onX Backcountry App Dissected



Words by Drew Rohde

onX Backcountry came online some months ago, and is the latest branch of the onX tree. Originally founded by avid hunter and outdoorsman Eric Siegfried in 2009, onX was designed to help adventurers and explorers the ability to navigate the wild with knowledge and awareness of the land they were on. Since then, onX has expanded with conservation and Access teams to help protect wilderness, onX Off Road and now, onX Backcountry. While there are plenty of ways to track rides, onX Backcountry adds appreciated functionality to the GPS App game.

Their industry-leading GPS technology has already helped millions of users navigate their way, and now mountain bikers can do anything from seeing recent satellite imagery; to accessing smoke and air quality conditions; planning routes digitally; viewing photos and trail reports, and so much more. We’ve been using the onX Backcountry app to save us time before driving to some of our favorite shuttle locations, as we’re able to check their satellite imagery for snow on the peaks before loading up the trucks. Similarly, we’ve been using it for a ton as we research new places to ride for our eMTB Destination Tour.

Being able to create our own routes and use their “Snap To” feature to understand just how many miles, vert and what sort of grade to expect; helps us figure out battery range, stamina concerns and how many snacks to pack. So, with just a few of our favorite features introduced, let’s take a deeper look at onX Backcountry.


onX Backcountry offer two levels of membership as well as a free trial period. They’ve also given our friends a 20% off discount code, simply use “Loamwolf” at check out (or use this link here) and enjoy. Elite and Premium are the two membership levels and retail for $29.99 or $99 annually. Right now, however, they’re on sale for $9.90 or $33.00 for the year. These are some serious savings, and makes it an easy recommendation for those who love data.

With over 650,000 miles of distinguishable trails and color-coded land management areas, onX users will have no shortage of things to nerd out over. Whether you’re looking at the 24k topo map; satellite imagery; hybrid or 3D map views, you’ve got a plethora of layers to give you the insight that matters most.

For example, here on the western side of the United States, fire season has become a sad reality, with thick smoke impacting communities far beyond the flames. With onX Backcountry, users can check out active wildfires, air quality, wildfire smoke and even view historic wildfires. Nothing’s worse than packing up all the gear and crew, only to drive arrive and find that smokey conditions have made the trails effectively unrideable.

Speaking of local knowledge, onX Backcountry relies heavily on “Backcountry Adventurers” who are essentially local experts. These users help to ensure navigation suggestions flow smoothly; upload photos, and contribute with updated trail condition reports. Of course, users can upload their own photos and reviews or reports, too. The more engaged the users are, the better the community will be overall.


onX Backcountry is designed for snow and trail users primarily, with lots of useful features for all seasons. While we didn’t use the Snow Mode, the Trail Mode has been quite fun and useful…and sometimes even distracting. We’ve always enjoyed staring at maps, but now we can take it a step further. Rather than just seeing a flat 2D map and wondering, users can now tap, zoom, and learn. Way points can be created; campgrounds highlighted; points of interest or scenic spots pop up, and you can even see who owns the land you’ll be riding on or next to.


With onX having a rich history in hunting, one of the best things about onX Backcountry is the lack of heat maps and increased privacy. Hunters are very private when it comes to their hallowed grounds and chances are, you’ve known at least a couple of trails that’ve gotten blown out thanks to some loose lips and other apps broadcasting the news.

If you’re a trail builder, have trails you want to share with your friends that are on private land or just want to keep other little-known gems pristine, then onX Backcountry could be the app you’ve been looking for.

onX Backcountry App Dissected


Whether you’re on a mobile device or a computer, you’ve got the ability to plan your route; look at hypotheticals, and see just how much that detour will cost you. It’s a neat feature and one we’ve used a lot when exploring new areas. If we see an off-shoot trail, we can open up the app and look at how far it is; how much elevation gain or descent it has; where it will take us, and use this information to decide accordingly.

Whether you’re helping a friend who’s coming to visit, or you want to maximize on-trail time for your next trip, a little bit of e-recon and route building could be the best way to ensure you show up and don’t have to waste time or energy on wrong turns.

Overall, we’ve been having a great time exploring with the aid of onX Backcountry – not only the trails and mountains, but also with the features within the app. In fact, we’ve also now downloaded the onX Offroad app to help us bypass certain road construction projects or closures on mountain passes. It’s like Waze for dirt roads!

It’s not a perfect app or tracking program yet, but if you want to keep your trails hidden from prying eyes; do a ton of recon and get photos with impressive mapping capabilities all in one spot, onX Backcountry is pretty sweet.

To learn more or to sign up, visit Onxmaps.com


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