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Using a GPS as a Navigational Aid

By Carlo Forte

A GPS should never be thought of as an alternative to a map and compass but they are an extremely useful additional tool. Here are a few points that are worth bearing in mind if you intend to use a GPS in the mountains.

Tip One

Using a GPS as a Navigational Aid

Proficiency with a map and compass is paramount. Transferring information to and from a map to a GPS receiver requires a certain amount of skill and knowledge.
Having traditional map and compass skills is also important in case the GPS technology lets you down.

Tip Two

Using a GPS as a Navigational Aid

Take time initially to make yourself really aware of all the functions of your GPS. This will save you time on the hill and prevent you from loading incorrect information or deleting valuable information by mistake.

Tip Three

Using a GPS as a Navigational Aid

Power is an issue. Make sure you have enough batteries for the trip, and remember the more you play with it on your journey the quicker you will run the batteries down.

Tip Four

Using a GPS as a Navigational Aid

Receivers need a clear view of the sky for satellite acquisition. This can be difficult if the unit is carried in your pocket. If carried in the top pocket of your rucksack, or better still mounted in some fashion on your shoulder strap, the receiver has a clear view of the sky allowing it to track your position accurately.

Tip Five

Using a GPS as a Navigational Aid

When plotting in waypoints on a route as you are walking, label each point in order with a number or letter (e.g. wall junction 1, stream 2, gate 3). So that if you wish to collate these points as a route later it is easier for you to remember the order.

Tip Six

Using a GPS as a Navigational Aid

It.s a good idea to clear the track log at the start of each walk. This will make it easier to use the track back function and retrace your steps back to the start of your walk. It will also mean you have plenty of memory available to hold your track information. This is especially true if you plan on a long walk or a short expedition.


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