What is the best mapping solution for outback navigation?

Find out what we recommend. ExplorOz has been a leading reference and supplier in this market for the past 16 years and we've worked with thousands of travellers so we know what works and what doesn't. .
Article By: ExplorOz Team
Created: June 2016
Latest Feedback: June 2016

What does "BEST" mean?

Due to the myriad of options, the "best" solution for each individual will ultimately come down to personal preference. However, your choices of maps and functionally will be determined by the device you choose to use, and for this reason, we've broken this article up into sections based on device type.

Current Trends in GPS Navigation

The increase in demand by travellers for digital maps has been a game changer in the mapping industry. Whilst digital mapping and real-time GPS navigation has been around for at least 10 years, this has really only been successful for enthusiasts with a high degree of technical competence.

For a while the use of handheld GPS units with inbuilt mapping became a popular option for people who didn't want to mess about with complicated software and map files, however the problem with these mapping GPS units is the limited screen size, and the restricted map availability - with Garmin, Navman, Magellan etc all restricted to use of proprietary maps. By locking out the ability to use the more popular Australian digital maps such as EOTopo and Hema maps, enthusiast travellers have mostly abandoned these GPS units.

When Hema released their HN series navigators (HN5, HN6, HN7), consumers were quick to embrace this device. With inbuilt mapping software it is an all-in-one mapping and navigation device that includes Hema maps, as well as Street Level mapping. When we released our EOTopo mapset people were quick to install the EOTopo200K whole of Australia maps into the HN7 so we eventually partnered with Hema to produce an exclusive HN7 - EOTopo Edition for our market. However as time has moved along and mobile technology has developed, an obvious limitation to this device has become apparent. The cost and the perceived value for money of the HN7 device is now questionable given the device is not internet capable.

The widespread popularity of smartphones, iPads, and Android tablet computers has meant that many travellers now carry such a device for their general communications. Most of these devices include internet and GPS capability, so they are seen as a popular solution for an all-in-one mapping/navigation system, however the two most popular digital map providers (Hema and ExplorOz) took a little time to find a solution for providing their maps to the iOS devices (iPad/iPhone).

Hema released the Hema Explorer App and ExplorOz partnered with Memory-Map to provide a propriety version of the EOTopo mapset so that Memory-Map users could access their mapsets through this app. For iOS users, this was initially the only way to access EOTopo maps. Later, we were able to provide the EOTopo maps in the MMR file format (via download only) which also enabled EOTopo to be used in iOS devices through the Mud Map app.

Obviously, our preferred solution is to directly service our own customers without the need for third-party software so we have recently launched our own all-in-one mapping and navigation app that is compatible for both iOS and Android devices and provides both online and offline EOTopo maps, tracking, trek notes, places, and clever features utilising the latest technologies and resources available through the ExplorOz website and community sharing tools.

ExplorOz is backed by its own in-house developer David Martin, who is an expert in web technology, app development, e-commerce, and user profile management. There are significant advantages and features for ExplorOz Traveller App users with access to the ExplorOz website resources and profile management tools and most importantly the ability sync and refresh data between the app and the website. The ExplorOz Traveller app brings together the largest online community of enthusiast outback travellers where data sharing is at the core of the ExplorOz community experience.

Options for iPhone/iPad Users

GPS Capability


Typically all iPhones and the cellular capable iPads have an inbuilt GPS. Wi-fi only models do not have an inbuilt GPS Receiver, so you will need to purchase an external Bluetooth receiver to use with these devices, but choose carefully to make sure they are iOS compatible.

Navigation Apps


The ExplorOz Traveller App has been developed specifically to provide navigation and tracking for iPad and iPhone, and enables you to access ExplorOz Places, Treks, & Maps and navigation tools - all offline. This is the first app to provide auto-routing in some of Australia's most remote areas, and allows you to make custom route plans for your trip directly on your device. Available maps are the excellent ExplorOz EOTopo (online and offline versions), as well as Online Map options for Streets/Paths and Satellite. Find out more about the app on the ExplorOz Traveller Page.

Alternative Options


EOTopo maps are so highly sought after that we've made versions that are compatible with two other navigation apps available for the iOS market. Users of the Mud Map app can import the MMR files (available only by purchasing the EOTopo Download product). Users of the Memory-Map app can purchase a version of EOTopo maps that is customised for use exclusively in Memory-Map. This is purchased direct from Memory-Map (either through their website or as a Memory-Map in-app purchase). Purchase of EOTopo maps through Memory-Map is not compatible/recognised for use in the ExplorOz Traveller App.

Options for Android Device Users

GPS Capability


The majority of Android devices have an inbuilt GPS but you can check this by looking for mention of "location services". Look for terms including GPS, Glonass or A-GPS.

Navigation Apps


The ExplorOz Traveller App has been developed specifically to provide navigation and tracking for Android, and enables you to access ExplorOz Places, Treks, & Maps and navigation tools - all offline. This is the first app to provide auto-routing in some of Australia's most remote areas, and allows you to make custom route plans for your trip directly on your device. Available maps are the excellent ExplorOz EOTopo (online and offline versions), as well as Online Map options for Streets/Paths and Satellite. Find out more about the app on the ExplorOz Traveller Page.

Alternative Options


We've made EOTopo maps available with three other App options. Our EOTopo Maps are available in OZF map file format for use in OziExplorer Android (purchase through our online shop on SD card, USB drive or Download). We also include MMR files with the EOTopo download product (which can be imported into the Mud Maps app). In addition we have the EOTopo Maps licensed to the Memory-Map app, which you can purchase direct from their website, or as an in-app purchase. NOTE: Purchase of EOTopo maps through Memory-Map is not compatible/recognised for use in the ExplorOz Traveller App.

Options for Windows Users

EOTopo is currently available for use in both OziExplorer and Trackranger Navigation Software for Windows Devices, this is most useful on portable Windows devices such as tablets and laptops/netbooks.

Please note that the majority of these devices do not have an internal GPS receiver, so a compatible external GPS receiver must be attached and configured for use.

To find out more, see our EOTopo Help and FAQ page and open the EOTopo with TrackRanger and EOTopo with OziExplorer (Full PC Version) sections to decide which software suits your needs best.

Options for Handheld GPS/Navigator Users

The Hema Navigator 7 - EOTopo Edition has been designed specifically as a stand-alone device with inbuilt maps, software, and navigation tools. It is a portable GPS unit with a 7” screen and comes pre-loaded with Hema Maps, street navigation software called iGo Primo (utilising Navteq mapping), and all available scales of the EOTopo mapset, which is powered by EziOzi (a customised version of OziExplorer). The HN7-EOTopo edition can be purchased exclusively through the ExplorOz online shop.

Paper Maps & Road Atlases

Navigation apps and GPS units are becoming increasingly invaluable for travellers, however there will always be a place for the tangible product, especially from a safety perspective. There is always a risk of device breakage failure, so having a back-up method of figuring out where you are is crucial.

For this reason, all travellers are urged to continue to pack a paper map for the most remote area that they intend to travel, plus an overall map/atlas that covers your entire trip route.

Another advantage is that a map's surface space is much larger than that of a device screen, so referring to these will also give you a greater idea of your surrounding area at a quick glance.

Comments & Reviews

Post a Comment
You must be registered and logged in to post here.



Registration is free and takes only seconds to complete!
Loading...

Article Resources

Related Products (10)