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Gaia GPS: The best GPS app you've never heard of and how it can change your nutrition game.

March 7, 2018

Well, I'm sure the title is a dead ringer for my true thoughts on the app.  There are more than a few comprehensive reviews on the app, so I won't spend a time of your time rehashing out what others have already found useful.  Skip the rest of this if you're uber short on time and just know the app is amazing and the upgrade to the full-featured version is worth it.  However, if you're killing time at work, ahem- a coffee shop - here's a handful of things I've found to really dig about the app:

  • The annual full-subscription ($39.99 at the time of this writing) buys you access to public land overlays for every state in the US and more than 230 other US hunting overlays.  This alone should have you shuffling over to the app store to pick this sucker up.

  • In addition to the public land and hunting overlays, there are multiple maps you can choose from for your standard base map.  Among those are different topo's and everyone's all-time favorites:  National Geographic trails and USGS TOPO maps.

  • A web-based log in.  This is super nice when planning a route.  It makes navigating, planning, and seeing a lot easier on a 20" monitor as opposed to a 3.5" LCD screen.  I've found this feature super useful when trying to convert map files and check out a route someone has planned in Google earth, which brings me to my next point:

  • The ability to bring up .KMZ  files mapped out on Google earth if I want to dig in dipper, map it on my own, or just compare/contrast two different mapping systems.

  • Apple Watch compatibility. I know, I know, Sunnto, Garmin, and Casio generally top the list as the outdoors must have jewelry.  I've found the compatibility for my Apple Watch to be uber convenient when I don’t' feel like dragging my phone out, but I want to mark a waypoint (which can also be named),  check out my stats of the hike (elevation, signal, time, etc..), or see where I'm at on my planned route.

  • The ability to nerd out for daaays.  Not only can you track the progress of your hike in the moment (think elevation change, speed, time, etc), Gaia also lets you look at the metrics from your hike in graphs and numerical data.  I could personally get lost in this for days.  Especially when you talk about planning  for the next backcountry adventure

  • Last, but not least, Gaia helps translate all of these numbers into upping my nutrition game.  I personally think the metrics provided by Gaia are a game changer in translating your physical activity into meal planning and adequate nutrition.  Think about how much more dialed in you can get your nutrition needs knowing the speed, elevation change, total mileage etc.  If you know day one of a backcountry hunt will be a 3,000 foot ascent over 3 miles to simply make camp at night one, you'll be better equipped having some good, fast-digesting carbs set aside in that zip-loc baggie labeled "day one".  Likewise, if you know it's going to be a relatively easy stroll (does that even exist in the mountains?!) to another basin for a day spent mostly glassing, you can prepare the day two zip-loc to meet your needs accordingly.  

Clearly, I'm a huge fan of the app and see it serving such a variety of purposes for someone with an active lifestyle.  The mountain ultra-runner can track elevation changes, speed, and time.  The backcountry hunter can ensure they're on the public land they own and not some private ranch.  The backpacker can safely explore that unnamed lake "just around the corner" and the person  that's into nutrition can used past metrics to develop a game plan for the next endeavor.

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