If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you probably know and love AllTrails, one of the best hiking apps on the market. But, after using the app for a while, you may be wondering whether making the leap to AllTrails Pro (now “AllTrails+”) is worth it. In this article, we’re going to be diving into all things AllTrails, from the pros and cons of AllTrails vs. AllTrails Pro to whether it’s time for you to make the plunge with the paid version.
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What is AllTrails?
With over 50 million users in over 150 countries, AllTrails is one of the most popular hiking apps in the world (available on both iOS and Android). It’s considered by most outdoor enthusiasts to be a one-stop shop for planning their hiking, camping, and biking adventures, offering the ability to search for trails in a specific location, see trail information and maps, read recent users’ reviews, and so much more.
My husband, Justin, and I go hiking pretty much every weekend and have used the free version of AllTrails for the better part of a decade and the paid version for a couple of years. Accordingly, I know the ins and outs of AllTrails like the back of my hand.
So let’s dive into it!
How much does the AllTrails App cost?
AllTrails is extremely feature-rich and you can access almost all of the app’s most helpful features for free (spoiler alert- there’s also a paid version that gives you a few extra super helpful tools)!
There’s some limitations to what you can access on the app and website if you don’t register for a free AllTrails account. For example, if you’re not logged into an AllTrails account, you won’t be able to see the elevation map of a trail on AllTrails’ website, which allows you to pick any point along the trail and see the corresponding elevation gain and incline.
However, so long as you sign up for a free account, you’ll be able to use the vast majority of the website’s and app’s features (but for a few key services).
What does the free version of the AllTrails app do?
So what features can you access in the free version of AllTrails?
- You can search AllTrails’ database of over 400,000(!!!) trails, either based on a trail’s name or its location. For location-based searching, you can either search for hikes in a certain destination (like a city or a national park) or see trails around you (if you choose to share your phone’s location with AllTrails).
- AllTrails has comprehensive filters that you can apply to find the right trail for you. So you can look at a specific area on its map and then select your desired criteria like distance, elevation gain, and user-ratings. You can even be as granular as searching for a wheelchair accessible, dog-friendly trail with wildflowers and waterfalls along the way, to find the hike of your dreams.
- You can find out lots of helpful and practical information about each trail, from the basics (like the length, elevation gain, and difficulty) to recent reviews from other users, so you’ll know what to expect and can prepare for the trail.
- So long as you have cell service, you can open a trail map, follow along the route while you’re on a trail, and track your activity.
- You can add your own new trails and save your favorite trails to customizable lists.
- There’s also a social aspect to AllTrails- you can have friends on the app and share photos and other tidbits about your experience. Alternatively, you can share information about your adventures with friends through the app onto Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
Pros of the Free Version of AllTrails:
There’s a LOT to love about this little app. Justin and I are constantly marveling at the fact that you can get SO much information for free!
- The app is very user-friendly and intuitive.
- There’s SO MANY trails that you can search for and choose. Plus, given the breadth of AllTrails users, there’s usually lots of up-to-date reviews with information about current trail conditions, especially for popular trails.
Justin and I never hit the trail without checking the most recent AllTrails’ reviews. There’s been countless times when I’ve been able to plan ahead because of the information that other users have helpfully provided, whether that means wearing a pair of waterproof boots instead of hiking sandals or picking another trail to go to entirely (like if the road to the trailhead is currently inaccessible).
- If you have cell service, the app allows you to open the location of the trailhead into Google Maps and follow along with your location on the trail map.
- The amount of filters in the app is truly astounding. You can search for incredibly niche hikes and, given AllTrails’ extensive library, will likely come up with some sort of trail that aligns with your interests.
Cons of the Free Version of AllTrails:
To be honest, I can’t find too much at fault with the AllTrails app. You get so much functionality, especially given what you pay for it!
But if I’m being nitpicky:
- If you don’t have cell service, you can’t use trail maps to track your location, which, in my opinion, really detracts from the usefulness when you’re actually on the trail.
Luckily, this issue is addressed if you’re willing to sign up for AllTrails Pro, because it allows you to download the maps for offline use.
- Given that AllTrails is largely user-driven, it can be hard to find information on less popular trails and information can sometimes be incomplete or outdated.
- If you’re searching in an area that has lots of hikes, it can be a bit hard to evaluate trails against one another. I wish there was a way to mark trails that you’re not interested in or have already looked at, so you didn’t accidentally keep reviewing the same trails again and again.
Like I said, kinda nitpicky, right?
What is AllTrails Pro?
While I love the free version of the app, AllTrails Pro, recently rebranded to AllTrails+, has a few very cool tricks up its sleeve as well. For an annual fee of $35.99, you’ll get access to all of the features in the free version, plus a couple key features that are exclusively available to AllTrails Pro members. You can sign up for a seven-day free trial to test it out here.
What features does AllTrails Pro have?
In addition to all the same features that the free version has, the paid version includes:
- Downloadable offline maps so that you can follow along and track your hike, even if you don’t have cell service
- Access to a filter that helps you find trails within a specific distance from you
- Off-route notifications to help alert you if you stray from the trailhead or the actual trail
- 3D maps to help you understand the landscape and topography of a trail
- Use of additional overlays when looking at maps, including pollen, weather, light pollution, air quality, and popularity with other users
- A Lifeline tool, which provides information to your loved ones about your plans, whether you’ve returned at your scheduled finish time, and real-time updates in case something goes wrong on the trail (provided that you have a data connection).
This isn’t really a feature per se but it’s worth noting that AllTrails donates 1% of all of their annual sales of AllTrails Pro to nonprofits dedicated to protecting our planet. You’ll also get to enjoy an ad-free app and website as an AllTrails Pro member.
Pros of AllTrails Pro:
After using the free version for the better part of a decade, Justin and I finally upgraded to the paid version of AllTrails. Why, you might ask?
We use the offline map feature ALL the time. Like, seriously, every weekend.
There’s been countless times where we’ve been hiking and the trail splits off in several directions, without any signage, or it’s otherwise unclear which direction we need to go. Given the fact that we generally do not have cell service in the remote areas we hike, we’re usually just kinda out of luck in that scenario (in full transparency, Justin and I generally don’t hike super hardcore backcountry trails so we don’t regularly bring along a map and a compass to navigate. But do as I say, not as I do- you definitely should bring along these tools and know how to use them!).
But using AllTrails Pro, we’re able to quickly pull up our offline trail map, see where we’re at using GPS, and make sure we’re headed along the right path. In fact, you’ll even get alerts if you start veering off trail. Amazing!
While, in my opinion, offline maps are the main reason that AllTrails Pro is worth it, there’s a few other cool pros:
- I can see the overlays being super helpful for certain types of hikers and other outdoor adventurers. For example, if you have strong allergies, the pollen map could be a lifesaver (maybe quite literally!).
- If you want to visualize aspects of your hike, like a particularly gnarly scramble on a mountain, the ability to see 3D maps provides a lot more insight than you can gather from just Google Maps or the AllTrails free version.
Cons of AllTrails Pro:
To be honest, the only tool that I see folks routinely talk about with AllTrails Pro is the offline maps feature.
Some of the other features are cool in theory, but not super functional in practice. For example, the Lifeline tool is a great idea, but doesn’t do you a ton of good if you’re headed someplace without cell service- you’d need something like a Garmin Inreach to provide updates to your safety contacts regarding your realtime location, if something happens while you’re on the trail and you don’t have data.
So, while it’s 100% worth the subscription fee if you do a fair amount of hiking or camping on trails in areas without cell service, the subscription fee is kind of steep if you don’t see yourself using that feature often.
Additionally, given that most of AllTrails’ information is user-generated, if you’re primarily doing some real off-grid-type backcountry adventures, there are other apps, like Gaia GPS, that may be better suited for you.
Is AllTrails Pro Worth it?
My answer here is probably fairly obvious, but, yes, AllTrails Pro is totally worth it if you hike, backpack, or bike a fair amount in areas without cell service so that you can use the offline maps feature.
Justin and I have used it countless times and it is a GAME CHANGER- from making sure we’re headed to the right trailhead (Google Maps has led us astray more times than I can count) to keeping us on the right trail. I honestly don’t know how we lasted so long without having an AllTrails Pro subscription!
If you don’t fall into this category or have some other niche use case that would make subscribing to AllTrails Pro worth it (like, in the example above, of needing to know the pollen counts in a certain area), though, you probably won’t get $35.99 worth of benefits out of its features.
Even if AllTrails Pro isn’t the right fit for you, it’s a no-brainer to sign up for an AllTrails account if you’re a hiker, backpacker, or biker. It’s an excellent way to find new hikes, get important info and navigate trails, and keep track of ones that you’ve already completed. And, given that it’s free, you’ve got nothing to lose!
Have you used AllTrails Pro and do you think it’s worth it? Let me know in the comments below!
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