The website CalTopo has been my go-to mapping platform for four over years. I primarily use it to make and print topographic maps, including for all of my guided trips and high route guides. It has come a long way since I began to use it, with regular improvements to the user-interface and imagery database.
Historically, the usefulness of CalTopo has stopped at my office door, however, because it had no off-line mobile functionality, which is essential for field use. Instead, I typically export my route data to GaiaGPS, an app that allows me to download my data for off-line use and that gives my smartphone the functionality of a conventional handheld GPS.
Today, CalTopo released its own app, creating a seamless office-to-field and field-to-office experience. It’s available for Android users only; get it at the Play Store. The founder of CalTopo, Matt Jacobs, tells me that he’s shooting for an April release of the app for iOS.
The app is free, but a CalTopo subscription ($20 to $50 per year) is required to download map layers.
By Matt’s own admission, the app is still buggy. When he sent me a download link last night, for example, I was able to successfully install it and to link my CalTopo account with it, but then it crashed and kept crashing. That issue has since been fixed. On the CalTopo blog, Matt writes:
“The app is still in development, and this is a beta test. There are probably some major bugs related to specific platforms or android versions that we haven’t caught yet, and some obvious functionality is missing, such as the ability to place a marker at your current location. We’re releasing this not because it’s a finished product, but because we’re at the point where we need testing and feedback from a broader audience.”
Questions about the CalTopo app? Leave a comment.
Disclosure. Matt comp’d me a Pro subscription when it become a paid service. If he didn’t, I’d happily pay for it — it’s a great platform, and I admire how he has developed it. I have no financial interest in CalTopo.