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  • Writer's pictureRick

IPT MapTrail: Map your Hiking & Cycling Trails and More!

iPackTravel iOS app has a module for mapping walking or hiking trails called "Map My Trail" in the Travel section. It uses GPS locationing to get location updates from GPS-enabled mobile devices to plot travel trails on the map when on the go. The app can also be used to track the routes travelled when in certain modes of transport (not when underground).

The wholly new version of "Map My Trail" is now available as a standalone app called "iPT MapTrail" ("iPT" is the abbreviation of "iPackTravel"). With new user interfaces and complete revamp, iPT MapTrail app emphasised ease of use and is geared for more new features in the near future.

Starting a New Trail

MapTrail supports all forms of trail mapping, be it walking, jogging, hiking, cycling or even in a transport — as long as GPS locationing is available.

After selecting an activity type for a new trail, MapTrail will set a default accuracy level and updating interval for the selected activity to balance accuracy with performance, battery consumption and appropriateness, and they are fully customisable.

As higher GPS accuracy can result in higher power consumption from the mobile device, setting appropriate accuracy allows optimal tracking for the full trail without having the battery being depleted prematurely. So, avoid going for the highest accuracy if it is not necessary, especially when in a transport.

Background Tracking

Once the "Start Mapping" button is pressed, tracking will commence and a trail will appear on the map shortly. Constantly checking the map and using GPS locationing at the same time can consume energy from the device's battery. So, close the app (without killing it) or put the mobile device in sleep mode to allow tracking to be done in the background. This will reduce power consumption and allow the battery to last longer.

At the end of the walk / jog / cycle / drive, wake up the app and press "Stop Tracking". A "Pause" function is also provided to stop location tracking temporarily. Use it when having a long break, or under some covered structures that obstructed GPS locationing, and resume again later.

Health data can be acquired from Health app at the end of the walk / cycle (if you allowed).

Your Trails

All trails will be saved and can be retrieved and redrawn on the map. If the activity type is "Walk / Jog" or "Cycling", health data such as step count, flights climbed, walked distance and walking speed (iOS 14+ only) within the duration of the trail can be extracted from the Health app. In other words, health data that are not related to the trail will be excluded.

A summary of the trail statistics can also be retrieved. Note that health data tracked by Health app are usually recorded in blocks of 10 minutes or maybe longer for certain types of data (e.g walking speed). Therefore, the data obtained by MapTrail may not be the most updated the instant tracking is stopped. Do check the recorded trail again about 30 minutes after the activity to get the most up-to-date health data.

"Average Speed" is simply taking the walked distance and divide by the total duration. This gives a general sense on the speed of your movement for the whole trail, which include resting times and other fatigue factors.

For example, if I were to go for a 40Km hike and need to estimate how much time I will need to allocate,

  • Based on my walking speed (assume 5Km/h), I will think that I can complete 40Km in 8 hours without rest.

  • Based on average speed (approx. 4Km/h), I will allocate about 10 hours with rests. Of course, there are other factors to consider too.

The trail can also be shared to social media, messaging app, or save as image, etc. Post your achievements online and challenge your friends to do the same. Let's be healthy together and have fun hiking since travelling is still pretty restricted during this COVID-19 pandemic.

My Footprints

(Updated on 1st June 2021)

After mapping a few trails around your favourite activity region, you will be able to use the new "My Footprints" function to lay out all your trails on one map. It will be a coverage map to see how far and wide you have covered. And share it!

New iOS Widgets!

(Updated on 18th Nov 2020)

MapTrail is now armed with widgets (iOS 14+ only). Once a new trail is started, widgets will be activated to display trail data at regular intervals. There will be no need to keep launching the app to check trail statistics when on the move, allowing you to focus on the hike rather than on the phone.

There are two sizes of MapTrail widget — medium and large. The larger widget will display additional health data (as shown above), which can be enabled or disabled for each new trail.

If you are still using iOS 13, do update to the latest iOS 14+ version to enjoy newer and exciting features.

Introducing Hi-Trails!

(Updated on 1st June 2021)

iPT MapTrail now comes with a feature, called Hi-Trails, that includes a series of hiking trails in Singapore (trails in other regions will be added in due course).

Hiking trails can be installed and added to the tracking map. Simply follows the predefined trail while mapping your own. Markers are also added to provide handy information. The "Singapore Trails" bundle has 19 trails to date and more will be added.

Get all trails at your fingertip!

(Hi-Trails comes with a small price though as I need to pay for development and hosting services — not to mention that I walked on each trail myself to verify them. Well, one good news is: some of the Hi-Trails are free!)

iPT MapTrail is free to download from Apple App Store. Try it!

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