GPS: What do you use, and why?

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CanadianSteve

 
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GPS: What do you use, and why?

by CanadianSteve » Sat Jan 10, 2009 5:15 am

Out of curiousity,

WHICH GPS do you use?
WHY did you chose that one over another?


I am looking into getting a GPS to map routes, especially those in thick forrested areas where the desirable path is hard to follow (such as on Vancouver Island). I also am an advid caver, and would be nice to map locations of entrances as they are easily lost.
I have been looking at the Garmin Geko 301, and the Garmin 60csx.

I would like functions such as barometric pressure, altimeter, electronic compass and obviously mapping functions with lots of waypoints.

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MoapaPk

 
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by MoapaPk » Sat Jan 10, 2009 12:41 pm

There are a lot of threads on this! Search GPS in the forums...

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The Chief

 
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by The Chief » Sat Jan 10, 2009 12:45 pm

GP WHAAAT??????

Learn your map & compass and become proficient at it. It will most certainly save your ass one day.

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woodsxc

 
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by woodsxc » Sat Jan 10, 2009 3:30 pm

The Chief wrote:GP WHAAAT??????

Learn your map & compass and become proficient at it. It will most certainly save your ass one day.


+1. Absolutely right Chief.

Save yourself some green too. Get a topo map, look over it before you leave, do a little bit of research, and you'll be fine.

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rhyang

 
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by rhyang » Sat Jan 10, 2009 4:40 pm

I have a geko 201 - nice and light. I really only use it for marking / following waypoints. I used a map & compass for years, and really resisted buying a GPS. Finally did though. I have a separate altimeter.

Thick forest and desert canyons are where a GPS is quite handy.

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Moni

 
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by Moni » Sat Jan 10, 2009 4:48 pm

GEKO 301: reasonably accurate, very small, no BS, has digital compass and barometric altimeter built in.

Always have a map and compass along as well. The maps on GPS are a joke - too small. Mainly use GPS in whiteouts, at night and in monotone terrain just to make sure I am where I think I am.

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MtnHermit

 
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by MtnHermit » Sat Jan 10, 2009 5:19 pm

The Chief wrote:GP WHAAAT??????

Learn your map & compass and become proficient at it. It will most certainly save your ass one day.
If, as he said, he's in heavy timber that paper map and compass is almost worthless. Nothing to sight on for triangulation. By comparison a GPS could spot him within 30-feet, if he has a good 24K map inside.

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woodsxc

 
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by woodsxc » Sat Jan 10, 2009 5:38 pm

MtnHermit wrote:
The Chief wrote:GP WHAAAT??????

Learn your map & compass and become proficient at it. It will most certainly save your ass one day.
If, as he said, he's in heavy timber that paper map and compass is almost worthless. Nothing to sight on for triangulation. By comparison a GPS could spot him within 30-feet, if he has a good 24K map inside.


That's why you do your homework before you go. Know what the conditions on the trail will be. Know the terrain. Google Earth is great for that. I've uses GPS units for some orienteering courses. The things were worthless in the trees. The course was a bunch of different checkpoints and the organizer would have us hit them in different sequences to mix things up. We did it with a map and compass in half the time it took with the GPS. Admittedly, the units could have been old and crappy, but I never leave home without a compass (there's an interesting story behind that involving my older brother and a friend, a day hike, the Green Mountains, snow, an SAR team, and an unplanned night out in the hills).

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Augie Medina

 
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by Augie Medina » Sat Jan 10, 2009 5:39 pm

MtnHermit wrote:
The Chief wrote:GP WHAAAT??????

Learn your map & compass and become proficient at it. It will most certainly save your ass one day.
If, as he said, he's in heavy timber that paper map and compass is almost worthless. Nothing to sight on for triangulation. By comparison a GPS could spot him within 30-feet, if he has a good 24K map inside.


Note that Chief said "learn" and "become proficient at." This means that presumably you have been tracking your topo as you wandered into the heavy timber. I agree you might have a problem if you just carry the map and compass with you and don't consult it from time to time.

But I agree with Moni that GPS can make life much easier in, for example, a whiteout situation.

My fundamental belief is that you should not rely on GPS if you don't at least have a sound fundamental grasp of using map and compass.

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MtnHermit

 
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Maps, maps, maps

by MtnHermit » Sat Jan 10, 2009 5:55 pm

CanadianSteve wrote:WHICH GPS do you use?
WHY did you chose that one over another?

The key to your question is maps as much as the GPS. I know nothing of GPS maps for Vancouver Island. I use the 24K Topos of Colorado made by Above the Timber, excellent. Like having the whole state of USGS 7.5-min Quads inside the GPS at all times.

Assuming, like the USA, that the raw data is available, you could make your own maps. Not easy but possible and likely free.

The 60CSx is probably the gold standard of GPS' but is now a bit old and clunky. I just got a Garmin Colorado 300 for some advanced features. Like:
- ability to load and view jpg photos
- the photos can be geo-referenced to waypoints
- In GPS screenshots, don't need a PC.
- multiple page profiles
- 3 times the screen resolution of the 60/76 or Vista, see table
- flexible text entry for waypoints w/ longer names

Image

Here's how I carry the CO for good reception and quick access.

Image Image

Fundamentally, I think a GPS is a great choice for heavily timbered Vancouver Island and your desire to mark caves with waypoints, but GPS maps are really the key.

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rhyang

 
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by rhyang » Sat Jan 10, 2009 6:43 pm

goldenhopper wrote:
woodsxc wrote:
The Chief wrote:GP WHAAAT??????

Learn your map & compass and become proficient at it. It will most certainly save your ass one day.


+1. Absolutely right Chief.

Save yourself some green too. Get a topo map, look over it before you leave, do a little bit of research, and you'll be fine.


+2

IMO the idea of using an electronic device to navigate seems contrary to the whole point of being in the wilderness.


For a long time I thought as you did. If you spend most of your time in the eastern sierra or southern california (and really most of the sierra) a GPS is mostly unnecessary. The terrain is usually open and landmarks easily sighted.

Mostly I set my waypoints and forget about them until I'm back home, plotting them on a map for later use.

But if you spend most of your time in the eastern sierra and / or southern california, then you probably don't know what the term 'thick forest' really means :) And then there are folks who just enjoy getting themselves lost .. hey, whatever floats your boat :P

And if you've ever spent time wandering up desert canyons, going into drainages, out of drainages, .. hey, which drainage are we in again ? Is this map correct ? Nope, it sure isn't .. then you know what I'm talking about. It's a more critical situation to know where you are and how to get out when there isn't any water except what you are carrying on your back and you can't see any landmarks. For map & compass navigation in those situations you really have to be careful.

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MtnHermit

 
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by MtnHermit » Sat Jan 10, 2009 6:58 pm

twoshuzz wrote:Hundreds of years of navi on the high seas in inclement weather dispel that theory.
You tell me.

I'll suggest that until the sky cleared such that the sun or the North Star appeared, those high seas navigators knew not where they were. All the compass did was provide North, but that alone did nothing to fix their position on a map.

They had only "dead reckoning" bearing and speed, nothing more. When the sky cleared then they could adjust the actual position. All of this assumed they had a accurate clock, no clock they were lost.

Getting back to land, the OP's Vancouver Island, no triangulation, no position. Fog, dark, heavy trees, no position fix is possible. Navigation is not the issue, the issue is where am I and can I get back to the cave. Provide a method in heavy timber for the OP to do that with your 15th Century tools.

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rhyang

 
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by rhyang » Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:15 pm

goldenhopper wrote:Rob, I think learning to navigate by "traditional methods" not only forces us to rely upon our wits, but allows us to further tap into a wilderness experience. Where do we draw the line? Some day I'm sure we'll be able to carry ultra lightweight portable satellite TV's with integrated DVR's so we don't miss our favorite shows. For me the less I have in the way of luxury items the more I enjoy getting away from civilization. I agree with you that this is a matter of personal preference and ones own comfort level, and I don’t think it’s wise to be recklessly unsafe, but I think too may people rely on technology for comfort and safety. This as The Chief suggested can also get you into trouble.


I agree with the spirit of your post, and the ideals you espouse. However, I am merely suggesting that the theory and practice sometimes diverge in ways you may not be aware of, and that having an additional tool in those situations is very handy.

Perhaps GPS's should be licensed -- buyers should be forced to take an orienteering class first ;)

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MtnHermit

 
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by MtnHermit » Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:56 pm

rhyang wrote:I agree with the spirit of your post, and the ideals you espouse. However, I am merely suggesting that the theory and practice sometimes diverge in ways you may not be aware of, and that having an additional tool in those situations is very handy.
That's the real issue, the people on this forum aren't going to get lost, it's the "James Kim's" of the world that ignore the closed sign's, ignore the ever deepening snow on the road and press on because their GPS shows a lodge, closed in winter BTW, ahead. Then they set off on foot through the woods, OMG!!!

Perhaps GPS's should be licensed -- buyers should be forced to take an orienteering class first ;)
While a noble idea, it's equivalent to licensing teenagers so they don't make babies. Yes, I saw your winky.

The modern GPS is an incredible navigation TOOL, but just a tool, not an end all be all. Subject to failure, subject to misuse.

Given the legions of untrained rookies in the real world, I believe the vast majority are better served with a GPS and maps than a compass and maps.

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kakakiw

 
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by kakakiw » Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:58 pm

One caveat about GPS, if there is a strong solar eruption, it could wipe out the satellites that provide the signals, and even power grids. It's happened before. And if just one battery gets weak or goes dead, your GPS isn't much more useful than a paper weight.
I carry a compass and map with me along with my GPS, ( a Garmin Etrex Legend C).

Here's the news release from NASA.
NASA-Funded Study Reveals Hazards of Severe Space Weather

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