depending on conditions we also uses the small orange screws to halp secure everything down come in a pack of 4Buy
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/417JCCGEkkL._AC_.jpgRope Ratchets 1/4"$8.59Rope Ratchets make it easy to quickly secure and adjust the lines to the awning. Take the hassle out of adjusting ropes.Buy
TablesOur additction to finding the perfect table(s) is only second to our addiction to find the perfect flashlight. Yes we own all of these tables! Depending on the type of trip a few get rotated in and out.
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61QibkX3WUL._AC_SL1500_.jpgLifetime Commercial 4' Table$50.00This table is quick to setup and rugged. We like that it can be set at 36" in height. This is our go to table with our trailer.Buy
https://www.rei.com/media/02699e6a-cc9e-49ac-a89d-5ffbf77a3982?size=784x588REI Rolltop Table$75.00This is a great compact table. Quick setup and takedown. The only con for some users will be the fixed height of 28"Buy
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71PfnulxXYL._AC_SL1500_.jpgAlps Sidekick Table/Stool$25.00This is a great small side table and stool for when you need a quick place to sit. One of our favorite gadgets! We own two!Buy
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/814RfkG22eL._AC_SL1500_.jpgBrowning Camping Outfitter Table$85.00Great for tall people. Rolls up for storage. Table height can extend to 36". This is our go to table when we camp without our trailer. Buy
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61hQDGDo4BL._AC_SL1500_.jpgLifetime 4' Folder Table$39.99More compact but less sturdy than the non-folding version. This is also a good option. For Off Grid Trailer owners this will fit inside of the front storage box next to your fridgeBuy
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71f%2By2EFHmL._AC_SL1500_.jpgAlps Mountaineering Dining Table XL$99.99This is a great sturdy table that rolls up into a carrying bag. The only con is it in not compact. with the top arms being full length when stored. 28" W x 55" L x 28" HBuy
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71mrKAACpIL._AC_SL1500_.jpgNemo Stargaze Recliner Luxury Camp Chair$220.00We love these rocker style chairs. Only con is the chair tends to keep you in a reclined position which might make it harder for some to eat. While we love the chairs you should always test a chair before purchasing one. Buy
https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/BF-FD41.jpegFenix Flashlights and HeadlampsDepends on modelToo many models to list but we wrote an article on what our favorites are. Great reliable flashlights and headllamps. Buy
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51U%2BY7k7NBL._AC_SL1000_.jpgDometic CFX3 75L Dual Zone Powered Cooler$1,299.00One of the largest fridges available that will still fit inside of our FJ Cruiser. This dual zone fridge allows us to carry frozen goods in either sections if we want to. We have the previous generation model. This new model has better power consumption information in the app (Yes, the fridge has an app) and can even make ice cubes for you. Regardless of model and most brands a fridge will greatly enhance your camping experience. We even did a fridge shootout review in 2017. No more soggy bread!Buy
https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0090/5910/6873/products/65-ss-front..png?v=1574961324Canyon CoolerVariesFor when we don't bring our fridge or when we want to dedicate the fridge to food and have cold beverages the Canyon Coolers are excellent. We own two different sizes. Also great for trips to the store in the hot summer months.Buy

Cooking Gear

Product NamePriceDescription
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61cayjLlQqL._AC_SL1500_.jpgOmnia Oven$69.99-$110If you miss baking on the trail the Omnia oven is a great solution. We have baked bread, biscuits, stuff chicken, and more in our Omnia Oven. We recommend getting the silicone liners it makes cleanup very easy!Buy
Front Runner Utencil Set$59.95Camp Kitchen Utencil Set - This is a super convenient setup. It attaches nicely to the side of our trailer. Buy
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61gRMlHkWuL._AC_SL1306_.jpgMagma Stacking Pots$149.95If you value storage space these stacking pots are the way to go. Great quality and easy to clean. We store them in the optional bag.Buy
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/A17iwrwLi9L._AC_SL1500_.jpgSea to Summit Delta Plate$9.95Many choices when it comes to plates. These work well for us. Buy
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61auoer0Q-L._AC_SL1398_.jpgSea to Summit Bowl$7.79-$14.95Available with our without a lid. Pack well.Buy
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81vWEk9VqLL._AC_SL1500_.jpgJetBoil$105.95For when you need hot water quickly. (Think morning coffee) the JetBoil is an amazing piece of equipment to have. Also great for when the weather is bad and you just want a quick bag meal. Buy
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81eAR9vV9LL._AC_SL1500_.jpgJetBoil French Press$17.95NEW for 2020! Create delicious French press style coffee wherever your adventure takes you.Buy
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61cXx2urNNL._AC_SL1500_.jpgGas ONE GS-3900P New Dual Fuel Propane or Butane Portable Stove$59.99We use this single burner stove with our Omnia Oven when baking and to keep food warm during group meals.Buy
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/817c2lrevEL._AC_SL1500_.jpgCollapsable Tubs$19.95Great for soaking dirty dishes. While our trailer has a sink these expand our capabilities and allow us to conserve water. Buy
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81bi-%2Bjo8zL._AC_SL1500_.jpgLunatec Quick Dry Scrubber Cloth$8.75Is there anything worse than a funky sponge? These work great and dry out quickly 4 pack- Quick drying so no smell or bacteria. Buy
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/91scE%2B6Vl-L._AC_SL1500_.jpgCandure Cast Iron Cleaner Stainless Steel 7x7 Inch Chainmail Scrubber$9.99This is a great way to clean all metal pots and pans. Buy
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81dP86xHkKL._AC_SL1500_.jpgNapoleon O-Grill$199.00We have found this to be the most compact with a large grilling surface. We also have the optional carrying bag.Buy

Tech Gear, Communications, and Gadgets

Product NamePriceDescription
Midland Radio MXT115149.99Great compact GMRS radio. See our articleBuy
6DB Antenna Upgrade MXTA26$39.99This antenna helps improve reception and transmitting power in urban environmentsBuy
Midland MXTA12 NMO Magentic Mount$24.99Magnetic mount for 6DB AntennaBuy
Midland - GXT1000VP4, 50 Channel GMRS Two-Way Radio$69.99Great handheld radios to use when away from camp or to use with someone spotting your rig on the trail.Buy
SolarRegardless of battery capacity at some point you need to recharge those batteries.
Renogy Solar Panels$169.99You could say we are addicted to solar. Our vehicle has a 100 watt panel mounted to the roof rack. Our trailer has a 50 watt panel and we have a 100 watt solar suitcase as well. Regardless of what batteries you have or how many at some point they need to be recharged. Renogy products have worked well for us. We accidently left our portable panel in its case on our roof rack. It fell of the roof at over 50mph and survived with only minor damage. Price listed is for the 100 watt panel we own. Buy
Renogy Rover MPPT Controller $165.00We have this controller installed in our trailer. We also use the optional Bluetooth module to monitor our solar and battery performance.Buy
Renogy BT-1 Bluetooth Module Solar Charge Controller Wireless monitor PV System$39.00Used in conjunction with both of our solar controllers. You can check your panel performance from the comfort of your camping chair. Range is up to 30'Buy
Renogy Wanderer 10 Amp 12V/24V PWM Negative Ground Solar Charge Controller$32.00This is an excellent basic solar controller. We use this one in our vehicle to control the 100 watt panel mounted to our rooffrack.Buy
Fireside Outdoor Pop-Up Pit$119.95This amazing firepit is compact and portable. Set up your fire where you want! Add the optional grilltop and you have a great cooking surface. Fires burn completely out with easy cleanup when you are done. Buy
Garmin InReach Explorer$417.00Garmin offers several different models including the InReach mini. This model is most similar to what we own. We have had ours for 4 years and it works great. The ability to communicate anywhere without cell service is a great safety tool.Buy
GOOLOO 800A Peak 18000mAh SuperSafe Car Jump Starter$69.99We own a different model but when all else fails a jumpbox like this can be a lifesaver and get you back on the road. We have never had to use our personally but have helped others when their battery failed. Buy
Govee Wireless Thermometer Hygrometer, Mini Bluetooth Humidity and Temperature Sensor $19.99We use this inside of our shower box to monitor the temperature. You can set temperature alarms. For example notify me when the temp goes below freezing. Great device. You can easily export data from the free app to a spreadsheet.Buy
Flexzilla HFZ1450YW2 1/4" (inches) x 50' (feet) Air Hose, 50 ft$20.88We use this with our ARB compressor. The hose can but cut down to a shorter lenght if need be but this size allows us to air up our trailer tires and help others who might not have a compressor. Buy
Other Options We Like
Midland MXT275$149.99Optional Radio - Another great radio from Midland in a different form factor. Buy

Personal Hygiene

Product NamePriceDescription
Lunatec Aquabot Spray Nozzle $21.00Take a quick shower, wash your hands, cool off, rinse dishes and more! If we were on an island as they say we would want the Aquabot. So many uses. The two best are for showing and rinsing dishes. Increase your campsite water efficiiency. Buy
Cleanwaste Portable Toilet$64.00Well you gotta go and we like this toilet. Bags are expensive but when you have to pack in and pack out they work well. Buy
Dude Wipes - Shower Wipes$15.38For those between shower times. These extra large wipes get the job done.Buy
Bush toilet$79.00When camping in an area where digging a hole for your waste is acceptable this toilet makes doing your business a comfortable process. The manufacturer states bags can be used but we have not found them to be too convenient. Packing out your TP to avoid future "white flowers" near your campsite is encouraged. When done this folds nice and flat for compact storage. Buy
High Pressure 6 Setting Handheld Shower Head with ON/OFF Switch and Spa Spray Mode $26.99The default showheads that come with most hot water heaters are not very good. We found our factory one hard to turn on and off. This direct placement works great. No need to swap the water line. All you have to do is replace the head. Make sure you use Teflon tape to seal the threads. Buy

Storage

With all the gear we carry you have to have a place to put it. These are some of our favorite storage bags and containers. We have a more in-depth discussion of our preferred storage options here.

Product NamePriceDescription
Harbor Freight 18" Tool Bag$22.99Great to pack a variety of gear. Buy
Harbor Freight Ammo Box$4.99We use these for all kinds of thing: Bug gear, tent stakes, spices, you name it. 5 are in the back are in our trailer galley.Buy
Sheffield Field Box/Ammon Can$10.99Another good option to store gear. Variety of color choicesBuy
Ikea 365+ Storage ContainersFrom $3.49Multiple size choices. 4-6 latch design provides a good seal to keep air and dust out. We use these to store food and miscellaneous gear.Buy
WaterBrick 3.75 Gallons$24.00At 3.75 gallons they are not too heavy to lift. We use these when we don't bring our trailer. Great as a general water storage container or hand washing station. They also stack well. Buy
WaterBrick Spout$19.99This water spout works well. Easy on and off with no leakingBuy
FrontRunner WolfPacks$39.99These storage boxes are square, stackable, and watertightBuy
ZipLock Storage TubsVariesThese come in a variety of sizes. Each have a good dustproof seal. We like clear storage tubs whenever possible. It's always nice to be able to easily see what is inside. Buy

Links to purchase products are provided. We are an Amazon Affiliate. If you buy through our site we receive a small commission from Amazon. Your pricing stays the same.

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We Compare Gaia GPS to OnX Offroad and the Garmin Overlander GPS https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/we-compare-gaia-gps-to-onx-offroad-and-the-garmin-overlander-gps/ https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/we-compare-gaia-gps-to-onx-offroad-and-the-garmin-overlander-gps/#respond Fri, 08 May 2020 05:08:45 +0000 http://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/?p=2690 Here is our competitive analysis of Gaia GPS vs OnX Offroad and Gaia GPS vs the Garmin Overlander.  After 7 years of use and comparing Gaia GPS to many competitors we still think Gaia GPS is the best app for offroad and overlanding. Do other apps have features we like? Yes, but Gaia is [...]

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Here is our competitive analysis of Gaia GPS vs OnX Offroad and Gaia GPS vs the Garmin Overlander.  After 7 years of use and comparing Gaia GPS to many competitors we still think Gaia GPS is the best app for offroad and overlanding. Do other apps have features we like? Yes, but Gaia is still the most robust and functional app. 

Where we see the competition heating up is in curated content (show me trails) Both Garmin and OnX are marketing this aspect of their products. OnX has developed landing pages on its website to highlight trails in AZ, CA, Moab, and N and S Colorado. We fully expect this catalog to expand over time. In fact, OnX is actively seeking “Trail Guides” to help them develop content. While not being able to speak to specifics on what Gaia GPS has in the works we know they are working on similar things. Garmin does not offer this to date. Based on a new motorcycle GPS Garmin is offering we could see Garmin adding some level of trail selection to the Overlander in the future. 

We recently planned a 6-day trip using both the Gaia GPS app and the online portal. Based on our experience with OnX and looking at the feature set of the Overlander the same near-effortless planning could not have taken place. Can Gaia GPS be improved? Of course, it can. The great news is the Gaia team is constantly working on these improvements. App updates are frequent and Gaia has been working on improving the tools used on the gaiagps.com account dashboard.

Read our planning article for more insights. There are a variety of tools that serve a similar purpose. There is no way to review them all. Use your best judgment by reading reviews like this to decide what works best for you. 

- Safe Travels

Gaia GPS vs OnX Offroad -

Gaia GPS has been under consistent development for over 12 years. During that time many competitors have surfaced. OnX is one of them. OnX appears to have a large marketing budget since our social media feeds have recently seen lots of ads by them. Marketing brings in potential customers. A well-developed product keeps customers. As of writing this article OnX isn’t anywhere close to being as user-friendly and robust as Gaia GPS. Some may argue Gaia GPS is not user-friendly for novice tech users but we have helped hundreds become Gaia pros through the years. Gaia has a very good support website and a very good support team of people. When OnX Offroad initially launched the app there was no support site. As of May 2020, there is one. 

The only edge we will give OnX Offroad is on curated content. However, one of the trails OnX recommends in AZ is permanently closed. We took the time to notify them. In place of any app curated content, there are many great websites to give you tracks and ideas of where to explore. While it is nice that OnX is building its own database we don’t see this as a reason to not choose Gaia GPS. We suggest TrailsOffroad.com, TrailDamage.com for Colorado, and RideBDR.com for the amazing border to border overlanding routes. There are hundreds of resources available. 

We have an annual subscription to OnX Offroad and will continue to test the app. We will also use it on an upcoming trip side by side with Gaia GPS for future review purposes.  Keep working OnX!

Gaia GPS Support: help.gaiagps.com
OnX Offroad Support: https://onxor.zendesk.com/hc/en-us

Feature

Map Layers

Over 250 with a premium subscription including over 12 map layers for offroad and overlanding use. Including MVUM, NatGeo Maps, multiple topo layers, private and public land data

3 map layers - Topo, Satellite, Hybrid

Ability to Layer Maps

Yes

No

Ability to download offline maps

Yes - Gaia GPS provides 3 methods. Select an area with detail level, download maps for a specific track, draw a polygon area and download maps

Only area. Limited to set sizes and detail levels. Much less flexible.

Record Tracks

Yes

Yes

Create Waypoints

Yes - including waypoints with photo

Yes - including waypoints with photo

Import Tracks and Waypoints

Yes - via email or text link and open in-app feature. Also via GaiaGPS.com

No ability to import tracks via the app. Must do online. 

Export Tracks and Waypoints

Yes - In-app or share via GaiaGPS.com

Yes - OnX calls recorded tracks and waypoints “Markups”

Create Routes

Yes - In-App and GaiaGPS.com

No

Runs on multiple devices iOS and AndroidText

Yes - One license for all devices

Yes

Apple CarPlay Integration

Yes - extend the app to a larger screen with no additonal hardware. As of 9/2020 Gaia GPS is the only Off-Road Navigation app with Apple CarPlay support

No

Road Navigation (Turn-by-turn) Navigate to a waypoint

Links out to Apple or Google Maps app for directions.

In-app straight-line guidance

No, only straight-line guidance

POI Data
(Point of Interest)

Yes - with Gaia Topo Layer, USFS Recreation site layer and other map layers like NatGeo

No

Camping Database

No - requires 3rd party app(s) on your device

No - requires 3rd party app(s) on your device

Emergency Location Services

No

No

Ability to share location in real-time

No

No

Price - Annual Membership

Two Levels starting at $20.00 a year.


Standard Membership:
$20/1 yr
$48/5 yrs only $6/yr


Premium membership unlocks the entire map catalog of over 250 map layers. Premium membership is $32 for a 1 yr subscription or $128 ($26/yr) with the 4XOA discount. 

https://www.gaiagps.com/membership

$29.99/year

Gaia GPS vs the Garmin Overlander -

Before talking about features we think it is important to discuss pricing. Gaia GPS is a free app with an annual subscription to get full use of all of its features. The Overlander is a dedicated hardware device costing $699.00. In the 7 years of using Gaia GPS we have owned many different mobile phones and tablets. Gaia has run on all of them. As the hardware technology improved so has Gaia GPS. Gaia GPS also now supports Apple CarPlay. CarPlay allows you to extend the screen of your iPhone for free. Buying a dedicated GPS device means you hope the manufacturer will keep it up-to-date. The Overlander offers all-in-one convenience while also compromising on feature sets. One interesting feature is the ability to use up to 4 Garmin cameras with the Overlander. From what we have read owners of the Overlander who also bought the cameras have been pleased with the functionality. A premium 5-year subscription for Gaia GPS is only $128.00. Compare that to the price of the Overlander we see it as an easy choice. All of the supplemental apps on the Overlander like iOverlander and Foursquare are available as apps on smartphones and tablets. 

Feature

Map Layers

Over 250 with a premium subscription including over 12 map layers for offroad and overlanding use. Including MVUM, NatGeo Maps, multiple topo layers, private and public land data

4 map layers - Topo, 3D Topo (driving mode), Open Streets, and Satellite

Require Download USGS Quad and Satelite.

Ability to Layer Maps

Yes

No

Ability to download offline maps

Yes - Gaia GPS provides 3 methods. Select an area with detail level, download maps for a specific track, draw a polygon area and download maps

All maps are built into the device

Record Tracks

Yes

Yes

Create Waypoints

Yes - including waypoints with photo

Yes - including waypoints with photo

Import Tracks and Waypoints

Yes - via email or text link and open in-app feature. Also via GaiaGPS.com

Must upload to SD Card or use Garmin Explore online dashboard

Export Tracks and Waypoints

Yes - In-app or share via GaiaGPS.com

Must upload to SD Card or use Garmin Explore online dashboard

Create Routes

Yes - In-App and GaiaGPS.com both have auto routing features for hiking, cycling, and driving. Gaia use the OpenStreets database to help choose routes adjustment can be made by add manual points. 

Yes - using Explore(™) app at Explore.Garmin.Com. Routes are straight line. There is no autorouting feature. Multiple points need to be set to account for curves and turns.

Runs on multiple devices iOS and AndroidText

Yes - One license for all devices

NA - Dedicated Hardware Device

Road Navigation (Turn-by-turn) Navigate to a waypoint

Links out to Apple or Google Maps app for directions.

In-app straight-line guidance

Built-In Garmin Roads app via Drive button

POI Data
(Point of Interest)

Yes - with Gaia Topo Layer, USFS Recreation site layer and other map layers like NatGeo

Various complimentary built-in apps for food, gas, lodging, camping

Camping Database

No - requires 3rd party app(s) on your device

Yes, via the iOverlander App which is loaded on to the device along with Garmin existing database

Emergency Location Services

No

Yes with additional Garmin InReach hardware purchase and subscription plan

Ability to share location in real-time

No

No

Price - Annual Membership

Two Levels starting at $20.00 a year.


Standard Membership:
$20/1 yr
$48/5 yrs only $6/yr


Premium membership unlocks the entire map catalog of over 250 map layers. Premium membership is $32 for a 1 yr subscription or $128 ($26/yr) with the 4XOA discount. 

https://www.gaiagps.com/membership/

$699.99 - No annual membership/subscription fee

As mentioned 4X Overland Adventures offers discounts on the annual Gaia GPS membership/subscription fee. Click here for more details.  We receive a small affiliate payment for each subscription.

Note: 

We are not paid to write reviews nor are we sponsored by any companies to write reviews.  Gaia GPS provided 4XOA with an Apple CarPlay radio for testing purposes. Furnishing the product did not equal a positive or biased review. 4XOA has done consulting work for Gaia GPS. All with the intent of improving the application for Overlanders. Our reviews have no impact on Gaia GPS's roadmap or any other companies. You can agree with our opinions/reviews or disagree. As stated we welcome other companies to submit products for review. With regards to navigation apps, we deem Gaia GPS the "Gold Standard." Every other navigation app we review is compared to Gaia GPS. If a competitive app has a feature that we feel is better than Gaia GPS we point it out. 

We would gladly accept products to try with one string attached.  We will give an honest review of the product whether the end result is a favorable review or not.

Competition is always good. App and hardware developers have taken notice of the growing offroad and overlanding community. In the end, you as the consumer wins. 

If you choose to sign up for a Gaia GPS subscription via this website we are paid a small affiliate fee along with you receiving a discount on your subscription. This in NO way impacts the articles we write. We are not paid to produce content or give fake reviews. At any time if this policy was to change it would be fully disclosed. 

All product names, logos, and brands are the property of their respective owners.

gaiagps

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Goodbye CB, Hello GMRS! https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/goodbye-cb-hello-gmrs/ https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/goodbye-cb-hello-gmrs/#respond Thu, 30 Apr 2020 15:54:11 +0000 http://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/?p=2675 CB has long been a primary communication tool for offroad and overlanding groups. The proverbial "can you hear me" radio check works great with everyone grouped together. As soon as you hit the trail and get a little bit of separation things quickly go downhill. In our experience, the most common issue is either [...]

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CB has long been a primary communication tool for offroad and overlanding groups. The proverbial "can you hear me" radio check works great with everyone grouped together. As soon as you hit the trail and get a little bit of separation things quickly go downhill. In our experience, the most common issue is either bad antenna placement or poor setup/SWR readings which choke your ability to communicate. Even with a perfect setup the range of CB is very limited. Restricted to 5 watts of power you get limited range and poor AM radio quality. The best setup we have found with CB is a simple magnetic mount antenna in the center of the roof. The Big Wilson with its 5' antenna seems to work best. However, we do not recommend CB. Some offroad groups still use it but GMRS is becoming more and more common. It is time to get rid of your CB, or not get one in the first place, and get with newer technology. The cost of entry is reasonable (around $150 less discounts) and will open your world to better communications.

We love Ham radio but it isn't for everyone. GMRS strikes the balance with Ham quality FM transmission but lacks the requirement to take a test to receive a license. NOTE: GMRS still requires a license. The cost is $70 for 10 years and grants permissions to transmit to you and anyone in your family. We are sure many people do not take the time to get properly licensed but that decision is ultimately left to each user.

Our Radio:

We decided on the Midland MXT115 15watt mobile radio. Midland also makes the MXT275 which includes all of the controls and displays within the microphone. Both radios work well. It is a personal preference on form-factor. The radio bodies are very compact as compared to most CB radios. The Midland kits give you everything you need including a basic magnetic mount antenna. For improved communications in the city a 6DB upgraded antenna is recommended. On the trail, the standard antenna works great. We have had successful clear communications in the 10-15 mile range. Best of all the supplied antenna is very low profile. Less than 1' in height.

Links to all of the products we use are listed below.

Installation and Use:

The Midland kit can be wired directly to your battery, via a "keyed" fuse using an add-a-circuit on your vehicles factory fuse panel, or with the supplied 12-volt cigarette plug. As an added bonus the MXT115 includes a USB port. Our radio is wired to our dedicated, always powered, Bluesea fuse block.

The Midland kit includes a mounting bracket and Velcro for simple attachment. Our radio is mounted on the back of the center console behind and between the front seats. Since we rarely change channels this is a convenient out of the way spot. Routing the antenna cable is easy. We chose to route the cable behind the door weatherstrip.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Our first use with the radio was on a group trip to the Mojave road. Communications were clear the entire time including being able to hear a separate group a few miles away. In the city, we have had good success. As they say "your mileage may vary" but one should be pretty confident communicating with anyone within 5 miles should be very consistent. 10 miles the quality of your transmission may vary depending on obstacles and terrain. Clear line of sight (hill-to-hill) above the Phoenix area valley floor even 20 miles apart all transmissions were crystal clear with no issues.

GMRS Handhelds:

There are a wide variety of options. If you stick with the same manufacturer as your mobile radio as your handheld(s) compatibility using "privacy codes" is ensured. Privacy codes filter out other people's transmissions but your transmissions are still public. However, most major manufacturers seem to work with one another.

We have not updated our handheld radios in over a decade. Our likely upgrade is listed below. Handhelds are great for kids around the campsite, use when spotting a vehicle on difficult terrain, or easy close-range communication while hiking near your basecamp.

In Summary: 

The popularity of GMRS radios is gaining in the offroad and overlanding community for good reason. Reliable communications are helpful when participating in group trips. During solo travel, the ability to reach out to others is improved using GMRS vs CB but we will still recommend the more capable HAM radio communications or a Garmin InReach device for emergency communications. There simply is no comparison to the audio quality of a GMRS radio as compared to CB. Loaning a handheld GMRS radio to a fellow traveler provided solid communication over a mile even with the radio inside of their vehicle. When using CB we couldn't communicate further than 1/4 of a mile.

The license can be purchased via the FCC. The process can be a bit overwhelming based on the less than user-friendly FCC website. We will add some tips soon but a simple internet search can provide assistance.

 Where to Buy: 

Midland USA Direct - Midland direct periodically offers discounts. At the time of the article writing the code: overlandusa provides a 20% off discount.

Via Amazon -
(We are an Amazon affiliate. By using these links we receive a small referral fee but your pricing is the same)

Midland MXT115 Mobile Radio - $149.99
Midland MXT275 Mobile Radio - $149.99
Midland - GXT1000VP4 Handheld Radios - $69.99

Optional 6DB Antenna and NMO Mount:
MXTA266DB Antenna - $39.99
Midland MXTA12 NMO Magnetic Mount - $24.99

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Gaia GPS with Apple CarPlay Now Available https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/gaia-gps-with-apple-carplay-now-available/ https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/gaia-gps-with-apple-carplay-now-available/#respond Mon, 16 Mar 2020 05:10:58 +0000 http://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/?p=2561 Gaia GPS recently released an update to the app which provides support for Apple CarPlay!  From Gaia GPS - "Today, we’re excited to deliver one of the most requested features yet — Apple CarPlay compatibility. This marks the first-ever CarPlay app built for offroad and overland adventures." Gaia GPS in Apple CarPlay will allow [...]

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Gaia GPS recently released an update to the app which provides support for Apple CarPlay! 

From Gaia GPS - "Today, we’re excited to deliver one of the most requested features yet — Apple CarPlay compatibility. This marks the first-ever CarPlay app built for offroad and overland adventures."

Gaia GPS in Apple CarPlay will allow you to:

  • Display your Active map layers on the CarPlay screen
  • Zoom in and out, pan the map in any direction, and toggle course-up mode
  • View a list of your drivable Saved Routes
  • Follow turn-by-turn directions for the selected Saved Route
  • Cancel Navigation

Note: Due to limitations set by Apple, CarPlay is not compatible with iPads.

The good news is that CarPlay is included with most new vehicles. 

Gaia was nice enough to provide us with a radio for testing purposes. A major update to our 2011 FJ Cruiser. We are testing CarPlay on a Kenwood DMX906S radio. 

CarPlay Homescreen with Gaia GPS icon!

How It Works

CarPlay is used in conjunction with your phone. Most of the control features are still required to be done on your phone vs the CarPlay app. Many of these restrictions are based on Apple requirements.. Apple doesn't want drivers to be distracted. They do not provide a means to override this if a co-pilot wants to navigate. From Gaia GPS: "Important note about feature availability and safety:

Due to the inherent risks of using a screen while operating a vehicle, Apple employs strict restraint on what features can be available and how the implementation can behave in CarPlay."

The CarPlay screen mirrors what you have active on your phone. If you change the map layer or percentage of layers this quickly mirrors on the CarPlay screen. Start a track and your track line will also appear. 

Any of your visible tracks and waypoints appear on the screen as well. Remember in the app you have the ability to turn tracks and waypoints on and off. 

Satellite imagery while on a route.

Route Selection and Turn By Turn

Planning is best done prior to getting in your vehicle using your phone, tablet, or gaiagps.com. Then when you are ready get in your vehicle, connect to CarPlay and go. Our Kenwood features wireless pairing to CarPlay which is really nice. 

Any routes created in Gaia GPS either from the app or on gaiagps.com that use "Driving mode" to draw a route can provide turn-by-turn directions. On the trail you won't receive guidance for every curve in the trail but will receive guidance when transitioning/turning on to a different forest road. 

Turn-by-turn routing example.

How We Use CarPlay

CarPlay will supplement and enhance what we already use. We are long time users of Gaia, (7 years, and already have a nice iPad mount in our vehicle. This still provides the most flexibility and an even larger display. What we love about CarPlay is now we can run a different dedicated map layer on the radio. On our recent trip to the Kofa Wildlife Refuge we had the Gaia Satellite imagery on our car radio and Gaia Topo on our iPad. We found this to be highly effective with no need to stop and adjust layers while driving. Unless you have a "co-pilot" always make a quick stop to make any adjustments! 

NatGeo Layer

What We Would Like To See In The Future

If Apple provides the functionality Pinch and Zoom would be nice. The app provides zoom in and zoom out capability with standard CarPlay buttons but the ability to pinch, zoom, and scroll the map by simply touching the screen would be nice. 

Reverse routing would be helpful. Today if you create a route from A to B Gaia can only give directions from A to B. If you want to reverse your route, B to A, the turn by turn functionality does not work. In the meantime you can easily follow a track you have recorded on top of your route. This will prevent CarPlay from showing any erroneous turn by turn information. 

The ability to start and stop a track via the CarPlay screen would also be nice but since this is easily done on your phone we don’t feel this is a major requirement.  

In Summary

Even with its limitations, the new CarPlay functionality is a great addition. Gaia is the first to market. We expect additional features down the road as long as Apple provides a means for 3rd party developers to create them. The requirement to manage many of Gaia’s features from your phone is no deal-breaker. For those with a newer vehicle with CarPlay already built in this is a great addition. 

We look forward to testing the turn-by-turn features further. Our iPad mount required drilling into our dash and bolting in a RAM mount. Yes, there are other solutions but we found this to be the best support while bouncing down the trail. If you don't want to make the investment in a quality mount or purchase a tablet CarPlay provides a big boost to situational awareness from a smaller phone screen. 

We thank Gaia GPS for providing 4XOA with the radio. Gaia GPS has been a great company to work with over the years. They listen to its customer base and continually improve the app on a regular basis. It has been our go-to navigation app for 7 years and we see no reason to change. We try the competition to make sure!

You can read the official press release from Gaia GPS here.


Save on your Gaia GPS Subscription!

If you are using the free version of Gaia GPS and would like to upgrade to the membership or premium membership visit gaiagps.com/4xoa you can save up to 20% on your subscription.


Additional Screenshots

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Planning Trips With Gaia GPS https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/planning-trips-with-gaia-gps/ https://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/planning-trips-with-gaia-gps/#respond Wed, 12 Feb 2020 05:48:22 +0000 http://www.4xoverlandadventures.com/?p=2481 We have been using Gaia GPS for over 7 years. While features have changed and the app constantly improves how we use it has not changed much in those 7 years. There are 5 primary ways we use Gaia GPS: Discovering and Creating Routes - We study maps and satellite images and then go [...]

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We have been using Gaia GPS for over 7 years. While features have changed and the app constantly improves how we use it has not changed much in those 7 years.

There are 5 primary ways we use Gaia GPS:

  • Discovering and Creating Routes - We study maps and satellite images and then go explore. Sometimes we find great new places. Other times it's a bust. That is a part of the fun though.
  • Import existing tracks - Lots of people and groups have taken the time to record tracks. We use a variety of sources. Gaia GPS makes it easy to import these files. From there, especially for multiple-day trips, we then study the tracks, look for camping spots and alternate routes.
  • Mark new waypoints on imported tracks - You can always discover new places to camp, new hikes, and areas to explore while following an imported track.
  • Add photos to waypoints - Whether they are camping spot photos or other interesting points of interest Gaia makes it easy to take photos and use them as waypoints.
  • Record our own tracks while following an imported track - Routes change, waypoints change, the pace can be different. It is always good to have an updated track. You can also see how fast or slow you have taken a route.

Note: We use the iOS version of Gaia GPS vs Android. All help files referenced are for iOS. Gaia also provides help files for Android. We do our best to write informative articles but remember Gaia GPS has a robust support website here: https://help.gaiagps.com/hc/en-us

Discovering and Creating Routes -

The most time-consuming use of Gaia GPS but it can also be the most rewarding. Whether on the couch with an iPad or at the desk with a larger screen it is fun to find potential areas to explore. Some route ideas have started when flying over terrain and looking down. Some while on pavement and seeing dirt roads lead off into the distance.

We first start with satellite imagery and then add a topo layer to see what trails may be marked. If available we prefer the USFS Roads and Trails Layer (https://blog.gaiagps.com/unlock-new-routes-with-the-usfs-roads-and-trails-overlay/) or USFS 2016. Each provides excellent detail including the names of forest roads.

World Imagery and USFS Recreation Sites layers displayed.

Here's an example of layering maps to find a potential route.

Creating a Route -

Within the app or on gaiagps.com you can create a route with the route planner. The tool won't always snap to the exact trails you want. You may need to shorten the length of the segment you are trying to draw. Worst case create extra data points and mark key turns with waypoints. If the route is fairly straightforward we only use waypoints. Then we will record an actual track on our discovery run.

gaiagps.com route planning. The app snaps to trail the route from the starting point to the endpoint.

gaiagps.com - Here the app is unable to create a route with only 2 points. We simply add more points along the track we want to explore to create a route.

Once you have a plan in place and have created a route or marked waypoints make sure you download your preferred map layers for offline use. The new Gaia Topo layer is a great low overhead (storage) option. We have downloaded entire states with this layer. Regardless if you have created a route on your mobile device or gaiagps.com your data will sync to all of your devices.

(Official Help Files)

https://help.gaiagps.com/hc/en-us/articles/115009274487-Using-Offline-Maps

https://help.gaiagps.com/hc/en-us/articles/115003523707-Verify-Map-is-Downloaded-and-Available-Offline

An easy way to download map data in the app is to go to any saved track, tap the ... icon on the top right of the screen, then choose "Download Maps for Track." When you tap that the app will ask you what map layers you want to download and at what quality. Low, Medium, or High.

(Official Help File)
https://help.gaiagps.com/hc/en-us/articles/115003524827-Download-Maps-Along-a-Track-or-Route

Importing Tracks -

There are many sources on the internet for GPX tracks. Some are free, some are one time purchases, and some are a subscription service like TrailsOffroad.com. Popular forums like Overland Bound and Expedition Portal can have tracks linked to posts and of course sites like ours share tracks. Using your favorite search engine to find tracks is a good way to go. For example, search "El Camino Del Diable GPX" and see what comes up.

(Official Help Files)

iOS - https://help.gaiagps.com/hc/en-us/articles/115003639048-Import-GPX-and-KML-files-in-Gaia-GPS-for-iOS

Gaiagps.com - https://help.gaiagps.com/hc/en-us/articles/115003525347-Import-GPX-KML-or-FIT-Files

Once a track has been imported it is time to review it. Our personal preference is using the iPad. Others may prefer gaiagps.com. During the review we take notes, may add our own waypoints, and research which map layers provide the most detail for the given track.

For a longer overlanding trip like the Utah BDR, https://ridebdr.com/utbdr/. We mapped out our own estimated daily endpoints. We also mapped out 3 different camping choices. One if we need to stop early, one for our planned camp, and one if we are ahead of schedule and wish to travel further. We also map out exit points to main roads in case we have an emergency. Of course, once we made the trip we marked additional waypoints along the way.

Marking/Creating New Waypoints -

You can create a waypoint while on the trail by simply tapping the (+) symbol on the top toolbar. From there you can choose Add Waypoint, Add Waypoint (My Location), or Take Picture. If you choose Add Waypoint you can drag the waypoint to the desired location. Either way, when you hit save Gaia GPS allows you to name the waypoint, choose a folder for it, and make the waypoint public or private.

Waypoint with photo sample

Recording Tracks -

The heart of using Gaia GPS. Record what you do. Be it off-roading, overlanding, hiking, mountain biking... ok you get the idea.

Whenever we hit a trail we record a track regardless if we have an existing track or not. Conditions can change, the trail may have changed, and so on. It is always good to have a current track.

Gaia provides a wealth of data with each recorded track.

What map layers do we prefer?

Depending on your location some of our preferred map layers may not be available. Gaia Topo will always be available though. The key is to preview different maps for the area you want to explore. For further details on our favorite map layers, we have provided links to articles from Gaia GPS.

USFS 2016 - https://blog.gaiagps.com/build-usfs-maps-gaia-gps-map-overlays/

MVUM - https://blog.gaiagps.com/updated-mvum-and-usfs-roads-and-trails/

USFS Trails and Roads - https://blog.gaiagps.com/unlock-new-routes-with-the-usfs-roads-and-trails-overlay/

Click on a marked forest road. Gaia will provide more details.

Gaia Topo - https://blog.gaiagps.com/easy-to-read-tiny-to-download-the-all-new-gaia-topo/

Gaia Topo in darkmode.

NatGeo (National Geographic) - These are very detailed map layers with lots of Point of Interest data
https://blog.gaiagps.com/new-oregon-pacific-crest-trail-maps-by-natgeo/

Public Lands Data - This layer can help you determine where you may be able to camp.
https://blog.gaiagps.com/updated-public-lands-in-gaia-gps/

Other Map Layers We Like -

  • US State and County Boundaries
  • USGS Topo (CalTopo)
  • USGS Topo (ESRI)
  • Precip Forecasts
  • Private Land
  • Wilderness Areas

To view all of the map layers Gaia GPS has to offer you can preview the entire map catalog here.

How to organize all of your data -

We organize all of our data with folders. Each track or route has a dedicated folder. The folder may include multiple tracks and waypoints.

In Summary

Gaia GPS is an incredible mapping tool. We wouldn't leave home without it. While we have paper maps we rarely use them. It does take time to learn Gaia. If you are not familiar with the app the time invested in viewing some of the official help files is well worth it. Some of the content here like plotting routes may eventually get a dedicated article with more detailed instructions. Always refer to the Gaia GPS knowledge base for up to date information. Gaia updates the app frequently.

Gaia GPS is a free app with 3 levels of membership. Free which gives you the default Gaia topo map layer for online use. Membership which expands the map collection and allows you to download maps for offline use. Premium membership. Premium unlocks all of the maps and allows you to layer maps. We use and recommend the premium membership.

Don't forget you can save on your Gaia GPS membership subscription by visiting gaiagps.com/4xoa. We receive a small commission for the referral.

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