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Gaia gps, great low cost alternative.

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Gaia gps, great low cost alternative.

Postby overheadx2 » Fri May 27, 2016 8:42 am

I know this has been discussed a little, but just wanted to let people know about this app. I have been using it this winter and am really impressed. Does not need cell service to work and is at least as good as my Garmin Oregon (I have actually ditched that). It's a great low cost substitute to expensive gps units.



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Re: Gaia gps, great low cost alternative.

Postby sambieni » Fri May 27, 2016 9:40 am

I was really eager to pick up a Garmin this winter and nixed it after reading a solid account of Gaia and turning iphone into a GPS.
This link really helped me understand how to do it: http://www.adventurealan.com/iphone-gps ... ckpacking/

Gaia is a great, low cost option and serves enough of my needs.

Still the 2x I used my Iphone, I still ran into low battery issues - the kind that are making me nervous for upcoming 5-6 day trips. I expect maybe 1 recharge w an Anker/Mophie, but not near daily.

How are you making sure your iphone doesn't run down battery?
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Re: Gaia gps, great low cost alternative.

Postby psykokid » Fri May 27, 2016 11:15 am

I like recording a GPS track of my hikes just to make it easy to check stats and figures later on as far as mileage, elevation gain and pace. For the longest time I've just used my phone and Backcountry Navigator which is a similar app to Gaia. The only thing is that when the phone is recording GPS tracks, even in airplane mode, it still eats up a lot of battery. If you are just occasionally launching the app and viewing the map to verify position or something along those lines you should be able to get plenty of battery life out of it. In my application it's such a battery hog I picked up a garmin e-trex 20 and loaded the western states 24K topo maps I already had for basecamp into it and now use that to record tracks when hiking. I run the gps with the glonass satellite option on, it tends to get better resolution that way.

For example : When I hiked Langley last fall the GPS track on my phone was about 200' short as far as elevation data. It showed my highest elevation on Langley being 13947 which is about 75' short of the actual height of the summit. This past weekend I hiked up in Angeles National Forest and was at the summit of Mount Baden-Powell which is 9406'. The track from my phone showed the highest point of the hike was 9290' whereas the high point on the track from my Garmin showed 9410, which is about right as my Garmin was in my backpack on my shoulder and was approx 6' over the top of the summit. Also, when comparing gps tracks in Garmin Basecamp the track from the e-trex has about twice the number of points that the track from the phone does, which equates to a more accurate track. I have the tracking point setting on my phone set to the max so there's not much else there I could do to boost the accuracy.

Long story short, for recording long GPS tracks I'd get a stand alone GPS unit like a Garmin e-trex 10/20 or newer. The e-trex that I have will run for about 30 hours continuous on a set of lithium batteries. As an added bonus, the e-trex will run via a usb cable from a power pack, although it's not water resistant in this config.

For occasional checking of a map just to verify location then a phone with Gaia or similar software works just fine. You just need to figure out your phones battery requirements if using it as a camera as well.
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Re: Gaia gps, great low cost alternative.

Postby overheadx2 » Fri May 27, 2016 12:26 pm

Psycho is about right. When I used it in Yosemite this winter and in San Jacinto in tracking mode, i used about my whole battery life in a full day with tracking and pictures. I have a 10k ma charger that I carry which should get me aprox 4 more full charges. I dont think its a great idea to rely on electronics for navigation so while backpacking I really try to improve my skills and rely on maps and compass to navigate and only use the GPS to check my work. In that case I use about a third of the battery life with that and pictures per day. I'm not to concerned about my specific mileage and tracking so that isn't a big issue for me. Make sure to put the phone and charger in your bag at night to conserve batteries.
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Re: Gaia gps, great low cost alternative.

Postby psykokid » Fri May 27, 2016 1:01 pm

I agree about the above in regards to relying on electronic doodads for your primary source of navigation info. I always have paper maps and a compass when out on trail. It's nice to be able to fire up the GPS to verify a position on the ground vs where you are on the paper map, and like I said in my previous post I don't rely on GPS tracks to navigate, more so to collect data and reference back home after the fact.

In one case last October the GPS track on my phone saved me from some unnecessary wandering in the dark. I was up in Cottonwood Lakes and camped on the east side of Lake #5, up a bit from the shore in the lee of some rocks to give a little wind protection from the winds that had kicked up later in the day. I left my campsite in the rocks to head down to the shore to grab some extra water to boil and put in a bottle to act as a footwarmer as temps were supposed to get down into the low 20's. Bottle full and heading back to my tent I got turned around as a lot of the rock formations looked similar in the dark by the light of my headlamp. I stopped what i was doing and fired up my phone and brought up my GPS app and reviewed the track from earlier that day. Turns out I was about 100 yards due south of where my tent was at. Sure, I would have made my way back to my tent eventually. But having the track allowed me to see in short order which direction I should head and saved me some wandering in the dark.
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