GPS

JaseTheAce

Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2014
Messages
12
Hey all!
I'm trying to decide if I want to buy a GPS or use an app on my iPhone. I'm open for suggestions for both.
I'm thinking a Garmin etrex 20 if I go with a GPS.
 

pstm13

Auribus Teneo Lupum
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Joined
Dec 27, 2012
Messages
570
This question comes up a lot. I try and save weight and money so I just go with my phone and take a battery pack with me if it is more than a couple of days. However, I don't have it on very much. If you want to track your path for more than a day hike then a gps unit may be the way to go.
 

Blake Merrell

Life Elevated - Rising Higher
Joined
Feb 25, 2013
Messages
596
I have been using my phone as my dedicated GPS lately, and it has been working out really well. I have a Goal Zero and some extra batteries to swap out when needed. Not sure a phone saves weight in the backcountry cuz I need to bring all the stuff to keep it charged, BUT i do like being able to download multiple topo and satellite imagery maps.
 

JaseTheAce

Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2014
Messages
12
For the phone users, what app are you using? I had the backpacker app but it wasn't very intuative.
 

Wyatt Carson

Desert Vagabond
Joined
Apr 15, 2015
Messages
307
I don't know enough about phone GPS accuracy to talk but girlfriend's very old Garmin Legend C is super accurate and has a nice moving map (1:100,000) but still not bad. She runs that but I still prefer a good paper map and K&R Sherpa compass. I can get very accurate fixes with that. We do find using them together works well at times. They sort of compliment each other. My compass still saved the day when her GPS didn't get satellite lock once on a long off trail traverse in rugged country.
 

Nick

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Messages
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pstm13

Auribus Teneo Lupum
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Joined
Dec 27, 2012
Messages
570
I wanted to post all those links but was feeling lazy.
 

Wyatt Carson

Desert Vagabond
Joined
Apr 15, 2015
Messages
307
Maybe I missed it but are there still issues with getting a dependable signal in the back country? Several years ago that was very undependable (in the many places were I hike) so much that depending on a phone for navigation would not have been wise or useful. Once in a while I could get a signal in some very strange place but it was rare. I'm assuming you still need a cell tower signal for this. GPS was 99.9% more dependable in my experience but as I said that was several years ago. Are they okay now?
 

Nick

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Joined
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Maybe I missed it but are there still issues with getting a dependable signal in the back country? Several years ago that was very undependable (in the many places were I hike) so much that depending on a phone for navigation would not have been wise or useful. Once in a while I could get a signal in some very strange place but it was rare. I'm assuming you still need a cell tower signal for this. GPS was 99.9% more dependable in my experience but as I said that was several years ago. Are they okay now?

You don't need a cell signal at all. On modern smartphones, it's 100% GPS powered in the absence of cell towers. Cache topo maps and sat layers onto your phone before you leave and then you're all set.
 

Wyatt Carson

Desert Vagabond
Joined
Apr 15, 2015
Messages
307
You don't need a cell signal at all. On modern smartphones, it's 100% GPS powered in the absence of cell towers. Cache topo maps and sat layers onto your phone before you leave and then you're all set.

Thanks for that info. I've not used a phone like that. That makes them all the more appealing.
 

DrNed

The mountains are calling and I must go
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Joined
Mar 31, 2013
Messages
1,016
MotionX is the GPS app I use and couldn't be happier. Just download your map onto your device
before going - I use the CalTopo map (MotionX gives you lots of options on which map to use).
I use my smartphone for GPS, camera and audiobooks to fall asleep to. For me it's a must have
tool.

If you use it to track your hikes for more than a day you'll need an additional power source. I've got a
Goal Zero solar charger I really like and have used for several years. I just bought an
Ankler Astro E7 battery pack that I'm taking on my upcoming trip - it's supposed to charge iPhone 6
10 times.
 

Nick

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Joined
Aug 9, 2007
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That's a huge battery pack, Ned! I have a couple of smaller ones but I never use them. I don't use tracking so my iPhone 6 Plus will go for probably 5-6 days(?) just using it to navigate throughout the day.

As for apps, I like Gaia GPS.
 

DrNed

The mountains are calling and I must go
.
Joined
Mar 31, 2013
Messages
1,016
That's a huge battery pack, Ned!
Go big or go home! ;)

Seriously though, with everything I use my phone for (see above)
I get about a days worth out of a 100% charge. My inability to get
a solar charge on my spring break trip convinced me I wanted
independent battery source - so I just went with the biggest one
I could find.

I'll check out Gaia.
 

Vegan.Hiker

Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2014
Messages
2,094
I've had good luck with Gaia too. The $20 for the pro version has been a good investment.
 

Bob

Trailmaster
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Mar 3, 2013
Messages
2,796
Personally I use a Garmin 62s, If you are using your phone the battery is the issue. I got a RAVpower storage bank, for work, from Amazon ($20). It holds 10400 so can charge a lot.. only weighs 8 oz. Appears to be good...
 

Wyatt Carson

Desert Vagabond
Joined
Apr 15, 2015
Messages
307
Power was one of the big reasons we chose the Garmin Legend C. Two alkaline AA batteries last 36 hours, far longer than the other units at that time. We just take an extra set of AA's for backup. The only downside to the Legend C was the 24mb storage. It was the year before SD cards for Garmin so I have to load the maps specifically for each trip and it will only hold about 100 maps. Still, I got it for a very steep discount and it really works and keeps on working. I don't like buying the latest gadget every three weeks so we will hang onto this unit until the wheels fly off...
 

redcrowarts

New Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2015
Messages
2
MotionX is the GPS app I use and couldn't be happier. Just download your map onto your device
before going - I use the CalTopo map (MotionX gives you lots of options on which map to use).
I use my smartphone for GPS, camera and audiobooks to fall asleep to. For me it's a must have
tool.

If you use it to track your hikes for more than a day you'll need an additional power source. I've got a
Goal Zero solar charger I really like and have used for several years. I just bought an
Ankler Astro E7 battery pack that I'm taking on my upcoming trip - it's supposed to charge iPhone 6
10 times.

DrNed thanks for the good link for that battery pack. Looks like it could be an answer to my hiking and phone GPS issues. A solar didn't work for me on backcountry hikes.

I've also considered a GPS watch thinking a good one would be the ticket for looking at my tracking. But all of them have huge interfaces and not girl friendly on a small wrist


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Dustin Gent

Member
Joined
Jun 22, 2015
Messages
150
I personally would go with a dedicated GPS unit, as they are water/shock proof (more durable), better battery life (run on AA batteries) and better service (GLONASS receiver - connects to Russian satellites as well!), but I have friends that use their phones as GPS, but they are on trails :)
 

andyjaggy

Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2013
Messages
937
I don't have a smart phone so it was a no brainer for me, however I see people barely getting a day of use with their phone, so it would be a dedicated GPS for me anyway. Any weight savings would be canceled out with having to bring extra batteries and a solar charger. I can get two pretty solid days of all day tracking with my Garmin. If I need more I just "borrow" other batteries from my headlamp.
 
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