top of page

Why to Never Update [and how to actually make gravel mapping better]

Popular mapping apps often have inaccurate gravel surface type classifications. To get a better view of where gravel roads are, many people turn to Here we discuss why is a poor place to make gravel surface updates and why updates are significantly more powerful and further reaching.

To learn more about OpenStreetMap and to add gravel surface types to all the mapping apps you use and love, visit OpenStreetMap.

When planning gravel rides in new places or looking for new gravel roads for bikepacking routes, it can be hard to get accurate information about which roads are gravel. Popular mapping apps like RideWithGPS, Strava, Komoot, and Gaia are all known for having inaccurate surface type classifications. Known gravel regions might all be depicted as paved roads in a mapping app or your favorite gravel road might not even show up in your mapping app.

That can get pretty frustrating when you're trying to plan a gravel route and maps are all incomplete. It makes sense then that a lot of people turn to which is a user-generated map dedicated to displaying gravel roads. If someone has updated that area, it can give pretty good representation of where the gravel is and anyone can contribute to growing as a community gravel resource.

On the surface, can seem like a really useful and even indispensable resource. But there are several reasons I think it not only falls short of being a useful solution but gets in the way making updates that are actually useful to the much larger gravel community across many more mapping platforms and more device types. Read on to see why we think it's better to never update and instead contribute to

Why to NOT Add Gravel Surfaces to

1. GravelMap updates don't ever appear in actual route planning apps.

Updates that you add to gravel surfaces in only exist in the closed ecosystem of If you use any popular mapping apps like Ride With GPS, Strava, Gaia GPS, or Komoot, gravel surface updates from don't ever sync with those tools are never usable because they don't contribute to those platform's base layer maps.

2. It's a poor tool for serious route planning

On a surface level, seems like a nice tool. If you've ever been frustrated by other popular mapping apps' lack of accurate surface types, seeing a dedicated gravel map seems refreshing. But a simple visualization of gravel routes is where it ends as lacks the serious route planning tools of the much more powerful routing options.

3. There is no mobile app or multi-platform syncing is just website. No mobile app. No ride recording. No automatic syncing with your GPS. It's nice to visualize gravel surfaces on but it doesn't do anything else. Updates that you contribute to are stuck in a closed, single-channel platform.

Using OpenStreetMap as an Alternative to

OpenStreetMap is the wikipedia equivalent of street maps. It's made of user-generated roads, trails, rivers, and WAY more. Imagine the power of GoogleMaps but anybody can make updates or fix incorrect map features and it updates other mapping platforms of all kinds.

Because it's such a powerful map with global collaboration, popular route planning apps like Strava, Ride With GPS, Gaia, and Komoot all use OpenStreetMap to update their own proprietary mapping software. If you update OpenStreetMap, it'll eventually trickle down to all the mapping apps that cyclists use.

4 Reasons to Add Gravel Surfaces to Open Street Map Instead of

1. OSM (Open Street Map) Automatically Sends Surface-Type Updates to All the Apps You Already Use & Love

Ride With GPS, Komoot, Strava, and GaiaGPS all utilize Open Street Map data for their routing tools. When your surface type updates get added to OSM, they trickle down to your favorite mapping apps and those gravel surfaces are now usable for everyone around the world.

2. OSM Gives You the Power to Fix Incorrectly Mapped Roads (And Update ALL Map Apps at the Same Time)

Do you have a favorite local gravel route or bikepacking adventure that shows roads in the wrong place? Anyone can fix incorrect roads in OSM and those corrections will end up updating tools like RideWithGPS, Strava, Komoot, and Gaia.

3. OSM Lets you Add Missing Roads

Have you ever tried planning a gravel route in a place where you know there is a road but it doesn't show up in your routing app. By simply adding the missing road in OSM which syncs to other apps, you can personally update Ride With GPS, Strava, and Komoot at the same time.

4. OSM is a Free, Global, Crowd-Sourced Tool.

Anybody can use OSM for free and contribute to one of the most powerful maps in the world. Your contributions extend way beyond the OSM platform and have an impact on travelers and adventurers across many disciplines beyond just cycling.

5. Adding Gravel Surface Types to Open Street Map Is EASY.

Okay, so there's a little tutorial you'll need to start with in order to start making OSM updates, but that's good because it ensures that the global community of contributors making map updates actually know what they're doing. After you learn the tool, adding gravel surface types takes just a minute or two.

New to OpenStreeMap? Here's What You Need to Know

1. It's a Powerful Tool with Lots to Learn

OpenStreetMap is an extremely powerful resource with a lot of mapping tools and it really helps to take the tutorials on the website that they guide you through. You'll learn how to make fast and accurate updates of all kinds without breaking things.

2. Updates Take Time to Sync to Other Platforms

Every mapping app like RideWithGPS, Strava, etc adopt updates from the base maps at different frequencies. When I update a gravel surface in OSM, I usually see the update synced to RideWithGPS' map in a few days to two weeks. When I add or fix missing roads, those usually take slightly longer like two to three weeks.

Yes, it's a slower process but the impact is open-sourced map data that can reach unlimited numbers of other apps, devices, and recreational activities.

3. Get Started With

Want to give it a try? This story isn't sponsored by OpenStreetMap and doesn't have any affiliation wit it whatsoever. It's just a tool we love because it helps improves maps everywhere.

To get started, head to, and click "Start Mapping" so that you can create an account, take the tutorials, and start editing gravel surface types and adding or correcting missing roads. After submitting your updates, give it a few weeks and then enjoy seeing your map updates in the different mapping apps that you love.




Plan a New Gravel Adventure

6S4A5836 copy.jpg
Eau Claire Gravel 11.jpg
Gravel Bear.jpg

Get Cycling Adventures & Community Straight to Your Inbox

✔️ Weekly adventure cycling ideas

✔️ News round-up from around the web

✔️ 1,115 adventure cyclists already in

Thanks for subscribing!

bottom of page