4 Trip-Planning Sites and Top Tech Tools

Every great trip boils down to this: Picking an ideal location, capturing memorable moments, and bragging about it.

Plan the Perfect Trip | Get Maps and Go | Websites and Tech Tools

Here's how to get started the high-tech way.


The best places to scout, research, and map out new hiking routes

  • Backpacker.com Our (completely) unbiased pick to browse thousands of editor-approved hikes on Google Maps, skim reader trips, post your own treks, send waypoints to your GPS or phone, and get free GPS software.
  • Trails.com This pay-to-play site turns guidebooks and USGS quads into printable PDFs. A $50 annual fee gives you unlimited access to scanned pages and seamless maps. trails.com
  • National Geographic TOPO! Explorer Launched in April, NatGeo's new mapping home meshes USGS maps, aerial imagery, detailed points of interest, and elevation modeling into a single downloadable SuperQuad. ($25 for the software, plus $1 per download, topo.com)
  • Google Earth Your one-stop shop for viewing interactive 3D maps, scouting unfamiliar terrain, or just zooming around a digitally miniaturized globe. It's the indispensable tool for planning (and later, sharing) a digital hike. (free, earth.google.com)


3 sweet upgrades for trail gadgets

  • Brunton Solio 7.5 This 12-oz. portable battery ($65) stores extra power for USB-chargeable gadgets. Add the Inverter ($49) to juice up with a wall charger. brunton.com
  • Purosol Optical This natural cleaner leaves your optics streak-free, and it comes with a non-abrasive microfiber cloth. $10, 1 oz.; purosol.com
  • SD/SDHC Memory
    These wafer-like camera cards store photos and video. SDHC cards hold 4GB and up. Pack 512MB per day for photos, and 2GB a day for videos. ($20, amazon.com)