Sparky’s Tip of the Week #4 – GPS Receivers
Sparky has decided to write his own outdoor column called “Sparky’s Tip of the Week”. He hopes you enjoy some of his insights.
GPS Receivers are high tech equipment commonly used in car, boats, cell phones and hand held units. The value of the GPS Receivers is to give real time location within 10 feet 95% of the time using a network of 24 orbiting satellite. In urban area, GPS units are usually very functional.
You can choose from many different models of GPS Receivers. They can be loaded with either road maps or topographical maps or both. If you are going off-trail, topographical maps are recommended.
Here is some common features on GPS Receivers
- Tracking waypoints & routes
- Built in memory
- Camera & video
- Water resistance
- Barometric altimeter
- Wireless communication
- Tracker/Satellite messaging units
- Adding additional maps
When choosing a GPS Receivers you must consider what your main purpose is; off-trail or road or both.
Sparky’s recommendations: If you have been reading Sparky’s recommendations, you know by now to stay away for all the bells & whistles. Get a unit that will do exactly what you want to do. That is to get you from point A to B and back again. Make sure it is loaded with road & topographical maps of where you want to go. Units are generally not preloaded with topographical maps. If you are a road hunter, you may not need topographical maps.
The best thing about GPS Receivers is you still need a map and compass. Yup! That’s right. If you batteries fail or you are unable to get a signal because of tree cover, sunspot interference or you are at the bottom of a canyon, what good are GPS Receivers? You are probably going to have to take a class to learn how to best use your GPS Receivers units.
Bottom line is if you like playing with new technology, get one of these units. If you want to find your way around the wood and make it back home, stick with the reliable analog baseplate compass. Take a map & compass class; it will be much more useful. For more info on compasses, see Sparky’s Tip of the Week #1.
Additional note: Many smart phones include GPS apps but these do not offer the same mapping and route planning capabilities as entry-level GPS Receivers.