Using digital maps/navigation in backcountry?

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AlmostThere
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Re: Using digital maps/navigation in backcountry?

Post by AlmostThere » Fri Apr 28, 2017 9:03 pm

From what I've seen, they need to learn a lot more than how to parse topography. I tried to explain that following the pointer on the GPS was just going to get him off course because you need to go into settings and choose between "always points north" and "always points direction of travel"... Following the pointer was... pointless. Really tried to get through to him that the pointer is showing him he was traveling east, west, something in between, in relation to the map which always stayed the same with north at the top -- but I'm a girl, and he's an expert....

A GPS class to understand the way the settings work helps, too. Also, not all GPS units are quite the same either. Brand to brand, model to model, there are subtle differences. I was pretty frustrated when someone gave me a Magellan and it wouldn't let me change settings with the level of intricacy I was accustomed to with the Garmin I used to get on searches from the team cache.








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oldranger
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Re: Using digital maps/navigation in backcountry?

Post by oldranger » Fri Apr 28, 2017 9:47 pm

As ranger a gps can be an important too during searches. Certainly not needed for determining ones own route when simply "ranging."
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Re: Using digital maps/navigation in backcountry?

Post by zacjust32 » Fri Apr 28, 2017 9:59 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:In this respect, a GPS is useful because you always have maps of the entire range. Cell service just is not reliable enough at this point to consider your phone a GPS.
You don't need cell service for your phone's gps to work. Cell service uses cell towers, GPS uses the satellites, which work everywhere except maybe extra thick forest or deep canyons. I would actually prefer a phone with gps to an actual singular use GPS device because of the weight savings. I would think that a brand new phone would have the same satellite receiving ability as an older purpose built GPS. But I must be about the only kid under 30 who still has a dumb phone.

To answer the first question, I carry Tom Harrison maps, I like the shaded relief and approx. trail miles. If the NPS came out with a georeferenced PDF i would probably take a look at it and play around with it. Not sure I would trade it in for paper, I like to geek out and read them in my spare time.
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AlmostThere
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Re: Using digital maps/navigation in backcountry?

Post by AlmostThere » Fri Apr 28, 2017 10:16 pm

Tom Harrison maps are just USGS maps with overlays, just like every other map out there. The mileages are just more accurate because Tom and the gang actually walked the trails with a wheel.

I don't make a secret of not trusting any GPS, phone or otherwise, as I've seen them be off to a confusing, strange, and ridiculous degree.

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Re: Using digital maps/navigation in backcountry?

Post by Tom_H » Fri Apr 28, 2017 11:04 pm

I carried a small compass, but rarely used it in the Sierra. In the case of forest fire and smoke forcing me to bail in an unplanned direction, it could have been valuable. When doing off-trail hiking in dense Appalachian forests, I had it in my hand constantly and a topo in the other.

For SAR, that is a whole other story. I would see GPS and sat phone as absolute necessities. You may need to transmit highly accurate coordinates immediately at any time. But you better know traditional nav methods really well too.

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Re: Using digital maps/navigation in backcountry?

Post by rhyang » Sat Apr 29, 2017 4:39 am

Like most I carry a paper map always, but with a UTM grid printed on it just in case I need to get a GPS location. GPS is useful in situations like heavy forest cover, where you cannot easily sight landmarks, and in darkness (such as when you are stumbling back to camp after a long alpine route :) and of course in the winter (trails covered with snow).

I didn't use my phone for navigation until last year, when I went to the Oregon Cascades (some really thick forest and many small tarns). I like Backcountry Navigator for Android.

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Re: Using digital maps/navigation in backcountry?

Post by rhyang » Sat Apr 29, 2017 4:42 am

Oh and in case it hasn't been said already, set your phone to Airplane Mode to turn off all the radios except for the GPS receivers. That way your battery consumption is not so high :)

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Re: Using digital maps/navigation in backcountry?

Post by oldranger » Sat Apr 29, 2017 7:26 am

rhyang wrote:Like most I carry a paper map always, but with a UTM grid printed on it just in case I need to get a GPS location. GPS is useful in situations like heavy forest cover, where you cannot easily sight landmarks, and in darkness (such as when you are stumbling back to camp after a long alpine route :) and of course in the winter (trails covered with snow).

I didn't use my phone for navigation until last year, when I went to the Oregon Cascades (some really thick forest and many small tarns). I like Backcountry Navigator for Android.

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Navigating in the cascades and back east with compass and map is a real challenge. The micro topography plus forest really makes things interesting. Once aborted route in dense fog in central Oregon cascades when I realized that if I was off just a degree or 2 that I could miss my destination. I have since added a barometer to my navigational tool kit and would not have had the same concern as I could have stopped when I dropped to the proper elevation and then decided whether I needed to go right or left to get to my destination. Navigating in the Sierra is much easier.

Once tried using gps in the cascades but found my own sense of direction and location was much more efficient than following the gps course. So I opted not to purchase one.

On the other hand a gps in my fishfinder/chart plotter is an essential tool on my fishing boat. It is necessary to maintain proper trolling speed an to locate channels and structure precisely.
Mike

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Re: Using digital maps/navigation in backcountry?

Post by AlmostThere » Sat Apr 29, 2017 7:54 am

Tom_H wrote: For SAR, that is a whole other story. I would see GPS and sat phone as absolute necessities. You may need to transmit highly accurate coordinates immediately at any time. But you better know traditional nav methods really well too.
In SAR, we always double checked the GPS with the map because highly accurate coordinates were a must. So no. That is why I never trust GPS units. We used them to log our routes while searching, uploading the tracks into a laptop and looking at how well search areas were covered.

The deputies had the sat phone... it would have to be a wealthier county for everyone to have them. Nope, just high band radios that work variably. If you want everyone on your local SAR team to have better equipment, healthy donations to them would help. Most SAR teams are nonprofits with volunteer searchers who are often trying to get their gear on the cheap -- the team GPS units were scheduled to be updated when I left the team, but ha, that likely wasn't going to happen any time soon...

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Re: Using digital maps/navigation in backcountry?

Post by rhyang » Sun Apr 30, 2017 7:27 pm

oldranger wrote:On the other hand a gps in my fishfinder/chart plotter is an essential tool on my fishing boat. It is necessary to maintain proper trolling speed an to locate channels and structure precisely.
Now this is interesting -- I've been hemming and hawing about buying a fish finder for my kayak for a few months, trying to figure out what features I really want. GPS has always been a "nice to have, but I don't really sea kayak" thing, but being able to mark interesting underwater features is probably desirable.

Also, I just got back from New Melones -- that thing is HUGE ! I hadn't really considered lake navigation an issue before, but I suppose it could also happen someday that I just get carried away some evening and have to find my way back to the boat ramp in the dark ..

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