Learn the terminology – We’ve got a handheld GPS 101 series just waiting for you.
Let it bake – Not in the oven! Take it outside, turn it on and let it sit motionless under open sky for half an hour. It will fully download the satellite almanac so when you want to use it over the next few days, it should lock onto satellites very fast.
Protect it – Before going out in the woods with it, get a screen protector. The investment is well worth it.
Go green, save green – Most handheld GPS receivers these days just aren’t optimized for alkaline batteries. Get yourself a good set of Eneloop rechargeables; keep a spare pair charged and you’ll always be good to go.
Calibrate it – If your unit has an electronic compass, learn to calibrate it. You should do this every time you change batteries. And if it has a barometric altimeter and you’re an adventurous backcountry explorer, find a USGS benchmark and calibrate the altimeter too.
Backup your GPS – This one will take awhile but connect it to your computer and just copy the entire GPS drive over; you’ll always have a backup.
Get some free maps – If you got a Garmin, head on over to GPS File Depot for some awesome free topos and trail maps. They’ve got some great tutorials too. The best way to do this is to put them on a microSD card; that way if you run up against the rare incompatibility issue, all you’ll need to do is pull the card out.
Download some tracks – Want to have the trail shown on your GPS? Download the track from one of the many .gpx file sharing sites; my current favorite is Garmin Connect.
Create an “if found” splash screen – This tutorial is geared towards the Garmin Oregon, but it should work for just about any of the newer Garmin models.
Don’t get lost – After all, that would be pretty embarrassing. And believe me, there are plenty of ways to get lost with a GPS.