gps

11:46 p.m. on August 3, 2011 (EDT)
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I go on overnight trips but would like to start extending those to multi day trips in the spring. What different types of gps would be what I need? I have looked at some of the Garmins, but they seem to be changing constantly. Any ideas??

12:59 a.m. on August 4, 2011 (EDT)
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If you need a navigation device, make sure your GPS is backed up by old fashioned maps and a compass.  Always avoid relying solely on battery operated technology in mission critical applications.

Ed

2:12 a.m. on August 4, 2011 (EDT)
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GPS is kind of a Taboo word around here. I dont realy understand why. I see nothing wrong with bringing a piece of gear that can aid in your adventure. I also like to be able to download my tracks/routes or other peoples.  But as Ed said....DONT RELY SOLEY ON GPS!   always bring a map for backup.

I have a Garmin 60CSx I bought a few months ago that is being replaced by something newer and better they say. It does evrything I need and then some. It replaces my old Garmin GPS 12 that I bought over 10 years ago that still works but doesnt have all the cool features of the new one and doesnt track satellites as well. Im by no means a GPS guru, Im sure there are plenty of other closet GPS users here that could give better info then I but dont break the bank.  Consider what you want to do with it and choose the unit with those features.

If we always worried that what we're buying is gonna be outdated next week heck we wouldnt have anything cuz it will be.

2:55 a.m. on August 4, 2011 (EDT)
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Kinda funny, I have a GPS unit(lpus a few aps in my phone. I don't use it or them. I use my map and a compass. Hey, its just how I am.

The way I look at it is if I cannot be self reliant I shouldn't be out there in the first place.

A compass and some map reading skills will never steer ya wrong. Just mho...

jpanderson89- welcome to Trailspace.

What types of areas do you intend on using GPS technology?

6:33 a.m. on August 4, 2011 (EDT)
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To follow along the same tone as the others, I also highly recommend not using a gps as your sole means of navigation, always carry a map and compass and know how to use them.

Now as far as gps's go, there are lots of different kinds. How good are you with navigation? You can get a really cheap gps for like 75-100$ that has no map and will just give you coordinates. which is fine if you have a map to see exactly where that is. Then you have your midrange models than run from 100-300$ range, these usually all have maps on them and allow easier entering of waypoints, and a bunch of other features that are nice but not really needed.

The model I use is a Garmin Rhino 530HCX, got it on sale for like 250. It has maps, all the features, a 2 way radio, and a weather radio. If your out with someone that also has a rhino when they transmit on the radio they show up on your map.

I rarely use my gps solely for navigation, but do check it every so often for a quick check of my pace/distance left to go. I also mark water sources for future reference on trips. I also find the weather radio vey nice to have  on longer trips.

7:05 a.m. on August 4, 2011 (EDT)
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Thank you for your advice. I am in the military so I have pretty good map reading skills. I think I am a gear junkie, so I figured I could add a gps to the mix of stuff. I totally understand what everyone has been saying on here. I read these articles where it talks about some guy that cant remember the correct gear to pack, but he can sure bring his phone. Those stories just make me laugh, I enjoy coming on this site, Backpacker.com, and others to see what is going on in the hiking world (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market to name one). I would love to hike all the long distance trails in the future. Thanks again for your advice. Is there a specific compass you have found works well?

8:05 a.m. on August 4, 2011 (EDT)
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Regarding a GPS I've used one for years, as a back up for maps and as a convenient way of recording data such as good camp sites in forests / rain forests. Weight is the primary concern.The Garmin Etrek is the obvious choice, long life battery, very compact and light weight. No onboard maps in the basic model but you should already have the hardcopy with you. I've used one as a map supplement for a decade and they are a very good simple alternative.

8:53 a.m. on August 4, 2011 (EDT)
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Welcome to Trailspace JP,

I have the same advice as those above. GPS is pretty nifty for recording your route, logging waypoints for places of interest, etc., and are a great tool for those things. Just don't ever plan to rely on GPS to navigate. As long as you are completely self reliant with Map and Compass, you will always have the knowledge and means to navigate. If you rely mainly on a GPSR for your bearing, you will be SOL when  the batteries die, the screen cracks, it takes a swim, or it just quits working.

PS- (and completely unrelated) In your profile pic, what is the rope tied through two belt loops for? Not safety, I hope :)

9:39 a.m. on August 4, 2011 (EDT)
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I bet he has a saw or tool attached.

2:59 p.m. on August 4, 2011 (EDT)
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I typically like to get little gadgets and gizmos, however I still have never the urge to get a GPS.  I have used on before, and I personally find them too cumbersome (mostly because I am  not the most computer friendly guy, which is funny being that I am an engineer..LOL) since a map and compass work pretty quickly and effieciently for me.  As said above, there is nothing wrong with using one, having a map/compass as a backup is a must.  Which if you are limiting your weight, taking a GPS and map/compass will weigh more than just your good ol' map/compass.

8:22 p.m. on August 4, 2011 (EDT)
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I've been using a GPSr as my primary means of route finding (plus other things) for over ten years now.  I've never had a problem with any of the three Garmin models I've owned (current one is the Garmin 550t).  I've dropped them, fallen on them, sat on them, dropped them in water; and they all kept right on working.

The only thing I don't like is the short battery live: one set a day.  I always carry a spare set.

Is my GPSr the ONLY form of navigation I carry?  Heck no!  I always have a map and compass with me.  I'm dumb, not stupid!

9:18 p.m. on August 4, 2011 (EDT)
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I think of my GPS device primarily as something to enhance my experience, not something I "need" per se.  Being the curious type, it's cool to know my elapsed time/distance, stopped time vs moving time, elevation gain/loss, elevation profile of my hike, and so on.  Unfortunately the thing I would actually use it for the most (trail routing) isn't available ... unless you pre-plan the trip on a PC and download the route before leaving home.  But, even so, they're interesting and informative devices.  However in response to the OP's question, you don't "need" one at all.... it's just a bonus.

The other consideration is to get one that connects to a SPOT device (e.g. the DeLorme PN-60w) - enabling you to update folks at home as to your route, your "last known position" (good if you need SAR), and even call SAR for help if you really get incapacitated.  Just don't rely on it or take risks you wouldn't without the device.  Again, it's a bonus.

 

12:07 a.m. on August 5, 2011 (EDT)
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"GPS is kind of a Taboo word around here."

Not really. Bill is an expert on GPS and did a very detailed report a while back on the SPOT.  What we are trying to prevent are people who rely so much on battery devices that they wind up in the boonies with no idea where they are because their phone or GPS is dead.

Unless you have a Sat Phone, expecting a cel phone to work in the wilderness is a recipe for disaster, but that is what people expect-get into trouble, call for help, get a helo ride home.  A SPOT or PLB is better.

As far as a compass goes, I've got several-a cheap Silva flat plate, a Silva 27 small mirror compass and a Suunto MC-2G. The 27 is the one I like the most because it's small. The Suunto is very fancy, but not cheap. Got mine off eBay years ago.

I also have a GPSr - Garmin GPSMap 76CSx.

2:19 a.m. on August 5, 2011 (EDT)
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The Taboo thing was in jest. I understand that its best to get the word out to not rely on GPS. I just think its kinda funny how folks will talk in length and detail about any piece of gear they've got from boot laces to underware, but seldom do you see anybody talkin bout their GPS. No its not a piece you "need" to survive but I think its something alot of people carry these days. Does it mean your not a real outdoorsman if use a GPS? I dont know. I do know that alot people with GPS should stay home cause they are unprepared in every other aspect.  JMO

I will re-echo DO NOT RELY SOLEY ON YOUR GPS

2:19 a.m. on August 6, 2011 (EDT)
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Go to the right site and its all about GPS, so it depends on what site you are talking about.

"Does it mean your not a real outdoorsman if use a GPS?" Absolutely! Only posers use a GPS, real outdoorsmen find their way around using the stars and sun and maps they make themselves.  Real outdoorsmen wear bearskin clothes, make fire with stones and flints and sleep on a bed of leaves with a quilt they made themselves. They don't shop at REI and think Patagonia is a place, not a brand. They scoff at modern clothes and gadgets and wouldn't be caught looking longingly at a mummy bag or canister stove.

I've got too many modern gadgets to be a "real outdoorsman" anyway, so having a GPS doesn't make me any less so.

1:44 p.m. on August 6, 2011 (EDT)
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I still use my Garmin etrex vista, and I do like to see were I have been by uploading to my computer.  It's the old version with the RS232 port, but it works for me.  I know there are better versions and the support has stop for all the vista's now, but it's only a tool.  The strange thing happen when I bought the carrier from REI, it now picks up signals better?  I left the unit in the garage and turn it on, it started to pickup signals and gave me my location.  This didn't happen before.  The other problem I find with it is 150mph track points or unit turns off, I filter everything more than 5mph and unit turning off I used part of a rubber band behind battery connector, Thanks to Mountain Bike group for this info.  The National Geographic state Topo work good with this unit, and I also found free California Topo online for the Garmin.

Mike

12:03 a.m. on August 7, 2011 (EDT)
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Tom D said:

"Does it mean your not a real outdoorsman if use a GPS?" Absolutely!..  ..real outdoorsmen.. ..think Patagonia is a place, not a brand. They scoff at modern clothes and gadgets and wouldn't be caught looking longingly at a mummy bag or canister stove...

 If I don't shave or bathe for two weeks prior to departure would that help compensate for the fact my gear was purchased at Banana Republic? 

Ed

2:52 a.m. on August 7, 2011 (EDT)
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whomeworry said:

 

 If I don't shave or bathe for two weeks prior to departure would that help compensate for the fact my gear was purchased at Banana Republic? 

Ed

 Only if we're talking about the old Banana Republic, when they sold stuff like surplus British colonial army gear by mail order instead of just being The Gap with a different name. (That's how they started back in the 70's, at least that's how I remember it). Although I confess, I do have a couple of nice shirts from The Gap, but they aren't for outdoor wear.

2:57 a.m. on August 7, 2011 (EDT)
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I am really enjoying the latter part of this thread. 

10:47 a.m. on August 7, 2011 (EDT)
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I use modern digital devices; hence my opportunity to post here. However, I would never take a GPS into the backcountry, nor a radio, cell-phone, or other battery-operated aid. Why carry unnecessary weight? If, OTOH, you consider it necessary, what will you do without it when the battery dies or it gets fried by immersion in a stream?

BTW, this is not the year to depend on GPSs. This is the first of the fifty-year solar storm cycles since the inception of integrated circuits and communication satellites (the last such cycle was 1958). There was a NASA warning just last week about depending on GPSs because of the Aug. 4th solar storm. Scientists have been briefing Congress since 2001 regarding the possibility of long-term loss of our entire electrical grid during potential solar events in 2011-2013.

12:43 a.m. on August 8, 2011 (EDT)
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To answer your question, it would be more of a gadget than anything. I would love to go out west where I would be forced to rely on it when traveling across rough terrain, but now it would be a piece of gear just in case.

12:45 a.m. on August 8, 2011 (EDT)
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gonzan, the rope is attached to a saw, I was cutting the tree down and it was pretty windy up there.

1:36 a.m. on August 8, 2011 (EDT)
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jpanderson89 said:

To answer your question, it would be more of a gadget than anything. I would love to go out west where I would be forced to rely on it when traveling across rough terrain, but now it would be a piece of gear just in case.

Actually you might find GPS a greater convenience back east, where a deep canopy often obstruct taking bearing on distant landmarks; most of the west is open enough that line of sight to landmarks is unobstructed.   Nevertheless ordinary maps and compass always have their place in any pack, anywhere.

Ed

6:28 a.m. on August 8, 2011 (EDT)
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I agree with whomeworry about gps use here in the east. It can be difficult here in the east to get to a location with an open enough view to take a visual fix with a compass. Obviously if your at a summit or above treeline it's a different story. Out west its fairly easy to have an expansive view perfect for shooting bearings.

Hiking with a gps is a great tool to have in the arsenal. I find it especially useful in the winter when you can experience whiteout conditions at times.

9:16 a.m. on August 8, 2011 (EDT)
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jpanderson89 said:

gonzan, the rope is attached to a saw, I was cutting the tree down and it was pretty windy up there.

 I figured it was something like that :)

I spent three hours, in the dark, in the top of a 80ft tall Oak a while back trying to retrieve a $600 custom built Class 2 rocket. Good times, lol

(having the necessary vertical gear, FTW!)

3:38 p.m. on August 8, 2011 (EDT)
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May be oldfashioned but cant see spending the money when map and compass work so well.I was hiking on the west side of Mt Hood last summer and ran into a guy looking for the new bridge over the Sandy river and he comented to me that he just could not find it.I pointed up to a sign on the tree directly behind him wich pointed to the bridge just a short distance away,also said "Sandy river bridge.Just an example of some folks total reliance on technology.I know this is an extreme example but really not all that uncommon.ymmv

9:27 p.m. on August 8, 2011 (EDT)
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Tom D said:

"Does it mean your not a real outdoorsman if use a GPS?" Absolutely! Only posers use a GPS, real outdoorsmen find their way around using the stars and sun and maps they make themselves.

 Haha :).   While getting ready for an overnight backpack this weekend, heating water for oatmeal at my campsite/staging area, a nice gentleman stopped by to talk with me.  He informed me that I wasn't a real outdoorsman because "real outdoorsmen eat their oatmeal raw".  LOL :).

So GPS or no GPS, I don't make the cut, heh heh :)

 

 

9:42 p.m. on August 8, 2011 (EDT)
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The easiest way for me to navigate in the Southeast's heavily wooded terrain is to study the map at home, and then navigate by map and terrain, especially ridges & waterways, as I hike.

Doing resection with a compass is difficult due to the dense forest  and often means hiking up to a ridge or clearing, or climbing a tree.

I carry a GPSR plus map and compass on all my hikes. I try to practice with all three if time allows. If I'm on a known trail I often just keep my map in my hand to keep up with where I'm at as usual and pull coords from my GPSR as I hike so I can get faster at it.

I like using the UTM Grid and a 1km grid map tool.

12:24 a.m. on August 9, 2011 (EDT)
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I carry a Silva compass with me.  It's the one that I got when I was a Scout (back when they still called us Boy Scouts).  In fact it has the round "Boy Scouts of America" logo. 

Anyway, I carry the GPS these days because the compass doesn't tell me how far I've gone, how fast I've gone, the elevation gain, it doesn't send SPOT messages to "my people", ... all the stuff I mentioned previously.  But I still carry the compass "just in case... at least if I have the right pack with me ...

It rode for years with a candle in one pocket of my pack, so it's all coated with wax.  I guess I should clean it up one of these days, eh? :)

Yeah, the GPS is way heavier & bulkier than the compass...  but I can't imagine it will be too long before there'll be GPS devices the size of this compass, with a full face display on one side.


compass.jpg

8:56 a.m. on August 13, 2011 (EDT)
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bheiser1 said:

Tom D said:

"Does it mean your not a real outdoorsman if use a GPS?" Absolutely! Only posers use a GPS, real outdoorsmen find their way around using the stars and sun and maps they make themselves.

 Haha :).   While getting ready for an overnight backpack this weekend, heating water for oatmeal at my campsite/staging area, a nice gentleman stopped by to talk with me.  He informed me that I wasn't a real outdoorsman because "real outdoorsmen eat their oatmeal raw".  LOL :).

So GPS or no GPS, I don't make the cut, heh heh :)

 

 

 Ha Ha… that made me laugh, I dont think Im a real outdoorsman either because I love to make really big fires...

8:41 p.m. on August 28, 2011 (EDT)
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In this day of smart phones I can't believe anyone even has a GPS for backpacking/hiking. 

For the past 4 years I have gone exclusively w/iphone (3 years) and now my Android (4'5" awesome screen).  My typical trip is 5+ days so battery life is an issue BUT I primarily just use the GPS feature on a "as needed" help me make sure I'm not lost basis.  Work great!

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