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can gps really help me hike?

bmwrider 0 Points
edited November -1 in GPS Discussions
I don't mean to be negitive about gps and love my vista csx but I don't think that a gps can do to much to get you some where in the woods, they are great for reviewing your hike or returning from it, but I cannot figure out what they can do to get you some where new, the only hiking destinations on topos are in national parks, I cannot figure out how to use one to take me somewhere I have not been, in michigan the gps topo maps don't show much to help you hike, am I missing something? I know how to set waypoints and use tracks and routes but these things can't guide you somewhere, unless you find that rare track log on the internet that will take you somewhere you would like to go.

Comments

  • Boyd 1985 Points
    Sorry, I think you probably are missing something.

    A GPS can take you anywhere a paper map can. If you are trying to find different "off the beaten trail" places then you need to use your brain to choose an area to explore for starters. Then look at maps, either on the GPS, on the internet or in a book. Look at satellite photos on Google earth, mapslive.com, etc.

    What maps have you used on your vista? I assume you have more than just the unit's basemap, which is pretty useless by itself. Garmin's US topo 100k (AKA US Topo 2008) is not the greatest map available, but it's not a bad start either. I have found plenty of interesting places using it.

    Their new 24k topo's are better, but only available for select areas so far. Also look at some of the free Garmin maps which have been contributed by users at GPSFileDepot.com.

    I don't know... it works for me. If it doesn't work for you, then don't use the GPS. :D
  • lordgrinz 0 Points
    I think what he means is that they lack any trail information, so really it only works as a tool for reviewing a hike.
  • I don't mean to be negitive about gps and love my vista csx but I don't think that a gps can do to much to get you some where in the woods, they are great for reviewing your hike or returning from it, but I cannot figure out what they can do to get you some where new
    What? Seriously? Although GPS should NOT be relied on solely, it is the BEST and most ACCURATE tool for getting you anywhere. You have to have a destination entered. You admit the usefulness of having a GPS to return from a hike because you KNOW where you are going. Trail head, car, etc. It works just as well getting you out to a camp site, hunting stand, etc. Use it along with a magnetic compass and you'll always know which way to start walking instead of walking in the wrong direction initially. Most GPS receivers only tell you what direction you are traveling over the surface of the earth and, at slow walking speeds, that could take some time to determine because when you're stopped the GPS doesn't know which way it's physically facing. There are some higher end GPS units now that have a built in electronic magnetic compass and, as you turn around, it will indicate heading like an analog one. Some people don't like them and feel they are inaccurate, but the one on my Garmin 60CSx works quite well once it's calibrated. I still take along my mag compass and use it frequently to check against the GPS compass since this GPS is new and I'm building experience with it. I will admit the mag compass is much faster telling me which way to walk once I twist in the magnetic bearing to my destination as read right off the GPS.
  • bmwrider 0 Points
    Thanks guys for the input, I agree that a map and compass are nessary, do most of you use the gps to locate yourself on the paper map and then use the map to navigate? but I sell gps and feel I understand most of the functions but have not found a way to use the unit to take me somewhere new, I know you can project a waypoint, but that does not seem very usefull. I should try a new question.
  • You keep saying "take you somewhere new". What does that mean? Just wandering around in the woods? If that's the case, save your starting point and just wander to discover "whatever" is out there.

    If you have a destination in mind, put the coordinates in the GPS, save it as a waypoint BEFORE setting out and follow the needle on the compass page in the field. Again, you really need to tell us what "somewhere new" means. If it's a point you found in Google Earth or something, you can pull the latitude/longitude coordinates directly from there. What kind of GPS do you have? If you have a Garmin, you can send locations from Google Maps directly to the GPS unit via a USB cable.
  • Boyd 1985 Points
    OP says he "loves his vista csx"...

    If you are willing to invest the time and have some computer skills, you can make your own Garmin maps using shareware/freeware. These can include anything you want. See: http://mapwel.biz/

    I use this software and it is very nice. Capable of making either a really simple map or very sophisticated one... depends on your skill and amount of time you're willing to spend.
  • If you are trying to find different "off the beaten trail" places then you need to use your brain to choose an area to explore for starters. Then look at maps, either on the GPS, on the internet or in a book. Look at satellite photos on Google earth, mapslive.com, etc.
    Whoops...how'd I miss this? Boyd already said it for me! :lol:
  • lordgrinz 0 Points
    I'm still wondering if his issue is the same as mine, there is really no trail info to lookup. Which leaves the unit as more of a track log, not as a useful tool to find new trails to explore.
  • bmwrider 0 Points
    You keep saying "take you somewhere new". What does that mean?

    Oh, I mean somewhere I have not been with the gps yet, in other words, I know how to track back to a location I have already been thats easy. sorry for the lack of info, sometimes its just as hard to ask the right question as it is to find the answer, thanks for taking the time to ask and provide help.
  • I'm still wondering if his issue is the same as mine, there is really no trail info to lookup. Which leaves the unit as more of a track log, not as a useful tool to find new trails to explore.
    That's why you use it in conjunction with computer/on-line applications. Find the stuff beforehand and load it in. I'd never set off into the unknown "just hoping to find something new" aside from whatever I might INCIDENTALLY find along the way and mark, but that was not my original goal.
  • lordgrinz 0 Points
    Where? I'm all ears, I havent found any custom routes yet, I would love to find some for the Western MA area that I can load up on my Nuvi. If anything I may have to start posting some when I record them myself.

    That's why you use it in conjunction with computer/on-line applications. Find the stuff beforehand and load it in. I'd never set off into the unknown "just hoping to find something new" aside from whatever I might INCIDENTALLY find along the way and mark, but that was not my original goal.
  • Boyd 1985 Points
    I guess I am different... often I find the "blank spots" on the map to be the most interesting. I rarely plan a hike, but you might consider what I do to be more like "walking" than "hiking". I typically only go out for an afternoon and not on overnight trips. If I did do that, then I would certainly want to do some planning.

    But I live in a "cabin in the woods", so there are some nice walks which begin at my back door :D
  • Where? I'm all ears, I havent found any custom routes yet, I would love to find some for the Western MA area that I can load up on my Nuvi. If anything I may have to start posting some when I record them myself.
    Use any paper maps that have trails on them and find what you want and correlate on Google Earth or any other free on-line satellite imagery application. Pull and put the lat/longs in the GPS. Can also do it from Mapsource and I have the TOPO map. Forgive me for forgetting, but what kind of Nuvi do you have? Many don't support custom routes, like my 660. Only one intermediate waypoint, but it's not really designed for use in the field like my 60CSx.
  • lordgrinz 0 Points
    Thats more of a guess, I want actual hiking trails that are already planned routes. I dont like taking guesses, I want well planned routes on real trails, the woods are not a place to take chances. Way too many people try that in the NH mountains and paid with their life, I dont take chances. I either keep my trips really short, or plan them thoroughly. And I have the Nuvi 500, which I believes supports 10 separate routes?
    Where? I'm all ears, I havent found any custom routes yet, I would love to find some for the Western MA area that I can load up on my Nuvi. If anything I may have to start posting some when I record them myself.


    Use any paper maps that have trails on them and find what you want and correlate on Google Earth or any other free on-line satellite imagery application. Pull and put the lat/longs in the GPS. Can also do it from Mapsource and I have the TOPO map. Forgive me for forgetting, but what kind of Nuvi do you have? Many don't support custom routes, like my 660. Only one intermediate waypoint, but it's not really designed for use in the field like my 60CSx.
  • Tim 1480 Points
    Trip planning is one area where the DeLorme PN devices really excel over their Garmin counterparts. You can select a trail and it will create a route over that trail rather than the more cumbersome "point to point to point" routes that the Garmin software uses. (Yes, there are alternatives to the Garmin software, but that makes it more clumsy.)

    From that you get a "real" distance figure rather than point to point distances. You can also set estimated speeds based on the average grade or type of activity to give you realistic ETA figures. Back on the GPS, it will give you a more accurate estimate of time and distance remaining.
  • Boyd 1985 Points
    The new Garmin 24k topos have routable trails and roads, and I think there is some integration with their BaseCamp software for planning (haven't tried basecamp yet myself). The older Garmin National Parks maps also have routable trails I believe, and all of these should be usable on OP's Vista. With either of these products you shouldn't have to create point-to-point routes on any trail which is shown. I suppose you would need to look at specific places to see how many trails are actually mapped.

    Beyond that... c'mon guys, just about every state has a Dept of Natural Resources or similar website with detailed information about all the parks and trail maps. I'm sure there are some exceptions, but a LOT of this stuff is available online, and these could be converted to transparent map overlays for your Garmin maps using Mapwel, which I mentioned earlier. There are also books of hikes for every state. Anything you can download or scan can be turned into a Garmin map. You would not need to make the entire map, just trace the features you want - like the trails - which can be loaded on top of your existing maps.
  • lordgrinz 0 Points
    Hmmm...I'll have to tryout the Mapwel product, how well does the autovectorizing process work? And how big are the files?
    The new Garmin 24k topos have routable trails and roads, and I think there is some integration with their BaseCamp software for planning (haven't tried basecamp yet myself). The older Garmin National Parks maps also have routable trails I believe, and all of these should be usable on OP's Vista. With either of these products you shouldn't have to create point-to-point routes on any trail which is shown. I suppose you would need to look at specific places to see how many trails are actually mapped.

    Beyond that... c'mon guys, just about every state has a Dept of Natural Resources or similar website with detailed information about all the parks and trail maps. I'm sure there are some exceptions, but a LOT of this stuff is available online, and these could be converted to transparent map overlays for your Garmin maps using Mapwel, which I mentioned earlier. There are also books of hikes for every state. Anything you can download or scan can be turned into a Garmin map. You would not need to make the entire map, just trace the features you want - like the trails - which can be loaded on top of your existing maps.
  • Boyd 1985 Points
    IMO that is a gimmick. I have never used it... it's a hack to make the unit do something it wasn't designed for, but check it out and see what you think. I only make vector maps for Garmin. I use OziExplorer CE which is far, far better for raster based material but it does not run on Garmin. I was suggesting using Mapwel to import a scan or downloaded trail map, then tracing over the trails to use as a transparent map overlay. This is pretty straightforward and will create vector-based objects.

    The user defined style editor in Mapwel is a very powerful feature for making unique looking maps, which is why I like it myself. But that is a rather advanced feature.

    There is another program called MOAGU which tries to convert raster material to Garmin, some people think it does a better job at that than Mapwel. You can download some MOAGU-made maps at GPSFileDepot.com and see what you think.
  • Beyond that... c'mon guys, just about every state has a Dept of Natural Resources or similar website with detailed information about all the parks and trail maps.
    Bingo! People put WAY too much faith in these relatively fragile devices. They worry about the complexities of multi-point routes, trails and such yet can't seem to understand the basic principle of point to point navigation. Or even "how to find somewhere new". :roll:
  • lordgrinz 0 Points
    Ummm....I hike on a regular basis, with good maps(USGS) and my trail marked well on those maps in advance. And I have yet to see anything on a GPS unit that is any better than or close to paper. Finding somewhere new is wonderful, but having a well planned route is much better than guessing which way to go. There are a lot of people that tried your method up in the White Mountains, they are dead now because they didnt plan ahead. I like to know where I am, where I can get water next, and where I can plan to be at the end of the day. The woods are not a place for people lacking survival skills, the right equipment, and sporting a GPS thinking the maps on it are all they need to survive. Accurate maps and planned routes are VERY IMPORTANT!
    Beyond that... c'mon guys, just about every state has a Dept of Natural Resources or similar website with detailed information about all the parks and trail maps.


    Bingo! People put WAY too much faith in these relatively fragile devices. They worry about the complexities of multi-point routes, trails and such yet can't seem to understand the basic principle of point to point navigation. Or even "how to find somewhere new". :roll:
  • Where in the heck did I say not to plan ahead? I was the one advocating planning on the computer with Google, Mapsource, etc and with paper maps as well BEFORE heading out. :roll:
  • lordgrinz 0 Points
    I think you are missing the whole point, we need to upload available routes from online. Not a guesstimate from within mapsource....

    Ok let me make this easier to understand, I want routes that someone actually took, on a trail they actually hiked, and recorded in their Garmin unit and have uploaded to the web. Where do we get these? I would think there would be a huge list of these somewhere online for users to download. I could then upload the verified route to Mapsource, print it for backup on the trail, and use the GPS to verify my track and wherabouts.
    Where in the heck did I say not to plan ahead? I was the one advocating planning on the computer with Google, Mapsource, etc and with paper maps as well BEFORE heading out. :roll:
  • Tim 1480 Points
    want routes that someone actually took, on a trail they actually hiked, and recorded in their Garmin unit and have uploaded to the web. Where do we get these?
    everytrail.com
  • lordgrinz 0 Points
    Thank you Tim!!!! 8)
    want routes that someone actually took, on a trail they actually hiked, and recorded in their Garmin unit and have uploaded to the web. Where do we get these?

    everytrail.com
  • I think you are missing the whole point, we need to upload available routes from online. Not a guesstimate from within mapsource....
    Ok, I get it now. Fair 'nuff. :)
  • want routes that someone actually took, on a trail they actually hiked, and recorded in their Garmin unit and have uploaded to the web. Where do we get these?

    everytrail.com
    Where there's a will, there's a way...
  • rsser 0 Points
    Yeah, we can't rely on GPS alone for nav, but when you're trying to walk or ski in cloud or whiteout and you can't get a visual reference for a bearing, the GPS is worth it's weight in M&Ms (by the end of the trip that is.)

    There are some sites Downunder where people are uploading their track logs; hasn't taken off in a big way though.
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