GPS for Hikers, Hunters and Winter Enthusiasts
I own two handheld GPS units; my first was a Magellan SporTrak Color and I currently own the Garmin 60CSx. The SporTrak had a better antenna as it was able to pick up satellites under heavy cover. With this unit, on a couple of occasions, I picked up satellite reception in a closed, windowless room because of the plumbing stack!
The software left much to be desired. Summits and points of interest (POI) were often not where they should have been on the map - often they were as far as a few hundred feet away. For example, if I was hiking in a fog or in a blinding snowstorm, the mapping software may show me descending when I'm walking on the level. Yet, the POI was right on target. Elevations were often off: Mount Marcy, in the Adirondacks, was listed at 5266 feet above sea level when it's correct elevation is 5344 feet.
The Garmin unit has far better mapping. It is accurate and the POI's are where they should be. The problem I have with that unit is that often I lose satellite reception. I may have to invest in the optional antenna.
The problem with GPS units is that too many hikers rely solely on this method for navigation. I often carry back up batteries and I always keep mapandcompass (intentionally written). If the batteries fail, if the unit is damaged, if any variety of mishaps occur, mapandcompass work far better than any GPS unit. Often I hear hikers complaining that they cannot use a compass, but, it's so easy to learn and is useful even in the dark or in a fog. I wear my compass on a cord around my neck and in a coat pocket, along with a map or section I printed out from TopoZone.com, for easy access. Lightweight conscious outdoorspeople can greatly benefit from carrying M&C. While it's nice to have a GPS unit, when it's not operating, it's just dead weight.
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