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Old 09-14-08, 09:40 PM   #1
Snowsurfer
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GPS Device useful or not? Use a Compass and map?

Do you find that GPS devices are useful, whether you are hiking, trying to find places on bike, or by car?
Any other uses? If you were given a $400, to either buy a GPS device, or keep the money, which would you choose? Is a GPS really that useful?
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Old 09-14-08, 09:51 PM   #2
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GPS hands down win.

that is unless you've been lost for the last 16hrs and your battery expired.
that and you have to get one that's not clunky.

I do keep a Credit card sized compass together with me when I ride. Not that I've ever had to use it yet.

If I attach a GPS to my bike... well... one doesn't need to clutter their handlebars with GPS, HRM, cycling computer, several lights and a bell all at once. (I'm just a GPS away from it though)
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Old 09-14-08, 10:03 PM   #3
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I had a GPS unit when I bought my car in New York and had to drive it back home. I was originally going to print out directions, but ended up using my employer's GPS unit. The thing was a lifesaver. It would have taken six hours, plus $20 in toll fees just to get out of the damn city instead of two hours and $0. I loved it.
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Old 09-14-08, 10:26 PM   #4
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By car, GPS.

By bike or hiking tripping last more than 3 days, compass and map. Most GPS has such abysmal runtime, it becomes deadweight when the battery dies.

For compass, get one of these and learn how to use it.
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Old 09-14-08, 11:18 PM   #5
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For road rallies, compass + map is waaay better for navigating. However we still use a GPS receiver hooked up to a laptop and road atlas software to check our position if we get lost.
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Old 09-14-08, 11:27 PM   #6
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Never had one and probably never will. I'd get a really good set of 4 panniers and a Bruce Gordon front rack if I had the $400. I have an excellent sense of direction and an innate skill with maps. I am tired of people trying to give me directions on how they would get somewhere. Just give me the street name, number, and five minutes with Bikely.com
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Old 09-15-08, 12:56 AM   #7
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GPS for the win!
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Old 09-15-08, 01:20 AM   #8
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I bought a Garmin eTrex Legend HCx earlier this year, and it runs for something like 20 hours on two regular alkaline AA cells. Carrying a few extra cells isn't that hard...

But I'd still carry a map and a sighting compass.
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Old 09-15-08, 01:21 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by ken cummings View Post
I have an excellent sense of direction and an innate skill with maps. I am tired of people trying to give me directions on how they would get somewhere. Just give me the street name, number, and five minutes with Bikely.com
Same here, usually.
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Old 09-15-08, 01:59 AM   #10
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I love my Tomtom GPS in the truck.. Here in Hawaii it is invaluable...when I fly to Reno tomorrow I will unplug it bring it with me, plug it into the rental and be ready to go anywhere. Well worth the cash. Buy one with all the US preloaded...but stay away from ones with big hard drives... waste of money. I see good Garmins/tomtoms all the time for around $200..that would leave you another $200 for a Etrex or something.

I currently own 5 or 6 GPS units.... one for the car, one for the motorcycle, one for the bike, one for running, one on the boat, and a hiking/back packing model. I use them all except for the hiking one.. It always gets cut for weight.
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Old 09-15-08, 02:18 AM   #11
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If you're out in the woods / sea: NEVER trust a GPS alone. It can die for a number of reasons. Always have a map and a compass too.

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Old 09-15-08, 02:46 AM   #12
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Can't help but think the Cnet guy who died last year in Washington State (?) in the snow put all his faith in a GPS and other whizzbang electronics that eventually proved fatal.

I've seen two examples with ice cream truck drivers going batty trying to following a GPS route in a forest plantation. Yes, ice cream trucks in a private forest.

I have been on a coastal ocean yacht race when the navigator used a GPS to fix our positions for reporting in each morning and evening, but he also was a qualified navigator who could have ditched the GPS quite easily... in fact, his dead reckoning was pretty well spot on.

For cycling? Never. I take a compass and use maps. Often I don't use the compass, but rely on the sun in the sky, landmarks andgood old signposting to guide me. The real challenge was getting from LAX to the middle of LA a couple of years ago -- there was no sighting of skyscraper buildings or following a river valley or even road signs (because I wasn't on the freeway) like I could in other cities.
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Old 09-15-08, 03:53 AM   #13
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I like to go hiking a lot, and for me I think having a GPS would take most of the fun out of it. I have no desire to ever use one.
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Old 09-15-08, 05:43 AM   #14
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I don't have one and I don't want one. I do a lot of orientering courses and love naviguessing via map and compass. And I have proven that it is possible to follow a map without a compass. I could pwn your GPS with my maps.
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Old 09-15-08, 06:10 AM   #15
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I love mine, I would pick up a cheap Garmin Nuvi and pocket the rest. You can pick one up for $150 or less.
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Old 09-15-08, 06:10 AM   #16
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I keep the money... I don't own a GPS, and the only place I ever use one is while flying an airplane, and even then I don't need it.

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Old 09-15-08, 06:24 AM   #17
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I'd buy a MapsCo Denver Metro map, the Northern Colorado atlas, and maybe a US road atlas. Maps are awesome, and I use them well.

I've never used a GPS. Why even start?

As far as hiking, I only stay on marked trails. I am a huge chicken when it comes to outdoor activities, I don't want to get lost, so I don't put myself in situations where I could get lost.
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Old 09-15-08, 07:00 AM   #18
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I use GPS. I have a Lowrance iFinder H2OC (water proof, color screen) and a TomTom.

My only complaint is they don't work indoors. That's how bad my sense of direction is. Thank goodness for "EXIT" signs.
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Old 09-15-08, 07:00 AM   #19
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Well, not much I can add...the consensus is clear.

girljen, great post. It would be nice if everyone stayed within their comfort and skill zone. The search and rescue folks could stay home with their families on weekends.

For backcountry navigation, map and compass is the clear choice. No batteries are required. You can see where the cliffs are!

Except for a couple of unusual places in the world (Chocolate Mountains in SoCA for one), that needle always points to magnetic North.

Just be sure your declination is set correctly!

For geocaching, get out your GPSr and some extra batteries. That's about the only thing for which I use GPSr.

My third GPSr just conked out. I'm debating whether or not to get a new one. I do like to search for the occasional geocache to break up a ride or backpacking trip.
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Old 09-15-08, 08:16 AM   #20
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We're lucky up here where I live. Magnetic north and true north are, for everyday stuff, the same. It's 1.5 off here in Gothenburg, and a couple of degrees in the eastern parts of the country. The line where true and mag north are exactly the same runs about 100 miles east of here.

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Old 09-15-08, 08:37 AM   #21
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GPS would really be nice. But no money in the budget for that ...

So I use a compass when I'm out in the sticks - as I normally don't carry maps - I just know where I want to go ...
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Old 09-15-08, 09:36 AM   #22
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I love my eTrex Vista - best electonic gadget I've gotten in a long, long time. Great for following routes on long rides where I don't know the area. PITA when stopped though, can never tell where I am since it jumps around so much.

I HATE when people navigate with GPS in the car. They're so preoccupied with looking at the route and following directions they stop thinking. On a bike it's one thing since a few miles out of the way can really start stretching the day out, in a car it's a minute or two. Sometimes in a car they can be useful but I see them misused most of the time.
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Old 09-15-08, 03:05 PM   #23
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I have several GPS units: in both cars and some Magellan models for hiking. I actually did orienteering in my youth, so I am proficient with map and compass. When I hike, I take the GPS, two extra AA cells, a compass and some topo maps of the area. I do not rely solely on the GPS, batteries can fail and if you are under a tree canopy or in a deep valley, you may either lose or fail to acquire the GPS signal. Suffice it to say that much of the wilderness terrain in western Washington has tree cover or deep valleys.

Having said that, the GPS has come in mighty handy some times when I am snowshoeing, the cloud cover is so low you cannot see any landmarks for triangulation on a map, and all the snow-covered trees look alike in terms of retracing your route.
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Old 09-15-08, 03:15 PM   #24
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GPS is not a substitute for maps or a compass. I used to not think they were a necessity. However, if you get stuck in a snowstorm and can't see a damn thing, let alone any useful landmarks, they are incredibly handy.
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Old 09-15-08, 03:18 PM   #25
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Quote:
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I'd buy a MapsCo Denver Metro map, the Northern Colorado atlas, and maybe a US road atlas. Maps are awesome, and I use them well.

I've never used a GPS. Why even start?

As far as hiking, I only stay on marked trails. I am a huge chicken when it comes to outdoor activities, I don't want to get lost, so I don't put myself in situations where I could get lost.
I love maps too.

I'm the other way around when it comes to the outdoors. I can't get lost in the woods, but have no idea how to get to anywhere in the city.
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