App mit GPS Daten | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Fotograf: Antje Pabst

02 Sep. 2015 · Summer Activities

An App-solutely Great Way to Hike

We put a hiking app to the test.

I am now in my mid forties so I am not completely over the hill, however, I am also not young enough to have had a smart phone, computer etc. thrust into my hand when I was still lying in my cradle and to have grown up with all this technology.

Wander App im Test | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Fotograf: Antje Pabst

However, I am interested in technology and I am not totally clueless in these matters. I am brave enough to try new things out, particularly new apps, especially when they turn out to be useful and practical. So, when in May the Kleinwalsertal Tourism Association announced its new electronic hiking guide, the Vorarlberg-App, I could not resist downloading it onto my smartphone. It was quick and easy to install the app and to download a few maps which languished on my phone for a long time until I finally decided that it was time to put the app to the test.

My field test was finally carried out during the last days of summer in Kleinwalsertal. Without using up all my data roaming allowance, I wanted to know what the app could actually do. To conduct my test under real-life conditions, I chose a short and easy hiking route which I knew very well and I just let the app run alongside me.

Die Wander App Kleinwalsertal | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Fotograf: Antje Pabst

I arrived at the starting point of the route, deactivated data roaming and started the app. It reliably registered the current location via GPS and showed that there was still 130 metres to go until the start of the route. I managed to get there without any problem. The route guide then started up. The route is shown as a red line on the map that is downloaded onto the smartphone and a blue dot marks my current location and updates its position with every step I take. The app highlights sites of interest along the route (e.g. alpine huts), however, you only notice this if you keep your eyes on the display. The app shows me the route very precisely and accurately. However, when I (intentionally) divert from the specified route, I would have liked to hear some kind of a signal that warns me that I am about to take the wrong route.

All the same, my little electronic companion soon leads me reliably back onto the right path. I smile to myself and think: ‘Good job, little hiking guide in my pocket!’ Now the app and I are ready to discover new routes as there are one or two hill walks that I have had on my to-do-list for a while.
However, I won’t just rely on my smartphone and app in the future. The good old, well-thumbed hiking maps will continue to be my constant companions in my rucksack as they never suddenly run out of charge and the hiking trail signposts, which are so well maintained and cared for by the farm workers in the community, are also absolutely indispensable. The app may still accompany me when I venture into the mountains as an additional helper – my new little mountain guide in my pocket. It has passed its field test – welcome to mountain life!

Duuratal Widderstein in the background | © Kleinwalsertal Tourismus eGen | Photographer: Andre Tappe

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