Learn how to Select and Use a GPS


fitnessinf Expert Advice: How to Choose and Use a GPS Receiver - Handheld GPS device

As soon as revolutionary, GPS know-how is in every little thing from drones to canine collars now. Nonetheless, a handheld GPS receiver stays a precious out of doors device for hikers and different backcountry explorers. A GPS can provide you important details about the place you might be, the place you’ve been and the place you wish to go.

This text discusses selecting and utilizing handheld models for the outside. GPS models for car navigation and health monitoring will not be lined right here, nor are GPS-enabled satellite tv for pc messengers that supply navigation options.

This text doesn’t cowl cellphone apps and maps. Innovation in cellphone know-how is quickly mimicking conventional GPS handhelds. A devoted out of doors GPS unit, although, provides key benefits:

  • Far more rugged and water-proof
  • Discipline-replaceable batteries
  • Superior satellite tv for pc reception in distant locations
  • Strong options developed particularly for out of doors use

Don’t purchase a GPS receiver with the thought of ditching your map and compass. Discovering your approach out of the wilds isn’t one thing you may belief solely to battery-operated electronics. To study these basic navigational necessities, learn Learn how to Use a Compass and Learn how to Use a Topo Map.

Store handheld GPS receivers

GPS Shopping for Made Straightforward

fitnessinf Expert Advice: How to Choose and Use a GPS - GPS Buying Made Easy - two different handheld GPS devices held in hand

Should you discover exhaustive lists of GPS specs and options to be slightly daunting, you may simplify your determination by contemplating three key areas:

  1. Measurement of unit vs. dimension of display screen. As display screen dimension will increase, so does the scale and weight of a unit. Deciding the place you might be on the low-weight to large-screen spectrum is an effective first step.
  2. Interface choice: Should you can’t think about not having a contact display screen, your selections slender additional. For winter actions think about a unit solely managed by buttons as a result of it’s simpler to make use of whereas carrying gloves.
  3. Superior options: Dearer models supply options like a barometer, an digital compass and wi-fi transmission. If these capabilities are necessary to you, that additionally narrows your last selections.

Superior GPS Options

fitnessinf Expert Advice: How to Choose and Use a GPS - Advanced GPS Features - handheld GPS device in hand in use

All handheld GPS fashions do fundamental navigation. What you choose—and pay—largely is determined by which and the way most of the following incorporates a unit has:

Barometer/altimeter: Whereas all GPS receivers can let you know altitude based mostly on satellite tv for pc information, a unit with the barometer/altimeter function supplies extra correct elevation readings by additionally contemplating barometric information. This function additionally enables you to gauge climate developments.

Digital compass: All GPS receivers can let you know what path you’re going whilst you’re shifting. Should you get a unit with an digital compass, although, it would additionally let you know what path you’re going through whilst you’re standing nonetheless. That’s a giant comfort because it enables you to orient your self and plan your route at any relaxation cease.

Wi-fi information switch: This enables your GPS to speak with suitable (same-brand) GPS models. It supplies a fast and simple technique to share information like tracks, waypoints and routes with others.

Preloaded maps: All GPS models include a easy base map. Some models additionally embody full-fledged topo maps. Most models additionally settle for individually bought topo maps which are downloaded or offered on a CD or a microSD card. You’ll be able to handle all of your maps and plan journeys by connecting to your PC or Mac, then utilizing this system that the maker of your GPS unit supplies.

Third-party maps and software program: As a result of maps from GPS makers may be dear, you may search on-line and discover an ever-changing array of web sites which have cheap (or free) maps. Should you aren’t a tech wiz or choose assured merchandise, then keep on with maps and software program out of your GPS producer.

Reminiscence and waypoint totals: The extra you will have, the extra map and navigation information you may retailer. As well as, most models additionally allow you to broaden your reminiscence, often by way of a microSD card.

Except you are doing a thru-hike, virtually any unit you get can have sufficient inside reminiscence (and waypoint capability) to retailer detailed maps and key location information for a single journey. And it is easy to delete unneeded maps and waypoints as you go to unencumber reminiscence for one more journey or one other part of a thru-hike.

Geocaching options: Many models have geocaching capabilities that enable for paperless geocaching and managing your discovered caches. To be taught extra in regards to the exercise, learn Geocaching: Learn how to Get Began.

(Word: You don’t want to purchase a GPS receiver to attempt geocaching; cellphone apps work high-quality for that. Should you’re already a geocacher and need a GPS unit for backcountry navigation, then geocaching options are useful to have.)

Digital digital camera: Providing comparable high quality to a fundamental cellphone digital camera, it could actually additionally geotag images so you may see the place on the map you snapped every shot.

Two-way radio: Permits unit-to-unit calls so you may talk with close by mates within the backcountry and determine the place different members of your group are; you can even obtain NOAA weather-radio forecasts. Radio-equipped GPS models are particularly helpful for search-and-rescue groups.

Utilizing Your GPS

fitnessinf Expert Advice: How to Choose and Use a GPS - Using Your GPS - using your GPS device to navigate to a point

Even a easy GPS unit has a variety of settings and options. As a result of each unit’s operation varies, this text gained’t present step-by-step particulars. Learn the proprietor’s guide to familiarize your self with it. Then apply within the neighborhood or a park till you are comfy with how every little thing works.

Should you’d like further assist, you can even join a GPS navigation class at an fitnessinf retailer.

Although steps range, all GPS receivers do the next fundamental capabilities:

  1. Show place: A GPS tells you the place you might be by displaying your coordinates; it additionally exhibits your place on its base map or topo map.
  2. Document tracks: When monitoring is turned on, a GPS mechanically lays down digital bread crumbs, known as “observe factors,” at common intervals. You utilize these later to retrace your steps or to guage the trail you traveled.
  3. Navigate point-to-point: A GPS directs you by supplying you with the path and distance to a location, or “waypoint.” You’ll be able to pre-mark waypoints by coming into their coordinates at house. Within the discipline you may have the unit mark a waypoint at a spot you’d wish to return to, such because the trailhead or your campsite. A GPS unit supplies the bearing and distance “because the crow flies” to a waypoint. As a result of trails don’t comply with a straight line, the bearing adjustments as you hike. The space to journey additionally adjustments (lowering, until you’re heading the fallacious path) as you method your objective.
  4. Show journey information: This odometer-like operate tells you cumulative stats like how far you’ve come and the way excessive you’ve climbed.

GPS and your laptop: GPS models include a strong software program program that permits you to handle maps, plan routes, analyze journeys and extra. Make investments the time to be taught it and to apply utilizing all of its capabilities.

Setting Up Your GPS

fitnessinf Expert Advice: How to Choose and Use a GPS - Setting Up Your GPS - handheld gps unit in hand, adjusting position format menu

Earlier than-Journey Settings

So as to allow you to customise your unit’s capabilities, the setup menu provides what may be an awesome variety of choices. You may get began doing fundamental navigation with out worrying about most of those. The place format menu, which incorporates each place format and map datum, is one you need to arrange:

Place format (coordinates): Your GPS can show coordinates in dozens of techniques. You’ll be able to change this setting to whichever system you might be most comfy with at any time. When marking waypoints, although, you need to select the identical system as your e book, map, or different supply of location info. (Everytime you change this setting, the GPS will seamlessly convert your info to match the present setting.)

Map Datum: That is each obscure and necessary. The important thing thought is that the datum you set in your GPS should match your topographic map’s datum (discovered within the legend), or the datum of any path information or different supply of location info you might be utilizing. If it doesn’t, then place coordinates in your GPS will place some extent within the fallacious location in your map. Datum has to do with geographic modeling of the Earth on the time a map was produced. Word that this can mechanically fill in the identical information for the associated setting, “Map Spheroid,” which is ok.

Locking onto Satellites

“GPS” stands for “International Positioning System,” the worldwide community of satellites that broadcasts the indicators GPS unit receives. As a result of a lot of right now’s GPS receivers can even get indicators from Russian GLONASS satellites, they operate far more reliably than their predecessors, particularly in conditions like having a heavy tree cover overhead.

To facilitate preliminary satellite tv for pc calibration, merely go exterior, flip your GPS on and let it start looking out. Buying satellites after startup takes a couple of minutes. After that, it readily locates satellites as you journey.

Once you flip off the unit, satellites overhead proceed to maneuver. So your unit will at all times want a couple of minutes to reacquire satellites every time it’s turned again on. If it’s off for a very long time otherwise you journey an extended distance earlier than turning it on once more, acquisition takes a couple of minutes longer.

Should you’re below a dense tree cowl or in a slot canyon, indicators get blocked. When you attain some extent the place overhead sky isn’t obstructed, it takes a couple of minutes to recalibrate with satellites. Word that GPS indicators will not be impaired by cloud cowl, despite the fact that clouds block your view of the solar and moon.

Once you’re mountaineering, don’t block satellite tv for pc indicators by stashing your GPS deep inside a giant pocket or on the backside of your pack. Carrying the unit in your hand or a strap pocket will work high-quality.

Word: GPS models can show sign power (accuracy) in a number of methods, together with an in depth satellite tv for pc web page, a collection of bars or a toes of accuracy spec. In case your GPS enables you to customise fields in your compass, journey laptop and map pages, you need to add a sign power discipline. Keeping track of that may enable you resolve how a lot to belief the GPS when exact navigation is required.

Startup Routine

Develop steps to comply with every time you’re at a trailhead. The routine will range with the options of your GPS unit, nevertheless it ought to embody most of the following:

  1. Purchase satellites
  2. Reset journey information
  3. Clear observe log
  4. Set a waypoint on the trailhead
  5. Calibrate compass
  6. Calibrate barometer/altimeter

Calibration directions for the compass and barometer/altimeter can sometimes be discovered within the unit itself.

GPS Battery Suggestions

fitnessinf Expert Advice: How to Choose and Use a GPS - GPS Battery Tips: dimming the backlight on your GPS device

  • Rechargeables are nice for day hikes.
  • For in a single day journeys, long-life lithium batteries are your finest wager.
  • Be certain batteries are contemporary earlier than you begin.
  • All the time carry spares.
  • Dimming your backlight extends battery life.
  • Switching to a brief display screen timeout setting additionally helps protect batteries.


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