M Guide to Selecting and Using Ultralight GPS Systems

by Blake Morstad and Alan Dixon

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Article Summary:

Proficiency with map and compass remains an essential backcountry skill. However, the addition of a few ounces to your navigation gear can dramatically increase your efficiency, distance covered, and safety. This article discusses the core components - and considerations for selecting them - of a GPS navigation "system" for the lightweight backpacker, including comprehensive discussion of the integration between GPS units and mapping software. The article serves as a foundation guide when shopping for GPS units and mapping software, and offers sound information for integrating a GPS unit with paper maps, mapping software, and auxiliary compasses and altimeters.

ARTICLE OUTLINE

  1. INTRODUCTION
  2. GPS RECEIVER
    • Features/Setup
    • Weight and Price Comparison of Ultralight Navigation Systems
    • Additional Features
    • Battery Life and Reception Optimization
      • Battery Life Optimization
      • Battery Type
      • Reception Optimization
    • WAAS
  3. TOPOGRAPHIC MAP
    • Routes/Waypoint Mapping
    • Preparing Maps
    • Coordinate Systems and Gridlines
      • UTM Coordinates
      • Latitude and Longitude Coordinates
      • Choosing a Datum
    • Other Advantages of Electronic Maps and GPS Waypoints
    • GPS Mapping Software for All Maps
  4. APPENDIX: THE GPS SYSTEM
    • Description
    • GPS Signals
    • Positioning
    • Accuracy/Limitations
  5. REFERENCES
6000 Words. 7 photos/2 tables.

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