Note: The author of this post, Nate Copeland, is a hunter from Oklahoma, who aggregates and manages much of the state-by-state hunting data for Gaia GPS.
For this post, I stack up Gaia GPS vs onX Hunt, doing an exhaustive comparison of features, maps, and pricing. At the end of the article, you can also click a link to get Gaia GPS free this hunting season, so you can do your own Gaia GPS vs. onX Hunt review.
In a nutshell, I found both apps deliver the core package of hunting maps – land ownership, GMUs, and other sources, merged with topo maps and satellite imagery. Where onX is strong is having a sole focus on hunting, and it offers a few map sources and design touches geared towards hunters. Gaia GPS, on the other hand, has more powerful software overall.
|Free to Download||Free to Download|
Elite (50 states)
(1 state – $29.99/year)
Gaia GPS – Premium & Gaia GPS Membership
Hunters using Gaia GPS should usually choose a Premium Membership, which costs $39.99/year. A Premium Membership provides access to private land ownership, GMUs, and other layers useful for hunters. Premium also includes additional topo maps such as National Geographic Trails Illustrated, Neotreks, and even premium topos for Europe. Click here for a full list of available maps.
A hunter on a budget might opt for a basic Gaia GPS Membership, which is $19.99/year. While you don’t get hunting overlays, you still get great topo and satellite maps, along with all the powerful route-planning, tracking, and navigation features of Gaia GPS.
onX Hunt – Premium & Elite Subscription
An Elite subscription from onX includes data for all 50 states costs $99.99/year. You can also get access to all maps for a single state for $29.99/year.
In addition, the Boone and Crockett Trophy Game Records layer and the Prairie Dogs layer cost an additional $9.99 each.
If you are looking for a full-featured GPS, then Gaia GPS shows its strength.
In comparing the features of the apps, I just couldn’t find a single thing onX Maps did that Gaia GPS did not. You might think my chart below is biased, but truly Gaia GPS is easily winning the feature war (though I’ll point out some unique maps ONX has in the following section).
|Map Downloads||Custom Areas, Huge Sizes||Grid-Based, Size Limits|
(Snaps to trails/roads),
|Export Trip Data (GPX/KML)||Yes||Via Website|
|Import Trip Data (GPX/KML)||Yes||Via Website|
|Vector Topo Maps*||Yes||No|
|Group Sharing (sync routes/folders with your hunting partners)||Yes||No|
|Distance Markers & Announcements||Yes||No|
|Custom Map Sources||Yes||No|
|Create Waypoint at Current Location||Yes||Yes|
|Visible Trip Stats||Yes||Yes|
|Custom Waypoint Icons||Some Hunting Focused||All Hunting Focused|
*Not Available on Android devices
Give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org if you find something in onX that Gaia doesn’t do! The closest thing I could find was the ability to copy coordinates with one tap on the map, where Gaia GPS requires a few taps for it. But this isn’t something I ever do in the field.
The thing you see most complained about in onX reviews on the App Store are how the map downloads work. Here’s one recent review quote:
“And, it still isn’t set up to download complete maps into the phone for offline. It’s as if onX expects me to hunt a small patch of land…What I want is to define my area in terms of what tags I have, then download the whole area I can hunt in one go.” – onX Hunt App Store Review Oct. 10th, 2017
When comparing maps available in Gaia GPS vs. onX, overall Gaia GPS has a deeper catalog of maps, but onX has a few notable hunting-specific sources.
Gaia GPS uniquely provides National Geographic Trails Illustrated Maps as part of the package, which are amazing maps for certain forests and wilderness areas. Gaia GPS also has a remarkable depth of map sources – dozens of topo map sources for all over the world, ranging from classic USGS/USFS topos, to historic topos, European topos, and of course the default source in the app, Gaia Topo.
For the default source in the app, Gaia Topo sets the standard for digital topo maps, with adjustable text size, units, and tiny/fast downloads. Gaia GPS, unlike onX, displays many layers as “vectors” on iOS, which for the end user means the text is crisper and the downloads are faster and smaller.
On the other hand, onX does have a few interesting map sources for hunters that Gaia GPS lacks, such as current wildfires, precipitation radar, and a others (see the table below). Again here, give me a shout at email@example.com if there’s a map you’d like to see in Gaia GPS, because that’s my job!
|National Geographic Trails Illustrated Maps||Yes||No|
|Private Land (by state)||Yes||Yes|
|Public Land (by state)||Yes||Yes|
|GMUs/WMAs (by state)||Yes||Yes|
|Walk-In Areas (by state)||Yes||Yes|
|Forest Vistor Maps||Yes||Yes|
|Possible Access (by state)||No||Yes|
|Praire Dogs Towns||No||Yes|
|B&C Trophy Big Game Records||No||Yes|
Comparing Basic Usage
Gaia GPS offers a powerful set of features for customizing offline maps, planning routes, recording tracks, and layering map sources.
With a large collection of hunting specific map sources and interactive private land layer, it’s easy to create a custom hunting map and know exactly where you are while hunting. Offline maps with Gaia GPS can be set to cover a specific area or follow along a previously saved route or track.
The flexibility of Gaia GPS also allows hunters to conventionally import or export waypoints, tracks, and routes making it easy to transfer your past treestand locations into the app.
Gaia GPS also lets hunters organize their hunting trips into folders which can store everything from access points to offline maps to trail camera photos. Hunters can also share folders with other Gaia GPS users, so everyone knows the location of basecamp and who will be hunting which areas.
The onX Hunt app, like Gaia GPS, has the ability to quickly provide users with the basic tools required for offline navigation and knowing the land ownership status of your current location. onX Hunt users can select between three predefined offline map sizes which vary in resolution. The onX Hunt app includes three different base maps: topographical, satellite imagery, and a hybrid base map which can be changed with a single tap.
Some people may prefer the more limited workflows and choices in onX – Gaia GPS is more flexible, but can be complex.
Pairing gaiagps.com with the Gaia GPS app, let users easily back up their hunting data and offline maps. Hunters can also scout from the web and finalized all of their pre-hunt plans on where should treestands, trail cameras, and access points be set up.
The online version of the onX Hunt app also pairs with the app and lets hunters back up their data and scout from onxmaps.com. Pre-hunt scouting can also be completed on onxmaps.com.
That’s a wrap for my review of Gaia GPS vs. onX Hunt. If you want to compare for yourself, click the link below to get 3 months free.
I prefer Gaia GPS for my hunts, largely because it has a deeper set of maps and features than onX. But there’s always room to improve, and I’ll be continuing my work this season to add more hunting maps to Gaia GPS.
It’s also notable how much less expensive Gaia GPS is for a multi-state hunter – you get the full package for just $39.99, compared to $99.99 for onX. Lots you can do with $60 savings!
Get Gaia GPS Free for 3 Months – Take the Gaia Hunt Challenge
Take the Gaia Hunt challenge – test Gaia GPS against other hunting apps, and share the results of your tests on Facebook, Twitter, or on the Gaia GPS Community Forums.