There are now a number of mountain mapping and tracking apps you can download to your phone. Both Android and IOS have multiple apps available for download that can map the mountain, track your riding, give you stats on your performance as well as offering other premium features. I’m checking out FATMAP, a 3D rendering ski map app to see how it fairs on the mountain.
FATMAP is reasonably new to the market of map apps, but in the last year has gained massive traction and is now receiving a lot of attention for their very impressive 3D maps. The app is available for both Android and IOS and boasts an impressive set of maps that include 28 resorts* across North America and Europe. *correct at time of writing
Our mission is to get [3D] maps to as many skiers as possible
FATMAP is free from the app stores and you can download unlimited maps at no cost, however, in order to use the premium features you will need to pay. A little hint – If you sign up to their mailing list you can be in with the chance of winning a years free subscription to premium features!
The app uses an ultra high-resolution 3D landscaping model with real terrain imagery at the full 1:1 scale to give you a really great sense of space when you’re on the mountain. This makes it really easy to find your location in respect to the run you’re on and where you want to get to.
A great feature of FATMAP is that you can download the maps straight to your phone so you can use them offline – that means no nasty data charges to worry about. The app has been designed with the mountains in mind, so your phones battery life is optimised as much as possible, allowing you to explore the mountains all day without thinking about your battery running flat. Saying this, I did find that my battery did wear down at a reasonable rate whilst keeping the app open all day in the background, not so much that my phone went flat, but enough to think about closing the app in between uses in order to save battery in case of emergencies.
Using the maps felt very smooth, I tended to load them up in the morning at the chalet so they are instantly at my finger-tips wherever I was on the mountain.
The maps are fluid, well rendered and look great. You really do get a better sense of space when you can drag and zoom around the mountains. Tap on a run or a lift to get a drop down of information, tap again to go back to the map. Very simple. If you have premium features enabled you can look up more information about the mountain you’re riding, see the best lines to take off-piste, check out gradients before you drop in and even see potential risk zones for avalanches or crevasses.
A little downside to using any app is of course that you need to have your hands out your gloves in order to use your phone, meaning you can get slightly cold hands when on the mountain-side.
On the whole I have found using FATMAP easy, enjoyable and fast – it has become a replacement for paper maps on this holiday (and probably all my future holidays too) – though I have always got a paper version in my pocket in case. I would definitely recommend (and have already recommended) FATMAP to anyone going on a ski holiday to the mountains. It is a great app that works just as it should.
Not your cup of tea? Here’s some other apps to try
There are a number of apps out there that claim to offer similar, but not the same, features to FATMAP. Maps for the mountain, tracking services, recommended routes and more. Here are a few you could also check out.
Crystal Ski Explorer app
The app made by the UK ski holiday company offers up features such as mountain tracking and stats for distance, speed and vertical, recommend routes to help plan your days skiing, detailed piste and resort maps, helpful specific resort info and even the ability to find where your friends are on the mountain [as long as they have the app too!].
Designed specifically for winter sports, Ski Tracks is an award winning ski companion, allowing you to record your entire day on the slopes without the need for mobile data. The app uses GPS instead of mobile data, and utilises battery efficient technologies so you can track you progression, distance, speed, vertical distance, altitude and many more stats. It’s a great little app.
Much like Ski Tracks, SkiLynx functions as a skiing log, recording a mixture of metrics which you can save and share over your social networks. Also similar to Crystal Ski’s app, SkiLynx can keep you connected with all of your friends on the slopes, allowing you to easily locate and communicate with your friends wherever they are on the hill.
And thus concludes my review of FATMAP and other ski apps that can make your ski/snowboard holiday even more enjoyable. I hope it can guide you onto finding your next ski app companion.
As always, if you liked reading it, share it with others. Until next time,
Also published on Medium.