Topographic maps have always been able to show the highs and lows, paths and tracks, rivers and gorges of wilderness regions in great detail. Reading and understanding a topographic (printed and digital) takes some time because many things have to be displayed as symbols. Now, outdoor activities can be planned on a PC (if you want to view the area where you are going on a large screen), and once you have reached your destination and start your adventure, you can navigate and track your route on a mobile device. The service is called Fatmap.
The thing that makes Fatmap the best outdoor adventure planning and navigation tool that I have seen so far is that you see the real thing on the screen. Satellite images can be viewed in three-dimensional mode on the screen. It is something similar as directing a drone over a landscape, with the drone transmitting video feed to you. Fatmap actually does more because it can highlight tracks hidden from view, names of places and other things.
I have planned a trek to the mountains for the next week using Fatmap. Using the product, I discovered a camp site that will be our base. On a computer web browser Fatmap works fine, although a good computer with fast internet connection really helps. It is possible to save your plans in Fatmap, and login to the service on a mobile device. I tried the mobile app on a few smartphones and a tablet, and it looks like the app requires a relatively new mobile gadget to run.
Once you have the app running on a mobile device, you can save the maps and information for your destination on the device for offline use. This is, of course, a crucial feature if you want to navigate in the wilderness. GPS signal for locating your whereabouts works just about anywhere, but mobile network signal carries only a few miles/kilometers away from the nearest network tower (that are usually located along main roads and in settlements).
Fatmap is free to use if you are conneted to the internet, and the maps are streamed from the company servers to your device. Saving maps offline on your mobile device requires a subscription, starting from 5.50 euros.
Cyclists who are planning to ride the key mountain stages of the Tour of France 2018 can expect a scene like this at L’Alpe d’Huez.