When it comes to putting some decent off road maps on your iPhone or Tablet, these days you really have two choices. Long time printed now digital map producing company Hema Maps and a newish competitor Mud Maps. Before we get too much in the trenches with these two, one thing you should know is that in the most important area (telling you what track are you on) both products do a great job. It’s only the little things that set these two apart.
Hema or Mud Maps V’s nothing? Nothing loses hands down.
Now’s the time to complete completely overthink how to choose one over the other in the rest of this post 😃
Hema is a Queensland company that’s been around since the 80s. It was through stealing my fathers printed maps that I first discovered them. Whilst they could have become irrelevant with the digital revolution they were smart enough and wealthy enough to evolve. Firstly (and still) with their own built for purpose digital devices, and today into the multi talented phones and tablets we all carry around with us.
My relationship with Hema has always been a bit of a torn one. They always seemed to be out-of-reach expensive as I was growing up and getting into off roading. I remember a mates father showing me his Hema GPS and whilst it was stupidly hard to use, was 2 times more expensive than a normal car GPS I thought to myself wow… off road maps will never be the same. And then… Greedy F##krs.
But really I had no idea of the economics of it all, and my comparison was not based on the ‘more you make the cheaper it is’ principle, and whilst everyone wanted a car GPS only a fraction want an offload version, so of course it would be expensive.
I also didn’t pay them with the dues that this additional price gave them the capability to invest and evolve with technology. Bringing us the best solutions that the current technology allowed.
So now I’m now coming around
This crew couldn’t be any more of a contradiction to Hema Maps. They’re new, and there’s not a lot of information about them — based in Victoria, owned by some company called equips solutions. The company itself has been around since 2003, but the business name it trades under has only been around since 2010. You’ll struggle to find an address or a phone number.
There’s for sure some weirdness and a specific effort to hide a bunch of information on who they are, and where you find them. Makes me wonder.
The other main difference is they that they are a technology first company they’re not map makers turned technologists. I see both as a good thing and a bad thing. It could mean there app has more features, might be easier to use, but without the history in mapping they might not understand what’s important to us navigators. Hard to tell on that one as a the worlds most comprehensive app is pointless if people can’t figure out how to use it.
For the purposes of this comparison I purchased both these apps from the App store. This is really the only moment of any real rage in the process.
- First Mud Maps. $125 in the App Store. WTF! That is crazy town
- Second HEMA. $99.95 in the App Store WTF but a little less.
Both these maps are excessive, and whilst I don’t mind paying for digital things, I feel they’ve gone a little to far against the grain.
To further add to the rage…. you still have in app purchases to buy even more maps… your $100 bickies doesn’t even get you all the maps.
You only really care about how good a companies support is when you need it. So the company with the ultimate in support has processes and a project so good, no one ever needs help. Sadly the I’ve never found one yet.
Both Hema and Mud Maps do pretty good here. They have lots of help articles, active on social media and have direct feedback channels (forums/forms online). Hema probably do edge out Mud Maps as they actually have an address and a phone number.
There isn’t actually a heap of choice here. You can read about my old OziExplorer setup. There’s a cheaper version of Hema maps for $29.99 and you could but the independent Hema GPS for a small fortune. But really, right now if you want good off-road navigation these are your two choices.
The Apps themselves
I’m a bit of a nerd, so I find it pretty easy to pick up apps. For a fairer test I sat down the old man who’s much less technology inclined and asked him to use the apps. Surprisingly, whilst the Mud Maps App looked better, the old boy figured out the Hema maps more quickly.
It was pretty close though — he was able to wrap his head around both pretty quickly.
Feature sets are pretty similar, and whilst both apps exist I’m sure they’ll add and copy each others functionality so will never be that far apart.
From a ‘will they do what they say they will perspective’ I think they are pretty evenly match as well. Reading of the reviews on Mud Maps latest version MM3, there’s a few people that might disagree with me.
Which would I buy?
Right now I would probably lean towards the Hema maps, really due to seemingly being more ‘legit’ as a company and also with their long history of maps for the 4×4 community. They also have the cheaper Hema explorer for those that have a little less coin.
It still doesn’t curb the rage at a $100 app with additional in app purchases though.
If you do decide to go the Mud Maps option though, I’m pretty sure you’ll be okay.
We do need a really someone with the community in mind.
I’d love to buddy up with a site like 4x4earth and build a true community mapping and camping app that we can share with the off-road community for a lot lot less. But that a dream (or maybe a kickstarter) for another time.
Be sure to let us know if you went Hema or Mud Maps in the comments.