Do you GPS?

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Do you GPS?

#1

Post by Scuba » Mon Aug 01, 2016 7:42 pm

If so, what do you use?

Let me start by saying i ALWAYS carry paper maps and a compass, because when shit happens, it happens to me first.

I also sometimes use maprika, a good app for your smartphone which is REALLY great for us Texans as the LSHT maps for it are excellent.

My handheld GPS though is the Garmin Oregon 600. It is a touchscreen based GPS, weighs just under 7 ounces, is waterproof and fits in your hand, a pocket or on your pack strap. I chose the 600 vs the 650 because I dont need the camera the 650 has. I further chose the base model over the 600t because i refuse to pay for topo maps that you can get for free.

It uses US based GPS satellites AND Russian Glosnass satellites(up to 24 extra satellites) so finding your position should not be a problem.

I generally attach it to my pack shoulder strap and then secure it with a 15 inch dogbone connected to it and my pack.

Available for less than $300 find it at Garmin Oregon 600


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Re: Do you GPS?

#2

Post by sarge » Mon Aug 01, 2016 9:11 pm

I'm going to go with Maprika and my phone. I'm on the LST 99% of the time and the rest of the time I can interpolate the position on Maprika with the paper map.

BTW, I'm using that paper from iGage you posted about a few months ago.
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Re: Do you GPS?

#3

Post by BillyBob66 » Tue Aug 02, 2016 12:35 pm

Well, for me of course, map and compass 1st, but heck yes I use GPS, they can be incredible conveniences and much faster than using map and compass to figure out exactly where you are on the map, especially if obvious landmarks are lacking.

I probably mainly use map and compass these days just so I will not loose that skill, and more map itself than compass. So that when my GPS fails me- which I have had happen but not in a while - I'll be fine going back to the old way. Plus I have been trying to teach this to my Gradkids. I don't want them to be like someone who needs a calculator to do basic arithmetic instead of being able to do basic stuff in their heads. But even when teaching them map/compass basics, the GPS with topo map on the screen has turned into a wonderful teaching device. First we do our best ( assuming not in a hurry ) to figure out which drainage we are in or ridge we are on by orienting the paper map using the compass for a quick point north and then trying to see if our terrain seems to match up with where we think we are on the map. Then we check the GPS/Topo screen to see if we did it right. Quick reinforcement and confirmation, or not. It is a lot of fun for me and I hope it is for the grand kids.

Usually these days, my iHikeGPS iPhone app gets used in place of my dedicated GPS. It's just easier to use, and I am probably going to have my phone with me anyway. But on a multi-day hike, replacement battery concerns might be easier solved with my GPS and some extra small batteries. I enjoy hiking, including off trail, anyway, but adding in map/compass/GPS games just adds to the fun.

Last trip out with the GKs before it got too dang hot, we went to a Geocache that we had put at an abandoned cemetery in the middle of the woods. We had not been back as a group for several years, after we placed it maybe 5 years ago(though I had been once or twice by myself). A couple of folks a year have found this Geocache, although it has been as long as 2 years between finds. Here is the page, but I have to log in to see the map:
https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC2JKYD_old-souls You may have to log in (free) to see the map.

Anyway, we set a compass course straight through the woods for maybe a mile or so before we intersected a trail. We counted ridges ( or maybe bottoms) that we expected to cross. Then when we were several bottoms in, and starting to wonder how well we had stayed on course, I had the boys put the oriented map on the ground and figure out where we actually were, and if we were still on course. And after we all gave it our best shot, we pulled out the phone and confirmed that we were down in the correct drainage. We were still very close to being on our original course at that time, so we proceeded on. Previously, on any given hie there would be no confirmation of correct map/compass use until we got to some obvious land mark or where we were going. But using the GPS this way gives multiple confirmations per trip, and I think this will increase the boys confidence that they know what they are doing. And if we are wrong( really not often) we can stop and look at the map and terrain again and figure out right then what we did wrong. Learn by doing until all is 2nd nature is the way I figure it.

Have not used it much yet, but a couple of months ago I bought a Delorme Inreach Explorer ( big sale ) GPS combined with the ability to send and receive text through the GPS satellites. The GPS on it does not seem all that useful so far(although it also synchs with an iPhone GPS app which might prove just fine), but it seems to do a fine job of sending/receiving texts in case I ever really get lost and/or hurt. It even has an emergency button for contacting Search and rescue to send in the cavalry. I'm hoping it will help my wife relax about some of my off trail adventures, plus in case I get the GKs in over their heads, and then something happens to me on the hike, they can text for help of even call the SAR folks, at a high cost no doubt.
Last edited by BillyBob66 on Thu Aug 04, 2016 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Do you GPS?

#4

Post by Mophead » Tue Aug 02, 2016 5:19 pm

Used to use a garmin etrex 10. It was surprisingly nice. even though it was one of the base models it could support gpx and other basic formats without annoying conversions and even .shp files and stuff from GIS. The GIS stuff might have needed some conversion magic, my wife uses it all the time at work and made me some really nice maps.

Battery life was so terrible I started questioning why I even brought it if my "backup" was more reliable. Map and compass don't require batteries, work in dense cloud coverage, and are lighter.

That being said, my stomping ground here in the eastern us is easily navigated by reading topography and ones surroundings. If I were out in the PNW where there is nothing but Douglas fir as far as the eye can see, then I wouldn't pass up the convenience and ease of a GPS.

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Re: Do you GPS?

#5

Post by brianb2 » Wed Aug 10, 2016 9:29 pm

I have to say my map and compass skills are getting rusty because the GPS has become so handy. I just use an app on my iPhone and bring a printed map for areas that aren't familiar. I know many of you will disapprove but that's how it's evolving for me.




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Re: Do you GPS?

#6

Post by Scuba » Wed Aug 10, 2016 10:14 pm

brianb2 wrote:I have to say my map and compass skills are getting rusty because the GPS has become so handy. I just use an app on my iPhone and bring a printed map for areas that aren't familiar. I know many of you will disapprove but that's how it's evolving for me.




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Re: Do you GPS?

#7

Post by sarge » Thu Aug 11, 2016 7:21 am

This just popped up in one of the news sites I visit:
What happened to the Chretiens is so common in some places that it has a name. The park rangers at Death Valley National Park in California call it “death by GPS.” It describes what happens when your GPS fails you, not by being wrong, exactly, but often by being too right. It does such a good job of computing the most direct route from Point A to Point B that it takes you down roads which barely exist, or were used at one time and abandoned, or are not suitable for your car, or which require all kinds of local knowledge that would make you aware that making that turn is bad news.
http://arstechnica.com/cars/2016/05/death-by-gps/
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Re: Do you GPS?

#8

Post by brianb2 » Thu Aug 11, 2016 8:38 am

Scuba wrote: Consider yourself officially scolded!
Noted. Hopefully I don't come back to you guys with a story about a dead phone and a trip gone bad that could have been avoided.


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Re: Do you GPS?

#9

Post by Polkster13 » Thu Aug 11, 2016 8:51 am

Read the article (very long) but well worth the read. It amazes me the lack of common sense that some people have and the lack of infallibility that people put into technology these days. It also reminds me of people who believe anything they see on the Internet. If it is printed, then it must be true.

I think a lot of this has to do with our education system, especially in the United States. We are teaching our kids how to take tests and pass them, not common sense and life skills. I remember when in school we were not allowed to use a calculator. You had to show you could work the equation without it before they would allow you to use it to speed up your work later on. I think the same thing is true with using GPS.

People don't know how to use a map and compass so they use the GPS as a crutch to find where they want to go. However, they don't take the time to verify that it is actually taking them to where they want to go and they trust the GPS implicitly not realizing that the GPS may be using incorrect or out-dated information to guide them.

I personally use SIRI a lot to get me to places where I have not been before when I am driving. In the past it has led me to incorrect locations before, which can be very frustrating. I have found that if it cannot find the exact spot, it will lead you to the middle of the Zip Code area. I have learned the hard way to always double check and make sure it is taking me to where I actually want to go and that the route is the route I actually want to take.

I have a GPS that I take hiking with me but I only use it to track my progress. It is a Garmin Oregon 450T. I especially like it while kayaking as it tells me how far I have paddled. I can also download my tracks to my computer to see my actual routes taken each day.

But for actual navigation in the backcountry, I use a topo map of the area and compass. Just call me old school but I am not going to trust my life to a GPS unit for navigation when I am in the backcountry.

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Re: Do you GPS?

#10

Post by BillyBob66 » Thu Aug 11, 2016 4:20 pm

brianb2 wrote:
Scuba wrote: Consider yourself officially scolded!
Noted. Hopefully I don't come back to you guys with a story about a dead phone and a trip gone bad that could have been avoided.


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I was- and still am to some extent- gung ho GPS. But my enthusiasm has been tempered somewhat by experiencing some form of GPS failure over several years. So I have personal experience with more problems than I would have thought were likely in the last 10 years. I always have said ( for example, to my Grandsons when trying to get them to see the value in learning or maintaining old skills) "hey, a GPS is just a computer that picks up signals from space, right? Any one here ever had unexpected trouble with computers? Anyone dropped and broken a machine? Any one had batteries go dead quicker than expected?". But that was kind of theoretical, more in the line of saying that sooner or later, if you use this thing enough, something is going to go wrong. But who would have thunk that I could have had 1/2 dozen personal examples in just 10 years or less?

After a trip I "guided"- so to speak- to the Wind River Mountains back in 06 ( actually, that was also my 1st hammock trip! HHSS, first time used! ), when we got back, one guy gave me my 1st GPS. Not because we had trouble navigating, but just as a "thank you". Boy, was I thrilled with the little Garmin. I didn't even have any topo maps on it. But just being able to go to a way point or type in some coordinates from a map or Geocache seemed like the most wonderful thing in the world. But then,

1: it probably wasn't too long to where I was down in some deep, heavily wooded canyons and could not get signals. ( probably rarely happens anymore with my newer GPS or my phone's GPS app)
2: Got caught with batteries running out sooner than expected.
3: I kid you not, I am hiking along one day following my GPS's directions, and I look down and see the blue screen of death, like on a windows computer! This starts happening fairly often. I actually figure out I can fix it (at least each time I tried, so far) in the field by removing the batteries and putting them back in. But whatever route I was following was gone and have to start over. Let's just say by this point, any thoughts that I could rely on this GPS to in a place where I otherwise would really need a map and compass(or more than one in a group in case one map or compass s lost or broken. Hey, cheap and light so each person can have one) was fading as rapidly as my screen would sometimes do.

But then, after a couple of years with that one, I got a Delorme PN-20(have a PN-60 now, but mostly use my phone), with color topo and aerial maps, better signal reception, waterproof and drop resistant: WhoHooo! It was the bomb! Then maybe a year or 2 later, I had my step son and grandson in the Sipsey Wilderness. My son has not shown much appreciation for the glories of off trail travel, appears to fear getting lost(I have a couple of friends like that also, and all are resistant to learning map and compass, seem to think it is too hard or too much work). So we were camped at a waterfall that a trail had taken us to. Just for fun, I wanted to return via a shorter route that would require bushwhacking for maybe 3/4 mile through the thick woods/brush to an abandoned road, which would then take us quickly back to our truck. I asked if they were up for that adventure, and they said OK. I had already put several waypoints in at home using the computer, and we set out. I was just following the GPS, but put the boys out front and told them to stay on the ridge, don't loose altitude.

Well, the bushwhacking turned out to be a bitch, some of the worst ever. I could have used a machete. I guess we must of ended up slightly off of the ridge. Periodically, the boys would look back to ask which way, and I would point them in the way the GPS said. ( actually, I'm sure that is how we ended up off the ridge a bit and a bit east of our original route). It was hard traveling. Next thing I know, my step son is asking "are we supposed to go down there?". After a couple of hundred feet elevation gain ( as expected) suddenly we have a big canyon in our path and must descend if we are to keep following the GPS pointer to the planned waypoint. That is not how it was supposed to be, we were supposed to simply follow that ridge up a couple of hundred feet elevation to the road, no downhill expected, no big drainage to drop into and cross. Let me add that from the moment we left camp, the GPS would point one way, then a few yards in that direction it would point another way by 30 degrees or so. Constantly making slight changes in direction, back and forth. And I trusted it, and told folks "go this way".

In answer to the question "are we going down there" I said "not supposed to, here, let's pullout the map" an tried to get my son to figure out where we were on the map. I could do it easily but I wanted him to learn. But let's just say I sensed unhappiness, maybe he did not trust me and was afraid I had gotten us lost. I did not want that responsibility, so I just said lets go back, retracing back to the camp and getting down to the trail from there. So we did. Back home, looking at the GPS track, I could see we were not really that far off from our course. and all we needed to do was instead of crossing that drainage, was turn left/NW and follow it, which was the ridge we were supposed to stay on. I hated that off trail adventure was a bad one. I have had the grand sons out many times since for map and compass training, but have not been able to do that for my step son. Now, why did that GPS point us in the wrong direction, repeatedly? I'll never know. It has never done it since. I do know that would not have happened just following my map and compass, or even just the topo map by itself.

Plus, I have had, after a couple of hours hiking, my phone's iHike GPS app give me a slightly wrong location once or twice now. Because I know the area well, I have been able to see where it said I was on the map, and where I was pretty sure I actually was, and call BS. I ended up doing a hard reboot on my phone, and sure enough then it showed me to be precisely where I actually was. Previously, I was off by one or maybe two ridges. So what's up with that? I would not have known it was off if I had not been able to either read the terrain or know where I was.

Am I the only one? ( EDIT: I mean, am I the only one who has ever had trouble with a GPS in the field)
Last edited by BillyBob66 on Thu Aug 11, 2016 9:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Do you GPS?

#11

Post by brianb2 » Thu Aug 11, 2016 6:21 pm

Quick side note. Family and I have been in Costa Rica the last 8 days. Rented a jeep and have been staying in a farm house we found on Airbnb and doing day trips from there. In a hotel for the last couple of days, but GPS on my phone has been awesome. Between Google maps, Caltopo.com, and some good old research I had a full set of waypoints mapped out. The new google maps offline download feature has made getting around pretty easy. One place had wrong info but a Skype call over wifi cleared it up. We've been to some very remote places and I've been surprised how many dirt roads we needed to take showed up on gmaps. Different than backcountry travel, but dang it's made getting around convenient. I think of it as similar to starting a fire with a lighter. It's good when it's good, but when it's not you need to know how to deal. Similar to my normal approach of visiting new areas, I had a map in the glove compartment in case the phone crapped out, but luck was with us. So I'm pretty positive on gps at the moment.


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Re: Do you GPS?

#12

Post by BillyBob66 » Thu Aug 11, 2016 9:39 pm

brianb2 wrote:Quick side note. Family and I have been in Costa Rica the last 8 days. Rented a jeep and have been staying in a farm house we found on Airbnb and doing day trips from there. In a hotel for the last couple of days, but GPS on my phone has been awesome. Between Google maps, Caltopo.com, and some good old research I had a full set of waypoints mapped out. The new google maps offline download feature has made getting around pretty easy. One place had wrong info but a Skype call over wifi cleared it up. We've been to some very remote places and I've been surprised how many dirt roads we needed to take showed up on gmaps. Different than backcountry travel, but dang it's made getting around convenient. I think of it as similar to starting a fire with a lighter. It's good when it's good, but when it's not you need to know how to deal. Similar to my normal approach of visiting new areas, I had a map in the glove compartment in case the phone crapped out, but luck was with us. So I'm pretty positive on gps at the moment.


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Yeah, I'm pretty addicted to using Gmaps when on the road, hard to beat. You can add waypoints before hand? Nice, I need to find out about that.

I read that long article on Death by GPS. Does make me wonder about what changes might be taking place in our brains. I still work with topo map/compass off road enough to keep sharp, but I have not done much road map in a while. I have not had any GPS issues with road travel like I have in the woods.
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Re: Do you GPS?

#13

Post by BillyBob66 » Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:13 pm

Polkster13 wrote:Read the article (very long) but well worth the read. It amazes me the lack of common sense that some people have and the lack of infallibility that people put into technology these days. It also reminds me of people who believe anything they see on the Internet. If it is printed, then it must be true.

I think a lot of this has to do with our education system, especially in the United States. We are teaching our kids how to take tests and pass them, not common sense and life skills. I remember when in school we were not allowed to use a calculator. You had to show you could work the equation without it before they would allow you to use it to speed up your work later on. I think the same thing is true with using GPS.

People don't know how to use a map and compass so they use the GPS as a crutch to find where they want to go. However, they don't take the time to verify that it is actually taking them to where they want to go and they trust the GPS implicitly not realizing that the GPS may be using incorrect or out-dated information to guide them.

I personally use SIRI a lot to get me to places where I have not been before when I am driving. In the past it has led me to incorrect locations before, which can be very frustrating. I have found that if it cannot find the exact spot, it will lead you to the middle of the Zip Code area. I have learned the hard way to always double check and make sure it is taking me to where I actually want to go and that the route is the route I actually want to take.

I have a GPS that I take hiking with me but I only use it to track my progress. It is a Garmin Oregon 450T. I especially like it while kayaking as it tells me how far I have paddled. I can also download my tracks to my computer to see my actual routes taken each day.

But for actual navigation in the backcountry, I use a topo map of the area and compass. Just call me old school but I am not going to trust my life to a GPS unit for navigation when I am in the backcountry.
I guess I use the GPS roughly 1/2 of the time as the actual navigation tool, as opposed to just a training tool to confirm I am correct about where I think I am on the map. But what I do different ever since one pointed me wrong in the Sipsey Wilderness is, I pay close attention to the topo map on my phone, just to make sure I am crossing the terrain I expected to be crossing. Rather than just sort of blindly following the directional arrow, going in the direction it is telling me to go. I still follow that arrow, but keep a much closer eye on that topo map to see if where the arrow is taking me corresponds to where I expected to be on the map. It might only tell me wrong one out of 10 or 20 trips, (probably less all the time as tech improves) but I don't want to wander way off course even that often.

Though it takes longer to figure it out, I have never had a significant error during 30 years of map and compass use. Theoretically, large iron ore deposits could mess up my compass, but it has never happened to me yet. And even if it does, it still can not mess up the map which I can orient to the landscape. I often force myself to use the map primarily whenever I can, only using the compass But even when the GPS occasionally does me wrong, I will usually realize it fairly soon, and can always at that point figure out where I am with my back up map and compass. So far then, no big deal. And usually my GPS units or iPhone with iHikeGPS works with great speed and convenience, so I often enjoy those great benefits.
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Re: Do you GPS?

#14

Post by BillyBob66 » Fri Aug 12, 2016 12:00 am

Another thing I love is altimeters. I have a barometric altimeter on my watch, and my GPS of course calculate the altitude and may also have a barometric altimeter(usually more accurate). Any one ever navigate with altimeters, either alone or in combo with the other tools? Man it is fun, if the terrain is hilly enough, or better yet mountainous.

Of course, if you have a topo map on your GPS, it will show you exactly which contour line yo are on and where on that contour line you are, so altimeter may be some what redundant. Still, picture this in case you have not done this sort of thing(and just for fun your GPS is acting crazy, but your watch barometric barometer is working):

You are trying to meet up with your friends who are camped on a creek above a small unnamed lake at the 10,200 ft contour line a couple of miles NE from you, on the east side of Laturio mountain in WY. You are at 9400 feet, at the foot of Laturio's main S/SE ridge . You have a few options:

1: You can set a compass or GPS course straight to them. That will work. But you realize that will require climbing up to cross numerous ridges to immediately drop back down into brushy creek beds, cross them and then do it again about 1/2 dozen times. Plus, with map and compass, since GPS is on the blink, if you come to an obstacle,(probably will come to several) you will have to leave the compass course to get around the obstacle, then use your skills to get back onto course. If only there was a trail that ran straight to them.

2: You can follow the creek bed (and trail if there is one) along the eastern bottom of this mountain, and figure out exactly which point you should turn left/NW or west uphill along the correct drainage or ridge and ascend to your buddies camp.(remember, GPS batteries are dead, but your watch is charged by the sun). This will work fine, but you better be precise at picking where to turn up hill. One drainage to far or too soon and you will climb without finding them, and maybe not know which way you should turn. Been there, done that.

3: Or, you can get brave, forget the compass for now, set your altimeter at a known elevation for max accuracy, and just ascend Laturio's southern ridge tip to the NE until you come to the 10,200 ft elevation on your altimeter, which should put you very close to the 10,200 ft contour line on your map. Then, following the contour line as though it was a trail, holding very steady to the 10,200 ft elevation, just head in the general direction of your buddies camp. You will travel further than in a straight line, just like a trail, but you will avoid all of the ups and downs and most(maybe all) of the creek bed crossings. Just follow the contour line's elevation until, like a good trail or road, it leads you right into camp.

If the terrain is correct for this, it can be far easier than trying to follow a compass course through the thickly wooded terrain. Sometimes it is easier to just go the regular way. Either way it can be a lot of fun. It turns out that there are about a thousand trails on your topo map, which are named X feet, as in 9800 ft. Most any place on your map, especially in steep hills or mtns, will have a topo line running very close to it. Contour line navigation! Try it some time, for fun!
Rom8:21the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption23..but..we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit.. groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body

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brianb2
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Re: Do you GPS?

#15

Post by brianb2 » Fri Aug 12, 2016 3:59 am

So, back to the original question, for backcountry I use my phone and an app called MotionX-GPS. Interface could be better, but otherwise it's been great. I've heard Gaia is really good but I didn't want to pay $20 when I already had something that worked. A bunch of folks I know use Avenza, but you have to use PDF maps with GPX data.

I also use Caltopo.com to plan trips and print maps. You can load all your GPX data and share it with others. Handy.



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