Apple Watch app you use for sota

Hi all.

I use my Apple Watch to track my hikes etc - what apps to you use to enhance your sota outings ?




Normally in the UK, none, just the phone browser to access SOTAwatch.

I still use real GPS as it has withstood 12 years of Scottish weather, being dropped, being thrown about and a GPS week rollover.

In foreign parts (hey remember when you could cross borders for SOTA!) I use Oruxmaps.


Hi Wade,

I have used a Garmin Etrex 20 on all my SOTA and other tours for orientation and to record tracks. This Etrex broke a few weeks ago (on/off switch not working properly) and I have a brand new Garmin Etrex 32X now. I am working on transferring over maps and SOTA summits as waypoints.

Apart from this GPS I use Sotlas and SOTA Spotter in the field. And of course the usual set of apps for SMS spotting, weather forecasting, photos,…

73 Heinz


I use a Garmin 64S for tracking my walks/hikes. I display the GPX tracks in Garmin Basecamp overplayed with OZ Topo 10 metre contour software.

OZ Topo is also installed on the 64s. Visualisation of the lay of the land contours, creeks, reentrants, spur lines, cliffs etc is excellent.

Andrew VK1AD

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I think the key here is “apps that take advantage of Apple Watch”. Gaia has good tools that allow you to record tracks directly on the watch or even get turn-by-turn directions from a route uploaded to the watch (this is useful for getting warnings when losing the trail). I find HamAlert is very useful for getting alerts on the watch for potential S2S contacts–I set the phone app for the regions/callsigns/summits I’m interested in chasing and I like the haptic feedback alerting me to a spot while operating.
Jeff KX6I

Hi Jeff,
Does that require setting the phone email app to poll for new emails, and allowing notifications by the email app? I usually find that chews through my data allowance and also drives me crazy due to the number of emails I get on other topics. If there is a way to filter the notifications that would be good!
I didn’t know about a navigation app for the watch, that could be handy. I’ll look into it.

A function that I’ve found useful when walking is to choose the option for Outdoor Run, rather than Outdoor Walk. The Run option has a settable option to stop and resume automatically when it detects you are stopped and then resume walking/running, even if you’re only walking. This results in a more accurate time for your walk. Time stopped to take photos, wait for traffic lights, or to talk with people you see, is then not counted in your walk time. If you want to track your walking pace improvement, having an accurate time either for a regular track, or time per km is useful. There seems to be no lower limit on walking pace, the outdoor run works whatever speed you walk at.

Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH

Gday Wade I use a Etrex 30 to record my walking time to the summit just to make sure I am close to my Alert time. Sometimes once the activation is done I record my walk back to the SOTA transporter on Strava, more to use it as an excuse for not going cycling instead. Some of my Cycling “Mates” recon SOTA is an excuse not to go cycling.
Ian vk5cz …

Hi Andrew: Not sure what you’re referring to with email. On the iPhone, I have “Push” turned on in HamAlert settings to send a notification when one of my Triggers are active–the Apple Watch conveys that notification. I don’t have HamAlert set to send emails. Since I am out of cell phone coverage for most of my SOTA activations, I set the iPhone to Airplane Mode while I’m making my way to the summit–this is a big battery saver since the phone constantly polls for service to find connections. Once on the summit (where I’m likely to find service), I turn off Airplane Mode to see if I have cellular signals for sending/receiving spots. Hope this helps…

hi Jeff,
I was using email notifications and your post reminded me that using the app would be more convenient and effective. I have changed my trigger (defined on to use the app rather than email or sms. Let’s see how that goes…
73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH

Most used is a Casio G Shock watch so I can get an idea of how long I have been on the trail. Only use the Garmin Map 62 GPS when travelling into new territory or something a bit technical; enjoying the scenery rather than the gadgets. Compass comes out on occasion to best orientate the antenna if possible.


I use my Apple watch to reference GaiaGPS and Hamalert. Depending on how strenuous the hike is, I sometimes will monitor my hear rate. The new watches are offering the ability to monitor O2 levels which could be handy at high altitudes.

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Hi Stuart

How many hours do you typically get out of your Apple Watch doing this?


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About 14 hours give or take. Then again I usually don’t hike longer than that per day.


Glad to see I wasn’t missing anything.

Hamalerts with sota alerts, and Gaia. Sadlt VK doesn’t have a lot of trails preloaded in Gaia etc.


Not an app, but I use the Astronomy watch face on the Apple Watch to show UTC time (in a “complication”) for logging.

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Apart from “Dark Skies” for local, near-real time weather alerts and the “Solar Dial” face to tell me how much daylight I have left, I find WorkOutDoors very useful. I would say it complements, but does not replace, a proper walker’s map. The main disadvantage of the app is that the OpenStreetMap tiles they’ve integrated aren’t perfect for the task. They lack contours, and don’t distinguish between “paths people have plotted” and “public rights of way.”

Even if your route is easy to navigate, it’s super useful to be able to glance at your wrist and check where you are, that you’re taking the correct footpath at a junction, how far it is to your next decision point, whether a path in front of you will take you where you think it will, etc.

When hiking alone I plan out my route in advance and plot it as a GPX track using The Hug. WorkOutDoors can import these and display them on your wrist. Really convenient when trying to stick to a footpath across a snow-covered plateau in sideways hail, even when compared to a “proper” handheld GPS, mainly because it’s so much faster to check so you do it more often. The app can also alert you if you stray more than a configurable amount off route, which saved me from taking an accidental detour during my recent activation of GW/SW-041!

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