BRMB Maps vs Gaia GPS: Which app is best for you?

Have you ever had one of those days where you know you want to go on an adventure, but you’ve already explored all the local areas that you know about? Or, have you ever been on a road trip where you know you want to cram as many outdoor adventures as possible into a few days, but you don’t know where to start? Well, here at Backroad Mapbooks, we have you covered!

With the new BRMB Maps App and the Backroad Mapbooks layers available for Gaia GPS, there are endless adventure opportunities right at your fingertips, but which tool is best for you and your adventure of choice?

Endless Adventure Opportunities

Like our paper mapbooks, the BRMB Maps App includes a comprehensive logging and industry road network along with notable POIs, hiking and paddling routes, backroad adventures, rec sites, and more. The app is also full of trip planning tools giving you the option to read POI descriptions, download maps for offline use, drop custom waypoints, record tracks, review Adventures and share your photos with the BRMB Community – all in the click of a button!

The Backroad Mapbooks smartphone app also interacts with and offers even more advanced trip planning options allowing you to find the distance or elevation gain of a trail, save a GPX/KML file for use on your GPS, print a custom map and much more, creating the perfect tool to virtually plan adventures, track your routes and view our highly acclaimed maps on a bigger screen.

The Backroad Mapbooks’ Basemap is also available to Gaia GPS Premium users, and all the Backroad Mapbook Multi-Use Trails, Motorized Trails (ATV & Snowmobile) and Paddling Routes overlays can be added to any of the Gaia GPS Maps. On top of that, the Gaia Premium Subscription also includes many other map providers, Apple CarPlay and Public Trips features. 

There are so many tools packed into these apps that it would take an entire booklet to explain them all. However, we have chosen a few to highlight a few key differences here.

It all starts with the Basemap

Both BRMB Maps and Gaia GPS include the Backroad Mapbook Basemap, which features the same industry-leading cartographic detail with topographic relief and unparalleled road & trail coverage found in the mapbooks. Additionally, the Apps are packed with bonus features that don’t fit into a printed book! 

Here are some of the features included in the BRMB Basemap:

  • topographic relief, shading and elevation contour lines
  • clearly defined national, provincial and regional parks, First Nations Reserves, ecological reserves, restricted areas and more
  • thousands of clearly marked roads
  • natural features such as creeks, streams, waterbodies, wetlands, mountain ranges and cliffs

On the BRMB Maps App, you can access the Backroad Mapbook Basemaps for all the provinces and territories of Canada for free. Plus, with the PRO Subscription ($3.50/month), you will find added satellite imagery and many additional tools such as the ability to download maps for offline use and the option to save and edit tracks and waypoints.

With a Gaia GPS Premium Subscription ($39.99/year), you will find many other basemap options covering the US, Canada, Europe, Japan and more.

If you are looking for a good Basemap of Canada to plan a road trip or you are on a budget, BRMB Maps is the best option. If you plan to travel in and outside Canada or want to use the Apple CarPlay feature, you might want to go with the Gaia GPS. 

Adventure Layers

The BRMB Maps App is the perfect tool for someone that loves all kinds of Adventures! You can choose between eleven Adventure Layers across Canada, which can be toggled on and off based on the outdoor activities you are interested in. These include:

  • Backroad attractions (natural and man-made roadside attractions)
  • Fishing areas (lakes, rivers, ocean & stocked lakes) 
  • Hunting areas
  • Paddling routes (lakes, rivers, ocean & whitewater)
  • Parks and campsites (including backcountry huts & cabins)
  • Recreation sites in BC
  • Multi-Use Trails (hiking, mountain biking, TCT, etc.) 
  • ATV Trails
  • Snowmobile Routes
  • Wildlife viewing locations 
  • Winter recreation opportunities (skiing, snowshoeing, backcountry)
  • Bonus layers of Crown Land, Private Land and Industry and Recreation Roads

Gaia GPS Premium Subscription also includes the BRMB overlays for Trails, ATVing, Paddling, and Snowmobiling, along with a host of other map overlays from other map sources such as wildlife management areas for many provinces. Similarly to the BRMB Maps, you can turn these layers on and off to add value-added information to the basemap of your choice. Gaia GPS also provides the bonus layer of Current and Historic Wildfires. 

Not only does BRMB Maps include more Adventure types, but the big advantage is that each Adventure POI shown on the maps is supplemented with detailed written descriptions written by our team of outdoor writers and researchers, filling you in on trail distance, fish species, hunting regulations, campground size, number of portages and much more. Plus, you can review and add photos for each adventure to help other BRMB Maps users explore!

Search, Trip-Planning and Map Printing Options

With BRMB Maps, you can search for and plan new adventures anytime and anywhere using one of the several enhanced Search options on The smartphone App version has a general features search with plans to enhance this search with all the Adventure POI found on the maps. Users can also create custom waypoints and tracks, save maps for offline use and access trips on multiple devices.

The Gaia GPS main map also includes general features search and options to find hikes, trails, trailheads and places. When using the BRMB overlays, anyone with a premium Gaia membership will have access to these enhanced features along with the overlays.

Another exciting feature of BRMB Maps is the ability to order a custom printed map of any location within Canada and add your features or BRMB Adventure points. This allows you to zoom in on a specific location, region, or park and receive a highly detailed topographic map right to your doorstep. 

Gaia GPS Premium subscribers also have the option to zoom into specific areas, add layers or grid lines, show tracks, routes or waypoints and more on a printed PDF Map to take hiking or on a road trip. However, the added Adventure layers and POI and the quality material and water-resistant options give BRMB Maps the edge when it comes to custom maps. 

The Outdoor Adventures Await!

Both the BRMB Map App and Gaia GPS Premium are great options for outdoor adventures. Both apps give users the ability to drop custom waypoints, record tracks, access and save trips, and download maps for offline use. 

Gaia has the upper hand with international travel and contains unique value-added map layers and Apple CarPlay, while BRMB Maps is better for Outdoor Adventurers across Canada. BRMB Maps includes thousands of Outdoor Adventure POI which we have accumulated across the country through almost 30 years of mapbook research, as well as an advanced Web Map platform for serious map and trip planning enthusiasts… try the BRMB Maps Free Trial and see what works best for you!