Map, Compass & GPS

Map, Compass & GPS
Wild flowers along Fall Creek on the way to the Green Lakes - Oregon

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Purchasing Your GPS

What should you consider when you buy a GPS receiver?

By Blake Miller
I was in a sporting goods store in and watched a clerk recommend a very expensive and complex Global Positioning System (GPS) to an elderly gentleman.  The customer simply wanted a GPS that would “get him back to his camp in Oregon’s Ochocos National Forest during elk season.  The clerk kept pushing the latest, high tech, touch screen and very expensive GPS receiver. 

The customer would have been satisfied with a basic starter model, and it would have served him very well.  Instead, he left the store very frustrated, without buying anything.

Buying your GPS receiver is a lot like shopping for your first car. You want reliability and simplicity in providing transportation from Point A to Point B.  There are many outdoor opportunities that may impact what kind of GPS model suits your specific needs.  As a hunter you need to shop intelligently.  Here is what you need to know:

Start with a quick education on common GPS terms, and why they’re important.
  • Waypoints – These are your navigation coordinates that you have saved to memory within the GPS.  Most receivers will hold 500.  That said, you only need to keep a few on your GPS all the time.  Use the free program at to store the rest.
  • Find/Go To – This is the navigation function of the receiver.  It is this function that will “steer” you to your destination.
  • Coordinates: This refers to a geographic grid system and pinpoints your position in the world.  The most common is Latitude and Longitude though many outdoors men quickly shift to Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) because of its simplicity.
  • Compass – An electronic counter-part to your magnetic compass. The GPS compass is dependent on batteries, like the rest of the system, so don't leave your magnetic compass at home.
Every GPS has these basic features.  Anything additional are bells and whistles. It will be up to you to determine which ones are functionally important.  For example, I am both a hunter and backpacker.  I like a GPS with a Barometric altimeter because I use that function to monitor atmospheric pressure at high elevations.  I know through personal experiences that when the pressure drops the weather is changing - I may be looking for shelter.

To read the complete post go here.

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