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Latest GPS recommendation

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Latest GPS recommendation

Postby GlacierCountry » Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:11 pm

What GPS unit should I get given the most current models available? Primarily I peak bag. I want something that will be simple and lightweight. Want to be able to navigate if weather comes in and obscures the view. Would like to be able to download a trip to a computer and see it traced out on a topo map with stats such as distance and elevation change. Not sure I really need/want any other features. Cost not really a factor but I doubt I would use and any special features
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Re: Latest GPS recommendation

Postby MoapaPk » Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:09 pm

I use a dedicated garmin 62stc. But there is much to be said for a simple smartphone with an external battery pack to put it past 3hrs of use. Smartphones typically have crappier antennas and inferior chipsets, but if you stay out of deep canyons and mainly go up peakbagging lumps, the smartphone-battery-pack combo may be lighter and cheaper. The mapping options for smartphones are often better.

Google earth has a good feature for elevation change, using the digital elevation model available (upload the track, then right-click on elevation profile, after setting terrain to most detailed).
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Re: Latest GPS recommendation

Postby skyward22 » Tue Sep 17, 2013 2:34 am

Will the GPS counterpart of a cell phone even work without a cell phone signal or wifi signal?

MoapaPk wrote:I use a dedicated garmin 62stc. But there is much to be said for a simple smartphone with an external battery pack to put it past 3hrs of use. Smartphones typically have crappier antennas and inferior chipsets, but if you stay out of deep canyons and mainly go up peakbagging lumps, the smartphone-battery-pack combo may be lighter and cheaper. The mapping options for smartphones are often better.

Google earth has a good feature for elevation change, using the digital elevation model available (upload the track, then right-click on elevation profile, after setting terrain to most detailed).
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Re: Latest GPS recommendation

Postby req » Tue Sep 17, 2013 5:58 am

tobe945 wrote:Will the GPS counterpart of a cell phone even work without a cell phone signal or wifi signal?


Yes, quite effectively, but you'll want to take steps to:
1. Preserve battery life
2. Download maps beforehand

For example, on an AT&T iPhone 4, locking the SIM card with a PIN will prevent it wasting battery looking for a cell tower while still giving you access to the GPS hardware. I then use Gaia GPS to download topo maps before I leave the house. The AT&T iPhone 5 seems to have a bug where the SIM trick doesn't work, so you'll need to figure out what works for your device.

Plenty of details here: http://adventurealan.com/iphone4gps.htm
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Re: Latest GPS recommendation

Postby skyward22 » Tue Sep 17, 2013 3:13 pm

This is a very attractive option, since you can already use your phone for music & a watch among other things. Fortunately I stuck with my iphone 4 since Apple has decided to go down the shitter since Steve Jobs died and not innovate anymore. Thanks, I'll check this out!

What are the cons to using my phone this way as opposed to a traditional GPS device?

I was looking at getting the DeLorme Earthmate + InReach for emergency SOS capabilities in remote places if in trouble.

req wrote:
tobe945 wrote:Will the GPS counterpart of a cell phone even work without a cell phone signal or wifi signal?


Yes, quite effectively, but you'll want to take steps to:
1. Preserve battery life
2. Download maps beforehand

For example, on an AT&T iPhone 4, locking the SIM card with a PIN will prevent it wasting battery looking for a cell tower while still giving you access to the GPS hardware. I then use Gaia GPS to download topo maps before I leave the house. The AT&T iPhone 5 seems to have a bug where the SIM trick doesn't work, so you'll need to figure out what works for your device.

Plenty of details here: http://adventurealan.com/iphone4gps.htm
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Re: Latest GPS recommendation

Postby GlacierCountry » Tue Sep 17, 2013 5:47 pm

I wonder if my Verizon iPhone 5 would work well in that setting? So should I get the Gaia GPS for it? (is this an app I assume?) req I will peruse your link and see what I can find out. Thanks everyone
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Re: Latest GPS recommendation

Postby MoapaPk » Tue Sep 17, 2013 10:00 pm

Smartphones generally have crappier chipsets that get fewer satellites with confidence, and also weaker antennas, than dedicated GPS. Smartphones are more likely to lose lock in canyons. And, as pointed out, you have to supply an external battery if you want the GPS to last more than 3 hours with tracking. The external battery is generally worn on the belt and is connected by a cable, and some people find that connection very inconvenient for scrambling; but I've seen people do it. Smartphones are generally not waterproof, so you have to get a case that will keep them out of harm's way.
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Re: Latest GPS recommendation

Postby peninsula » Fri Sep 27, 2013 2:55 pm

I've used Garmin's products until I decided to go with InReach and had to make the switch to Delorme's PN-60. Although it was a steep learning curve and required I purchase and learn Parallels Desktop in order to make my MacPro into a PC and enable the use of Delorme's mapping software, it was worth it in the long run. Now that I've used the PN-60 for two seasons, I'm finding the workflow far more intuitive and user friendly, but like I said, it came with a steep learning curve and even more so for Mac users. Customer support was very helpful. If you desire two-way communication, the DeLorme Earthmate PN-60 + InReach is the only way to go IMO.
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Re: Latest GPS recommendation

Postby PTHINHK » Fri Sep 27, 2013 8:40 pm

I would be weary of relying on the phone when you start being exposed to below freezing temperatures and higher altitudes (13k+). It does not do well in either of those and the battery life drops rapidly with the temps. While you could keep it warm certain ways that usually introduces too much moisture which is also bad. I have ruined a couple phones and a kindle. But for warmer weather and short outings I think it is great, for winter get a dedicated unit. (and a map of course)
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Re: Latest GPS recommendation

Postby Norman » Thu Aug 27, 2015 11:43 pm

Anyone using this app currently and has worthwhile info?

http://blog.hyperlitemountaingear.com/t ... dy-own-it/
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Re: Latest GPS recommendation

Postby jludman » Mon Sep 28, 2015 3:51 pm

Also interested in advantages of Gaia over AllTrails. Alltrails seemed great, except a few times I wasn't sure if I was supposed to cross a small stream/brook, the brook wasn't on Alltrails map, and it took longer to redraw after a zoom than I liked (or seemed necessary, since it can't be downloading anything without any service...).
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Re: Latest GPS recommendation

Postby MoapaPk » Tue Sep 29, 2015 8:04 pm

Smartphones have gotten better Battery life, and some are now quasi-waterproof, or one can get protective cases with an extra backup battery.

I still have a flipphone and dedicated Garmin 64s-something-or-other. I've had 2 62stc units die (power button and screen going out) within 1.2 years of purchase and my current 64s is having fits, about 0.3 years after purchase. Garmin quality is on a slippery slope. If you go for Garmin, I would recommend buying at a place like REI, where there is a return guarantee up to 1 year, and just return it for a new one before the year is up.
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Re: Latest GPS recommendation

Postby johngo » Sun Dec 20, 2015 4:10 pm

One more big thumbs up for the Gaia GPS app.
Personally, I love the strong opinion that anyone going in to the back country who carries a smart phone should have a good GPS app and know how to use it.

Gaia has a variety of different map layers, which you download ahead of time when you have Wi-Fi or cell signal.
Your phone can use the GPS when it is out of cell phone coverage.
As of April 2015, the new iPhone operating system allows you to use your GPS while you are in airplane mode, which is a big help with saving your battery.

Yes, the app does cost $20, which is a lot for an app.
But, it turns your smart phone into a $600 GPS receiver, which more than makes up for it. :-)

And, as mentioned above, the usual caveats apply: Smart phones do suck your battery, and generally have a less expensive GPS chip and antenna.

It's generally not a good idea to plan on recording a track for the entire day on your phone unless you have a serious external battery.

However, if you plan on using your phone as a back up to your map and compass, as in "Whoops, I got a little lost, I need to find my point location with my phone," having this app could seriously save your butt.

Here is a nice tutorial video on how to use GPS:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oi4aUEQj7vU

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