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GPS Recommendations...

Postby hilo21 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 9:40 am

Hey,

I'm looking to purchase a GPS system for my hikes, does anyone have any recommendations. I was looking at SPOT, is it good or is there something better out there?

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Re: GPS Recommendations...

Postby GregMiller » Tue Jun 25, 2013 9:51 am

Well, what are you looking to do with it? Are you looking for something to navigate with (like a Garmen eTrex), or a satellite beacon (like a SPOT or Delorme inReach)?
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Re: GPS Recommendations...

Postby hilo21 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 10:10 am

Ideally, both, but more for tracking if me or someone I'm with gets in a sticky situation.

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Re: GPS Recommendations...

Postby GregMiller » Tue Jun 25, 2013 11:21 am

In that case, here's some previous thoughts of mine on the subject:

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=37624&hilit=delorme+inreach#p452380

Basically, the Delorme inReach uses the better tech, if you're looking for something to allow tracking and sending/receiving messages. Plus, you can pair it with your phone, and your phone uses the gps receiver on the inreach, and you can use their app to download maps, and it's served me decently well as a GPS system. Not great for navigation, but good enough for the occasional "where are we now" that you then use to look at a paper map.

Note - while the SPOT and inReach are good for tracking, and are decently reliable in case of emergency (inreach moreso than spot), if you're looking for something that will get you found when you push the button, go for a PLB. Do note that they don't typically allow tracking. Just something to think about.
Still Here
been scared and battered. My hopes the wind done scattered. Snow has friz me, Sun has baked me,
Looks like between 'em they done Tried to make me
Stop laughin', stop lovin', stop livin'-- But I don't care! I'm still here!
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Re: GPS Recommendations...

Postby CO Native » Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:06 pm

The inReach has one big advantage over the SPOT or a PLB though. That's the two way custom messages. With most SPOT models and all PLBs you can send an emergency request for help but cannot provide any additional information to the rescuers. Are they helping because you sprained an ankle and can't hike out on your own, or did a camp stove explode and several people are in dire need of evac to a hospital? One type of spot can be paired with another device to allow for a custom outgoing message that can greatly help with a rescue response. However two way communication can add a lot more, letting you know help is on the way and asking pertinent questions. The price tag on the inReach is brutal though especially when you factor in the usage charges. The big advantage of a PLB is that there are no annual fees to pay after the purchase price.

To clarify again, these are all rescue beacons of one sort or another. Not GPS units. I don't think any of these will actually tell you your coordinates, though they will send them to people at home.
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Re: GPS Recommendations...

Postby GregMiller » Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:43 pm

CO Native wrote:I don't think any of these will actually tell you your coordinates, though they will send them to people at home.


Directly, no, the inReach won't, but when paired with a smartphone it will (but then that's another device with a battery to charge, and innumerable ways to fail, so not something to rely on, just more of a bonus).

As far as plans, the $9.95 a month "Safety" plan doesn't look that bad, although it's pretty limited.
Still Here
been scared and battered. My hopes the wind done scattered. Snow has friz me, Sun has baked me,
Looks like between 'em they done Tried to make me
Stop laughin', stop lovin', stop livin'-- But I don't care! I'm still here!
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Re: GPS Recommendations...

Postby hilo21 » Sat Jun 29, 2013 4:18 pm

Thanks guys, gave me a lot to think about, very helpful!

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Re: GPS Recommendations...

Postby jdorje » Sat Jun 29, 2013 5:05 pm

What I would consider to be a GPS is a device that does three things:
* Reads satellite pulses to determine your current location (technically this is "the GPS").
* Displays this location with a little map on a screen.
* Allows you to place/record/import waypoints, tracks, and routes.

If you have a smartphone, use that as your GPS. Enough said. Unless you have downright bad battery life on your phone, it's a lot cheaper to get a backup battery than to buy a separate GPS device.

Tools for communicating your position to others are a separate issue, IMO. And if you're in Colorado or the US in general, text messages may be as reliable as SPOT in some areas. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=bg.angelov.send.my.location .
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Re: GPS Recommendations...

Postby GregMiller » Tue Jul 02, 2013 4:47 pm

I guess there's another player in the spot/inreach market:
http://www.yellowbrick-tracking.com/?lang=en
Looks like a much higher upfront cost, but you get slightly cheaper plan options, and you're not locked in a contract.
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Looks like between 'em they done Tried to make me
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Re: GPS Recommendations...

Postby zinj » Tue Jul 02, 2013 5:58 pm

I had the same question - was looking at options until I learned that my iphone (4) can do this. Bought a little app and will use next week.

NOTE - this will not provide a lifeline/phone signal by way of satellite, but apparently it can plot my location while I'm at zero bars with periodic blips to the satellites.


This serves me fine since I wanted a record of my route rather than an active real-time map. I'm still old-school on orienteering and use paper and compass -- I just wanted an accurate plot to look at after the fact to see what I did and share with others
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Re: GPS Recommendations...

Postby smoove » Tue Jul 02, 2013 6:05 pm

jdorje wrote:If you have a smartphone, use that as your GPS. Enough said. Unless you have downright bad battery life on your phone, it's a lot cheaper to get a backup battery than to buy a separate GPS device.


- There's no way a phone battery would make it all the way through a really long day out with one of those apps running--especially if you check it multiple times throughout the day. And it would get drained much, much faster on a winter hike. I like to have my phone as charged as possible for emergencies (just in case I have a signal).

- A good GPS unit is highly water-resistant and far more durable in general than a smart phone.

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Re: GPS Recommendations...

Postby zinj » Tue Jul 02, 2013 6:57 pm

Yeah - battery issues are a concern. My ordinary (free) imapmyride app wouldn't last and that's enen ON network.

What I'm curious to find out is if the signal interval can be adjusted so that it updates my position, say, once every 30 seconds and interpolates from there. There may be some interval that doesn't drain the battery too quickly and still provides tracking of a slow-moving target like me on foot.

or maybe not...we'll see..
"Gentlemen, you are piling up a heritage of conflict and litigation over water rights, for there is not sufficient water to supply the land." - John Wesley Powell, 1883

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