Quarantine have you dreaming of hopping in the 4×4 and roaming far-off miles on America’s dirt roads and rugged vehicle trails? Then you’ll want to start planning now — and onX has just the tool to help.
The map would be easy to read if I wasn’t bouncing wildly in my seat. Sitting shotgun in a heavily modified Jeep Unlimited LJ Wrangler, I keep trying to be a good co-pilot and tap the dash-mounted iPad displaying a colorful network of off-road trails.
And because Rory Edwards, director of product management with onX Offroad maps, keeps steering into the biggest boulders and sand dunes, I keep missing.
But it’s all part of the fun. In fact, despite my inability to actually use the map as we skitter and jounce through the Las Vegas desert, these are perfect testing conditions for onX’s latest product. Unveiled this year, onX — the brand renowned for its app-based hunting maps — entered the rough, rowdy world of off-roading.
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The all-new onX Offroad app not only highlights more than 400,000 miles of rugged motorized trails, but it also opens up a world of trip-planning utilities like government info for public lands, noteworthy sites and points of interest (gas stations, campgrounds, etc.), difficulty ratings, vehicle restrictions, area history, and more.
And while it has plenty of utility on the fly, the real purpose of the app is to plan new trips and save favorite trips with your own waypoints and data for future expeditions. So even if you can’t get rolling right now, the app can help you hit the road the moment it’s safe to do so.
In short: OnX is well on its way to do for the off-roading and overlanding communities what it’s done for the hunting community. The onX Offroad app is rife with virtually all the info users need to confidently and safely plan their next adventure.
It doesn’t have every accessible trail mapped in rich detail just yet, but onX said it adds about 4,000 miles of new trails every week across all 50 states, Mexico, and Baja. If getting off the beaten path is a lifestyle or budding interest, it seems well worth the $30 a year.
onX Offroad Maps
Broadly speaking, onX Offroad highlights trails in two categories: general trails and featured trails. General trails provide all necessary info, like what type of vehicle you need to access the route, open/closed dates, trail composition, fee/permit requirements, and more. If a trail is open, it’s green.
Featured trails, on the other hand, provide all that information and more. These trails are highlighted in blue in the app and, when tapped, display a more user-friendly and visually appealing rundown of everything you’d want to know. You can see difficulty and technical ratings, estimated travel times, distance, highpoint elevation, photos, and detailed descriptions of hazards, history, and directions.
All this extra data comes from a network of “elite users” and trusted guides, who generate and vet the info that makes up onX’s featured trail content. But even the general trails benefit from verified beta and government-furnished information.
How to Use onX Offroad Maps
While onX has a growing network of trails, the majority of its content resides in the American West. And that makes sense, as the bulk of off-road trails live on public land — 75% of which sits in the western U.S. But onX also has trails on the East Coast in areas like private off-road parks.
When you open the app, you can choose a satellite, topo, or hybrid view. As you zoom in on a state or area, onX will highlight trails (green means open, red means closed) in that area and overlay a blue border for featured maps. Tap any trail to see info.
When you find one you like, you can download the map to your phone. After all, if it’s truly rugged, you’ll probably lose cell service along the way. You can also use the map’s search bar to enter coordinates or place names and see what’s there.
The map also allows users to filter what they see so that it will only display accessible dirt bikes, 50-inch trails (dirt bikes and ATVs), high-clearance trails suitable for jeeps and side-by-sides, or full-width roads that can accommodate trucks built for overlanding.
Recording & Sharing Locations With onX
Once you’ve embarked, you can track your progress, logging speed, distance, route, and time. Along the way, you can add waypoints as you come across them. This could be a photo you took, a campground, gas station, obstacles, water supply point, overlook, or any of dozens of others.
You can also mark great biking or climbing spots along the way with directional markers. And there’s even a Sasquatch icon in case you spot the elusive Bigfoot.
When you’re done, save the trip and all the data to your account so you can come back later or share it with your friends.
And much like onX Hunt, the sharing feature offers a ton of utility for groups. You can share things like campsites (hey buddy, meet me here!), trails, or waypoints. GearJunkie editors have used these features many times with the Hunt app, and they are similarly user-friendly in onX Offroad. And fortunately, you can also share waypoints between the apps.
There’s one nitpicky annoyance, however: You need cell service to share waypoints, meaning you can’t share them over AirDrop. We’ve been itching for that capability!
Are onX Maps Good?
After rock crawling through the Valley of Fire and whipping around the sandy expanse of Logandale trails, I’m thoroughly impressed with the wealth of data onX has at its disposal.
It’s not much of a reach to imagine what else the brand can do beyond hunting and off-roading. Maps targeted for campers, mountain bikers, trail runners — the sky is literally the limit of what these maps can detail.
For now, however, overlanders and Jeep owners will benefit from onX Offroad. Sure, you can probably scrape by with Google Maps for free and trawl message boards to piece together an expedition of your own. And that’s great if you’re willing to put in the work.
But to save time and keep everything in one place — upcoming trips, current conditions, and updated closures, past trips, and notes — onX offers great utility. And while $30 a year isn’t free, it’s next to nothing and may pay for itself in the gas you’ll save by knowing exactly where you’re going and what to expect.
Plus, onX offers its Offroad app free for a 7-day trial. I recommend trying it out and spending some time tapping, reading, and creating some sample expeditions of your own. If it’s not your thing, nothing lost. But if you stumble across your next can’t-miss adventure, just remember to pick a worthy co-pilot.