T.rekker often don't realize how important a GPX file is on the trek. A GPX file can save your life on a hike or outdoors. A small simple file or tracking device / app will add to your safety on the trek and make it essential for anyone on the trek. Even if you're traveling with a guide or organization, having this knowledge is helpful.
Here is a detailed guide to understanding GPX files. As an organization that stands for trek information, we have had the knowledge, practice, and wisdom to use GPX files on all of our treks for more than a decade.
Use these pointers to navigate and read the manual.
Table of Contents
As a bonus, we've also added links to some stories and articles you can read about how the GPX files helped us on Treks.
│ Use GPX files on your system or laptop
To open the file, Google Earth Pro must first be downloaded to your system. Google Earth Pro can be downloaded for free here.
Without the downloaded version, you will not be able to open these supporting files in a web browser.
I strongly recommend going through the file or recorded path before heading out. You are given a mental map of how the path is.
Protip If you can't see the title when you double-click the file, first open the Google Earth Pro application and drag and drop it onto Google Earth Pro.
│ Difference between KML and KMZ files
The most common formats for GPX files are either .kml or .kmz files. These file formats are used to represent geographic data such as latitude, longitude, altitude, tracks, waypoints, and other details that are useful in tracking a location.
Both .kml and .kmz files can be opened in Google Earth Pro and other GPS applications. These files were developed and created only to be used in Google Earth.
KMZ files are compressed KML files. You combine images with the data in the .kml file to form a .kmz file. KMZ occupies a smaller file area and size compared to KML.
Protip KML files can be read, uploaded, and identified by many geo browsers. Applications and software such as Google Earth, Google Maps, and many other applications can read .kml files very easily. However, this does not always apply to .kmz.
│ How to navigate using GPX files on your phone
You need to have an application downloaded on your phone in order to open either KML or KMZ files for a hike.
In this guide we take the example of Gaia, a simple and straightforward app that we've been using for many years. It's available for free on Google Play (Android phones) and the App Store (Apple phones). Similar apps are also available on these platforms.
There are several applications that can be downloaded – Geotracker, Alltrails, Wikiloc and other popular apps work very similarly. Few functions can vary from app to app. However, the basic concept remains the same.
Tip: If you find Gaia a little complicated, Geotracker is a much simpler version of it.
│ Application function overview (Gaia GPS)
This section gives you an overview of the functions on the main screen.
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1. Search – This field can be used to search through points of interest and prominent hiking trails.
2. Full screen mode / map display options – Tap to switch the main map to full screen mode. Or long press to toggle the control bars, statistics bar, compass, rotation lock, and lock screen on or off.
3. Crosshair – Find your current location.
4. Create – Record a trail, create a waypoint or a route.
5th levels – – Change the map shown on the main screen. Without a premium subscription, only one map layer is available.
6. trip – Displays information about the current location / current recording.
7. Saved – Find saved tracks, routes, waypoints and maps.
8. Settings – You can change the settings for recording, saving and displaying
│ How to follow the route in a GPX file
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– – Click the plus sign
– – Select "Import file" and select the GPX file saved / downloaded on your phone
– – Click the Saved tab
– – Select "Show on Map".
– – Your displayed map pans to the trekking region.
Protip To view maps in no-network regions, download maps for offline use (free for Android OS; subscription only for iOS). On the saved tab, click on the file for that route and select "Download map along the route".
When hiking alone or in a group and without a guide or organization, it is important to have a recorded file with you. There are times when you might take the wrong turn on a hike.
Read this story how an offline map helps you on the trek.
Recommended system settings
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1. Turn on the GPS / location service in your phone.
2. Turn off all battery saving apps / features before recording / tracking a track with the Gaia GPS app.
3. If you need to keep the battery saver on, add a battery drain exception to the GPS tracking app.
4th If you have internet access, open the GPS tracking app and zoom in to force the map of the area to load. This ensures that the base layer can also be accessed without an Internet connection.
│ How to Record a Track
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In order to record tracks on your phone, there are only a few options in the app: record, pause, delete a track:
– – Tap on "Record".
– – The timer indicates that you are actively recording a track.
– – When you are out and about, you can add waypoints or markers to identify any landmarks that a trekker might find useful. The next section explains in detail how to add waypoints.
– – To stop recording, tap the track timer, then choose End Track.
– – Name and save the title.
<img load = "lazy" class = "wp-image-83105″ alt=”Gaia screenshot” width=”154″ height=”274″ srcset=”https://indiahikes.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Gaia-5.png 300w, https://indiahikes.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Gaia-5-169×300.png 169w” data-lazy-sizes=”(max-width: 154px) 100vw, 154px” src=”https://indiahikes.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Gaia-5.png”/>click to enlarge
A waypoint is a placemark at a specific point that you can use to navigate the path.
– Attractions – Any easily distinguishable feature such as a single tree, hut or temple.
– Viewpoints – Any point on the trail that has fantastic views.
– Campsites – All possible locations that can serve as a campsite.
– water sources – Water sources such as streams, rivers, waterfalls and lakes can also be added.
– Crossing the summit or pass
– resting points
To create a new waypoint at any time, tap in the top menu on the + symbol and click on "Add waypoint (My location)". This will anchor a waypoint at your current GPS location.
│ Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
1. The app crashes while a track is being recorded. What am I doing?
Check if there are too many apps running in the background of your phone. You most likely won't have internet access on a trail. The phone may find it difficult to identify its location when many apps are running. Close the unnecessary ones and restart the app.
2. Is Gaia GPS the only app I can use?
No, Geotracker is another app that lets you follow a trail. We used most of the GPS-based apps extensively. Geotracker and Gaia are the two worthy apps that you should have on your phone.
3. I don't have an internet connection. Can I still record / track the trail with a GPS app?
Yes! All you have to do is toggle your GPS / location option on in the notification shadow of your cellphone and then open the GPS app you want to use.
Start recording the trail and continue as normal. When you are done with the trail section / day / trek, click Finish and manually sync it once you have reconnected to the internet.