When I was on the road doing GPS mapping demos, pitching my book, it became clear what things confused people over and over again. So today we’re going to take a look at one of those and inaugurate a new category — FAQs (I’m going to dig through the archives and add at least one other post to the category).
The issue today is routes vs. tracks. What is the difference? A route has the following characteristics:
- It is used in the field to guide you from waypoint to waypoint.
- It uses straight-line, as the crow flies, navigation. For highway navigation, the term "route" has a slightly different meaning.
- It is about where you are going.
A track, on the other hand, has the following defining characteristics:
- Tracks are about where you have been.
- They are a record, created by your GPS, which is constantly recording your location. Many people like to use the analogy of an electronic "bread crumb trail," ala Hansel and Gretel.
- They more accurately reflect the shape of the trail or road you have taken than the straight-line segments representing a route.
- They can be downloaded to your computer to create a record of your trip.
We can see the route in the image above, represented in pink, showing straight-line segments between waypoints. The track, shown in yellow, more closely resembles the shape of the trail.
Now many new GPS users don’t like this. They want their receiver to guide them at every turn of the trail. But think about it–you don’t need your GPS to tell you there is a bend ahead in trail. You just need it to guide you to critical waypoints–trail junctions, campsites, etc.
There is much more to say about both routes and tracks, but I hope that this will give you a basic understanding of the difference.