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Android + Backcountry Navigator vs Garmin GPS devices.
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Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Android + Backcountry Navigator vs Garmin GPS devices. on 12/26/2012 15:14:20 MST Print View

Roads that have changed route, no longer exist, or were never completed can exist in map sources and cause problems for drivers.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Android + Backcountry Navigator vs Garmin GPS devices. on 12/26/2012 15:25:13 MST Print View

GPS doesn't work so good in steep canyon areas

or under forests (not problem at Joshua)

GPS can lead you over the coast range in winter and get you stuck in the snow - not Joshua Tree related

greg c
(spindrifter) - F
Re: Android + Backcountry Navigator vs Garmin GPS devices. on 12/26/2012 15:39:41 MST Print View

It appears that smartphones vary in their receptivity of satellite signals. I was relying on my Motorola smartphone for a bit but then purchased an etrex 20 in response to too many reception failures. I had GPS signals at Lassen national park, while climbing Mt Shasta, but absolutely no signal on Mt. Baker, Mt. Adams, or Sahale Glacier. It just came to a point that I couldn't be confident of satellite reception in any given place. The Etrex has its flaws, but satellite reception isn't one of them. It has received signals everywhere I have travelled to date.

Eric N.

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Went back to Garmin after trying smartphone on 12/26/2012 16:14:13 MST Print View

I'd never go out without a paper map, plus a compass. For me, the main appeal of a GPS is not navigation as much as having an odometer/altimeter, and being able to download the track when I get home and match it up with photos on a map.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Went back to Garmin after trying smartphone on 12/26/2012 16:30:56 MST Print View

A map will tell you the altitude. When you get home use a map measurer (or prior to hike) to determine distance. Make a note on your map if you need to know where you took a picture.

Edited by ngatel on 12/26/2012 16:32:04 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Android + Backcountry Navigator vs Garmin GPS devices. on 12/26/2012 16:43:28 MST Print View

I don't think an etrex has the best reception

a 60 or 62 is better - better antenae and better electronics

I think DeLorme also has some better units

Very rarely I'll lose signal for a while. In a canyon + I think sometimes there just happen to be few satelites visible.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
It's a compromise... on 12/26/2012 17:29:23 MST Print View


Edited by skopeo on 09/08/2015 15:53:07 MDT.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Smartphones: not that fragile on 12/26/2012 17:33:51 MST Print View

"Most smart phones have a large breakable display."

Three thru-hikes now with a smartphone ready to hand (carried in a neoprene case on a pack strap). Used it as my only camera, as a very infrequent GPS on two of the three trips (plus others), as a journaling device, etc. Never broke a display, or anything else. I'm not saying that it can't happen, but I also don't think it's something to be particularly concerned about if reasonable care is taken.

"Also, water resistance. My phone has two exposed ports, one covered but not water tight port, and two speakers plus a microphone that look likely to leak."

I live in the PNW and have hiked with a smartphone in quite a bit of rain. When rain threatens, a snack-sized ziplock works just fine to keep it dry. The GPS functionality still works through the ziplock, though the touch-screen aspect might not so much. The biggest hassle for me is that it becomes just too much of a PITA to take pictures, so on significantly wet days I tend to have very few if any photos. Oh well!

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Smartphones: not that fragile on 12/26/2012 18:10:50 MST Print View

Brian, you ought to try shooting some photos with the smart phone, even on a rainy day. The wet ziploc bag might provide some interesting abstract filter effects.


Michael McMillan
gps maps showed 4x4 roads as roads, and people were getting stranded, then dying of exposure. on 12/26/2012 19:10:09 MST Print View

I remember when they started posting those signs and it was in the news briefly.

What had happened is that the gps maps said a road ran across a mountain range, but the gps maps did not specify the quality of the road, and people were driving on 4 wheel drive roads in their city cars.

Then they would get stuck about 15 miles from the paved (and trafficked road), and die of exposure. I think that there was one case of a family dying of exposure because they kept to their car about 500 feet from a road, hoping for rescue, and they were not found for a few weeks.

If you are reading this site, and traveling in the desert, I assume that you have a few jugs of water in your car, and some sort of shelter, which is much of what you need to self rescue. Though a land anchor, a long rope, a winch, and a tall jack would be helpful if you were driving on 4x4 roads in the desert.


Jeff McWilliams
(jjmcwill) - M

Locale: Midwest
Phones vs GPS on 12/27/2012 07:59:57 MST Print View

I just don't trust phone GPS.

I've had many instances where a friend's phone GPS signal was terrible or nonexistent, but my Lowrance Endura GPS worked fine.

Battery life is also a problem, which can lead to rescue incidents like this one:

Spare batteries for a GPS are cheap and easy to acquire at any Walgreens, CVS, RiteAid like pharmacy or gas station. My GPS is water proof, has nice rubberized corners, and buttons that are easy to operate with gloves on.

I always carry a map & compass. The GPS, if I can afford to carry the weight, is there as a backup, not as my primary navigation tool.