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GPS for pilgrimage blogging
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Andrew Wilson
(andreww) - MLife

Locale: Vosges
GPS for pilgrimage blogging on 03/29/2010 03:59:38 MDT Print View

In the fast-changing, and market-sensitive world of GPS purchase, I thought I'd sound the experts here on what device I should investigate for an upcoming adventure.

My wife and I we'll be walking through Germany, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, and Italy on various pilgrim routes (Erfurt to Rome if you want to know). These are sometimes on roads, trails, paths, and only once in a very wild area, while crossing the Alps. We're following parts of the Via Compostela, and the via Francigena, all of which have published GPS tracks.

Here's what I need the device to do, in order of importance:

1. Track progress. We will be publishing our progress; It doesn't need to be moment-by-moment, but that would be nice. (The Spot device does this, but so does

2. Map photos, videos, interviews. I need to be able to sync track info with photos taken, in one fell swoop, as well as keep track of other events (will be carrying a netbook as well). My preference is for more accurate than not; I want to be sure there's full functionality in Europe (I'm not sure if there are lingering tech differences between the two sides of the pond).

3. Navigational aid. The routes are posted haphazardly, and it would be nice to have help when there are multiple possibilities to decide between. I don't really need the device to follow the perfect route, or pinpoint accuracy, just as a crutch; and since the routes are already "established," why not?

Of course, the lightest option would be the best. We will be within 3g networks most of the time and so able to use google maps, etc. The iPhone is attractive, but complicated due to the costs of using various networks, especially for unlimited data. There's also, then, the problem of its notorious power-hungriness. I'd like not to have to recharge it twice a day.

[edit] I'm not opposed to the cell-phone alternative, but I'd like other options as well.

All of your collective wisdom, experience, and insight are welcome.


Edited by andreww on 03/29/2010 11:36:54 MDT.

Phil Turner
Viewranger on 03/29/2010 05:11:07 MDT Print View

I've recently been playing with a system that should satisfy all, or most of your requirements. The system uses the BuddyBeacon feature within the Viewranger application on a Symbian phone (I used a Nokia 5800 XM) and integrates Twitter, TwitPic and Audioboo at the moment, though I have no doubt it'll expand! Philip Sorrell created the application - - for his Offa's Dyke Trail walk next month, and kindly set something up for Colin Ibbotson's upcoming Arizona Trail thru-hike.

Take a look at: and

for details, and links to Philip's site.

Edited by PhilT on 03/29/2010 05:16:14 MDT.

Andrew Wilson
(andreww) - MLife

Locale: Vosges
Thanks... other replies on 03/29/2010 05:46:47 MDT Print View

Thanks, Phil for the ref. I'll put it into the bucket. Any other ideas out there?

Hendrik Morkel
(skullmonkey) - MLife

Locale: Finland
Europe rocks! on 03/29/2010 08:06:31 MDT Print View

As the iPhone is out of the question, so is Trailguru then. That would have satisfied all your needs, from uploading, photos and all other stuff.

If that makes you reconsider the iPhone, you might want to have a look at the only Apple approved solar charger, the Suntrica SolarStrap. Using it since last year and it is superb.

Edited by skullmonkey on 03/29/2010 08:07:31 MDT.

Andrew Wilson
(andreww) - MLife

Locale: Vosges
Not opposed to iPhone/phone alternatives on 03/29/2010 11:40:55 MDT Print View

Just to clarify: I'm not opposed to the smart-phone solutions; I need to make a budget--including for data plans [keeping in mind German, Swiss, and Italian roaming]--and I need to know what all the options are. Thanks for your suggestions, and I will gladly take into consideration suggestions that include cell phones.

It seems that, if I can manage to keep the things charged, this will be the lightest and perhaps easiest solution.

Jason G
(JasonG) - F

Locale: iceberg lake
solar w/iphone on 03/29/2010 11:53:50 MDT Print View


Edited by JasonG on 04/06/2013 15:21:26 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: GPS for pilgrimage blogging on 03/29/2010 12:21:52 MDT Print View

It's too bad that the EU wasn't able to fully deploy Galileo as it had originally intended. Now it is even difficult to tell if it will get off the ground, figuratively speaking.


Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
GPS for pilgrimage blogging on 03/29/2010 13:45:08 MDT Print View


Edited by skopeo on 04/29/2015 14:23:15 MDT.

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Camera With Integrated GPS on 03/30/2010 04:49:45 MDT Print View

I keep handing my current point & shoot to my 3 1/2 year old daughters hoping to have an excuse to buy the Sony DSC-HX5V:

(Sorry - Could not get the embedded link to work)

Not only will the GPS record the location of your shot, but it has an integrated compass that will record the direction you're facing. Couple that with a 10x optical zoom in a package that still fits in a pocket and it's the ideal camera for me.

Just a thought. Take a picture every hour of your trip (at a minimum) and the whole trip is logged!

Edited by KBabione on 03/30/2010 04:56:42 MDT.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
Camera with GPS on 03/30/2010 07:57:12 MDT Print View

The Nikon P6000 has a builtin GPS. About $340.

Andrew Wilson
(andreww) - MLife

Locale: Vosges
Cool Ideas, have Camera on 03/30/2010 08:10:34 MDT Print View

Thanks for the responses; the camera ones are intriguing, but I happen already to have a camera that I'm not willing to part with. Can anybody make a case for traditional old GPSs?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Cool Ideas, have Camera on 03/30/2010 12:19:13 MDT Print View

"Traditional old GPSs" is not very clear. I've seen an evolution in GPS receivers over the last 15 years. The size differences are huge. The newest receivers fit within one square inch.

What is important in a carrying case is that the material must be transparent to the downlink signal frequency, which is around 1.5 GHz. If the material gets wet and holds water, the signal will be attenuated. When a radio signal has traveled through thousands of miles of space, you kind of hate to see it lost in the last centimeter before it is received.

Jon Sabo
(smallworld) - F
garmin on 03/30/2010 16:15:07 MDT Print View

Is there anything similar to that Instamap or the Spot device that would be compatible with Garmin receivers? Everything I've seen uses smartphones, presumably because phones make their gps info accessible to other applications.