GPS without GPS

For those who travel and more, for those who travel in remote places, GPS is a must. Paper maps are difficult to obtain, impractical to carry around, and can be costly if one wants detailed topo maps. Thanks to modern technology GPS is now affordable to most of us. A dedicated GPS receiver seems like the way to go. They are small and easy to obtain, and a number of reliable companies make them and sell them at decent prices. Some units are even specialized in certain activities, hiking, boating/fishing, flying, etc.

The downside is that most will come with only one map of the country you purchase the unit in, at best. Additional maps turn out to be expensive, and you often have to purchase a subscription to receive map updates. Otherwise your map will become slowly outdated with time. Then what’s the use of carrying a GPS if the map isn’t current?

The other option a lot of people use is Google Maps in their cellular phone. But Google Maps is not always accurate in all countries and is often limited to main roads and highways. Hiking trails are often not shown. But other companies have been targeting a wider market and other fields of application, and here is one that I have been using and can recommend, and it’s free to download …

MapFactor Navigator Free:

Navigator FREE – is a OpenStreetMaps based free turn-by-turn GPS navigation by mapFactor for Windows, Windows Mobile devices and Android devices. It is also available from the App store for IOS.

OpenStreetMap is a collaborative project to create a free editable map of the world.

Over the years I have been using Navigator FREE in Canada, France, Japan, The United States, Argentina and Chile. I have found it entirely reliable and easy to setup and to use. From inside the app in my Android phone I can download or remove any map I need, and then the updates are done when I receive notification of a map update. Updates are unlimited and free, and are done over wifi when available. The maps are contiguous which means you can potentially drive across a whole continent without any breaks between maps. Voice guidance and all the features available in a dedicated GPS are also available in Navigator. The app is better installed in the phone built-in memory, so verify you have enough free memory space (at the moment 28.4 Mb) but the maps can be moved to your additional SD card if you prefer (Maps page). The most valuable function of Navigator is that the maps are available off-line since they are stored in your phone. What that means is that you do not need internet nor cell reception to get GPS positioning and tracking. The Openstreetmap maps are very detailed and I have often found hiking trails clearly marked. GPS information, including position and altitude, is available in the Tools screen. Regardless of your settings your phone screen will stay on while you’re using Navigator, so your battery will drain fairly quickly if you’re on a long drive. If you keep the phone charging while using Navigator it might overheat after a while. If you manually turn off the display you will still get the audio guidance.


  • Free phone or tablet app
  • Android and IOS
  • Off-line maps
  • Free map downloads and updates
  • Maps available for most countries
  • Fully featured GPS app
  • Reliable
  • Useful even for hiking and off-roading on main trails
  • Maps can be stored on additional SD card to keep from using up the phone memory


  • Hum, can’t really think of any!

I am sure that there are many navigation apps on the market that are good. MapFactor Navigator is a free full GPS application for your phone or tablet that, after trying and deleting others, I can personally recommend. Give it a try! (Note that I did this review of my own initiative and I do not receive any compensation from anyone)                Manufacturer’s webpage