Bears, GPS, Solar Chargers

11:02 p.m. on March 13, 2013 (EDT)
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I have gradually purchased enough gear (and then some) to actually venture out for a multi-day trip.  I need suggestions on what to do about the above topics.

Bears:

Bear spray was suggested except here in Wisc there are very strict guidelines on what can be used.  The general consensus was it is useless.  A salesman at Gander Mountain told me nothing short of a loaded .357 strapped to your leg will do.  A DNR person hikes regularly in N Wisc and she doesn't take any protection.  She said bells and whistles will keep the bears at bay.  So my choices are nothing, spray and guns.

GPS:

Is a GPS unit needed?  I would say yes.  I saw two on sale at REI.  The Garmin Oregon 450 and 450T.  No matter what brand or model is purchased do you get the preloaded maps or a separate CD containing maps?  I have a few web sites for finding topo maps for use with a compass to compliment the GPS.

Solar Chargers:

This is getting out of hand.  I have a small smart phone.  I would use the  charger for the phone and GPS.  The REI salesman suggested the Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Adventure Kit along with a Brunton rechargeable battery.  This thing is huge.  Any other suggestions or is a solar charger even needed?  Others have told me they just pack extra batteries.

What about an Ipad or something similar to use for a GPS system?  The charger could be used for the phone and Ipad.  I am not looking for all the latest gadgets.  I just want what is needed.  It seems like a gun, high end GPS, large solar charger and possibly an Ipad is major overkill.  I can see having a phone and extra batteries for emergencies.  Other than that....

I haven't worked in a while so I want to take advantage of the free time.  Not working also means not having money to burn.  I would like buy decent equipment the first time as I don't have money to waste on extra equipment.

Suggestions gladly accepted.

10:09 a.m. on March 14, 2013 (EDT)
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Welcome to Trailspace, jdmpack84!

Black Bears: 

My personal opinion formed through observation, research, and personal experience, is that for Black Bears neither bear spray or a firearm are necessary to keep yourself safe. Most wild black bears are naturally curious, but not overly aggressive. Knowledge of bear behavior, effective avoidance, how to behave in an encounter, and proper food/attractive odor management are absolutely paramount in avoiding unpleasant interactions with bears. However, if you are in an area with Habituated bears that are prone to raiding camps and bullying hikers, some convincing deterrent is advisable. I've only carried bear spray in the Eastern wilds once, when I knew I would be in areas with habituated bears. 

Every encounter I have had with Blackies has been quite calm, and at no point did I feel threatened. That said, they can and have hurt and killed people before. You need to be most on guard dealing with young males, a sow with cubs, a startled or cornered bear, and ones drawn into your camp by food. 

Brown Bears (Grizzlies):

I have carried bear spray and firearms when in Brown Bear country, though I've never had to use either on a bear. I have, unfortunately, had to use a firearm on an attacking Pit Bull. 
Bear Spray has been proven to work quite well, and is the option I would recommend for the majority of hikers when they need protection. 
Firearms are convincing, and very final, and only effective if the user is an exceptional marksman, calm under pressure, and is a proficient and safe with handling. 

Grizzly behavior differs from Black Bears, and needs to be taken seriously. I unfortunately don't have the time at this moment to offer more info, but doing some good reading and research is important. I would start with searching through threads here on TS, as there are a number of very experienced members who have spent their lives working and living around Bears in the wildest places in North America 

GPS: 

This may at first seem harsh, but hang with me- If you need a GPS navigation device, you shouldn't be in the backcountry. 

The reality is that for things that are essential, like knowing where you are and where you are going, you should never rely on electronics. Batteries fail, screens break, water kills, cold effects, cloud cover and trees and deep ravines all interfere, etc. If you are tens of miles out, especially in adverse conditions, you are potentially screwed if your GPSR fails. 

GPS devices are fantastic supplemental equipment,  but they cannot be something that you rely on or need. Topo maps, a compass, and the ability to use the compass, and read maps and terrain are far more reliable and usable in all situations. I have used GPSRs, and like them. But they aren't what I use to keep myself found and on track.  At this point, I very rarely even have to use my compass, as reading the terrain and topo map give me all the info I need 95% of the time. 

Electronics and Chargers: 

On a regular basis I carry a camera, my Android phone, and extra batteries. My current work and responsibilities don't allow me to spend more than a  long weekend out, and haven't had the need for a solar charger. So I can't offer advice there. 
I tend to think an iPad or other electronics like that, and not intended for outdoor use, are more hassle and risk than I want to deal with while trekking. 

4:44 p.m. on March 14, 2013 (EDT)
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Bear spray is useless if the gear happens to be upwind, then the spray doesn't get far enough. I tested mine the first time I bought it before hiking Grizzly country in Wyoming and even on a clear windless day it sprayed only a few feet and then was dispersed into a wide spray. I managed still to get a whiff and it was not pleasant.

I still use my old 1968 Boy Scout Brunton flat map compass, but rarely to find where I am as I tend to hike on trails and in canyons where it impossible to get lost.

I use rechargable AAA and AA batteries for my two camera's and flashlights and carry a charger to re do them as needed.  I use the Alkaline batteries and LCD lights so everything lasts long. Regular batteries barely last a whole day in my camera's.

6:07 p.m. on March 14, 2013 (EDT)
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Gonzan, for the second time today, you are exactly right in my opinion. One of the reasons I like this site so much, great advice. I consider my gps a toy, a useful, sometimes fun toy, but not for life or death situations. I use mine to double check my map work, or to find soecific locations, like a geocache. I have had a map get blown away, and had to depend on the gps, but we had two that were in agreement, thats not always the case. Ive seen two gps's vary by several hundred feet, you cant risk your life on that. I have had two aggressive black bear encounters, on with a wounded bear, and one snowmobiling. The snowmobile one was weird, middle of winter, really cold, and this bear charged three running snowmobiles. We were at a split in the trail, the guy in back was the only one who knew the way so we stopped to talk, and this really skinny, young male bear popped up about 75 feet away. He let out a couple of barks a growl and came at us, we just hit the gas and ran away easily, if we had been on foot it would have been bad.

8:01 p.m. on March 14, 2013 (EDT)
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Thanks for the info.  I agree with your GPS/map thoughts.  Trust the maps.  The GPS is a good backup as long as it has power!  I am not a hunter so I plan on staying on trails.

Solar chargers may be needed on long treks.  The REI salesman uses the charger at home to charge the Brunton battery.  Apparently he can fully charge his phone up to four times with one charge of the Brunton Battery.  Then only the fully charged battery would be needed to charge my phone on shorter multi day hikes.

8:42 p.m. on March 14, 2013 (EDT)
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jdmpack84 said:

Bears:

Bear spray was suggested except here in Wisc there are very strict guidelines on what can be used.  The general consensus was it is useless.  A salesman at Gander Mountain told me nothing short of a loaded .357 strapped to your leg will do.  A DNR person hikes regularly in N Wisc and she doesn't take any protection.  She said bells and whistles will keep the bears at bay.  So my choices are nothing, spray and guns.

 The question of how to deal with bears has been beaten to death here on Trailspace, with only a few contributions by folks who have real knowledge and experience (hey, this is the Internet, so what do you expect - but you will learn pretty quickly who the dependable posters are).

Sorry to tell you that the sales people in the stores frequently have no experience, but will try to sell you half the store anyway. Gonzan has pretty straight advice in his post immediately after yours. But you will not run into grizzlies in Wisconsin, so not to worry. When you head into Western Canada and Alaska, then talk to the local rangers and learn about griz from them. As Gonzan says, black bear are generally (not always) fairly timid except for habituated bears, sow with cubs, and a bear startled at his kill. If you learn to use spray correctly, it has been shown over and over (despite what some have posted on TS and elsewhere on the web) that it is more effective than a gun (and yes I am a gun owner and still have my Expert qualification pin from the military). As Gonzan noted, guns are "only effective if the user is an exceptional marksman, calm under pressure, and is a proficient and safe with handling." We have had several members who have spent a whole lifetime in the bush with daily bear encounters, and that is what they say plus especially learning bear behavior. This is also the advice I have gotten from personal friends and rangers who live the outdoor life in bear country.

The most effective, by far, is to learn bear behavior. In 7+decades of wandering the woods and hills, I have never had a negative encounter with a black or grizzly (aka brown bear). Close enough to get good photos, though. That's a boar in the bush - he was following his "honey" at the time. OTOH, I know people and have even camped within 100 meters of them who seem to attract bears to their tents and dinner tables every time they head out. And still never seem to learn the lessons about not leaving their freshly caught and cleaned fish (with the cleanings) on the table in camp.
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GPS:

Is a GPS unit needed?  I would say yes.  I saw two on sale at REI.  The Garmin Oregon 450 and 450T.  No matter what brand or model is purchased do you get the preloaded maps or a separate CD containing maps?  I have a few web sites for finding topo maps for use with a compass to compliment the GPS.

 During the last 10 years I worked in aerospace before retiring, I worked on the upgrades of the Global Positioning System satellites and Ground Segment. The answer to your question about my product (the System as a whole, including the end-users GPS receiver, and thank you for being interested in using my product) is a flat "NO!" You do NOT "need" a GPS receiver. What you need to do is to learn basic map and compass techniques and "wilderness smarts" (that's the analog of the urban area "street smarts"). There are basic land navigation courses offered by stores like REI and EMS (I would avoid the ones offered by Gander Mountain, Bass Pro Shops, Cabella's, and other "outdoor" stores, whose main aim is to sell you "gear" - though they do have a few knowledgable and helpful staff). Plus there are outdoor organizations in your area that can teach you the basics and more. The UofW campuses almost all have outdoor clubs and offer land nav courses. There is a fairly active group of orienteers in Wisconsin and neighboring states - an excellent way to learn to "stay found".

The answer to your question about pre-loaded maps is "no", that's something you have to buy after you spend a few hundred bucks for the widget. Even then, most of the downloads are vectorized maps that have a data grid and generate the topographic features by interpolating in the grid. There are scans of USGS topo maps you can download into your already expensive GPSR to run your battery down even faster.

One good source for USGS-quality maps is a subsidiary of National Geographic's map division called AllTrails. They are limited to the US, though - no Canadian topo maps, or for other countries either.

Remember, map and compass do not have batteries (yeah, I know, there are electronic compasses that have batteries that run down). Maps do not break when you drop them, and you can get waterproof maps that won't disintegrate when wet (DO NOT drop your GPSr into water - they may be certified to iPX7, but that means a quick immersion, not floating it or losing it for an hour in the lake).

An interesting electronic alternative to a dedicated GPSR is Delorme's inReach for Bluetooth (iOS and Android phones and tablets). On the iPad, for example, you talk to the inReach unit, which gives as accurate positioning as you can get as a "non-authorized" user (i.e., non-military). And you can download USGS topo maps and satellite and aerial photos. The display is significantly larger than a handheld GPSR. Of course, the phones and pads have batteries to run down, and if you drop one on a rock, well, you have to buy a new one - hard to do when you are 20 miles into the wilderness. It also ain't cheap! It does offer a pretty dependable 2-way text messaging, tracking visibility for family and friends, and an SOS/911 rescue service.

Solar Chargers:

This is getting out of hand.  I have a small smart phone.  I would use the  charger for the phone and GPS.  The REI salesman suggested the Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Adventure Kit along with a Brunton rechargeable battery.  This thing is huge.  Any other suggestions or is a solar charger even needed?  Others have told me they just pack extra batteries.

 I have 2 solar charger setups (due to my working with the American Alpine Club's Climber Science Program), one a Goal 0 Guide 10 like you have, the other a Brunton 28 watt folding panel. The Goal 0 is ok, if all you are going to charge is your cell phone and some batteries for your headlamp. But since I need to charge the iPad (for mapping our study locations) and keep the camera batteries charged, the Goal 0 Guide 10 setup is completely inadequate. If you forget about the cell phone, GPSR, etc (which I strongly suggest for your first couple of years wandering the woods and hills), you only need a half dozen extra batteries of AA and AAA size for your headlamp, and maybe that camera that takes AA batteries. If you get to the point of doing thru-hikes (the AT, CDT, JMT, PCT), a folding solar panel of at least 20 watts output in full sun is worth it (although all those trails have frequent enough re-supply points that you can probably get along just fine with just resupplying the batteries - lighter weight, too.)

What about an Ipad or something similar to use for a GPS system?  The charger could be used for the phone and Ipad.  I am not looking for all the latest gadgets.  I just want what is needed.  It seems like a gun, high end GPS, large solar charger and possibly an Ipad is major overkill.  I can see having a phone and extra batteries for emergencies.  Other than that....

 I answered the pad/smartphone question above, so won't repeat, except to note that the performance of the GPS chipsets in the various tablets and smartphones is pretty mediocre (you often see estimated position errors of a couple hundred feet, vs a dedicated GPSR or linking to an inReach which usually has an EPE of 20 ft or less. I would agree that the "gun...GPS...solar...iPad" is major overkill, on the scale of "Global Thermonuclear War". If you go that route, you will be so weighed down with gear that you will suffer through slow days with sore back and sore feet and never seen the scenery. I am not advocating ultralight (though there are advantages to that route, too - and no, I am not an ULer).

By the way, you mention a cell phone for emergencies - forget that! You have to have a cell tower within range. If you are in the "frontcountry", maybe you can reach a cell tower. But in the backcountry, you are frequently out of range of cell coverage. You could get a satellite phone, of course (I suggest Iridium at this point as being more dependable and having better coverage), or a PLB, SPOT, or inReach unit, if you need something reasonably dependable for sending an SOS/911 call. But please, DO NOT activate the emergency call just because you get tired of hiking. Use those devices ONLY for REAL emergencies. If you use common sense and are prepared, you will never need any emergency services.

I would suggest searching out some of the outdoor clubs in your area and finding an experienced mentor. True, you can get just as bad information from the "expert" in the local club (or college outing club) as on the web. Mainly, keep asking questions, start with short day hikes, then longer day hikes, then short overnights, and so on working your way up. Stay skeptical of "free" advice (including what I just posted - since I often carry way too many widgets and gadgets, as a certifiable gear freak). Read the gear reviews here on Trailspace, especially the ones written by the Gear Review Corps plus other "Killer Reviews".

10:16 p.m. on March 14, 2013 (EDT)
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Black bears you need nothing...... make noise as you go, and after you cook some place away from camp if sign is heavy just hang you grub 10+ feet high in a tree and as far out as you can...

bears are not out in NH right now, not really........

Water proof map and compass, don't forget the pencil.

I carry a gps.....Garmin 60 CSt. Cool toy...... It can track how fast I go, time me stopped/moving, get me all kinds of high tech info I never needed in 55 years of hiking.

It's fine to have one, learn how it works, and what points of interest it can show you, but it is not the only tool you NEED........ it is a toy..... it will have maps in it and probably a CD with more.

 Do your self a favor. Unless where you go hiking has cell coverage just leave the thing in the car.. Where I go a cell is only good for bad tinder.

Ipad, Winter? Naw Not worth the weight and the battery will go dead fast...

I can hardly run a sony cyber shot with 3 batteries.

Guns: I may or not carry a gun hiking but I won't pretend to fool myself or anyone else, if I do, it is not for bear.....

I have almost no need of a gun in winter hikes because that sort of 2 legged usually is no where to be found........ until later in Spring.

People may tell me here, as i am new too, that no one will bother hikers, but i have a AMC Hut Master pal who was robbed and shot at Carter Notch Hut. He lived..... So I have no opinion on if you need a gun..

3:16 a.m. on March 15, 2013 (EDT)
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Thanks for all of the useful information.   I like your advice about outdoor clubs, mentors and gradually extending the hike length.  I actually wrote REI last week about setting up a weekend or short backpack trip.  The response said it was a good idea but that was it.  I lived in Madison WI until about nine months ago (now in Oshkosh).  I took sailing lessons through their Hoofers club.  I will check if I can join.  They have outings for all of their clubs.  They must have backpacking trips.  Eventually I would like to thru hike any one of those trails.  I read a rather humorous book last year about a guy that convinced his best bud to hike the AT.  I believe it was called A Walk in the Woods.  In Wisc we have the Ice Age Trail.  It’s close and would be ideal to hike in sections or as a thru hike.  I did a few day hikes on it last year.  I attempted an overnight.  I reserved a hut (manditory) for one night.  About half way to the hut I decided to check my maps.   I could not find them.  It was late.  I probably could have made it to the hut before dark but I decided to head back to the car and stay in the campground.  The maps were on top of my car…  Lesson learned.

7:15 a.m. on March 15, 2013 (EDT)
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Lodge Pole said:

 Do your self a favor. Unless where you go hiking has cell coverage just leave the thing in the car..

Sorry, but I disagree with this one 100%. Many parts of the trails that I frequent do not have signal but there are some that do. 

This "piece of tinder" as you refer to it could be the deciding factor as to whether you get off the mountain or if you are in the local news. 

Why would you limit your chances of survival if things go south by eliminating a possible lifeline to the outside world?

This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

If ya do not want to be bothered by it there is this thing called a power button. 

Turn it off and put it in a pocket (not in your pack as you can become separated from your pack.) 

Out of site, out of mind.

11:19 a.m. on March 15, 2013 (EDT)
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Rick, Maybe. but don't count on that cell working in NH's White Mtn NF area because it won't and that in itself gets people into trouble hiking and even driving cars.

I have no idea why, but people feel emboldened by the power of the cell phone and so will do things they wouldn't other wise do. And then when troubles happen their phone is just extra weight HERE.

When I crossed the USA on 05 my cell was almost use less with Verizon.

On 09 a kiwi gal I assisted with her own bike crossed the USA one way and flew back here had ATT and her phone was use less too.

Putting faith in a gizmo is just a bad idea, not to mention getting away should be thought of as getting away no?

I have the idea that if at 6 AM and i was camped out on a ridge and someone else was to and that phone woke me up that phone would have a bad hair day.

IMO 2 power bars and a silver blanket is better than a cell phone with no signal.

Satellite phone is another matter. Now they can reach out and touch someone. IMO cell tech just isn't there, or the signal is directional which i suspect.

So long as there is a signal I don't have a problem, but where I have been there is just no signal.

9:44 a.m. on March 17, 2013 (EDT)
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GaryPalmer said:

Bear spray is useless if the gear happens to be upwind, then the spray doesn't get far enough. I tested mine the first time I bought it before hiking Grizzly country in Wyoming and even on a clear windless day it sprayed only a few feet and then was dispersed into a wide spray. I managed still to get a whiff and it was not pleasant.

Bear spray is SUPPOSED to blast out some distance then spread out into a cloud that the bear runs into. It's not meant to need more than a cursory aim in the right general direction.

There is sufficient power in a can to reach out 10 metres (30 feet), so even firing upwind it should be powerful enough to reach the bear before it gets close enough to do any damage. Bear spray does freeze, though, and then all you get is a dribble. Usually bears are in their dens during most of the winter, so that's not a problem. 

10:36 a.m. on March 17, 2013 (EDT)
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Lodge Pole said:

Putting faith in a gizmo is just a bad idea, not to mention getting away should be thought of as getting away no?

I agree, especially when it comes to map reading, compass use, etc in comparison to a hand held GPS. 

Let's face it. The batteries don't die due to a lack of, no LCD to break, so on and so forth. 

As other's have pointed out the most important piece of gear one carries is the gear between their ears. 

...but,

I just don't think it is sensible to eliminate items that could possibly save one's life.

Yes we do get out there to get away but we also intend on returning at some point and time. 

...eventually.

4:15 p.m. on March 17, 2013 (EDT)
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forget the cell phone, forget the ipad, get a map and compass and learn how to use it. forget the solar charger, carry spare batteries. get bearspray and keep it warm. don't be afraid to make noise as you go- letting the bears know you are there is the best prevention. get a bearikade bear can- it beats hanging, and some parks don't let you hang anymore because the bears have figured it out. 

11:16 p.m. on March 17, 2013 (EDT)
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GPS messed me up today. It thinks Big Cave Rock is 6/10ths of a mile from where it is. The GPS said i passed it, when I had 6/10's to go.......

The GPS thinks Fair ground Road still exists too......

Wanna bet your life on a GPS now?

The GPS is only as good as the programmers and their info.

I had a map and a compass but being on a trail I didn't need the compass.

They got Griz in Wisconsin?

6:48 a.m. on March 18, 2013 (EDT)
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You don't need any of that stuff, but I highly advise a bacon stretcher to improve breakfast and both a right and left hand smoke shifter, just in case of unexpected shifts in the wind.

Ed

10:08 a.m. on March 18, 2013 (EDT)
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whomeworry said:

You don't need any of that stuff, but I highly advise a bacon stretcher to improve breakfast and both a right and left hand smoke shifter, just in case of unexpected shifts in the wind.

Ed

 You totally forgot the sky hooks! I carry all three, and 4 fubars too!

10:59 a.m. on March 18, 2013 (EDT)
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Lodge Pole said:

....I had a map and a compass but being on a trail I didn't need the compass.

 Maps and compass aren't perfect, either. Nor are trail signs. One of my favorite training trails, the Rhus Ridge Trail up Black Mountain that goes through Rancho San Antonio and Montebello Open Space Preserves was re-routed about 30 years ago, but the latest revision of the USGS quad still shows the old trail location (the USGS Menlo complex, which houses one of the major mapping facilities is is less than 10 miles away from this trail). On the other side of the SFBay, the trails in Mission Peak Regional Park are quite a bit in error, as another example. It's hard to get lost on these particular trails, since they are so well traveled. But there is the infamous case of the mislabeling of the canyons in the Dardenelles region of the Sierra Nevada (Sonora Pass area) that went uncorrected for something like 40 years (the labels were shifted by one canyon downstream for 4 or 5 canyons).

The accuracy of maps is generally pretty high for the USGS, Canada, and much of Europe. However, in many parts of the world, the best available maps remain very undependable, despite the fact that Landsat, Ikonos, and more recently Google maps have been available for some time. Some of the inaccuracies are intentional for certain countries, but most are due to countries that do not have the finances or well-organized governmental agencies to do the mapping. There are also errors due to the data compression necessary for electronic maps.

That mass of grey stuff in your skull is the basic tool that has to be operational at all times. Maps, compass, and, yes, GPS receivers are valuable tools, when properly used.

11:32 a.m. on March 18, 2013 (EDT)
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What Trailjester said.  Don't make your life any more complicated.  Take what you have and go out there.

1:10 p.m. on March 18, 2013 (EDT)
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As Bill said, what's between your ears is often your best tool. On the Dease River in BC a number of years ago, I was approaching a drop, Stone Island Rapids. It was marked on the map(this river had been traveled and mapped since the mid 19th century) as being a full km downstream of an island which was in a constriction in the river. As we approached the tight right corner just before the island, I thought, "why would the rapids be downstream of the constriction and island?" Fortunately, we were able to prepare in time because the drop was right after the corner. Surveyors make mistakes like anyone else. As Bill mentions, as maps are updated, sometimes things are left out, or a mistake is repeated. And sometimes it is just sloppy work. Looking at map of the Yukon yesterday, two abandoned towns were marked several km from where they actually are, even though the river confluences where they lie were clearly marked.

1:41 p.m. on March 18, 2013 (EDT)
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I would have to agree with what most people have said on this thread. What ever happened to the days when an expedition could be planned on the back of a cocktail napkin?

3:17 p.m. on March 18, 2013 (EDT)
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Bill S I had a bad hair day in the whites with a map and compass in winter where the trail was under more than 6 feet of ice and snow. I was breaking fresh snow, won't go as far as to call it powder, not back East I won't.

Basically I knew where I was but the trail I needed to get out was in a cliff section with a fast river below (Davis Path / Saco) and the sun was going down.

I shot off about 8 mountains trying to get my exact position. I didn't want to tangle with a cliff in the dark lamp or no lamp, not that river and be found wondering if I should go up or down stream to find the foot bridge.

I wan't very happy, but the shots did it, but almost not since the sun set shortly after I had the right track.

I had gear enough to be out but would have been upset with no sugar for my coffee in the morning.  Of a GPS was invented and that was all I had I bet I wouldn't be writing this now and i would have had 15 minutes of fame in Yankee Magazine years ago.

To be clear I shot off means, I used a paper map and a real pencil a ruler (part of the compass in this case) All the lines I drew connected in theory where I was standing.

I would say the Delores Map was off somewhat there too.

5:23 p.m. on March 18, 2013 (EDT)
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I will often use GPS while at work, but then we are expected to be making accurate maps of the landscape, too.

When out on my own, though, I seldom take anything that relies on batteries, (except a headlamp in the winter). In fact I find it hard these days to even carry a camera. With all of the electronics invading the outdoors I find it steals away my attention from what really matters and why I am out there in the first place.

I often just sit and watch the world around me, whether its the setting sun glancing light off some distant peaks or seeing pink and mauve shadows cast across the sea ice in the early spring. It's all good, and far cheaper than an iPad.

As for navigating, I prefer the "non-instrument" type.

10:52 a.m. on March 19, 2013 (EDT)
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North 1, yeah, I feel that way to. I bring a head lamp, the gps for grins, mostly to see the real trail, and check my speed. It also helps with 'Honey just look at the time.. We been moving 30 minutes and still 90! We gotta pick it up! LOL. and of course the camera is what stops her. She is artsy and so has to ponder the shots carefully.

In the other hand when she does her drawings in color pencil often mixed with water color paints the results are very good. Like a photo.

She has a cell phone but we leave it in the glove box, it's use less on the trail here where there is no signal to even hope for. 

IMO cell phones get people into trouble, thinking they can do something they might not otherwise do because 'Hey, if i get in trouble I will just call someone'... Epic problem here. 

Knowing i can't call anyone since I began doing this always made me somewhat less of a thoughtless risk taker.

Used to be freezing to death was the worst thing I had to worry about, but now maybe that changed to a heart attack ;-)

Certainly I am not worried about being in too good of shape when I meet St Pete.

1:11 p.m. on March 19, 2013 (EDT)
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IMO cell phones get people into trouble, thinking they can do something they might not otherwise do because 'Hey, if i get in trouble I will just call someone'... 

Agreed, Lodgepole. A few years ago, three climbers died on Mt. Hood. They had a narrow weather window, a strong winter storm was predicted, but they were benighted near the summit with inadequate gear for several days. Their cell phone didn't help. Rescuers couldn't get to them in time. All three perished. They only found one. 

I do sometimes carry mine when I know I can get a signal, such as a day hike very close to an urban area. But it is never something I can positively rely on.

4:13 p.m. on March 19, 2013 (EDT)
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I remember doing a 7 week hike through the Canadian Rockies one summer and comming upon a team of horses packing in supplies to a camp. One of the men was dressed as one would expect in full Western outfit. He also wore an ornate gun belt around his waist. But, instead of a side arm he had a cell phone attached to it.

It seemed absurd to me at the time and a little incongruous with the surroundings.

4:29 p.m. on March 19, 2013 (EDT)
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My logic on phones is somewhat different. Typically when I am on trail I do not have coverage when I am in a valley surrounded by ridges but when I am on a ridge I typically do have service(Verizon.)

So with that in mind a phone may not necessarily be handy all the time but if something happens on a ridge and I am miles away from anything having a way to get a call out is better than having no way to get a call out. 

So with that being said is it really smart to leave the phone behind? Personally, I would much rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it. 

Granted this will also have alot to do with carriers, areas that one frequents, so on and so forth.

Basically what I am saying is this...

Just because it works for me doesn't mean it will work for others and just because it doesn't work for others that doesn't necessarily mean it won't work for me(or in this case the op.)

At the same time I agree 100% that one should not rely on a cellphone as a guaranteed "get out of jail free card" if ya get my drift.

4:35 p.m. on March 19, 2013 (EDT)
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Erich said:

IMO cell phones get people into trouble, thinking they can do something they might not otherwise do because 'Hey, if i get in trouble I will just call someone'... 

There are also a ton of other variables that get people into trouble as well but when it all boils down it it all ends up the same...

Lack of experience and/or common sense with a total lack of regard to what potentially could be.

9:35 p.m. on March 19, 2013 (EDT)
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I don't get it Rick..... A cell phone and no chance of a signal is like a gun with no chance of getting bullets.. Both are useless. Where i go I KNOW there is no cell service period.

If there was cell service I would pack my wife's phone or she would. And then I doubt the battery would work for long since the camera battery won't. I know all about that too, and if I were serious about getting winter pics i would pack a old minolta 35 mm film camera that can work with no battery at all, other than the light meter and i can guess that good.

I pack all sorts of things I might need that will work if I do need them, but why pack a phone when it plain can't be used and you know it?

 That would almost be like packing snow shoes for a walk around Tucson Az.

All summer long when I am playing in the Kanc Rt 112 in NH at the height of land summer people with cars have car problems and on that spot and for 17 miles either way there is El Zippo Service.. The more North you go the worse it gets too....

Smoke Signals is a better chance. Serious! LOL

12:38 a.m. on March 20, 2013 (EDT)
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Rick, just a note,the quote above was from Lodgepole. That being said, I think there is a difference we should acknowledge in different parts of the hemisphere. In the west, and certainly the northwest, there are vast areas that are not covered. And I have first hand experience with one cell phone company that said I was in good in the YT but they didn't have decent coverage north of 60.

Whether it is a tent or a stove, or a phone, we expect it to perform. In my trips that often last more than a month, I expect gear to perform day in, day out for weeks. If the stove fails, I often cannot find enough wood for a fire. A cell phone can be useless. Your two ice screws instead of four, may be the difference between seeing your spouse and kids again or not. Every piece of technology we take into the bush can be a life or death item. Relying upon any of them, requires that they will work each time, every time we need them. Cell phones are not reliable enough for that, yet. Put them in your emergency kit if you must. But put them in expecting that they may save your life in a last ditch emergency, is folly.

7:46 a.m. on March 20, 2013 (EDT)
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Erich said:

But put them in expecting that they may save your life in a last ditch emergency, is folly.

 I agree with this 100%. As I stated above it works for me. That is what makes these threads/discussions interesting. 

People's  opinions vary. ;)

9:51 a.m. on March 20, 2013 (EDT)
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If you have a newer phone, with a built in gps, your location can be plotted, without cell service. Should this be part of your survival plan, def not, but my phone has so many uses I take it always. I use the camera a lot, if im on a hike in a familiar place I prob wont have a camera, but my phone has an eight mp camera, plus the backup gps, a flashlight and a mp3 player. If your phone doesnt have these features, or you dont use them, you prob should leave it in the car. If I keep it off and reasonably warm the batt lasts for days in the cold, better than other batteries.

10:09 p.m. on March 20, 2013 (EDT)
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One useful feature of most cell phones is that they have a timer / stopwatch function. This is very useful for navigation work. I can use my compass for measuring direction (bearings) and my cell phone for measuring distance walked.

This of course requires that you already know how long it takes for you to walk 100 meters (etc.) in the terrain you are in.

OTOH the same thing can be accomplished with a wrist watch....for those who remember what a watch is.

I used to trout fish in a river canyon where you could only get a cell signal if you hiked / drove to the top of the mountain and stood on top of your vehicle (seriously), or a picnic table....and maybe you would get one bar...maybe. I have been in other areas where having a CB or HAM radio was your only hope of getting a signal. 

So having a signal is certainly not a given for many areas but even the calculator on a cell phone can come in handy when you are navigating while exhausted and maybe not thinking clearly. What's 124 from 360 plus 3 deg Declination? Or did I already set DEC on my compass?  You could also use a stick and scratch the math in the dirt and do it that way (old school).

Of course electronic gadgets need batteries to work so that's always a consideration.

I'm a big believer in full size USGS 7.5 minute quad maps & a good compass with the GPSR being a wonderful modern tool, but still an electronic gadget.

Mike G.

 

7:06 a.m. on March 21, 2013 (EDT)
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trouthunter said:

OTOH the same thing can be accomplished with a wrist watch....for those who remember what a watch is.

 Mike, you mean one of these?

002.jpg

No calculator though. I cannot think of why they didn't include one... Or a remote for my tv come to think of it.

6:49 p.m. on March 22, 2013 (EDT)
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That's fancy!

I use to have one that showed the moon phases & tides on a timeline graph, I can't remember the brand.

Mike G. 

12:46 a.m. on March 24, 2013 (EDT)
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I avoid things that run on batteries, except head lamps.  Call me a ludite, but my watch is solar powered...


sundial.jpg

And my cell phone runs on wood.

Ed

8:58 a.m. on March 24, 2013 (EDT)
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Ed, the watch in the photo runs on solar as well(see the Tough Solar moniker above "N") and my phone is chipmunk powered so bleh. :p

1:52 p.m. on March 24, 2013 (EDT)
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Rick, is the chipmunk power station connected to your phone via Bluetooth, firewire, or what?

Thanks for the help Mike G. 

2:06 p.m. on March 24, 2013 (EDT)
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trouthunter said:

Rick, is the chipmunk power station connected to your phone via Bluetooth, firewire, or what? 

It is built directly into my Otterbox Defender case although it now somewhat resembles a "bagphone" of days past. ;)

Thanks for the help Mike G. 

 Never a problem. 

1:25 p.m. on April 12, 2013 (EDT)
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Electronic Gadgets.., I admit it, O love em even if they weigh too much. I always have a GPS Radio the Garmin Rino 120 which is probably out of date but it will not only show me the route traveled and provide a lot of stats MPH, Time Evolved, Time Hiking, Time stopped altitude and of course the map feature. This radio also has a feature where if I am talking to wifey on the radio screen it will show each of us where the other one is at the time. The radio reaches a few miles so she even knows where I am if she stays at camp or home and I am out hiking. Valuable.


I also used to carry a Ranger style / CB handheld radio. I learned to do this after wifey had to be rescued in jungle in Hawaii. We had ZERO communication at the time and being able to speak to tourist helicopters as they passed overhead would have been helpful and could have saved us two days or apprehension. We didn't feel the need for a signal fire or emergency landing, we just wanted to work out a private to land and pick her up, which I eventually did work out.

I also carry a map & compass and do know how to use them for the most part.

But I like the techno gear and have been looking into solar rechargers. I have  few already which I used back in the day for an old phone and one of them recharges 4AA batteries over several hours. I am looking at smaller and lighter for the droid & GoPro recharging units just not sure what to get yet. My electronics combined total about 1lb+. I am willing to carry it.

2:05 p.m. on April 12, 2013 (EDT)
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Yup I said this......... 'IMO cell phones get people into trouble, thinking they can do something they might not otherwise do because 'Hey, if i get in trouble I will just call someone'... "

 

Right here where I live this is true just a few miles north of me for 30 miles east west and i can't say how many north south there is 0 coverage for any cell phone...

I just switch from Verizon 6 weeks ago because of weak coverage just getting worse. We went with US Cellular and fir the first time in 6.5 years can make a call of get a call inside the house!

 

But even US Cellular can't reach a lot further north we we go hiking all the time. There a cell phone is only good fuel for a smudge fire. Believe me in the past 6 weeks or so I have about driven my wife nuts... Can you hear it now? What about here?

For any future testing one of you guys will need to be her victim. }:-)

 

I don't hear well so radio is out.... bla bla BLA blaa bla skeeeeeeeeeeet Huh What? bla bal Bla bla bla bal bla Bla!!!!!!!!!! skeeeeeeeeeeet Huh  What?

 

The point is this stuff is toys. I trust the sun.... before i was and after I am gone the sun appears at the Eastern horizon in the morning long before i want to know I live. Later after my first coffee and after my nap, the sun sits around high noon and with a stick stuck in the ground I can measure a shadow. When that shadow gets as long as it will be, I know where North/ South is.

Generally I don't need to wait around for that. In General observance in NH can pretty much tell you which way Northish is. Then the only problem us encountering obstacles you can't navigate for what ever reasons.

But it's fun proving maps, the compass sometimes signs and the gps are wrong.

5:17 p.m. on April 17, 2013 (EDT)
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I use Goal Zero's Guide 10+ Adventure kit and it does what I need it to do(within reason.) It charges my Droid Razr Maxx w/3300mah battery as well as other numerous items. 

The panel is 7 watt and if that isn't enough you can charge from the 10 watt Guide 10 pack. 
goal-zero-guide-10-plus-001.jpg

6:56 p.m. on April 17, 2013 (EDT)
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Rick I don't know what that is........ if it isn't satellite it won't work here..

However i think that is a GPS mapping device of some sort and it gets satellite imagery anywhere in the world.

maybe there is an error in my odd way of speak, and people think I just don't like electronics in the woods. if that is the case I made an error speaking.

If a cell phone did work in these woods I would probably carry it. The fact is they don't and that fact gets people who don't know that fact into trouble.

Some people will take risks they might not take thinking that a cell phone will save them. Where I am talking about it won't.

You may as well weigh the cell phone and replace it with a rock. If you select a sharp rock it will do better duty than a cell phone.

This past winter a avalanche beacon was set off and not in any place an avalanche could be. That caused confusion to the rescue teams  wondering what it was. 

 The signal didn't stop, and so someone was sent to investigate. They found soggy wet Canadians with a cell phone seeking minor assistance. They used the beacon because the cell phone didn't work.

This is the sort of thing that has NH Fish and Game wanting to charge big bucks for rescue.

12:39 p.m. on April 19, 2013 (EDT)
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that's good...if the cell phone doesn't work just use a beacon. now there's an idiot proof hiking strategy if ever I saw one.

1:31 p.m. on April 19, 2013 (EDT)
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Well it sure will confuse a rescue team when they ping it on a map and the beacon comes from an area that is flat. I suppose they wonder if a bear ate the device, or if it was turned on by mistake, maybe nailed to a hunk of wood and tossed in a brook.

The wanna be rescued might reconsider because they may get fined or buried depending on what the rescue team finds.

NH F&G is all about getting money from hikers.... Sooner or later they will. It's just a matter of time. So far this is paid for by hunters and fishermen Lic sales, and hikes don't pay a cent, unless they get a chopper ride, and then that costs the big bucks.

There is a local group doing rescue work for free and fighting the state over fees, fines and or hiking pay as you go fees, but so long as people go off unprepared here there will be a problem.

The best thing is don't get in need of being rescued.

What I hear the most complaint about is the rescue where the helpless just want someone to come and pack their gear out because they got too tired.

The next most common are those who have gear, and get lost anyway. These folks panic and drop their gear to move faster.

I never understood that idea. You abandon food water, tents and sleeping bags because you get lost??? That is vacation time to me.

So long as you don't walk in circles in NH you can't get lost. If you walk down hill long enough, you will end up in Mass.... ;-)

10:45 p.m. on June 6, 2013 (EDT)
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I just have to say as a terrain associatin', silva ranger compass usin' believer and agreeing with learning compass and mapwork and having used it since my days in country, several countries from SE Asia to Central America, way back in the early '70s THAT my GPS is what I depended on in Iraq to keep alive.  While I agree that gadgets fail and as one who would take away the calculators the Rangers would bring to IMPOC (Mortar School) so they would have to learn to do the figuring out themselves I would have to say that, in Iraq, that the GPS is what kept us alive

10:46 p.m. on June 6, 2013 (EDT)
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And God FORBID ending up in MASS

3:54 p.m. on June 7, 2013 (EDT)
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Richard Norris said:

I just have to say as a terrain associatin', silva ranger compass usin' believer and agreeing with learning compass and mapwork and having used it since my days in country, several countries from SE Asia to Central America, way back in the early '70s THAT my GPS is what I depended on in Iraq to keep alive.  While I agree that gadgets fail and as one who would take away the calculators the Rangers would bring to IMPOC (Mortar School) so they would have to learn to do the figuring out themselves I would have to say that, in Iraq, that the GPS is what kept us alive

 Both tools have a place. But if i gave you coords to get to where i sit typing as it is, you would find there are no roads where the GPS says there is.

No doubt you could get here......... walking  Maybe my gps needs new maps, but that road hasn't existed since around 1930 so I can't know why it's on any maps.

6:35 p.m. on June 7, 2013 (EDT)
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Richard Norris said:

..I would have to say that, in Iraq, that the GPS is what kept us alive

In the future folks will be touting the virtues of super-sonavision as the life saving navagation technology, and wonder how we ever got by with "primative" GPS...

You should also add to your testimony that there are few places on the planet as featureless as the Iraqi desert.  (Kinda hard to find a reference point confidently to take a bearing on.)  There may be a few similar locations in the US, but I am pretty sure they are not the venues backpackers will be trekking around in. 

Anyway we are not directing artillery fire so the pin point precision of mil spec GPS is not required.  In fact pre-GPS explorers trekking in featureless terrain - the polar expeditions for example - got by using compass, sextant and a good watch (and perhaps a star chart).

Ed

7:19 p.m. on June 7, 2013 (EDT)
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Ed, What's super-sonavision? 

I still start fire by friction ya know...... ;-)

3:19 p.m. on June 10, 2013 (EDT)
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Lodge Pole said:

Ed, What's super-sonavision? 

I still start fire by friction ya know...... ;-)

Heck I don't know!  It is some futuristic, yet to be invented, device that will lead future generations to imagine life itself could not have been possible without - kind of like the smart phone to today's metro culture and youth.

Ed

6:23 p.m. on June 10, 2013 (EDT)
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Oh I know what 'kind of like is'... makes perfect sense now. You know my Roll-o-dex only goes to K right?

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