When the next big adventure rolls around, it can be tempting to just dive straight in and get out there. But to really ace that dream trip, a little bit of preparation goes a long way. Before you pack your bags and head off, take a moment to plan your routes, discover some highlights and recommendations along the way, and make most of your adventure.
The most popular social network for cyclists and runners also has a wide range features to make planning a new route easy. Many of these tap into the data built up by other Strava users: try the heatmap overlay to see popular sections in your activity. As you’d expect from Strava the stats play an important role – check out elevation profiles of iconic cycling roads or compare personal best times on a particular segment with friends.
Great for: urban runners and competitive cyclists (or anyone who love sharing their cycling activities!).
A less well known (but just as useful) planning tool that is quickly gaining popularity, Komoot combines straightforward route planning with a clever set of user-submitted highlights. There are a variety of modes, whether you are heading hiking in the mountains or just exploring your local area on two wheels. Set your activity, add your start and end points, and then browse the map to see if any of the highlight icons takes your fancy. There are also handy pre-made collections of routes such as Cycling Around London.
Great for: hiking, bike touring and gravel riding, plus discovering local highlights.
A powerful mountain mapping software, Fatmap is based on detailed topographical maps and satellite imagery. It creates a brilliant immersive experience as you pan across the 3D landscape or ‘Fly-Through’ a route. Extra information can be layered over the maps (like elevation, aspect, or gradient) to give a really powerful planning tool for anyone heading into the mountains.
Great for: adventurous mountaineers, ski tourers or cyclists.
A hiker’s favourite, Viewranger allows you to plan routes and download them to your phone or smartwatch for offline use – no mobile signal needed. Their selection of pre-made routes includes submissions from outdoor experts, travel writers, plus local tourism bodies and national parks. It’s a great way to discover a new area and easily find a route to suit your needs.
Great for: hikers and bikers looking for offline navigation on a digital map.
Maps and guidebooks
Sometimes nothing is quite as good as a physical paper map – spread it out on the table and trace across every little detail. While lots of the software available can add handy tricks, a physical map or guidebook presents the right information in a tried-and-tested way. Plus, there’s no running out of battery or losing phone signal if you need to check your route out in the hills! Search for guidebooks and maps that are relevant to the activity and area – we love the classic Ordnance Survey maps in the UK or the guidebooks from the National Cycle Network.
Great for: traditional route planning (or framing on your wall!).
Of course there are plenty of other tools to find and plan your routes, and often the best place to start is just by talking to people. Chat to your friends who run, hike or cycle, or go searching on blogs and social media for tips. Let us know what you find useful!
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Cover image: Drew Collins on Unsplash