Desktop Version of BacKCountry Navigator




  • Carl Holmesby

    In the planning of my trips, I usually use google earth to draw a line following the route I plan to take. I save it as a .KML and import it. I will now have a line to fill its surroundings with maps.

    This leaves me with streams of maps that follow the route from A to B and since I have now ridden a lot of these streams I've started to see a lot of places in between and filling in the gaps is sometimes difficult to manage at all layers.

    Now that I have a good collection of map tiles, my main struggle is managing the ones I have. The planning end is fine for me.

    Analysis and sharing is something to consider. I do want to review my trips and see how long it took to get from wanaaring to tibboburra and share the track log with people that want to go the same way.

    Free? Who is kidding who, I'm happy to pay again, If BC nav was twice the cost to get the android version and a windows desktop version I'd be on board.

    Happy trails!

  • Joseph Cowen

    I use a 10" netbook for offroad navigation. I used to use Memory Map but it has become too out of date and is very expensive. I have used BCN on my Android phone but the screen is too small, it is not possible to view the surrounding tracks in order to plan the route without connstantly zooming in and out. I need a programme for Windows but there doesn't seem to be such a thing. The only option is to buy an Android tablet, but this seems an unnessary expense when I have a Netbook already and a usb Gps......Any suggestions please?

  • Robj

    I agree with Carl, I would love to have a desktop companion program but would not expect it to be free. It is an option, just like other software and should be purchased and I would be more than willing to pay for it.

  • Vtenney

    For all of the reasons mentioned above, I would pay dearly to have a companion desktop version of BCNAV. It is just not possible (at least very inconvenient) to plan a trip on my Droid Razr.

  • Randy Goggin

    I have the Delorme topo software and PN-40 GPS.  They have issues of their own, but this is something they do well.  Map retrieval, cutting and route creation are done on tthe PC, and transfer to the GPS is done in a way that allows you to see what files are already on the device.   Of course, after BCNAV on a 7 inch tablet I won't be going back to the tiny PN-40 screen and the quirky Delorme software.  A companion Windows product would certainly be welcome.  But even some better map file management capability on the tablet would be helpful. 

  • Ramon Gandia

    Don't forget us Linux guys!

  • gil meacham

    I have used Garmin Mapsource on my notebook for creating routes and editing tracks for several years.  Topo 24k maps are very similar to the accuterra and work very well.    Once I have my routes, tracks, and waypoints set up, I can do a "save as" to a file type of either .gpx or .kml that should be compatible with BCN.  I say it should work because I haven't had a chance to try it with BCN yet.  Several of my friends have used this method successfully for years.



  • Carl Holmesby

    Hi, The .gpx and .kml files work, for actually planning and following the route they work well.

    I find that when I'm on a trip and I'm looking for somewhere to camp off the trail, or look for an alternate route I may not have downloaded enough maps each side of my route, or it will appear as though I do have the maps but not at all zoom levels.

    It is therefor map tile management that I need not route planning software. So instead of managing my map tiles so far I have been able to buy bigger and bigger micro SD cards, I just hope I don't fill the 32gb card too quickly!

  • Randy Goggin

    Yup, I'm right there with you, Carl.  I need a way to see what tiles are on my device, at what levels, and then add or remove with more control.  The other software I use shows you a map with the tile grid overlay, and you just click and highlight the ones you want to load.  It would be handy to be able to create a package of tiles and load/unload by the package name (e.g., xxx National Park).  I love my maps, and 32GB goes pretty fast.

  • Nathan

    There is someone working on map packages, which will give you lots of advantages. 

  • Casey Puyleart

    A desktop version with similar function as the actual program (but with the added convenience of left/right click context and large screen viewing), with an added function for managing/downloading/synching to the device for what map tiles or content sets you have loaded (I don't need the ID panhandle loaded when I'm up hiking Mt why waste the space on my device) would be awesome.  Add to that the ability to draw tracks and waypoints that can be followed or used in the field and it would be even better.  Finish it off with the ability to print (and not just to 8x11 or 11x17, but full large-format support) and I'd be willing to drop 5x the cost of the mobile version to have that as a companion product on my desktop machine.

    I realize I've basically described the sort of thing that is already available through programs like TopoUSA and for the Garmin GPS units.  But having something like that directly tied to, and similar in look and function to, the software I already use on my android device would be pretty sweet.

  • Yeti

    I fully agree with Casey. I have maps for the CDT, PCT, Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT), A new hike just finished we are calling the Idaho Boundary Trail (IBT), & many Montana trail maps, I am using a 64G SD card & can't hold anywhere near all these maps so an easy folder structure would be nice & tied to a PC based program would be ideal. The ability to load tiles on my PC instead would be fantastic & I would be more than willing to buy this.

    At the present time I have made image files of some of the trails and or folders by trail names but it takes hours to put them on an SD card especially the AccuTerra maps which take forever to copy over.


  • David

    I agree with Casey and Yeti. I have only recently bought a Samsung 2.0 7" tablet, and found Backcountry - and can hardly believe that I can download Ordnance Survey (UK) Explorer maps for free. It's amazing to use my tablet for following routes in the field. It would be terrific if pretty well the same application could be installed on my pc, though obviously navigation tools would not be needed. But being able to plan a route on the map and export to my tablet, also the ability to print the map, would be really good. And yes, I would be prepared quite a bit  to pay for that - doing the same thing with Memory Map or Anquet would cost a fortune. If it were vto be made available, let's hopre that there would be foolproof instructions on how to transfer the maps from pc to tablet!!



  • boh
    Agree, need larger screen to choose tiles for trip all in one go. MOBAC doesn't have OS map capablity. Naturally it has to be paid for. So useful will pay any reasonable amount. Use bcn on HTC one X with few probs see other post for feature request. cyberyetti
  • Lawrence Pierce

    A desktop version would be fantastic. I would be very willing to pay for such a program.

  • S Mycroft

    I would be unlikely to use a desktop version (and I would need Mac anyway).

    I would think an iPhone version would be a good plan.  I am fairly new to Android and am finding the system (underlying Android) pretty unreliable and buggy (ICS).  So I am thinking that when this one goes (broken screen, battery, has a swim, whatever) I would be keen on switching to an iPhone.  But no BCN for iPhone is a major consideration.

    Interestingly, iOS development and OS X development are both Objective C and they share many of the same object libraries (e.g. many of the NS objects are common to iOS and OS X).  Not all (most of the UI objects are slightly different but there are a lot of similarities so development for iOS would get you a long long way towards also having the Mac version.

    I have no issues with paying for software.  Freeware is great and always appreciated but it has downsides (e.g. when a new OS comes out, often that bit of Freeware you depended on can take many months before the version for your OS becomes available; something paid for software tends to suffer from a lot less).

  • Patrick Caple

    I would gladly pay for a desktop version that would allow downloading of maps that can later be transferred to my Android device. Backcountry Navigator is the best app I have found and is improving but still has a ways to go. I have faith the programmers will continue to improve the features. Downloading maps on the device is a hassle and I always seem to be missing some tiles and it never zooms to 16 with offline maps I have downloaded. This is frustrating!

  • David

    I must admit that I had problems downloading maps initially, with tiles missing etc. I solved the problem by using tile packages, creating a new tile package every time I downloaded maps. I think the problem arises if you download tiles into a package which don't overlap existing tiles that have been downloaded.I now use map packages all the time, and have on occasion added more tiles to a package, nmaking sure they overlapped with existing downloaded tiles, and I now have no problem. As regards the zooming problem, I have found that different maps will zoom to different levels. Ordnace Suirrvey UK maps, for example, won't zoom less thhan level 12.


    But roll on the pc version!!

  • Nathan


    You need to contact us via ticket if you don't think you are seeing Zoom level 16. I do think that you WILL see if you specify level 16 AND the map has it AND it is within the area you selected.

    It is absolutely normal for level 16 to show a smaller area than say, level 12, but still cover the area which you have selected. 

  • Andy Dungan

    I read this post earlier today as I was evaluating the software to purchase it. I must say I am incredibly impressed. Someone else posted earlier that is a Delorme user. I actually use their GIS Editor version (way expensive but it's GIS) and the PN40. Well the PN40 is history. I was saying to a friend just a couple of days ago that the phone will likely replace handheld GPS's. The day came sooner than I thought. This piece of software will essentially replace my GPS for all my recreational uses (and I have 3 batteries for my Droid X2). What's even better is that I have an ASUS TF700 tablet (high resolution screen) and so can see even more if I need it. I have already tested sending files (including shape files saved as kml) back and forth between BCN and my Delorme software. There are some little hiccups but everything works really well. Bottom line the need for a separate handheld GPS has ended, at least for me.

    That brings me to the idea of a desktop application. I would say yes, if you could build something as simple and elegant as the android app. BUT, that likely is a far taller order than most of us can imagine would be my guess (and then you would have to write it for a MAC too). Since there is already good desktop software out there (like that which I have) then the problem becomes figuring an easy way to move files back and forth. So far it has worked pretty well for me, but certainly not perfectly. The advantage of a desktop would seem to be that the process of going from one to the other would be more seamless. For me that is not too big a deal as I have been struggling with mapping and software for quite a while. Where it becomes more important is creating software for the masses. If they get stuck in the technology they just give up and that isn't what a software developer wants. So, desktop, if it could be simple, elegant and operate like the android app, would be great.

    I am already thinking of 7" tablets for SAR (anyone with thoughts let me know) and helping members use their droid smart phones with BCN. I could setup standard map packages for the areas we operate in. So many new ideas.

  • Randy Goggin

    Hey Andy, I haven't used my PN-40 for several years, since shortly after I put BCN on my 7 inch tablet (Samsung Tab 7 Plus).  I don't mind the extra weight, it's so worth it.  The biggest drawback to BCN is still the handling of large areas at high resolution.  BCN uses lots of little tiles, and the sheer number of files that must be moved around make it impractical to load and unload as needed.  The situation is made worse by the fact that the software effectively limits your downloads by only allowing selection at higher zoom settings.   There is a competing product that is better in this regard, but it has it's own limitations and I find myself coming back to BCN. 

    Nathan, you might consider adjusting this limitation based on the max zoom of the downloaded tiles.  That way at least we could cover a large area more readily if we're willing to compromise on resolution.

  • Nathan

    About the first thing, there is no reason to complain about a bunch of small tiles today. Map packages have been available since last October, and they use a few huge files instead of a bunch of little ones.


  • Patrick Caple

    I have more trouble with packages than I do when I just save to cache

  • Chris Bishop

    The opportunity to have a desktop version, that would allow route creation transferable to my android smart phone (easily). Would have me digging deep in to my pockets.

    I can't thank you and your team enough. 

  • s phantom

    I use BCNav almost daily and find it invaluable. The biggest thing I miss is the ability to work on trip data seamlessly between my device and a desktop application. I currently use a myriad of tools to accomplish my work, Google Earth, CalTopo, Adze, GPSBabel, etc... The main challenge I run into is that I'm always copying data from one program to another and back again in various formats (gpx, kml, kmz) and it's a bit tedious to manage. And then there's transferring data between my desktop and my phone as well.

    A full-featured desktop app that syncs seamlessly with my moblile could help me a lot with this.

    Is there any chance a desktop version might be on the horizon? Also, are there other support threads that might address some of my other concerns?


  • Dan Johnson

    Sounds like pretty universal support for a desktop version AND I AGREE! I've just purchased the Pro version and just now learning how to use it. I like what I see. We are heading to Switzerland for some trekking and I just love that I can download decent/good topo maps. But I would benefit by having the files on my 15" laptop for night-before research. And, yes, I would happily pay for the companion laptop product.

  • MikeQ

    I've used BCN for quite some time now, and it really does meet my needs.  My "wants" however,  hmmm.

    I use a Chromebook and an Android phone (Pixel) for all my daily tasks.  The connectedness of my devices and the seamless transfer of information between them is what makes this so appealing.  I can speak out loud and have google tell me how to cook an egg, or I can use my phone or Chromebook to Whatsapp the kids.  I pick up a device and use it without thinking about the limitations, most of the time anyway.

    I like the flexibility options this post suggests, but these really miss the point of where BCN needs to get to in order to stay ahead of the competition.

    Imagine sitting down at night with a glass of wine (or other if you prefer), Open the Chromebook (or other), and look at the options for your walk the next day using BCN_Web.  You have the ability to call-up a prior walk, edit it, save it for tomorrow for example.  Another glass of Wine etc.

    In the morning, pick up the Phone, look at your planned walk.  It's all there ready to go in BCN.

    I should add, this post is written very early in the morning, no wine was consumed in the writing of this post...

    Loving the App, please consider this as a positive set of thoughts rather than negative regarding BCN

  • Gerard Pesce

    I love the software and use it frequently on Jeep trips and hiking trips.  I usually pre-download maps for offline use and save them to different map packages for each state I visit while hiking, off-roading, running water trips, etc.  I just read elsewhere that I shouldn't download huge swaths of Colorado and save it to my map packages, but I often found myself offroad in areas with no coverage and then oops no map data any more, so I started to download bigger packages as a result...that's for a different thread though.

    I too would love a desktop version, but not for the reasons everyone else is asking.  I would prefer to be able to edit and combine my BCN Trip Files and associated pins, etc. into custom packages or edit (icon, name, etc.) pins while zoomed out and looking at my entire trip on the map, or in a data table or text editor even.

    I would also like to be able to edit, tracks, say to delete the part where I forgot to turn off my track recording when I jumped in the car and drove home after a hike.  That really throws off your data about elevation and speed, etc. on hikes or offroad trips, etc.  It would be cool to split or combine tracks in the event you have a multi day trip, or you had a battery go flat or accidentally stopped recording.

    There are probably other things I can't remember right now, but I'll save them for another post.

  • James H. Reinholm

    The desktop version of BCN will soon be available and will have most of the requested features mentioned here. But the mobile version of BCN has some of these features already:

    You can now copy or move a collection of tracks/waypoints between trip databases by using the "Batch Options" discussed in section 4.d.iii.2 of the user manual. Custom waypoint marker icons can be created as shown in section 4.b.ii.

    Although combining tracks isn't possible, tracks can be split so you can delete the part you don't want by using the new "Track Trimmer" feature explained in section 5.c.viii of the user manual.

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