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Gps


Stacy
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New here am spending more time on the trails these days and am planning to thru hike of 28 miles trail between the lakes,then the lsht the last of February. To date my longest thru hike was 20 miles. First off Im not a computer gadget guy, I recently upgraded my flip phone to a smart phone and it took me several days learning it. I wanting to purchase a gps but am unsure what to get. Im not sure if the 100.00 one will suffice or would I be better off spending the big bucks on a 3 to 400.00 unit. I would really appreciate any thoughts thanks

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A GPS for hiking on trails is mostly useless/pointless. Assuming you have a newish smart phone, I would just get a gps app. I use Backcountry Navigator and I have heard good things about Gaia.

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  • 1 month later...

The problem with using a smartphone for backpacking is battery life. Using the phone as a GPS eats up battery power. I sometimes use the GPS feature on my smartphone but I nearly always carry a dedicated GPS when hiking. Garmin makes a variety of very good units. They all do many of the same things. Different models just make some things easier to do. 

I would suggest going to the Garmin website and read about all the different models. You can buy direct or search the internet for the best price on the one that looks best for your needs. Then you have to learn to use the particular unit you buy. You can read the manual but it really is a learn by doing process. 

My new Garmin Oregon 650T does all the same things that my old DeLorme PN 60 did. But the operation is much different.

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Keeping the smartphone in GPS mode definitely chews up the battery. But there really is no reason to use it this way. If you have downloaded topo maps using Gaia or other apps, all you need to do is check occasionally on your position to make sure that you are where you think you are. Doing that a half-dozen times a day is plenty if you are traveling on an established trail. If bushwhacking or traveling CC you might check a couple dozen times.  The drain on phone battery, especially the newer phones which have much more efficient GPS chips, will be 5-10% of charge at most and usually not that much.

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  • 3 weeks later...

First, make sure you are still practicing the fundamentals of using just a map and compass. No matter if you use a smartphone or a dedicate GPS, you are still at the mercy of battery life, weather conditions, and possible signal interference. 

That at being said, I have had great success simply using my smartphone as a spotcheck. For one you're saving the weight of an extra gadget. Secondly, you can download multiple apps and maps and use them to double check your position against the various ones. Thirdly, there are ways for your to easily transmit your location to authorities or loved ones either as simple updates to your location or n the event of an emergency. 

If if you want a specific GPS, I can't help you other than to say just try the local stores and see which ones you like. All of the major manufacturers are reliable.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'd suggest  focusing on learning to navigate using map and compass as your primary means of navigation. Get a good book or take a course, then practice, practice, practice. Map and compass (in my opinion) are far superior to GPS: it's ultra reliable, lightweight, isn't affected by the wet (if you put the map in a case), the batteries never wear out and it's way cheaper than GPS.

The downside is that are map skills need regular practice to be of real use. Also, it is harder when the weather is bad and at night, but with regular practice it becomes second nature.

Twenty years ago, we went into the hills with no GPS or mobile phones and things worked out fine. GPS is a great safety net, but I'd suggest it should not be relied on.That said like @TxAggies says, a GPS for a spot check is great to have and useful to see how accurate yoru map reading is, but I'd never recommend relying on one as the primary means of navigation.

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Thanks for the input and thoughts, i do have a us military cammenga tritium compass and have been reading wilderness navigation third edition. I spent three years in the army 30 years ago, my kids are grown and things taken care of, im trying to spend more time in the woods. Other than the navigation book ive  done alot of refreshing and reading on the internet as well as making ranger beads and practicing. All that said, here in east tx. The woods are and can be very thick and dence, using a map and compass is difficult to take a reading if you cant see past 20 feet in any direction. Ive been sticking to the trails but definitely am going off trail soon to find things on the map. Was just thinking i could make it back home for example monday opposed to tues Lol if i had a gps to help out in some situations.  

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6 hours ago, Stacy said:

Thanks for the input and thoughts, i do have a us military cammenga tritium compass and have been reading wilderness navigation third edition. I spent three years in the army 30 years ago, my kids are grown and things taken care of, im trying to spend more time in the woods. Other than the navigation book ive  done alot of refreshing and reading on the internet as well as making ranger beads and practicing. All that said, here in east tx. The woods are and can be very thick and dence, using a map and compass is difficult to take a reading if you cant see past 20 feet in any direction. Ive been sticking to the trails but definitely am going off trail soon to find things on the map. Was just thinking i could make it back home for example monday opposed to tues Lol if i had a gps to help out in some situations.  

Then you can still keep going back to basics. Simply knowing which direction you're going and what direction major features, such as larger trails and roads, will still aid you. If you need to, go back to your Army training and pull out those Ranger Beads and get your pace count down. That's one of the nice things about flat country is your pace count stays pretty consistent vs being in the mountains. 

Good luck getting out there. I'm guessing  you're heading out to the Sam Houston Forest area?

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/2/2017 at 0:19 AM, Stacy said:

Thanks for the input and thoughts, i do have a us military cammenga tritium compass and have been reading wilderness navigation third edition. I spent three years in the army 30 years ago, my kids are grown and things taken care of, im trying to spend more time in the woods. Other than the navigation book ive  done alot of refreshing and reading on the internet as well as making ranger beads and practicing. All that said, here in east tx. The woods are and can be very thick and dence, using a map and compass is difficult to take a reading if you cant see past 20 feet in any direction. Ive been sticking to the trails but definitely am going off trail soon to find things on the map. Was just thinking i could make it back home for example monday opposed to tues Lol if i had a gps to help out in some situations.  

Stacy,

Most people are responding that you should stick to a map and compass, which I always use even when I'm on familiar trails. I recently picked up a Garmin Etrex 30. It's reasonably priced and has way more features than I need. Most of the benefit for me is post-hike because I'm nerd when it comes to distance/elevation. I really like that I get a very accurate distance which I compare to the trail map. This way I can more accurately plan future trips. I've marked waypoints for some cool things I've discovered that I might want to revisit. I can't say that I've ever needed GPS to find my way but I have used it to verify my way before I potentially headed too far in the wrong direction. Or at the end of the day when I'm exhausted I look at the device to verify that I'm indeed far from my destination! Most of my trips are solo and I'm very cautious to make sure I know where I am so it's a nice backup, albeit I'd never rely on it exclusively. If it broke or got lost, I'd get another GPS more for nerd value than for navigation.

Edited by Dpnj
typo
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