Gaia is like a traditional GPS, whereas Strava has a strong social media component and IMO is better for in-town activities such as running and cycling where you mostly want to track your stats. Much stronger navigation support in Gaia - offline topo maps, trails from the OpenStreetMap project, distance measurement, easy GPX import/export. Plan routes on caltopo, then import them in Gaia. Save tracks in Gaia, and analyze them in caltopo. Many fancy map layers to choose from in the Pro version.
Since they're both simple to use and have free versions, you might as well try both (even simultaneously to be amused at how differently they estimate distance and elevation gain). Sometimes I'll make a track in Gaia and then import it in Strava when I want my followers (all 3 of them or whatever) to see what I did, without having to write a trip report. It has a number of competitors you may want to check out as well.
One of the cooler Strava features - a heat map of all user activities that you gives you an idea of where the popular trails are (and therefore what to avoid).
I used both today. Strava is great at tracking and stats, plus sharing with Strava buddies. Gaia is good for hiking but more difficult for tracking. I use it to see where I am on a map, but not tracking very often. As mentioned, not hard to transfer between them.
Thank you for the comparisons! I have been using GAIA for about 2 years now and like it, just wondering if Strava with its social feature and other options would work as well in the backcountry or not. Sounds like not? Accuracy in the backcountry outweighs being social... but I like the idea of transferring, didn't know that was a thing.
-------------- You don't find yourself standing at the top of a mountain without having started out in the valley.
One thing to be aware of with Strava is that by default you tracked activity is added to the "Strava heat map" which allows other Strava users to see that people have been visiting. So if you are visiting a "sekret" location, tracking with Strava might give you additional company on future trips.
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