Comparison of Offline 4WD Maps & GPS Navigation Apps & Software

ExplorOz has been a leading reference and supplier in the digital topographic maps market for the past 18 years. We've worked with thousands of travellers and we know all the history of the various mapping products and the pros cons of the various systems because not only do we develop digital topographic maps but because we are travellers too so we know what features are important to travellers. This article will be helpful to anyone new to understanding digital topo maps, or anyone wanting to compare maps from different publishers.
Created: June 2016
Revised: July 2019
Latest Feedback: October 2019

How to Choose What Maps to Buy

Things You Need to Know First

It is now 13 years since GPS and mobile phone technology really started to change the way we use maps in Australia. Paper maps and printed atlases are no longer the norm and digital devices such as smartphones and tablets have proven reliable with travellers and are now widely in use - even for remote area 4WD travellers. In fact, digital maps have many advantages over paper maps for the majority of users.

Digital mapping is quite simply, maps that you use on a digital device - a computer, tablet or smartphone. However, the complexities of digital mapping is three-fold because there are 3 parts to the system and lots of personal choice. The 3 parts are:- the device, the mapping engine (software), and the actual maps.

Many people don't realise how the choice of mapping software or device you buy can directly limit the use of available maps you can use. The novice can mistakenly assume that most factory car-fitted or aftermarket sat/nav devices, Android Auto or Apple Car Play systems will be compatible with anything they want to load into it - sorry, nope. Same with Garmin, Magellan GPS units and Navman navigators.

Mapping Software & Apps to Compare

GPS Navigators

These are devices that you purchase complete with a mapping program, GPS receiver, and maps installed. Whilst there are many other GPS devices on the market, they all have limitations in what maps are compatible. The following is a selection of the devices that have proven most popular with the serious offroad traveller/Australian explorer as they either include dedicated 4WD mapping by popular publishers or provide access to install raster map files which gives you choice of your preferred mapping publisher.

Hema Navigator HX-1

Current model HX-1 is a stand-alone GPS Navigation device that is effectively an Android tablet with locked features so you cannot add any other apps, or files or use services such as email, web browsing. You cannot connect a reversing camera either (like you can on HN7). It does not use the OziExplorer operating system (like previous model HN7) so no other map files can be imported other than downloading via the Hema Cloud. So no access to import EOTopo 2019 Raster Version. It does not have an SD card slot either, so the device is fully locked to what is stored on the device locally, however with Wifi you can access maps to view on the Hema Cloud. It is pre-loaded with Hema's 150K Explorer Map and POIs and includes inbuilt GPS however. Cost around $550.

Hema Navigator HN7

Old model (no longer available for sale), is a stand-alone GPS Navigation device that uses Oziexplorer CE as its navigation program so you can import raster maps in either ECW or OZF format. Previously sold bundled with the ExplorOz maps and can continue to install new EOTopo 2019 Raster. Maps are stored on external SD card. 7 inch screen.

MudMap M7

Older model stand-alone GPS Navigation device similar to Hema Navigator. Runs on OziCE software, which uses raster maps in OZF format.

VMS GPS

Older model stand-alone GPS Navigation device similar to above. Uses VMS Offroad Software which requires raster maps in ECW format. Also offers OziCE if you wish to install raster maps in OZF (not sure if can update the version of Ozi to read the newer OZF4 format and might only be able to use the older OZF3).

Offline Mapping Software for Android & Windows

These are software programs that are sold directly by the developer (not app stores) but are not available for iOS devices (ie. not iPad, or iPhone).

OziExplorer

Available for Android, Windows CE and Windows PC this is a robust technical bit of software that was originally designed for use by surveyors and geologists and has stood the test of time but is not at all user friendly. Does not come with any maps, no POI data, no route data, and you need to add a GPS receiver. Maps can be purchased separately from any source of your choice provided they in the raster format. ECW files can be converted to the optimised OziExplorer format which is OZF. Compatible with EOTopo 2019 Raster Version. This an old style product that is now superseded by newer technologies such as apps.

Track Ranger

Mapping software for Windows PC. Similar to OziExplorer in function but reportedly a little easier to use. Requires additional maps in raster format and a GPS receiver.

Offline GPS Navigation Apps

These products are apps which which you get from Playstore, Apple Store, Windows Store to install onto your personal device (tablet, phone, laptop, iPad etc).

Memory-Map

previously available for iOS, Windows and Android this product has been withdrawn from the Australian market so no point mentioning other than listing their name

Hema 4WD Maps iOS App

This is a re-packaged version of the Memory-Map app and is only available on iPads. This app uses the old 250K scale Australia Topo map that is exactly the same data as the old NATMAP 250K circa 2008 data. App with Hema maps costs $99. No access to the Memory-Map store to obtain the other files. Nothing exciting here.

Hema Explorer App

For Android and iOS. Comes with the same old map as above so requires a monthly or annual subscription to access the Hema cloud to view their more detailed maps. Not very good reviews in app store.

ExplorOz Traveller

The newest of the GPS Navigation apps bringing the latest in modern tech. Available for Android, iOS and Windows 10 devices - identical across all platforms and shares map licence across each device you own. Offers access to both ONLINE maps (Satellite, Streets & Paths, & EOTopo Online with 18K scale) and EOTopo offline maps (144K scale with additional map licence, once off fee $49.99). Comes with massive POI dataset of 90,000 Places containing the largest collection of verified campsites, facilities, service points and points of interest. This dataset can be updated on demand and free to keep your offline copy in sync with the online master source (ExplorOz Places). Is the only product that includes pre-routed Treks for use when offline. Easy to build your own Private Treks. Includes snail trail feature for backtracking. Optional tracking for online-syncing of your position data to the webserver to allow friends/family to view your trip on a map that updates each time new position data is received. State of the art, easy to use, designed by travellers for travellers. Developed in-house and frequently updated taking on board feedback and suggestions from the travellers for additional features and improvements. Free updates managed by store each time a new version is released. Free content updates upon demand in-app for Treks, Places, and Comments. Features the very latest 2019 EOTopo map for the whole of Australia. A key feature that pleases most people is the fact you can easily pick up the phone and talk to the people in the ExplorOz office - you will speak directly with Michelle and David Martin who have developed the app together. They can directly answer your questions whether you send email, call the office in Perth, or use the Live Chat online service. They have maintained their reputation over the past 19 years for their responsiveness and positive customer service. Buying ExplorOz Traveller supports a small, Australian grassroots company that is doing incredible work with the Australian touring community. Supports the EOTopo 2019 mapset and utilises some online tools that are very handy, but all mapping and resources and tracking works as you expect when offline.

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Article Tags

Digital Topographic Maps, Free Online Maps, Best Offline 4X4 Maps, Offline 4Wd Maps, Detailed Offline Maps, Ipad Maps, Android Maps

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