GPS devices for dummies

Discussion in 'Gear, Equipment and Clothing' started by Jamma, Oct 20, 2017.

  1. Jamma

    Jamma New Member

    I'm interested in whether GPS would be a good replacement for paper maps for longer walks, you know, less fiddling about, but there are so many different ones around that I don't know where to start.

    Are there any walking specific GPS devices or can you just buy any one you like and use it?

    Can anyone recommend a good starter GPS for walking please.

    Than you.
  2. Andy_R

    Andy_R Of dubious origin.... Staff Member

    The problem with relying on GPS, is batteries! Paper maps don't have batteries. Use a GPS for backup, but don't rely on them as your primary navigation aid.
  3. Spinney

    Spinney Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Under the edge
    Paper maps disintegrate in the rain if you forget your map case.
    classic33 likes this.
  4. Andy_R

    Andy_R Of dubious origin.... Staff Member

    Buy weatherproof maps, not paper. I would explain how I learned the lesson, but like @Spinney, DAMHIKT.....

    (you can also mark your location with a sharpie on a weatherproof map, and erase it with nail varnish remover/meths/isopropanol)
  5. TVC

    TVC Active Member Staff Member

    I always use paper maps, for me reading a map is a pleasure and a skill I appreciate. I have a Garmin GPS that I keep for emergencies. I've only needed it once when in fairly featureless terrain and I lost track of my progress and couldn't decide which path intersection I was on (there weren't even any distant features to take bearings off). If I got the decision wrong then my turning would have taken me to the wrong side of a gully and would mean a long walk of shame back to the correct path, so I whipped out the garmin to assist. :shy:
    Spinney likes this.
  6. classic33

    classic33 Regular Member

    The problem with GPS sytems, as already said start with their reliance on batteries. But also on the GPS network staying free to use. In the main we're reliant on a joint system, over which one country can decide to pull the plug.

    Doubts/questions have been raised, with very few answers being given, as to whether the current handsets, operating on the US satellite network, will be compatable with the European Galileo system. Will two be required, one for each or will you have to make your choice when buying.
  7. Andy_R

    Andy_R Of dubious origin.... Staff Member

    I believe you'll find pretty much all modern smart phones and stand-alone gpsr units are already using 2 systems - GPS(American) and GLONASS(Russian). (My elderly Galaxy S4 uses both systems)

    Indeed, the Galaxy S8, the iPhone8, and the iPhoneX are all ready to use the Galileo System, along with GPS and GLONASS
    Shaun and TVC like this.
  8. classic33

    classic33 Regular Member

    Galileo has been set back, although some satellites are functioning. It's not expected to be a fully functioning system until at least 2020. It isn't expected to be compatible with the other systems already up and running. Possibly requiring it's own receiver. But so far few details have been released of the full system.
  9. Andy_R

    Andy_R Of dubious origin.... Staff Member

    18 of the 30 satellites are in place and operational now. GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo all have standardised features that allow the systems to inter-operate and allow receiver units to be developed that can utilise all 3 systems.
  10. Spokey Dokey

    Spokey Dokey Regular Member

    My views on this:

    Small screen GPS mapping in the mountains is generally a waste of space - using a 'proper' map allows you to reference more features quickly which gives you a far better sense of location.

    Similarly unless a route has been accurately input into the unit with a sufficient number of waypoints to cater for the avoidance of eg incut gullies they can be lethal in low visibility conditions.

    I use a simple Garmin eTrex mainly to determine spot positions if needed in claggy weather which I then reference to the map and occasionally to determine the bearing to a specific location (notwithstanding the previous comment re incut gullies etc).

    One of the advantages (and fun) of using traditional maps is the planning of a route. I'd find it almost impossible to determine the best route re the likely prevailing wind conditions on the day and viable emergency descent routes and similarly dangerous descent routes using a GPS unit. With a map all this, and much more, is possible.
    classic33, Spinney and oldfatfool like this.
  11. oldfatfool

    oldfatfool Regular Member

    I keep mulling over a gps but figure the bundled mapping at 1:50 000 is pretty dismal and the cost of the unit and 1:25 000 mapping prohibative, and then take into account screen size and the cost of laminated maps, which make planning so easy and enjoyable.....
    Spinney likes this.
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