Sunday, March 18, 2012

Handheld GPS 101: Waypoints

This is the first post in a new series, designed to help introduce beginners to handheld GPS receivers.

GPS-101-waypointWaypoints are perhaps the single most important handheld GPS term, since they are key to navigation. So here’s our definition: A waypoint is a location which can be stored in your GPS receiver in the form of coordinates, allowing you to navigate to it. Each waypoint has a unique name or number assigned to it.

Select a waypoint and your handheld GPS can point you towards it and tell you the distance to the waypoint. Just remember that, with handheld units, the distance is generally given “as the crow flies” — a straight-line distance to the waypoint that doesn’t include all the twists and turns and switchbacks of the trail.

You may already be familiar with some specialized waypoints, such as geocache coordinates, or the points of interest (POIs) pre-loaded in auto GPS navigators.

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