GPS Showing Black And White Gradient
Planning With Digital Mapping Software – There are various features with digital mapping software to facilitate the planning and recording of your routes and this will differ from device to device. The main planning features are:
View Maps And Download Planned Routes – Viewing OS maps on your computer to plan hiking routes and download them from your computer to your hiking GPS unit, in order to make planning your hikes easier.
Upload Actual Routes – Recording and uploading tracklogs of where you have actually hiked, from your hiking GPS unit to your computer, in order to make the storage, edit and review of your hikes easier.
Other features – Some devices may have additional advantageous features such as the following:
- Gradient profiles
- Estimate hike time
- Print maps
- Print route cards
- 3D or Aerial views
- 3D Virtual Fly-through of routes
- Search through OS by feature or place name
A good hiking GPS unit should be capable of storing at least 20 routes and have the ability to store at least 500 waypoints.
Many GPS units have a memory card slot for storing extra mapping data. Should the GPS unit not have a memory card slot, consider whether or not it has sufficient built-in memory capacity to store waypoint data for more than just one hiking trip at any one time. This functionality is especially useful for hiking holidays or multi-day trekking? 20 MB of memory is sufficient for a GPS unit with mapping, even though you could get away with only 2 MB if you only use local topo maps on your hikes.
Additional Instrumentation – The two most common additional items of instrumentation you will find on a hiking GPS unit are a compass and an altimeter:
There are generally two types of compass: a standard GPS unit compass and an electronic GPS unit compass. Many hikers carry a separate magnetic compass, which does not require batteries, and do not feel that they are directionally challenged as a consequence. Therefore ask yourself the question of whether or not you actually need a compass with your GPS unit. Consider the differences:
Standard GPS Unit Compass
GPS unit compasses are able to record the co-ordinates of where you have been hiking, and can monitor the co-ordinates you hike towards. As the co-ordinates change during hiking, the GPS unit performs calculations to give your direction of travel. Thus you can only obtain a direction if you have a GPS Fix and are already hiking.
Electronic GPS Unit Compass
Electronic compasses function in a similar manner to a magnetic compass with the exception that some enable you to select the setting for the north reference as well. Most electronic compasses need to be held still and horizontal and pointed in the direction of travel. However, be aware that an electronic compass will consume battery power and reduce battery life. Some GPS units allow you to switch off the compass to conserve power. Without an electronic compass your GPS unit cannot tell you the direction in which you are hiking until you have begun hiking for a short distance.
There are generally three types of altimeter: a standard GPS altimeter, a barometric GPS altimeter and a combined altimeter. Consider the differences:
A GPS altimeter is usually based on satellite data received and can be a little inaccurate, up to 50 to 100 feet out.
Barometric altimeters provide more accurate altitude readings than GPS altimeters. A barometric altimeter is simply a barometer which provides your altitude when hiking and also gives changes in pressure when you ascend and descend. In addition, barometric altimeters can be used to forecast changes in the weather conditions. For example, a falling barometer reading implies weather conditions are getting worse.
A combined altimeter, as the name suggests is a combined use of both a GPS altimeter and a barometric altimeter. The idea here is that the barometric and GPS data work together to give more accurate readings. For example, a precise position is given initially using GPS satellite data in order to assist with the auto-calibration of the barometric altimeter. Next the barometric altimeter gives more stable changes in elevation. In addition, a barometric altimeter provides elevation readings when there is no GPS signal available.
A GPS Computer Connection Socket
Computer And Software Compatibility – If you intend to plan your hikes on your computer, ensure that your GPS unit, computer and digital mapping software you intend to use, are all compatible with each other. The ability to upload and download waypoints using software such as Memory-Map, Anquet, Magellan Topo or Garmin Topo is essential for the regular hiker, as the task of manually entering waypoints is slow.
Map And Software Updates – The ability to update your GPS unit software and maps, easily at reasonable cost, is another factor to consider during the selection process. A GPS attached to a PDA or mobile phone and dedicated handheld GPS unit is usually updated via computer. Updating maps for a dedicated hiking GPS unit is not as important as it is for a PND where the road networks are always changing. Some software vendors provide map preparation solutions so that you can upload your own maps into your GPS unit. Many are based on Garmin’s Mapsource system which enables you to define your own maps, so that you get more use out of your GPS unit.