Sunday, March 18, 2012

12 tips for getting more from your GPS

Here are some tips for all you outdoor enthuisiasts, designed to help you get more from your GPS on the trail:

  • Most GPS units come with a cable, allowing you to connect it to your computer. If yours didn’t, buy one.
  • Get a software program that allows you to print customized maps, showing your waypoints, previous trails you have taken, etc. CD-based map sets like National Geographic TOPO! are great for this.
  • Use your mapping software to mark waypoints of hidden trail junctions, so you don’t miss them.
  • Download a program for viewing aerial photos. USAPhotoMaps is free, while the more versatile TopoFusion is only $40. Aerial photos are usually more current than topo maps and are a great way to find new 4WD roads and trails.
  • While in the field, use your GPS to mark unexplored roads and trails, so that you can return and check them out in the future.
  • To keep an eye on your progress at a glance, set your data screen for the most important fields,  such as elevation, distance to next waypoint, etc.
  • Create waypoints of major peaks and other significant features, to help you identify them when checking out those awesome views.
  • Download your track (and any waypoints you marked while out) upon return. This gives you a record of all your trips and helps you prepare for future adventures in the same area.
  • If you have a track you’ve downloaded (or drawn from an aerial photo), you can load it to your GPS to see if you’re going where you thought you were!
  • Use your mapping software as a training aid. Download your track to create a record and compare distance, elevation gain, etc., with other outings.
  • Set your maps to print with a UTM grid, allowing you to easily pinpoint your location in the field.
  • Synchronize the clock on your digital camera to the time on your GPS. When you return home, download your track to TopoFusion and, using the PhotoFusion feature, clickable camera icons will automatically show where each photo was taken. Just click to see the picture!

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About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.

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