/ Is the use of map and compass on the hills obsolete?

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PopShot on 13 Jun 2013
With recent leaps forward in GPS technology is the use of map and compass as navigation tools on the hill obsolete? I recently purchased a Memory Map GPS which displays full colour OS maps with my position displayed in real time. Very affordably priced and user-friendly too. Is the modern role of the map and compass as a back-up only or does anyone still use it as a primary navigation tool?
AlisonSmiles - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

I use them as primary navigation still. I did use the GPS but I felt like a sheep following a dot and realised if it went wrong or batteries ran out or it got wet I'd struggle to relocate myself on the map despite still carrying this. Now I use the GPS more as the back up and a pretty picture of where I've been when I get home! I feel slightly more in control of my destiny doing it the old fashioned way ...
Stone Muppet - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot: No. HTH. HAND. And get back under your bridge.
PopShot on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Stone Muppet: You think I'm trolling?
GrahamD - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

Map and Compass isn't obsolete for me - I don't have a GPS !
MG - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> is the use of map ... obsolete?... ...a Memory Map GPS which displays full colour OS maps

It would appear not.
PopShot on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to AlisonSmiles & GrahamD: I still plan on at least taking my map and compass. It just seems to me that the map & compass may be only used as a back-up in the future by most people or maybe it is already.
knthrak1982 on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

To some maybe, but we're hiking for enjoyment and navigation is a part of that.
PopShot on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to PopShot)
> [...]
>
> It would appear not.

I meant the use of the paper map. I think you know that.
davidbeynon - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

I'm going to go against the majority here & state that a phone with gps + mapping software, or even just photographs of the relevant maps is all you need for an exciting day on the hills.

Gear selection all a matter of what sort of experience you want to have after all.

I never bother to take a waterproof either, as a nice dry air taxi is only a phone call away.
Scomuir on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
No. Whereas using the GPS function in conjunction with an OS map app on the iPhone is superb, it loses it appeal when the battery goes flat...
PeterM - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

Is the use of map and compass on the hills obsolete? -No

does anyone still use it as a primary navigation tool? - Yes. Always.

Not enough info on them. Good few folk getting stuck in poor vis because they van't read a map (paper or electronic) direction is one thing, understanding and negotiating the terrain is another.
ring ouzel on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot: I'm with David on this. Light is right so a device which combines a map, torch (there's an app for that), phone to call for a lift home when it gets murky and games to while away the time waiting on a chopper (sometimes they take aaaages!!) makes sense to me. And I dont like going out without at least one branded item on so that people can see I'm a proper climber.
Tim Chappell - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to davidbeynon:
>
> I never bother to take a waterproof either, as a nice dry air taxi is only a phone call away.


Me, I play the Guessing Game! I dial 999 then set myself on fire, throw myself off the nearest cliff, and have to guess which casualty ward I wake up in!

Or mortuary, as the case may be.
PopShot on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to davidbeynon:
> (In reply to PopShot)
>
> I'm going to go against the majority here & state that a phone with gps + mapping software, or even just photographs of the relevant maps is all you need for an exciting day on the hills.
>
> Gear selection all a matter of what sort of experience you want to have after all.
>
> I never bother to take a waterproof either, as a nice dry air taxi is only a phone call away.


I'm not sure I would feel all that confident going out on the hills with just a photo of a map and no compass. Also going out without waterproofs is something I would avoid. Surely exposure is a condition we could all be susceptible to if we get wet and then cold.
Tim Chappell - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:


Have you tried going out with just a photo of your compass? Saves weight, and I find the photo can be very comforting in a Cairngorms blizzard.
Andy Say - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> With recent leaps forward in GPS technology is the use of map and compass as navigation tools on the hill obsolete?
No.
>I recently purchased a Memory Map GPS which displays full colour OS maps with my position displayed in real time.
So you are using maps?
>Is the modern role of the map and compass as a back-up only
No.
>does anyone still use it as a primary navigation tool?
Yes.

PopShot on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Andy Say: I was talking about the paper map being possibly obsolete.
Lankyman - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot: I often think I'm almost the only person using a map in a map case which is hanging around my neck (maybe other folks just keep them in a pocket?). I just like to know exactly where I am and also if there is anything of interest nearby (or further away!). Technology can get in the way sometimes. Last year, in Grizedale Forest I came across a couple with a smartphone who were trying to pinpoint one of the forest sculptures without a lot of success. We were standing almost next to it which I knew as I had my 10-year-old paper forest map with me.
Fiona Reid - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

Q: Is the use of map/compass on the hill obsolete?

A: No, if the technology fails (batteries run out, the kit gets wet or just fails to work) then a map/compass and the ability to use them could well be crucial.

Q: Does anyone still use it as a primary navigation tool?

A: Yes, map/compass are my preferred nav tools. I have a v. basic GPS and a phone with GPS + OS maps installed. I'd far rather have a map/compass than my GPS/phone. The GPS can tell me *where* I am but without a map it's not a lot of use. The phone + maps could certainly be used as an alternative but my phone battery would be lucky to last half a normal hill day with GPS turned on. I'd not like to try changing a battery in poor conditions.
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PopShot on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:
> (In reply to PopShot)
>
>
> Have you tried going out with just a photo of your compass? Saves weight, and I find the photo can be very comforting in a Cairngorms blizzard.

Haha! TGO magazine had an article a while back in which they suggested leaving the compass behind to save weight.
LastBoyScout on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

Of course it's not obsolete - I don't have a GPS, nor do I have any intention of buying one for going out on the hills.

I'd rather look at a proper map than a 3x4" (or whatever) screen.
Lankyman - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Karl Lunt: on occasion I have taken a photo of a map on a noticeboard, say, and used it to find my way around somewhere but it's a bit fiddly panning around the camera screen.
Pero - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot: There are lots of people, like me, who still use the map and compass as the primary navigation tool, with or without a GPS as a backup. For me, like others, part of the enjoyment of a day on the hill is the skill of navigating and route finding.

That said, GPS technology has advanced to the point where it's clearly a safe alternative to map and compass. Yes, the batteries could go flat, but a map can blow away and a compass can fall out of your pocket.

The one remaining skill that the GPS has not replaced is route-finding on steep terrain, where it's a case of using your eye and experience to scramble or pick your way through crags or navigate steep snow slopes. But, a map and compass don't help there either.

If someone uses a GPS now, I can't think of a strong argument against it on practical or safety grounds.
Rigid Raider - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Karl Lunt:

Exactly! Using a GPS is surely the equivalent of reading the map down a cardboard tube!

Maps every time for me, and since I've got the OS maps for all the interesting bits of the UK I have no intention of cluttering up my kitchen drawer or my rucsac with yet another seldom-used gadget.
Carolyn - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Rigid Raider:

> Exactly! Using a GPS is surely the equivalent of reading the map down a cardboard tube!

The flip side is it can be rather easier to zoom out on a GPS than take a map out and unfold to see what's over the fold......having used electronic mapping for 7 or 8 years in mountain rescue, I now kind of expect maps to zoom in and out, and I'm rather disappointed that paper ones don't!

Personally, I'm quite happy using GPS with mapping/smartphone as my primary navigation tool, and have been since you could get them with OS maps on screen (and saved on device).

I suspect this is because I tend to have a pretty good map memory, so would only tend to have the map out a few times on a walk anyhow (conditions and features dependent, fairly obviously - I might look just a little more often in a Cairngorm whiteout...).

I think a compass is still useful - I could doubtless make the GPS do it, but I find it easier to walk on a bearing on a traditional compass than start walking and see what my track does!

Planning a route is much easier on a bigger screen (desktop/tablet), but I'm quite happy doing that if it's somewhere I have electronic mapping for.
owlart - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot: I'd rather carry a paper map, as it allows me to see the wider picture than you get ona little GPS screen (zooming out is ok, but then you can't read the text or see the detail on those screens, or with my eyesight!). It's good to be able to look up to see what that hill is over there, or what the spire on the horizon is. Of course, the downside to paper is that whatever you want to look at is either over the fold, on the opposite side (I loath double-sided maps!), or just off the map you're carrying, whereas electronic versions are seamless.
stuart58 - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot: do you have batteries that keep their charge for ever
stuart58 - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to davidbeynon: you are the ones the ones that always meet the rescue teams .
PopShot on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to stuart58: Well no but I'm sure the battery when fully charged will provide ample running time for any hillwalk.
almost sane - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> (In reply to stuart58) Well no but I'm sure the battery when fully charged will provide ample running time for any hillwalk.

...as long as it is not very cold. When battery life gets a lot shorter.
And as long as there are no circumstances that might mean your walk takes a lot longer than you had planned.
colina - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
never had a gps however, used to have a satnav in van and although it was great to find a particular street or house in a large town,you don't really take notice how you arrived at your destination and consequently you don't really know where you are! .,,at least reading a map or road atlas , you know where you are! (at most times)..if that makes sense!!
GrahamD - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

> I was talking about the paper map being possibly obsolete.

It is with the new BMC plastic maps which are waterproof and can be stuffed straight in the pocket.

What the sheet map does allow you to do is replan a route very quickly depending on whether you just want to head somewhere interesting or decide you need a bail out plan. You don't need to take your gloves off to do this.

PopShot on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to colina:
> (In reply to PopShot)
> never had a gps however, used to have a satnav in van and although it was great to find a particular street or house in a large town,you don't really take notice how you arrived at your destination and consequently you don't really know where you are! .,,at least reading a map or road atlas , you know where you are! (at most times)..if that makes sense!!

That's an excellent point actually. Using the GPS one tends to just follow the screen and if it suddenly cuts out for any reason it may not be easy to suddenly know where you are or from whence you came!
captain paranoia - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

> Using the GPS one tends to just follow the screen

I sometimes use a mapping GPS just like I'd use a paper map. Only with the added benefit of an 'electronic thumb' thumbing the map for me. I've never used a GPS to 'follow a route', since I rarely follow routes, preferring to find my own way in the countryside. And, when doing this, the GPS is usually off anyway, since I'm following the ground. I'll have a look at the GPS to confirm where I am, and check the map, but mostly, it's not used.

Combine a low-power GPS receiver with an e-ink, flexible display, and then we might reach the point of paper map obsolescence...
PopShot on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to captain paranoia:
> (In reply to PopShot)
>
> [...]
>
> I sometimes use a mapping GPS just like I'd use a paper map. Only with the added benefit of an 'electronic thumb' thumbing the map for me. I've never used a GPS to 'follow a route', since I rarely follow routes, preferring to find my own way in the countryside. And, when doing this, the GPS is usually off anyway, since I'm following the ground. I'll have a look at the GPS to confirm where I am, and check the map, but mostly, it's not used.
>
> Combine a low-power GPS receiver with an e-ink, flexible display, and then we might reach the point of paper map obsolescence...

Previous to buying the mapping GPS I had a basic, Garmin Etrex 10 and only used it for the occasional grid reference to check my location on a paper map.
george mc - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

Nope. In the winter there I was involved in a rescue - truly shite weather and conditions. Not one person's GPS unit worked - must have due to atmospherics/terrain. I ended up naving the team in using a map/compass/pacing and timing.

So yup new GPS stuff brilliant but you still need the fall back of the old map and compass cos like all technology it certainly is not fool proof. Anyone who thinks technology is fool proof is a, well....
In reply to PopShot: Map and compass every time for me. I very rarely take my GPS and on the rare occasions I do take it, it stays in my rucsac unused.
Ben Sharp - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to davidbeynon:
> (In reply to PopShot)
> I never bother to take a waterproof either, as a nice dry air taxi is only a phone call away.

Helps if they know where you are!

Seriously though having a map could save someones life and it's hardly a big weight, having a compass can do the same if your map blows away. No ones weight conscious enough to worry about a compass, a button one if you're desperately chasing those gossamer dreams.
In reply to PopShot: Map and compass every time for me. I very rarely take my GPS and on the rare occasions I do take it, it stays in my rucsac unused. And I've pulled it out of the pack once in a winter blizzard from hell, and it couldn't detect any satellites.
andyathome - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to colina:
> (In reply to PopShot)
> never had a gps however, used to have a satnav in van and although it was great to find a particular street or house in a large town,you don't really take notice how you arrived at your destination and consequently you don't really know where you are! .,,at least reading a map or road atlas , you know where you are! (at most times)..if that makes sense!!

Spot on! When I first used a satnav to drive to the Alps I was quite surprised to realise that I actually had no bloody idea where in France I was at any time. A satnav induces an orienteering-like 'tunnel-vision' where you just follow a 'line' without knowing what is around you. You go from A to B with little peripheral vision or intelligence.

GPS encourages that sort of 'straight-line' mentality. When they produce one that will automatically direct me round crags and not suggest that the best routes is down that waterfall I might be interested. But probably not.
andyathome - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to andyathome:
Oh. And when was the last time you really needed to use map/compass or GPS to dig you out of the shit?
OwenM - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> (In reply to stuart58) Well no but I'm sure the battery when fully charged will provide ample running time for any hillwalk.

Doesn't that depend on how long you are planning to be out walking, what about long backpacking trips. I don't know how long a set of batteries last on a modern GPS but doubt it's as long as a week or two.

Tim Chappell - on 13 Jun 2013
In answer to George Mc:

Anyone who thinks technology is fool proof is, well....


...proved a fool?

highclimber - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> .... Is the modern role of the map and compass as a back-up only or does anyone still use it as a primary navigation tool?

Too many people do!
Carolyn - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to george mc:

> Nope. In the winter there I was involved in a rescue - truly shite weather and conditions. Not one person's GPS unit worked - must have due to atmospherics/terrain. I ended up naving the team in using a map/compass/pacing and timing.
>
> So yup new GPS stuff brilliant but you still need the fall back of the old map and compass cos like all technology it certainly is not fool proof. Anyone who thinks technology is fool proof is a, well....

Problems with touchscreen in the damp are the most common problem I've found. And really pretty common with some units.

Equally, I can think of a rescue where team members unexpectedly ended up out of area, and so off the edge of the paper map. The GPS in the bottom of the saf had flat batteries, but they managed to cobble together a working unit by taking batteries from a head torch, at least for long enough to get a position and formulate a plan.

But yeah. Both have their place. And GPS is far more use if you're a very competent map reader. I find the suggestion you're just following a line rather than reading a map very strange; that's certainly not how I use it.

xplorer on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:

"In answer to George Mc:

Anyone who thinks technology is fool proof is, well....


...proved a fool?"

Would you count a map and compass as technology?
xplorer on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

Maps, compass, GPS, pace counters etc etc, there all tools of the trade.

Whatever you use is up to you, if you have all the tools, you're even less likely to get lost.

GPS yes they can fail in many ways, but as we all know maps can fail you too, there never one hundred percent accurate.

I've been in two situations where using a OS 1:25000 and a OS 1:50000, both maps were showing different locations to a bothy. I didn't find the bothy until the next morning. When I got home I research and found both maps were completely wrong.
DancingOnRock - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to OwenM:
> (In reply to PopShot)
> [...]
>
> Doesn't that depend on how long you are planning to be out walking, what about long backpacking trips. I don't know how long a set of batteries last on a modern GPS but doubt it's as long as a week or two.

My iPhone lasts about 4 hours, my etrex a day and a half.

The technology isn't there yet. iPad is probably as small as I would want.

Touchscreens don't like being smashed against rocks, paper is a bit more forgiving.
Jim C - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to almost sane:
> (In reply to PopShot)
> [...]
>
> ...as long as it is not very cold. When battery life gets a lot shorter.
> And as long as there are no circumstances that might mean your walk takes a lot longer than you had planned.

Batteries in mine last About 16 hours- rechargeable( - weather dependent )
I leave mine on, in or on my sack to keep the tracks, I can get a huge amount of data from a download which just lets your day out go a bit further after you are home.

And of course you have your tracks if it goes tits up weather wise, and gives you a quick safe track- back if you need it.

( and I always have extra batteries, but batteries apart, it s an electronic device and can just stop working)
JamButty - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot: I've had a GPS be 200m out for 15mins, on a clear night, in an open area not near anything. It said I had 6+ satellites. Switched it on/off and after 15 mins wandering around the same area it seemed to sort itself out and become more accurate
We couldn't explain why - were the Yanks playing around or something I don't know.

Great tool for backup, but always be competent with map/compass
colina - on 13 Jun 2013
In reply to andyathome:
> (In reply to colina)
> [...]
>
> Spot on! When I first used a satnav to drive to the Alps I was quite surprised to realise that I actually had no bloody idea where in France I was at any time. A satnav induces an orienteering-like 'tunnel-vision' where you just follow a 'line' without knowing what is around you. You go from A to B with little peripheral vision or intelligence.
>
> GPS encourages that sort of 'straight-line' mentality. When they produce one that will automatically direct me round crags and not suggest that the best routes is down that waterfall I might be interested. But probably not.

my thoughts too!

george mc - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to xplorer:
> (In reply to Tim Chappell)
>
> "In answer to George Mc:
>
> Anyone who thinks technology is fool proof is, well....
>
>
> ...proved a fool?"
>
> Would you count a map and compass as technology?

Yup - low tech but still technology. maps blow away, compasses are dropped/broken. In committing conditions you always need a back up - in the low tech case spare map and worth having a spare compass (leastways in your team).
Rigid Raider - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

I can see the value of GPS for, say, a courier doing deliveries in unfamiliar areas. However when I reluctantly borrowed one from a colleague I realised you need a certain amount of care when using GPS; I tried to use it to find a customer and as it directed me through a housing estate to a big house with ostentatious gates my cycnicism was confirmed. I 'phoned the company and when I described the house they told me I was outside the registered head office, i.e. the boss's house! And yes, at that point I realised I was completely lost, I had absolutely no landmarks in my head at all so I had to work out how to reprogramme the damned thing to the correct postcode. I'd have got there sooner by studying Google Maps and working out a sensible route.

The same colleague used the GPS while following five minutes behind me to a restaurant for lunch. I spotted a traffic jam ahead and dived off the dual-carriageway onto the old parallel A road. I 'phoned him and warned him to do the same. He arrived 30 minutes late and confessed that at the first opportunity the GPS had directed him to join the dual carriageway.... which he had done without thinking.... straight into the monster traffic jam!
ice.solo - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

i head out regularly with a map/compass (and altimeter) and no gps, but wouldnt go out with gps only.

nothing as such against gps in itself - its the batteries i mostly have a problem with.
LJC - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot: The nice walker with a snazzy yellow, colour screen gps was very pleased to see our paper map when he was lost (!!!) on the path to Scafell last week.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 14 Jun 2013

Most of the anti-GPS comments are talking about old versions of GPS or turn-by-turn GPS in cars rather than modern systems displaying your location over OS mapping stored on the phone. No one is arguing that the older GPS systems which had difficulty finding satellites or just displayed grid refs or Google maps or car systems are as good as map and compass. However, a smartphone less than two years old with O/S mapping in memory plus a waterproof case plus a big reserve battery is a very good solution for all but extreme conditions. In extreme conditions one of the ruggedised GPS would still be better than map and compass.

The next question is whether map and compass are even useful as a backup or whether a second GPS would be better.
mockerkin on 14 Jun 2013
Carolyn - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
>
> Most of the anti-GPS comments are talking about old versions of GPS or turn-by-turn GPS in cars rather than modern systems displaying your location over OS mapping stored on the phone.

Yes, I agree. Old GPS that just displayed a grid ref got used about 3 times in 10 years, and then only to see how accurate it was. Built in mapping makes it an entirely different piece of kit, and one I was sold on almost immediately.

Impressive how many anti GPS comments come from people who've never used them, too!
rallymania - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

i use a GPS as a tracking tool and a backup incase i find myself miss placed

but as many people have already said

the battries never go flat on a paper map and magnetic compass and you can always read them in bright sunlight (yes, it does happen in scotland sometime)

but then i carry a head torch in my bag all year round too :-)



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Simon Caldwell - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
Map and compass are not obsolete, and will not be so long as GPSs are banned for use in mountain marathons and other orienteering competitions. MMs seem to be getting more and more popular, so there's clearly no shortage of the necessary navigation skills.
Nevis-the-cat - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

Maps and compassusussssessssusussses still work when wet.
Carolyn - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to mockerkin:

The MemoryMap unit is less than intuitive in my experience, far less so than their smartphone/tablet app, and some other brands.

Sure, that review highlights some potential issues with a particular brand/model, but that's rather similar to claiming compasses aren't much use by quoting a review of one without a baseplate. ;-)

Fundamentally, you need to be able to read a map well to move safely in the hills. If it's a paper one or an electronic one is a much more minor issue. Other skills, like pacing or walking on a bearing are also useful in some conditions, and can be used in conjunction with either.
davidbeynon - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:
> (In reply to PopShot)
>
>
> Have you tried going out with just a photo of your compass? Saves weight, and I find the photo can be very comforting in a Cairngorms blizzard.

One picture is a bit too minimalist for safe navigation if you ask me. A modern memory card should be able to hold 360 pictures of the compass, one for each possible bearing.
PopShot on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to Carolyn:
> (In reply to mockerkin)
>
>
> Fundamentally, you need to be able to read a map well to move safely in the hills. If it's a paper one or an electronic one is a much more minor issue. Other skills, like pacing or walking on a bearing are also useful in some conditions, and can be used in conjunction with either.

True. I just meant is the combination of compass and paper map obsolete with the electronics that are now available. it appears not though. Most folks on here seem to like to still use a paper map. I've yet to make up my mind personally.
Nevis-the-cat - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

I use GPS and a GPS chart plotter on the boat

I also back it up with paper chart and hourly fix.

I've been in the position where the electonics have gone bang, in a big big storm, and it was the chart, the sighting compass and the mark 1 eyeball that got us home.

Paper everytime for me.
Robert Durran - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> With recent leaps forward in GPS technology is the use of map and compass as navigation tools on the hill obsolete?

No

Come to think of it, does anyone actually know anyone who uses GPS? I don't know anyone. Maybe the people who go on about it on here are so busy uploading stuff that they never actually go outside. I've only ever seen them prominently displayed in special pouches on rucksack straps of people with loads of flashy branded gear very close to carparks.
Carolyn - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> Come to think of it, does anyone actually know anyone who uses GPS? I don't know anyone. Maybe the people who go on about it on here are so busy uploading stuff that they never actually go outside. I've only ever seen them prominently displayed in special pouches on rucksack straps of people with loads of flashy branded gear very close to carparks.

And I suppose if your map isn't visibly hanging round your neck in a map case, you don't use one?
Simon Caldwell - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> does anyone actually know anyone who uses GPS?

no. though most of my outdoor friends do mountain marathons, so need to practice mapwork, or of my age group and older so are unlikely to change, or (the majority) rely on other people to do the navigation for them. oh, and some refuse to climb at any crags with more than a 10 minute walk in,. so don't need maps anyway.
Skol on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
Which edition and who wrote the article?
I doubt it was one of the older writers , though may stand corrected!
Stopped buying the magazine as it is the new edition of Trail!
PopShot on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to Skol:
> (In reply to PopShot)
> Which edition and who wrote the article?
> I doubt it was one of the older writers , though may stand corrected!
> Stopped buying the magazine as it is the new edition of Trail!

Oh the TGO article? I don't know. I agree it's become a clone of Trail :(
Robert Durran - on 14 Jun 2013
In reply to Carolyn:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> And I suppose if your map isn't visibly hanging round your neck in a map case, you don't use one?

Fair point, but I'm wondering if anyone has ever seen one in actual use.

Climbing Pieman on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Carolyn)
> [...]
>
> Fair point, but I'm wondering if anyone has ever seen one in actual use.

Yes many times. I know someone who uses a GPS as they can't navigate at all unless their route has been mapped and uploaded beforehand! He did all the munros this way and now on Corbetts. I have also seen one beIng used wrongly set up - they were in a different place to where they thought they were! It took a lot of convincing them that I knew where I was and so their GPS was wrongly set up. I did not even have mine on that time and was navigating by map. However, I usually use a GPS on my walks so anyone seeing me on the hills will see a GPS in action. Never upload, just use it similar like I do a map and compass but with the added advantages of its easier esp to measure distances, in pacing, in white outs, etc. I also carry a map and compass though and know how to use them. I often take the map out of the sack to identify features like surrounding hills and lochs etc. I have a tendency to take my own routes rather than be stuck with traditionally used routes and the GPS to me allows it easier to deviate if I see something of interest. Like recently when I found the remains of an aircraft well off intended route. Personal choice to use a GPS as I find it easier and allows me to enjoy the environment I'm in more fully than being a slave to holding a compass bearing/continually checking a map/etc. Overall though I know more who own a GPS but don't use it! Map and compass is far from dead even with modern technology IMO.
Lukem6 - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot: Map and Compass, learn the skills and your better off with a light weight piece of paper and compass.
Batteries cant die on a map and compass, A laminated map is more water proof, doesn't break when you drop it and I've met more people on the hills lost because of solely relying on a gps but yet to find someone lost with a map and compass - But at least with a map and compass you can find home eventually
Lukem6 - on 15 Jun 2013
PopShot on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Climbing Pieman:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
> [...]
>
> ... just use it similar like I do a map and compass but with the added advantages of its easier esp to measure distances, in pacing, in white outs, etc. I also carry a map and compass though and know how to use them. I often take the map out of the sack to identify features like surrounding hills and lochs etc. I have a tendency to take my own routes rather than be stuck with traditionally used routes and the GPS to me allows it easier to deviate if I see something of interest. Like recently when I found the remains of an aircraft well off intended route. Personal choice to use a GPS as I find it easier and allows me to enjoy the environment I'm in more fully than being a slave to holding a compass bearing/continually checking a map/etc. Overall though I know more who own a GPS but don't use it! Map and compass is far from dead even with modern technology IMO.

I agree. All that pacing and timing can be a right pain in the arse when you can just get the GPS out!
Climbing Pieman on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to lm610:
> (In reply to PopShot) Map and Compass, learn the skills and your better off with a light weight piece of paper and compass.
> Batteries cant die on a map and compass, A laminated map is more water proof, doesn't break when you drop it and I've met more people on the hills lost because of solely relying on a gps but yet to find someone lost with a map and compass - But at least with a map and compass you can find home eventually

I think that everyone should learn (and practice) how to use a map and compass, and must IMO before using a GPS as you have to have the ability to query it or revert to map and compass. But maps can and do get blown away, compasses distorted, folk can't use them, etc, etc. Personally, I have had to help only one GPS user off a hill but numerous strangers (lost count) off hills relying on map and compasses. No matter what the chosen navigation method there are risks associated. Some folk though do cause themselves problems of their own making; like the guy I met asking for help on the Aonach Eagach with only a coffee table type of book that had a freehand sketch of a map, or the many times on munros folk with just photocopies of a Munro guidebook!
Also, how many competent walkers have got it wrong occasionally no matter what their method of navigation? I admit I have convinced myself in a whiteout where I was on a map when actually I was not. On a winter skills course I was on even the instructor messed up (and then reacted badly and proceeded to abandon us on the hill - that is another matter though).
For me, I'll swap between using a GPS and map/compass as my primary method depending on mood, weather, etc.
Climbing Pieman on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> (In reply to Climbing Pieman)
> [...]
>
> I agree. All that pacing and timing can be a right pain in the arse when you can just get the GPS out!

As I have got old(er), I have less and less ability to pace accurately anyway :-).
PopShot on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Climbing Pieman:
> (In reply to PopShot)
> [...]
>
> As I have got old(er), I have less and less ability to pace accurately anyway :-).

I'm not denying the usefulness of pacing it's just it can be a bit of a pain.
Climbing Pieman on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> (In reply to Climbing Pieman)
> [...]
>
> I'm not denying the usefulness of pacing it's just it can be a bit of a pain.
Exactly. Something everyone should know how to do but hopefully never need to use in anger. Much easier to use the GPS :-).
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PopShot on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Climbing Pieman:
> (In reply to PopShot)
> [...]
> Exactly. Something everyone should know how to do but hopefully never need to use in anger. Much easier to use the GPS :-).

Well yeah fair point :)
Simon Caldwell - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Climbing Pieman:
> they can't navigate at all unless their route has been mapped and uploaded beforehand!

What happens if they need to cut the day short because the weather turns?
DancingOnRock - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot: I once got into an argument with my friend about where we were on a hill. I pointed out lots of features and took 2 back bearings and he still disagreed where we were.

So we bought out the GPS to settle it.

The GPS said I was wrong and he was right, so begrudgingly I set off in what I was convinced was still the wrong path.

10mins later we came to a lake that was in the 'wrong' place according to my friend and the GPS. He then agreed I was right and both he and the GPS were wrong.

Another time I was out with a large group and came to a large lake that wasn't on any of our 4 maps. It had been built too recently and it wasn't until we got higher up and looked back down on it that the map made any sense.

GPS, maps and compasses are all useful tools but sometimes they're all wrong.
Climbing Pieman on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Toreador:
> (In reply to Climbing Pieman)
> [...]
>
> What happens if they need to cut the day short because the weather turns?
Who knows :-). I've not heard him having been in trouble and he is very meticulous in planning so maybe he just does not go out if weather likely to change and others not about. I've only walked with him a few times and he relied on me to navigate when there was any diversion from his intended route. Quite why he has never learned to navigate I don't know - he does have some sight problem so that maybe part of it.
PopShot on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Climbing Pieman:
> (In reply to Toreador)
> [...]
> Who knows :-). I've not heard him having been in trouble and he is very meticulous in planning so maybe he just does not go out if weather likely to change and others not about. I've only walked with him a few times and he relied on me to navigate when there was any diversion from his intended route. Quite why he has never learned to navigate I don't know - he does have some sight problem so that maybe part of it.

I would say that map and compass are easier to use than GPS most of the time.
Climbing Pieman on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> (In reply to Climbing Pieman)
> [...]
>
> I would say that map and compass are easier to use than GPS most of the time.

Only if you know how to use them so have to disagree! Once a GPS has been set up, if you plan on a pc and download in the peace and quiet of your home, I think it is much easier to then just follow the pointer on the GPS compass especially if it shows a deviation from intended route which his does. Little ongoing thought is needed unlike map and compass. Is it not similar to car sat navs that driver just follow whatever it says?
PopShot on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Climbing Pieman:
> (In reply to PopShot)
> [...]
>
> Only if you know how to use them so have to disagree! Once a GPS has been set up, if you plan on a pc and download in the peace and quiet of your home, I think it is much easier to then just follow the pointer on the GPS compass especially if it shows a deviation from intended route which his does. Little ongoing thought is needed unlike map and compass. Is it not similar to car sat navs that driver just follow whatever it says?

Well some units are more user friendly than others but yes you have a point.
Indy - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot: I think the interesting question here is has anyone had a GPS fail in an unforseeable way? Lots of people talk of dead batteries, wetted out units etc but with forethought should this be happening?

Lots of people talk of maps as being infalible yet many a good map reader has made mistakes even fatal ones when under pressure or in terrible or non idea conditions.

A map or a GPS theyre only tools. Map readers/users IMHO should stop looking down on those that use GPS as 2nd class citizens of the outdoors. BTW I use both :)
Jim C - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to DancingOnRock:
> (In reply to PopShot) I once got into an argument with my friend about where we were on a hill. I pointed out lots of features and took 2 back bearings and he still disagreed where we were.
>
> So we bought out the GPS to settle it.....
>
> 10mins later we came to a lake that was in the 'wrong' place according to my friend and the GPS. He then agreed I was right and both he and the GPS were wrong...

I have known a GPS to fail, but not to give a position that was wrong,( assuming that it was set properly on the UK Grid and had t least 3 sats ) And for that 'error' then to happen match up with someone's map reading error , must be billions to one!

Did you throw the GPS away?
george mc - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Indy:

See my earlier post - batteries all good - multiple GPS systems and not one could pick up a signal in very challenging conditions in winter.
Climbing Pieman on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Indy:
> (In reply to PopShot) I think the interesting question here is has anyone had a GPS fail in an unforseeable way? Lots of people talk of dead batteries, wetted out units etc but with forethought should this be happening?
Yes, I have - twice (two different units)! Once with relatively minor button failure rendering any changes on the hill impossible and the other a total unexplained and unrecoverable malfunction (was under warranty for that one fortunately). Maybe that is why I also use map and compass :-).
Climbing Pieman on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to george mc:
> (In reply to Indy)
>
> See my earlier post - batteries all good - multiple GPS systems and not one could pick up a signal in very challenging conditions in winter.

Out of interest what where the units? I've had a basic one fail to find signals, but so far not my Garmin 62S. I would have thought mountain rescue ones to be higher gain ones, so interested in what models you use.
tripehound - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
Technology has a habit of breaking down or locking up just when you really need it..

The law of the sod.
Jim C - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Indy:
> (In reply to PopShot)
>
> A map or a GPS theyre only tools. Map readers/users IMHO should stop looking down on those that use GPS as 2nd class citizens of the outdoors. BTW I use both :)

I have had quite a few occasions that prove map and compass are fallible (in experienced hands, ) it is not uncommon in my experience at least, for some of a group to disagree, and plainly someone is wrong.

When the GPS has been the arbiter in really bad conditions, sometimes everyone is wrong.

As I said before, I have never known , an operating GPS ( properly set) , to give a wrong co-ordinate, if it goes wrong it is usually obvious,.
Robert Durran - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Toreador:
> (In reply to Climbing Pieman)
> [...]
>
> What happens if they need to cut the day short because the weather turns?

Or just decide to change their plan.

Lusk - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

Do GPSs work in The Cuillins? :-)
Robert Durran - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> (In reply to Climbing Pieman)
> I agree. All that pacing and timing can be a right pain in the arse when you can just get the GPS out!

And all that walking can be a right pain in the arse when you can just stay at home.

Robert Durran - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Indy:
Map readers/users IMHO should stop looking down on those that use GPS as 2nd class citizens of the outdoors.

Should we also stop looking down on top ropers and other lower forms of life?
Alan M - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

Map and compass primary navigational for me. I carry an old basic Garmin Etrek at the bottom of my bag just for a grid reference in emergencies.

I've had the GPS 8-9 years and have only used it once in anger and that was in winter when a friend twisted an ankle during a storm. We managed to relocate using the map but having the GPS confirm the position definitely reduced the stress in that situation.

For me GPS is definitely useful as part of a navigation/hill safety system but I am yet to be convinced that it should be the primary system. Saying that I have never used one of those devices that displays the OS maps etc so will read this thread with interest.
Robert Durran - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Alan M:
> (In reply to PopShot)
>
> I carry an old basic Garmin Etrek at the bottom of my bag just for a grid reference in emergencies.

So a bit like carrying a bolt kit "just in case".
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Alan M - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Alan M)
> [...]
>
> So a bit like carrying a bolt kit "just in case".

Not really, I don't see how you can draw the same comparison.

Read what I put - my primary navigation is 'Map and Compass'. I have a GPS in my bag that has been used once in 8-9 years or so during a winter storm. My climbing partner picked up an injury we managed to relocate using traditional methods but having a 'second' method to confirm location took the stress out of that situation - This meant that we could concentrate on getting ourselves off the hill in the fastest and safest method (we did not use MRT - nor did we know the extent of his injury at that time other than he was no use in the navigation due to pain and not being able to put wait on the ankle for around 20 mins he practically crawled until the pain eased).

Carrying a bolt kit is not even a comparison that can be drawn.



PopShot on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Indy) Should we also stop looking down on top ropers and other lower forms of life?

Eugh no! I have no respect for people who say they have done a route and then find out they top roped it!
Robert Durran - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> Eugh no! I have no respect for people who say they have done a route and then find out they top roped it!

And I have no respect for people who say they can navigate and then find they use GPS.

PopShot on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to PopShot)
> [...]
>
> And I have no respect for people who say they can navigate and then find they use GPS.

Hehe!
Robert Durran - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Alan M:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> Not really, I don't see how you can draw the same comparison.
>
> Read what I put - my primary navigation is 'Map and Compass'.

I did read it. Hence why a bolt kit at the bottom of the sack is such a good analogy.

> Carrying a bolt kit is not even a comparison that can be drawn.

Yes it is - a get out of jail free card when things don't work out. Having someone ready at the top of the crag ready with a top rope would be another excellent analogy.

Carolyn - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:

> So a bit like carrying a bolt kit "just in case".

Nah, more like carrying cams as well as hexes ;-)
Robert Durran - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Carolyn:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> Nah, more like carrying cams as well as hexes ;-)

No, because drilling the rock for a belay or direct use of satellites for navigation are crude and unaesthetic sledgehammers to crack a nut, whereas cams are really just fancy nuts.



Alan M - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Alan M)
> [...]
>
> I did read it. Hence why a bolt kit at the bottom of the sack is such a good analogy.
>
> [...]
>
> Yes it is - a get out of jail free card when things don't work out. Having someone ready at the top of the crag ready with a top rope would be another excellent analogy.

So please tell me what you would have done in a similar situation - Just you and your partner, possible broken ankle we didn't know at that time but he was in pain but willing to try and get himself down. No other climbers/hill goers around to help. Mid January on the top of the Scafells in a winter storm and getting dark and heavy snow so no paths to follow.

I would put it to you that most would phone Mountain Rescue and wait for them to turn up. Using traditional navigation techniques we relocated before the GPS even got a signal. When the GPS kicked in it confirmed our position. That reduced the stress and allowed us to concentrate on getting down the hill.

I get the feeling that you are just looking for a fight.
Lusk - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

To all the people approving the use of GPS on the hills, you know the next thing that will happen is that them there hills will be infested with GPS wielding CHAVS!
PopShot on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Lusk:
> (In reply to PopShot)
>
> To all the people approving the use of GPS on the hills, you know the next thing that will happen is that them there hills will be infested with GPS wielding CHAVS!

They will have GPS on their phones agh!
Jim C - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Alan M:
> (In reply to PopShot)
>
> For me GPS is definitely useful as part of a navigation/hill safety system but I am yet to be convinced that it should be the primary system. Saying that I have never used one of those devices that displays the OS maps etc so will read this thread with interest.

A mapping GPS map just the same map as the paper map, apart that you can zoom it in and out and it overs a much anger area.

The interpretation skills are exactly the same. You can of course supplement the map with routes etc, however, but unless you ave bought routes, you still have to interpret the map to plot your route, just like my mate does with a pencil. I don't see the difference myself.
Carolyn - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:

Nah, because getting your position from GPS is just a quicker alternative to working it out by other techniques in many circumstances. It doesn't do away with the need for broader navigation skills, to be able to read a map, and relate that to the ground and find a safe route.

I've come across many people "lost" whilst in possession of a GPS - one who stands out in my memory had map, compass, and was able to give me a 10 figure grid reference - but was still unable to convert this into finding a way down (despite being less than 50m from a decent path marked on the map)
Jim C - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to LastBoyScout:
> (In reply to PopShot)
>
> Of course it's not obsolete - I don't have a GPS, nor do I have any intention of buying one for going out on the hills.
>
> I'd rather look at a proper map than a 3x4" (or whatever) screen.

And if I met you on the hill lost in a storm, and offered you a GPS co-ordinate to reposition yourself, you would of course refuse it on principle?
PopShot on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Carolyn:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>

> I've come across many people "lost" whilst in possession of a GPS - one who stands out in my memory had map, compass, and was able to give me a 10 figure grid reference - but was still unable to convert this into finding a way down (despite being less than 50m from a decent path marked on the map)

Outrageous but a common event I suspect! I've ran into people in Wales, Lakes and Scotland who were lost and just had a guidebook but no map or a GPS, map and compass but no clue how to use them.
Robert Durran - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Alan M:
> (In reply to Robert Durran)
>
> So please tell me what you would have done in a similar situation

Simple. I'd have made do with traditional navigation. Just like if you don't carry a bolt kit, you make do with traditional protection.

> I would put it to you that most would phone Mountain Rescue and wait for them to turn up. Using traditional navigation techniques we relocated before the GPS even got a signal. When the GPS kicked in it confirmed our position.

So a bit like drilling a bolt beside a perfectly good crack.

> I get the feeling that you are just looking for a fight.

I prefer to call it an argument.

Jim C - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Lusk:
> (In reply to PopShot)
>
> To all the people approving the use of GPS on the hills, you know the next thing that will happen is that them there hills will be infested with GPS wielding CHAVS!

The MRT guys I know have GPS, in fact I got my GPS through a friend in the MRT.

So are you saying that you are disapproving of the MRT that use GPS?
Lusk - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> (In reply to Lusk)
> [...]
>
> They will have GPS on their phones agh!

I never seem to get a signal.
If we ever meet out there; me in my Shellsuit, without either a map, compass or GPS, chain smoking and possibly slurping on a can of ale; please say hello...I'm middle class really!
Robert Durran - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Jim C:
> (In reply to Lusk)
> So are you saying that you are disapproving of the MRT that use GPS?

I do. And those big yellow helicopters - completely take away the challenge of a proper rescue.

Simon Caldwell - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> Or just decide to change their plan.

Indeed. Some of my best hill days have been when I've changed plan, because I'm going well and add on an extra hill or two, or because I just see a different route that looks good.
Alan M - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Alan M)
> [...]
>
> Simple. I'd have made do with traditional navigation. Just like if you don't carry a bolt kit, you make do with traditional protection.
>

Well great for you... are you missing this bit 'so did I'. Are you also missing the bit that says we relocated even before the GPS got a signal? The GPS was used solely as secondary confirmation of our position. I have used it once in 8-9 years in a scenario that I thought warranted it.

At no point am I advocating GPS as the primary navigation source read my first post. I am saying it can be useful as part of a system. What that system is, is up to the individual in may case a gps, which confirms a grid reference only and used once in the last 8-9 years I am happy with that!!

> [...]
>
> So a bit like drilling a bolt beside a perfectly good crack.
>

What would you do if in the heat of the moment you made a navigational error and the situation worsened meaning that you needed MRT?.... you cant give them a location or a last know point as you didn't know your location in the first place. Please don't say that you could never make a navigational error in a stressful situation, such as seeing a close mate nearly crying in pain, crawling along the floor and while in a winter storm on your first winter trip to that area...because if you do, I know you are a bullshitter!!

> [...]
>
> I prefer to call it an argument.

Argument, fight, discussion - I'm not that fussed.

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Lusk - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Jim C)
> [...]
>
> I do. And those big yellow helicopters - completely take away the challenge of a proper rescue.

I'd complain if I was rescued by the use of GPS...OK, make an exception.

I've only ever got lost once, on the 10 minute walk from Standing Stones back to the road, we were circling around for about 2 hours!!!
PopShot on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Jim C:
> (In reply to Lusk)
> [...]
>
> The MRT guys I know have GPS, in fact I got my GPS through a friend in the MRT.
>
> So are you saying that you are disapproving of the MRT that use GPS?

Here's a question, what GPS units do the MRT guys use?
Orgsm on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to PopShot)
> [...]
>
> And I have no respect for people who say they can navigate and then find they use GPS.

I have no respect on people who say they can navigate and rely on map and compass.

Only a hill - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
I always used to be strictly against the use of GPS but in recent years I've become a convert. I use Viewranger on my smartphone and in my opinion most of the arguments against GPS have disappeared in recent years.

1. I use a waterproof and shockproof case for my phone which makes it almost impossible to break on the hill.
2. I carry a 12,000 mAh power brick which can charge my phone from flat six times over. I also know how to keep LiIon batteries working in low temperatures. This means running out of battery is never a concern even on a week-long backpacking trip.
3. I have *never* been in a situation when I've been unable to get a GPS lock even under the worst conditions.
4. The phone could crash or malfunction, but then again so could my compass, which is frankly a far more fragile device than my smartphone when encased in its arrmour...

Needless to say, I still carry a paper map and compass when in the hills and keep my skills up to date, but I use them less and less frequently.

Are paper maps obsolete? Not by a long way, but the vast majority of reasons against the use of smartphone technology for navigation are disappearing fast. As with traditional navigation techniques, you obviously have to be trained in its use and anyone going into the hills trying to use Google Maps is an idiot! Equally idiotic are people who are opinionated against GPS, largely based on information and views that are many years out of date.

I predict that paper maps will be completely obsolete within twenty years.
Jim C - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> (In reply to Jim C)
> [...]
>
> Here's a question, what GPS units do the MRT guys use?

It was a simple yellow etrex that I was offered, but no idea what that particular group use now. That was some years ago, and I did not ask if all MRT used the same GPS.

Why do you ask, it sounds like a test ( are you inferring I am lying,?)

The guy is only two doors away, if you want me to get him in to answer more questions?
Lusk - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Only a hill:
> (In reply to PopShot)
> Equally idiotic are people who are opinionated against GPS, largely based on information and views that are many years out of date.
>
> I predict that paper maps will be completely obsolete within twenty years.

!?!?!?!?!?!?!?
Says he who embraces the old style mountaineering values!!!!
Only a hill - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Lusk:
> (In reply to Only a hill)
> [...]
>
> !?!?!?!?!?!?!?
> Says he who embraces the old style mountaineering values!!!!

I'm also a massive technology geek :P

In all seriousness, smart technology is becoming ubiquitous at an unprecedented rate. In 2007 virtually nobody had a smartphone; now almost half of all UK adults own one. In the coming decades leaps in display and battery technology will radically alter these devices. Waterproof tech is already in the mainstream (eg. Sony Xperia Z). I honestly think that, whether we like it or not, paper maps will become a niche product in the next couple of decades.
PopShot on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Jim C:
> (In reply to PopShot)
> [...]
>
> It was a simple yellow etrex that I was offered, but no idea what that particular group use now. That was some years ago, and I did not ask if all MRT used the same GPS.
>
> Why do you ask, it sounds like a test ( are you inferring I am lying,?)
>
> The guy is only two doors away, if you want me to get him in to answer more questions?

No no no I wasn't inferring you were lying at all! I was only curious to know which gps unit the mrt guys use. I wasn't sure if they use a specialized high power receiver or just the same devices as the rest of us.
PopShot on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Only a hill: What smartphone do you use?
Only a hill - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot: LG Nexus 4.
Lusk - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Only a hill:

I'm disappointed in you, young Sir!
Just because it's available and will functionally survive a few days doesn't necessitate its use. Makes the whole affair of going out too safe.
You can't beat trying to match up the various bits of ones fallen to bits sodden map to find out where you need to go. :-)
Jimbo C - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> is the use of map and compass as navigation tools on the hill obsolete?

In a word 'no'

In another word 'batteries'

I'll still be buying paper maps for a long time. Modern GPS will always be useful, but never essential - I've always seen them as a toy rather than a tool.

Robert Durran - on 15 Jun 2013
In reply to Only a hill:
> I honestly think that, whether we like it or not, paper maps will become a niche product in the next couple of decades.

I sincerely hope not. Maps, like books, are beautiful and tactile objects to, love, lay on the floor, pore over. Yes, I fear buying maps might become a thing of the past, but I for one will print them off and carry a paper copy on the hill (I already sometimes do so) rather thasn carry yet another loathsome (and heavier) electronic device.

Incidentally, do you expect books to go the same way? Might you be a bit sad to think that your own one might not have its place in peoples' bookcases (just started reading it by the way!)

Damo on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Only a hill:
> (In reply to PopShot)
>
> Are paper maps obsolete? Not by a long way, but the vast majority of reasons against the use of smartphone technology for navigation are disappearing fast. As with traditional navigation techniques, you obviously have to be trained in its use and anyone going into the hills trying to use Google Maps is an idiot! Equally idiotic are people who are opinionated against GPS, largely based on information and views that are many years out of date.
>
> I predict that paper maps will be completely obsolete within twenty years.

Absolutely to all that. I now almost solely use GPS for my trips. I have three, one of them is so light it's negligible and less faff in bad weather than a paper map and/or compass. The alpine backcountry here in Australia is so flat and (relatively) featureless that in bad weather a GPS is ideal for quickly backtracking or going point to point. Any guide or backcountry worker who goes out, especially with clients, and has only map & compass but no GPS would be considered negligent.

Lots of tired argument on here against GPS. The only time I've had a battery issue was using half-depleted batteries for a couple of days near the bloody *South Pole* - so I just put in my almost-weightless spares and carried on. It's just not an issue, if you take the obvious precautions you should.

Do you leave your map somewhere it can get wet and mangled? No. Do you let your GPS clunk around with your crampons and hexes? No. Same same.

I agree they can give you tunnel vision, lure you into ignoring the surrounds etc, but again it's just an issue of being aware of these things and using them properly. Years ago I would sometimes get lost in the details of a map, concentrating more on the lines on the paper than the terrain around me.

Maps may not become totally obsolete but I agree they will be a niche. In fact it's already well along the way to that. The USGS stopped printing their excellent Antarctic maps several years ago, but you can get digital versions of almost everything online, customised in many cases. Print what you want, if you want.

I love maps, I've *made* two Antarctic mountain maps, I have piles of maps in my bookcase that I enjoy more than books, but I have to admit for actually working out what the terrain is like and where you can go, they pale into quaint irrelevance compared to Google Earth. I don't love the maps any less, they're just relatively less useful.
Jim C - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> (In reply to Jim C)
> [...]
>
> No no no I wasn't inferring you were lying at all! I was only curious to know which gps unit the mrt guys use. I wasn't sure if they use a specialized high power receiver or just the same devices as the rest of us.

No probs, I'm no expert on what the MRT do, but at the time, as I understood it,m they ordered in bulk for discount , they don't have a lo of cash to splash, I guess, so a basic model would be n the cards as they would be able to buy a lot more of them for whatever money was available. I guess I us not o different today.

That said, my neighbour as his own business,( hence he can volunteer his time to MRT calls as he is his own boss) and has bought some fancy kit of his own.

I do have another a neighbour who works in land surveying, and these guys really seem to have some handy kit and software far better more accurate than the hand held GPS, (not suitable to the hills though)

Sorry for the misunderstanding .
DancingOnRock - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Jim C:
> (In reply to DancingOnRock)
> [...]
>
> I have known a GPS to fail, but not to give a position that was wrong,( assuming that it was set properly on the UK Grid and had t least 3 sats ) And for that 'error' then to happen match up with someone's map reading error , must be billions to one!
>
> Did you throw the GPS away?

It was just far enough out to indicate we were closer to where he thought we were than where I thought we were. When you've come across open moorland and aimed off to specifically miss a junction in order to walk along the path and find the junction it's very important to walk in the right direction.

It's not billions to one, it's a case of people trying to make the data fit the ground. It's common for people to be so convinced they are somewhere that they can make the map fit even when it doesn't.

george mc - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Climbing Pieman:
> (In reply to george mc)
> [...]
>
> Out of interest what where the units? I've had a basic one fail to find signals, but so far not my Garmin 62S. I would have thought mountain rescue ones to be higher gain ones, so interested in what models you use.

'FRaid I can't mind. It was a complicated rescue - lot's of different teams/individuals. GPS units being used were personal ones and therefore different makes. I should stress they did not 'fail' just could not acquire a signal to give us a position. It's not unusual though. Combination of terrain and atmospherics have caused a similar effect in the past.

The point I'm making GPS units (from smartphone to actual GPS) are really useful bits of kit - I use both types myself on a regular basis BUT they are not the be all and end all - leastways, not yet.
Only a hill - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to Only a hill)
> [...]
>
> I sincerely hope not. Maps, like books, are beautiful and tactile objects to, love, lay on the floor, pore over. Yes, I fear buying maps might become a thing of the past, but I for one will print them off and carry a paper copy on the hill (I already sometimes do so) rather thasn carry yet another loathsome (and heavier) electronic device.

Part of me agrees with you and I will always enjoy going on the hill without any form if technology, relying on the old fashioned techniques. However, newer generations simply do not think that way. My Scouts find it irrational to be using paper maps and would never consider their use at all if I didn't take measures to teach them traditional forms of navigation.

My point is that, like it or not, you and I are dinosaurs and today's children will become tomorrow's adults - adults who use tech for everything because that's how they grew up.

>
> Incidentally, do you expect books to go the same way? Might you be a bit sad to think that your own one might not have its place in peoples' bookcases (just started reading it by the way!)

Glad to hear that :-) My view is that paper books will remain an important niche for quite a long time, but they are already falling behind ebooks and will eventually fade from the mainstream for the reasons above. I agree it's a shame, but it's progress ... like the email's triumph over the written letter. Less tactile and less human, but more efficient, and in time fewer and fewer people will miss the original low tech solution to the same problem.

The world turns and we either turn with it or become old and bitter ... That's my philosophy!
Mungo Shuntobox - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to everyone:

I carry both, use both, and know how to use both. I only use a very simple eTrex with no mapping on the basis even the biggest screens are not as nice as spreading a map out and soaking up the topography.

To me - map and compass might be a harder way to do things but what would climbing and walking be if we always went for the easy way to do things?
Carolyn - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to someone...

Re: MRT and GPS: most (possibly all) teams don't buy handheld gps units for their members. There have been deals to allow team members to buy them a decent price, but standard commercial units, nothing higher spec. Probably most commonly used is GPS on a smartphone, as it's the thing most likely to have been carried on a straightforward callout (ie quick dash to a casualty in well known area good weather - and then need grid ref to convey location to chopper/other team members)

The bit the team would normally provide is GPS on the team radio - the ones we currently have don't give any information to the person on the fell at all, but they mean the user's position pops up on a map on the base computer. That helps keep track of where people are, which areas have been covered, etc. And assuming we have good radio comms, we can always tell them where they are/where they need to go.....

My experience of watching that is that most of the time it's really amazing accurate, with errors most likely in the first few minutes after it starts to lock on to satellites.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Carolyn - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

Any way, what we need to decide the winner on this important issue is is a nav off. I fear George Mc may be hard to beat........

;-)
tom_in_edinburgh - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:

Now that ViewRanger on my phone has replaced map and compass I've found that hammering a rusty nail through the sole of my shoe restores the proper challenge on longer walks.

The gap between digital maps on a phone and paper maps is only going to get wider when OS sees their business move to the electronic format. An electronic map should be able to scale well past 1:25,000 to give more resolution when you need it and provide options to control what is displayed e.g. turning off lines marking regional boundaries.

Most people don't have the space to store all the books and maps they would like to buy: not having to keep physical maps is one of the big advantages of GPS.
Karl Wooffindin - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot: No - it's my primary tool. That and my GPS watch is about as much use as a chocolate chisel for anything other than 'straving' my rides.
PopShot on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Carolyn:
> (In reply to PopShot)
>
> Any way, what we need to decide the winner on this important issue is is a nav off. I fear George Mc may be hard to beat........
>
> ;-)

It's looking increasingly like GPS is the winner and paper maps will go the way of the dodo.
Simon Caldwell - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Only a hill:
> I predict that paper maps will be completely obsolete within twenty years.

And I predict that you're wrong.
Unless you can come up with a way of using a GPS for orienteering, mountain marathons, etc.
But even then you'll be wrong!
BnB - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Toreador: We are only months away from foldable digital touchscreens becoming commercially viable. Then the world of print will be truly revolutionised. There'll always be a place for paper maps: I still use the 40 year-old set of Lakeland maps that inspired my first outings into the mountains. I can't bear to replace them. But I'm an old git. Don't make the mistake of thinking that your children and their children in turn will see things the same way. They won't.
Simon Caldwell - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to BnB:
> Don't make the mistake of thinking that your children and their children in turn will see things the same way. They won't.]

Orienteering-type events (which use map and compass and in which GPS is banned) seem to have more children than ever taking part.
It won't be long before I'm getting beaten by people who were born in the 21st century!
PopShot on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to BnB:
> (In reply to Toreador) We are only months away from foldable digital touchscreens becoming commercially viable. Then the world of print will be truly revolutionised. There'll always be a place for paper maps: I still use the 40 year-old set of Lakeland maps that inspired my first outings into the mountains. I can't bear to replace them. But I'm an old git. Don't make the mistake of thinking that your children and their children in turn will see things the same way. They won't.

Only thing is the cost of mapping type GPS devices and smart phones etc. Paper maps are surely more accessible for people getting into outdoor activities?
BnB - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> (In reply to BnB)
> [...]
>
> Only thing is the cost of mapping type GPS devices and smart phones etc. Paper maps are surely more accessible for people getting into outdoor activities?

Of course, paper is better today because it is lighter, cheaper and disposable. For the time being....
But show me a 10 year old who doesn't have a mobile phone. Cast your mind back to when you were 10... Me, I couldn't even have IMAGINED a smartphone back then, let alone owned one. Times are changing fast.

Personally, with my presbiopic eyesight, a foldable, infinitely scaleable, WATERPROOF, digital map can't come soon enough. Try and read contour lines in the rain without reading glasses!!
Robert Durran - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> (In reply to BnB)
>
> Only thing is the cost of mapping type GPS devices and smart phones etc. Paper maps are surely more accessible for people getting into outdoor activities?

I predict the future for most people will be paying for Memory Map or suchlike and printing bits off as needed.

TOS on 16 Jun 2013 - 62-63-41-155.static.customer.pronea.no
> Or does anyone still use it as a primary navigation tool?

Am I the only person reading this thread thinking that MRTs are going to be increasing busy in future years?....
PopShot on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to TOS:
> [...]
>
> Am I the only person reading this thread thinking that MRTs are going to be increasing busy in future years?....

Haha!
TOS on 16 Jun 2013 - 62-63-41-155.static.customer.pronea.no
In reply to PopShot:
> (In reply to TOS)
> [...]
>
> Haha!

That's pretty much my thoughts when I read comments like yours, or stories like this one;

http://www.grough.co.uk/magazine/2012/02/14/lost-walker-rescued-after-gps-batteries-fail

;)
mbh - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:

That is what I do now, £20 a year for the whole of the UK with the OS.
Orgsm on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to TOS:
> (In reply to PopShot)
> [...]
>
> That's pretty much my thoughts when I read comments like yours, or stories like this one;
>
> http://www.grough.co.uk/magazine/2012/02/14/lost-walker-rescued-after-gps-batteries-fail
>
> ;)

Donkey why didn't he just descend till he hit the road, or follow ridge back? It easy to et down from up there, even without map, compass or gps.
PopShot on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to TOS:
> (In reply to PopShot)
> [...]
>
> That's pretty much my thoughts when I read comments like yours, or stories like this one;
>
> http://www.grough.co.uk/magazine/2012/02/14/lost-walker-rescued-after-gps-batteries-fail
>
> ;)

Comments like mine? I know how to nav using map and compass, I thought I made that clear!
TOS on 16 Jun 2013 - 62-63-41-155.static.customer.pronea.no
In reply to PopShot:
> (In reply to AlisonSmiles & GrahamD) I still plan on at least taking my map and compass.

Why do that? To 'back-up' your ultra-reliable GPS unit that never fails? Surely not...

Regardless of your reasons for carrying a map and compass, I think you've answered your own question on whether they are 'obsolete'.... ;)

captain paranoia - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Come to think of it, does anyone actually know anyone who uses GPS? I don't know anyone

Well, as I metioned earlier, I sometimes use amapping GPS as a' 'live map', because it contains the 1:50k and 1:25k mapping for the entire GB, and I find it a little incovenient to carry all those maps around...

That and working in the field of GNSS, I feel I ought to use it...

However, most of the time, I don't use any technology, GPS, map or compass, and I simply look at the landscape around me...
Only a hill - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to BnB:
> (In reply to Toreador) We are only months away from foldable digital touchscreens becoming commercially viable. Then the world of print will be truly revolutionised. There'll always be a place for paper maps: I still use the 40 year-old set of Lakeland maps that inspired my first outings into the mountains. I can't bear to replace them. But I'm an old git. Don't make the mistake of thinking that your children and their children in turn will see things the same way. They won't.

^ This. The difference in thinking between generations is colossal ... I see it every day at work. Today's children simply won't think of using paper maps when they venture into the mountains in 15 years.

As for "it will increase MRT callouts," that's a naive argument. Map and compass requires just as much training and knowledge to use as GPS does. The problem is NOT people using GPS / smartphone to navigate ... the problem is MISUSE of this technology, and I'd wager that MISUSE of map and compass has caused plenty of callouts over the years as well!
DancingOnRock - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot: I think essentially something only becomes redundant when you have no use for it.

If I'm on my own in the hills I carry a spare map and compass. Maps blow away and compasses drop into bogs and get smashed against rocks.

GPS would have to become cheap enough to have a backup in the bottom of your rucksac for use in emergency.

Currently the cheapest (new?) GPS is over £100. Which for a lot of people is quite a bit more than the map you were using but have retired because it's a bit tired.

ads.ukclimbing.com
Only a hill - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to DancingOnRock:
> Currently the cheapest (new?) GPS is over £100. Which for a lot of people is quite a bit more than the map you were using but have retired because it's a bit tired.

To be fair, dedicated GPS units are probably not going to be around for long either. With smartphones in most pockets, these will become the de facto navigational tools of the future. They're already far more useful than standalone GPS units when used properly.
Jim C - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Robert Durran:
> (In reply to PopShot)
> [...]
>
> I predict the future for most people will be paying for Memory Map or suchlike and printing bits off as needed.

Exactly what I do. the main map/maps are kept in the rucksack. If I am on my own I leave a small map (with route and return time/date marked) and also contact numbers for myself and home visible in the foot well of the car, and one copy on my desk at home for my wife. ( Kees her happy)
DancingOnRock - on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to Only a hill:
> (In reply to DancingOnRock)
> [...]
>
> To be fair, dedicated GPS units are probably not going to be around for long either. With smartphones in most pockets, these will become the de facto navigational tools of the future. They're already far more useful than standalone GPS units when used properly.

So it's going to be even more unlikely that you'll have a spare iPhone in your pack.

I think it's going to be a financial consideration, or personal choice rather than a practical one.
PopShot on 16 Jun 2013
In reply to DancingOnRock:
> (In reply to Only a hill)
> [...]
>
> So it's going to be even more unlikely that you'll have a spare iPhone in your pack.
>
> I think it's going to be a financial consideration, or personal choice rather than a practical one.

More than likely.
StuDoig - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
Obsolete definitely not, but I think that from 10 years ago when GPS was a novelty generally frowned upon to now has seen a massive tide change.

Increasingly GPS are (and will be) used alongside map and compass or stand alone, esp since the common availability of mapping GPS. This will I think continue with GPS moving from secondary to part of the primary nav system for most.
I suspect that crossovers with other sports like mountain biking where a mapping GPS makes nav a breeze and lets you keep moving (Esp on descents!) will start to influence mountain nav culture as well. Similarly I was out with an instructor ski-touring this winter and when linking up snow patches to try and get from A-B (i.e. when you can't go in a straight line) GPS made the day a lot slicker with more movement and less standing about.

For me, GPS does still have faults that make it a secondary means. Fair enough having the whole of the UK on your device, but theres only so far you can zoom out before it becomes uselessly vague, meaning identifying hills / features in the distance to aim for is more faff / less certain since you can't see both your current position and the object. and similarly it becomes harder to orientate yourself to your surroundings on a large scale.

Also, for me, multiple battery changes / charges over a trip are a faff I can live without - let alone if the battery dies in crappy conditions!

You also have issues with availability - being in the wrong place during the likes of operation joint warrior etc where they carry out GPS jamming drills has some interesting results (in fairness we were at sea rather than over land, but I know of at least 1 person who lost all GPS signal for a trip whilst it was on).

Slightly paranoid, but I'm wary of being totally reliant on the hills on a technology that someone can simply switch off with no warning.

Its dangerous I think to extrapolate too far based on the past 10 years. At the minute we live in an era of cheap energy, cheap electrical products, cheap plastics and rubbers etc - will this last? there's more to tomorrow's technology's availability than kids today's enthusiasm for it. IF energy and raw material costs go up - today's cheap smartphones, GPS units etc could very quickly become un-affordable for many.

Lastly I'm also wary of smart phone GPS accuracy. I've had a couple of walks where I've compared the tracking on my garmin unit (GPSMAP 62s) to various smartphones people have carried and the results are really startlingly different. Sometime the phones where out by 100m+ showing tracks heading through lochs, over cliffs, into the sea etc. Not good if you were relying on them to find a gully top for descent etc.

Interestingly, I was on a 1st aid course last year run by a MRT member from one of the busier teams - there was a bit of discussion about GPS during lunch and he actually thought that mapping GPS was one of the few technologies that had REDUCED MRT callouts. GPS giving only a GR didn't help a lot of the time as people lost often couldn't translate that to a map and figure out where they were (or had it still set to long/lat co-ordinates etc). Whereas the mapping GPS gives a visual representation so the could immediately see where they were on the map and hence get down. Interesting perspective I though.

Anyway, ramble over. I still rely on my map and compass 1st and foremost on the hill. Its a skill I enjoy using and get satisfaction from too. A do see the benefits of GPS though, increasingly as an accompanying rather than secondary tool too. I suppose a good test is that I'd be upset and uncomfortable to discover I'd left my map and compass at home and only had my GPS, but not so if I discovered I'd left behind my GPS and had map and compass.....
tom_in_edinburgh - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to DancingOnRock:
> (In reply to Only a hill)
> [...]
>
> So it's going to be even more unlikely that you'll have a spare iPhone in your pack.
>

But quite likely you'll be walking with someone who also has a smartphone.

Simon Caldwell - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to those who always use GPS:

How do you do your planning?
What's the GPS equivalent of unfolding your entire map on the table?
Simon Caldwell - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to Only a hill:
> Today's children simply won't think of using paper maps when they venture into the mountains in 15 years.

Depends on whether they've been taught to use them or not.

And of course, whether we run out of the rare earth minerals that are needed for all such devices...
BnB - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to Toreador:
> (In reply to those who always use GPS)
>
> How do you do your planning?
> What's the GPS equivalent of unfolding your entire map on the table?


1. Unfold your map on the table
2. Do your planning
3. Leave it behind on the table and do your hike with digital map.

Sorry, couldn't resist. I don't think we're actually there yet. But expect to see future generations adopting stage 3 very soon. I rather suspect that they'll find a digital answer to 1 and 2 pretty soon after, though your point is valid today
OwenM - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot: A while ago I saw an ad for one of these mapping GPS's, I thought it looked really interesting. I looked it up on the interweb, the spec was even more impressive. Then I looked at the price £600 + £80 for the water/shockproof case. Nice, but until the cost comes down I'll stick with map and compass. You can buy 97 OS maps for £680.
george mc - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to StuDoig:

Hear! Hear! :) I'd also support the point you make Studoig that cheap raw materials and cheap energy in ten years will more than likely not be that cheap.

Who knows in ten years we could all be foraging in hunter/gathering bands in the desolate flooded remains of our one once great cities hunting rats, frogs and each other! I reckon paper maps and compasses may make a come back then...
GrahamD - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to BnB:

Does noone else replan two or three times during the walk depending on what looks interesting, what the weather is doing or whether a crafty diversion to the pub might be an option ? The idea of totally predefining a walk seems alien to me.
George Ormerod - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to Toreador:

Anyway, GPS will never replace maps. Imagine putting your GPS on the floor to plan a route and the cat immediately coming over and sitting in the middle of it; it just won't happen.
dissonance - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to Toreador:

> What's the GPS equivalent of unfolding your entire map on the table?

Some of the flexible screen prototypes which are coming out have interesting potential eg.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-205_162-57563256/ces-2013-samsung-reveals-phone-with-bendable-screen/

Scale that up to say A4 or even A3 and you would have something which could mimic a paper map now.

For now for planning. Whilst not my cup of tea some of the software allows you to view the OS maps etc on your computer and also convert it to a 3D model. Can see some people preferring that as a way of getting an idea of ascent required etc.

Or, whilst not on the table go the google glass approach with a overlay of location, contour lines etc.

Be tad risky batterywise at present but may change.
Neil Watson - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to Tim Chappell:
> (In reply to PopShot)
>
>
> Have you tried going out with just a photo of your compass? Saves weight, and I find the photo can be very comforting in a Cairngorms blizzard.

I bought my PhotoCompass with two crisp photos of a five pound note ....
DancingOnRock - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to GrahamD:
> (In reply to BnB)
>
> Does noone else replan two or three times during the walk depending on what looks interesting, what the weather is doing or whether a crafty diversion to the pub might be an option ? The idea of totally predefining a walk seems alien to me.

Indeed. Get distracted on the way up, get tired and cut walk short, have loads of energy add more, come to landowner with shotgun...
DancingOnRock - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> (In reply to DancingOnRock)
> [...]
>
> But quite likely you'll be walking with someone who also has a smartphone.

I think you missed my point. It's very unlikely that I will have a spare when walking alone. One of my primary objectives of going into the hills is to be alone, as far away from people, technology etc. as possible.
tony on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to Toreador:
> (In reply to those who always use GPS)
>
> How do you do your planning?
> What's the GPS equivalent of unfolding your entire map on the table?

I don't always use a GPS, but I do use one quite often. My planning often involves a combination of books, real-life paper maps and digital maps onscreen (using MemoryMaps). Once I've planned a route, I'll plot it and upload it to the GPS unit. The planning process is part of the fun, and the GPS doesn't really have much to do with it.

Once I'm out, I'll use a combination of GPS and map, and if I fancy a change of route, I'll change my route. I get the impression that some people who don't like the idea of using a GPS seem to think that GPS users are compelled to use the GPS for every step of the way, which is of course gibberish. It's as daft as suggesting that hard-copy maps are flawless and can be relied upon for every step of a route, and never have poorly mapped areas which don't show significant features such as steep crags.
GrahamD - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to tony:

Not ridiculous in the context of the thread heading...
Indy - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
The real scandal here and I'm surprised nobody has mentioned it is how a govt. body - Ordnance Survey has been allowed to create and abusive monopoly around the data it's collected at tax payer expense.

There have in the past been campaigns to get better access to OS data sets but despite the huge economic benefits of innovation OS has refused. Look at what Google has done with mapping would COULD it have happened with OS licensing.... NO!

ads.ukclimbing.com
PopShot on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to OwenM:
> (In reply to PopShot) A while ago I saw an ad for one of these mapping GPS's, I thought it looked really interesting. I looked it up on the interweb, the spec was even more impressive. Then I looked at the price £600 + £80 for the water/shockproof case. Nice, but until the cost comes down I'll stick with map and compass. You can buy 97 OS maps for £680.
>

Indeed. The likes of a Satmap 10 or a good smartphone are quite a bit more expensive than a humble OS paper map.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> (In reply to OwenM)
> [...]
>
> Indeed. The likes of a Satmap 10 or a good smartphone are quite a bit more expensive than a humble OS paper map.

Yes, but bookcases are expensive. And if you go for 97 O/S maps instead of the mapping GPS you're going to need one :-)


Orgsm on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to Toreador:
> (In reply to those who always use GPS)
>
> How do you do your planning?
> What's the GPS equivalent of unfolding your entire map on the table?

Opening up the entire OS Mapping of the Uk on your computer.
Orgsm on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to Indy:
> (In reply to PopShot)
> The real scandal here and I'm surprised nobody has mentioned it is how a govt. body - Ordnance Survey has been allowed to create and abusive monopoly around the data it's collected at tax payer expense.
>
> There have in the past been campaigns to get better access to OS data sets but despite the huge economic benefits of innovation OS has refused. Look at what Google has done with mapping would COULD it have happened with OS licensing.... NO!

Take a look at OS open data, quite a lot available since 2008 and breast each ear
Indy - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to Beat me to it!:
> (In reply to Indy)
> [...]
>
> Take a look at OS open data, quite a lot available since 2008

Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.... what about the 1:25k and 1:50k data sets?

captain paranoia - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to dissonance:

> Whilst not my cup of tea some of the software allows you to view the OS maps etc on your computer and also convert it to a 3D model.

Oruxmaps for Android does that it you give it DEM data. I have... It's quite fun to play with.
Orgsm on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to Indy:
> (In reply to Beat me to it!)
> [...]
>
> Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.... what about the 1:25k and 1:50k data sets?

What about them they're available as well, including street and postcode data.

OwenM - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> (In reply to PopShot)
> [...]
>
> Yes, but bookcases are expensive. And if you go for 97 O/S maps instead of the mapping GPS you're going to need one :-)

No, cardboard box under stairs for maps, bookcases I made my own out of some Beach wood I had, not expensive at all.
Orgsm on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

h but paper versions of OS mapping are much more expensive than digital and with digital you just print the bits you need, no carrying 3 or 4 maps or constantly refolding the map.
Oceanrower - on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to Beat me to it!:
> (In reply to Indy)
> [...]
>
> Take a look at OS open data, quite a lot available since 2008 and breast each ear

Not sure of the relevance of breasts but I like your style.
Climbing Pieman on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to Carolyn:
> (In reply to someone...
>
> Re) MRT and GPS:...
Thanks, I was interested. It looks like MRT need more funding, but that is another topic!
Climbing Pieman on 17 Jun 2013
In reply to GrahamD:
> (In reply to BnB)
>
> Does noone else replan two or three times during the walk depending on what looks interesting, what the weather is doing or whether a crafty diversion to the pub might be an option ? The idea of totally predefining a walk seems alien to me.
I do all the time. I use a GPS, but don't upload, and with carrying paper maps I can change as I feel like during the walk. Interesting what you can discover!
Simon Caldwell - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to Beat me to it!:
> Opening up the entire OS Mapping of the Uk on your computer.

So I need a computer as well as a smartphone? This is getting expensive!
PopShot on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to Climbing Pieman:
> (In reply to Carolyn)
> [...]
> Thanks, I was interested. It looks like MRT need more funding, but that is another topic!

Why can't everyone who goes to the hills pay an insurance policy so that MRT can bill, say two grand per rescue and be able to employ full time paid rescuers? That way it's like the roads where everyone has insurance, "just in case".
Ann65 - on 18 Jun 2013
There appears to be something missing in this discussion.

Good orienteers can navigate, accurately and quickly, using just a map - no GPS for obvious reasons. MLTUK assessment candidates are asked to navigate, accurately and quickly, in poor visability with just a map.

A GPS unit will usually give an accurate location by way of a marker on an electronic map, or a grid reference, but there is more to good navigation than a grid reference or being led by a red dot.

Whether you are using an electronic map or a paper map you still have to be able to read and understand the map, and be able to use that understanding to navigate the ground you're on.

The GPS unit can't read the map for you!
GrahamD - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

A road is a bit better defined than a hill. My address has "hill" in the title - but the 'hill'is probably 15m high at most. I'm buggered if I should pay for walking up my road.
Indy - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

Have you seen how they do it in say the French Alps? Good idea for the UK?
Climbing Pieman on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> (In reply to Climbing Pieman)
> [...]
>
> Why can't everyone who goes to the hills pay an insurance policy so that MRT can bill, say two grand per rescue and be able to employ full time paid rescuers? That way it's like the roads where everyone has insurance, "just in case".

It's been debated lots in the past, but off topic for this thread! Start a new post if you wish.
( BTW: Two grand would not go far in this day with helicopter at is it £600+/hr though?).
Indy - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to Ann65:
> There appears to be something missing in this discussion.
>
> The GPS unit can't read the map for you

I can see where your coming from but does it matter? Googles driverless car can't read a map but can get you to where you want to be.

Ann65 - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to Indy:

If you 'see where I'm coming from', you should be able to work out if 'it matters'.

I've been using a GPS since the mid 1990s and the technology that makes them work is impressive. The suggestion is that they are 'last century'. I'll give you a quote from another post a few months back from Ian I think.

"A bit more than just tradition; more the level of concentration required while using a map and compass as distinct from using a GPS.
I know myself that while relying on a GPS (even with the 1:25k map displayed) I gradually lose the level of concentration I would have while using a map and compass. That of course may be a personal failing but I suspect it is not just me.
Take the reverse of an earlier scenario - if the GPS which is being used fails for whatever reason, unless the user has been concentrating and is fully aware of location it is quite difficult but possible, for a competent navigator, to relocate using map and compass.
A problem is created when it is not a competent navigator pushing the GPS buttons.
There are anecdotes of SatNav users in cars who become seriously disorientated when they start walking around the urban area in which they find themselves. They have no, as mountaineers and orienteer’s would call it, map memory to fall back on. To get there they had little to do but drive."
ads.ukclimbing.com
dissonance - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

> That way it's like the roads where everyone has insurance, "just in case".

if by the roads you mean cars etc the only insurance required is third party.
Now whilst there will be exceptions I dont see that being required very often in the hills.
Emergency services would cost a tad more.
dissonance - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to Ann65:

> The GPS unit can't read the map for you!

want to bet? Perhaps not now but wouldnt be a huge extension of what already exists for augmented reality glasses.
nscnick - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
GPS is a waste of time and money, unless all you want is a position fix from time to time. Battery life and reliability, availability of satellites etc are variable. Ability to use a map and compass is absolutely critical in the remote outdoors, so why bother with a silly little screen that you cannot see any context on?

Any 'professional' hill person and the even more numerous serious 'amateurs' will say the same.

For the cost of a GPS you would get far more from a proper navigation course.

I use a route print from a GPS on Ben Nevis, which follows the tourist path almost all the way, except when it was cloudy the GPS lost lock and it was jumping bakwards and forwards between Five Fingur Gully and Coire na Ciste! This puts the value of GPS into real context.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to Nick Cole:
> (In reply to PopShot)

> I use a route print from a GPS on Ben Nevis, which follows the tourist path almost all the way, except when it was cloudy the GPS lost lock and it was jumping bakwards and forwards between Five Fingur Gully and Coire na Ciste! This puts the value of GPS into real context.

When you get a track off a GPS it is interpolating between the actual GPS fixes. It would burn through too much battery if it continuously took GPS fixes so it will wait a few minutes between them. That means the tracks you get are much less accurate than the actual fixes. Also if it tries to get a fix when it can't get a lock on the satellites you can get a bad point and the interpolated plots can be wild.

However, if you take a GPS out and press the button and wait until it gets a fix it should be accurate within a couple of metres.



Carolyn - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to Ann65:

> "A bit more than just tradition; more the level of concentration required while using a map and compass as distinct from using a GPS.
> I know myself that while relying on a GPS (even with the 1:25k map displayed) I gradually lose the level of concentration I would have while using a map and compass. That of course may be a personal failing but I suspect it is not just me."

I think this is the criticism of GPS that I struggle with, because for me at least, I don't really think it's the case. But maybe that's because I'd rarely have either out permanently - I tend to keep track of where I am more by noting features as I expect (or aren't expecting....!) as I reach them, and only occasionally checking this back against the map (paper or on GPS).
robrawlinson - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot: I've only had 1:25000 and 1:50000 mapping on my smartphone for a few weeks so it's a novelty at the moment. The fist thing that strikes me , though, is that you need to be a pretty good map reader to use one easily because the viewing area is much less than you would be able to see by opening up an OS map. For me, as an old codger, it is quite useful because it saves me taking out my reading glasses; it's simpler to zoom in and out on the screen.

It's been mentioned earlier, though, and I repeat that you should always have a paper map and compass too, as a long day in the hills may flatten the battery.
MG - on 18 Jun 2013
In reply to Carolyn: Yes this concentration on a map claim is odd. Often I only need it a couple of times a day and can manage 20s of concentration twice quite easily! !
Ann65 - on 19 Jun 2013
Firstly, even if you have a smartphone or GPS with full detailed OS mapping, it can't read and interpret the map for you! All it can do is show your position - being able to actually interpret the map correctly remains an essential skill.

See the following essential map reading skills taken from the MCofS web site:
Setting the Map
Ticking off features
Contour Interpretation
Taking & Following a Compass Bearing
Estimating Distance Travelled by timing and by pacing
Route Choice - Many factors to consider, especially in winter
Relocation strategies
Identifying catching features
Map Scales and measuring distances on the map
Slope Aspect and Direction of Linear Features
Aiming Off, Attack Points, Handrails
Symbols and Grid References

A good navigator will have all of the above and have, "The ability to navigate effectively and confidently through a winter storm . . . which is as demanding as mountain navigation gets." from the 'winterskills' book by Andy Cunningham and Allen Fyffe.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to Ann65:

> See the following essential map reading skills taken from the MCofS web site:

A lot of these skills will become redundant as GPS becomes the primary means of navigating and the software continues to improve:

> Setting the Map

The GPS should be able to set the map for you. Phones have an electronic compass and know which way you are facing.

> Taking & Following a Compass Bearing

No need.

> Estimating Distance Travelled by timing and by pacing

It should be able to give you an exact measurement of your pace.

> Aiming Off, Attack Points, Handrails

No need to aim off if you know exactly where you are: it's a correction strategy for the inaccuracies in navigating with a compass.

Ann65 - on 19 Jun 2013
If you are a skilled navigator who can read a map well, and are happy using a smartphone or gps to navigate, a paper map and compass should still be carried at the very least as a backup.

However, a skilled navigator with a smartphone/gps should still be using their map reading and compass skills; some would say that map and compass should be the primary means of navigation for that reason alone.

If you're using a smartphone/gps as your primary means of navigation, your map and compass skills will become rusty. So it's important to practice regularly to ensure if and when the need arises you are still competent in their use.

Of course, within the bounds of this debate, the definition of a 'skilled navigator' still needs to be established.
Carolyn - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to Ann65:

> If you are a skilled navigator who can read a map well, and are happy using a smartphone or gps to navigate, a paper map and compass should still be carried at the very least as a backup.

Yes, probably. (My only reservation here is that a lot of the time I'm in an area I know well, so don't expect to need a map at all - in which case, I'm prepared to use local knowledge as my primary navigation tool, and a smartphone as my backup, knowing I'd still be able to describe my position or get off the hill if it failed - just not as effciently as with it)

> If you're using a smartphone/gps as your primary means of navigation, your map and compass skills will become rusty. So it's important to practice regularly to ensure if and when the need arises you are still competent in their use.

I don't think your map skills will necessarily become rusty - I'd still always mentally check that for the position the GPS is showing, the features on the ground tally with those on the (electronic) map. Other navigation skills (pacing, walking on bearing) certainly might get rusty. But that doesn't necessarily mean they need to be practiced at every possible opportunity - going out to navigate without a GPS at night or in the clag a couple of times a year might well do more to keep your skills in than walking round in good visibility once a week.


Ann65 - on 19 Jun 2013
Of course much of the time on the hill there is little need for what I might call 'serious' navigation. A look at the map (paper or GPS) now and again to check something or just for interest is all that's needed. In fact it would all be a bit of a pain and probably ruin a good walk to do anything else.

Many hillwalkers rightly feel this kind of navigation is all they need or want to do.

What I have been on about is when 'serious' navigation is required. I mentioned earlier the skill of a good orienteer, often using only a map. That level of skill can't be maintained without practice and it's the same with serious mountain navigation. No point in having a 'back up' map and compass if you can't use them effectively.

If your out on the Monadh Mor west of Devils Point, in the Cairngorms during a winter storm and for some reason your GPS lets you down, you really are going to have to demonstrate your navigation skills to get out of that.




gaw - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to Ann65:
> Good orienteers can navigate, accurately and quickly, using just a map - no GPS for obvious reasons.
>
> Whether you are using an electronic map or a paper map you still have to be able to read and understand the map, and be able to use that understanding to navigate the ground you're on.
>

As an orienteer it would be much slower using a GPS unless it could choose the most effective route through the terrain at both a macro and micro level.

As a mountaineer why would I use a GPS or smartphone with a map and compass as back up? In that scenario I would soon lose the ability to use the map/compass well in bad conditions and therefore be in a much more serious position should my battery/GPS fail. Far better to use the map/compass skills all along.

Battery life would seem critical to me. My smartphone certainly wouldn't cope with a 13 hour day in the Cairngorms in cold conditions and my gps watch only just lasts half that time.

I do find GPS a very good analysis tool for orienteering to see where you really did go!

Carolyn - on 19 Jun 2013
In reply to Ann65:

I don't by any means think GPS is a substitute for decent (ML level, for the sake of argument?) navigation skills. But there are plenty of people walk round the hills for years with a map and compass who don't have "serious" navigation skills, so it's not as though the GPS is to particularly to blame for demise in navigation skills.

I've been experimenting with GPS (and whenever I say GPS, I mean one that displays an OS map on the screen) over the last couple of years to see what it can do, and to some extent forcing myself to use it as primary navigation tool - I'm confident there's enough to spare in my traditional navigation skills that they're not going to be irretrievably lost by this (though they will possibly become a bit less slick). And part of the reason for that was to be aware enough of its strengths and weaknesses that I knew when it might be useful and could be trusted in a stressful situation, and when it wouldn't work. My experience is that it's generally quicker than traditional navigation, and there are plenty of times when that's useful (if, say, it frees up time to look after group members, or, in the case of mountain rescue, means you get to the casualty quicker).

I think the key is not giving more "weight" to the GPS position than it deserves. If the GPS tells me I'm on the side of a steep slope when I'm clearly walking along a ridge, then I'll question it. If it tells me I'm walking along a fence and approaching a steepening, and I can see both of those on the ground, I'll probably accept its position without scouring the map for other places that might be. I can see how a novice user could get drawn into believing the GPS at all costs - but then, that happens with less proficient navigators using traditional techniques, for example focussing heavily on the fact they're on a fence line (new, so not on the map), and ignoring the fact that the contours (unlikely to have changed drastically since mapped) don't fit at all.

I'm unconvinced that, using the GPS in this way, I'm going to be be much worse off if my GPS fails on the top of the Cairngorm plateau in winter. I've still got a mental picture of where I was on the map, and I'd expect to be able to find this on the paper map - I don't think that's much different to re-finding your position on a paper map having stuffed it in a pocket whilst pacing on a bearing.

Will my other skills go rusty? Pacing is probably the one that worries me most, and that I'd make the effort to practice early in the day if there was a risk I'd need it if GPS failed. I don't think I'm going to suddenly lose the ability to take a bearing, and I find I'm still using all the map/terrain interpretation skills as a check on the GPS.

I'm not sure if I use a GPS very differently to other people (I'd rarely input a route beforehand - once or twice I've added a line in complex terrain that it's hard to see enough of on a small screen), or if those criticising it haven't really used a unit with mapping....

Carolyn - on 20 Jun 2013
Mind you, having written all that, I was wondering if I'd walk off just the GPS somewhere featureless like the Cairngorm plateau, where there's not much in contour features to check it back against. Not a situation I've been in the time I've been playing with it.

And the answer's no, at least if navigation is critical - ie I might well rely on GPS if it'd be easy to relocate on a collecting feature (done this on featureless terrain in mist, knowing I could easily head down to valley path), but if it's one of those situations where you always want to know exactly where you are because once you get lost relocation is a nightmare, I'd still be pacing on a bearing and checking that against GPS.....
Ann65 - on 20 Jun 2013
Carolyn, you clearly know what your talking about and back it with practical experience.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to Carolyn:

From a technical perspective somewhere like a featureless plateau on top of a mountain is going to be ideal for GPS because there is nothing to break line of sight to the satellites or cause multi-path interference. Far harder for GPS in a city with tall buildings on either side or in a gorge.

If I was using GPS in a low visibility situation where it was critical to stay on course what I'd do is keep it in my hand and either manually request fixes every few minutes or change the frequency of fixes on the menus. If the positions it shows are consistent with how you are walking (i.e. small gaps between them and roughly in line) then it's a safe bet they are accurate. If there are big jumps or it seems to be taking ages to get a fix then it's not seeing enough satellites and it's time to get cautious and check for consistency with a second GPS or a compass.

The thing GPS will never do is gradually drift off course due to accumulated error in the same way as can happen with a compass and pacing.
GrahamD - on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> From a technical perspective somewhere like a featureless plateau on top of a mountain is going to be ideal for GPS because ......

I would say that were true except the one and only time we tried it with a mate's brand new GPS, the batteries couldn't cope with the cold and it stopped working.
davidbeynon - on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to GrahamD:

Batteries do that. It's why the lord* gave us inside pockets, and a very good reason to use a map & only switch the units on for a few seconds at a time to get fixes.
Ann65 - on 20 Jun 2013
Mountain Navigation

Two bits of kit that cost very little, don’t need batteries or charging, won’t be affected by what the weather can throw at them (waterproofed map), simple technology, could last for years and impressively, provides the means to navigate accurately in the very worst of conditions – with an appropriate level of personal skill.

It almost sounds too good to be true.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Carolyn - on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:


> If I was using GPS in a low visibility situation where it was critical to stay on course what I'd do is keep it in my hand and either manually request fixes every few minutes or change the frequency of fixes on the menus. If the positions it shows are consistent with how you are walking (i.e. small gaps between them and roughly in line) then it's a safe bet they are accurate. If there are big jumps or it seems to be taking ages to get a fix then it's not seeing enough satellites and it's time to get cautious and check for consistency with a second GPS or a compass.

Interesting to hear that approach, Tom, and makes perfect sense - and I should probably look at how I force my unit to do it.

And yes, I agree, generally ought to get decent reception, and so an accurate position, on a plateau. Definitely seen that you don't always get an accurate position in a gorge (watching team member traces coming up on the steep sides when they're obviously going to be walking along the path in the bottom - and forests seem to be a common problem, too!
captain paranoia - on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to Carolyn:

> And part of the reason for that was to be aware enough of its strengths and weaknesses that I knew when it might be useful and could be trusted in a stressful situation, and when it wouldn't work.

That's an absolute essential element of relying on GNSS; to know enough about the system to understand when it might be prone to giving errors, and how to make it work best for you. It's something that's often missed from user manuals, or training manuals (or even quite advanced manuals on GNSS navigation).

> If the GPS tells me I'm on the side of a steep slope when I'm clearly walking along a ridge, then I'll question it.

I had one of those moments on the Roybridge trip this year; we came to an obvious sheep pen, marked clearly on the map, but the mapping GPS had us a fair distance from it. No sooner had I decided that the GPS was clearly wrong than it snapped back to the correct position. Almost certainly a multipath issue, as we were surrounded by hills.

And multipath is probably the most important issue to consider regarding 'trustworthiness' of a GNSS fix.

> I'm not sure if I use a GPS very differently to other people

Sounds like you use yours exactly as I use mine...
PopShot on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to GrahamD:
> (In reply to tom_in_edinburgh)
>
> [...]
>
> I would say that were true except the one and only time we tried it with a mate's brand new GPS, the batteries couldn't cope with the cold and it stopped working.

I've read that lithium batteries work in very cold temperatures. In a nav book I have, it mentions disposable lithium batteries not rechargable lithium ion batteries
Jim C - on 20 Jun 2013
In reply to gaw:
> (In reply to Ann65)
> [...]
>
> As an orienteer it would be much slower using a GPS unless it could choose the most effective route .....
>
> I do find GPS a very good analysis tool for orienteering to see where you really did go!

Doh!
If you are such a good navigator using map and compass, you should not need to find out where you "really did go" you would only need to do that if your navigation was iffy.
TOS on 21 Jun 2013 - 10.192.180.73 [dab-bas1-h-6-10.dab.02.net]
In reply to Jim C:
> (In reply to gaw)
> [...]
>
> Doh!
> If you are such a good navigator using map and compass, you should not need to find out where you "really did go" you would only need to do that if your navigation was iffy.

When an orienteer talks about GPS analysis of their run and say "where I actually went", they're talking about tweaks to course they ran, not as you are suggesting, getting so lost they haven't a clue where they went.

We're talking about technical navigation at speed, with someone taking the racing line in a competitive sport, not someone stumbling about with no idea at all of where they are.

A 'navigational fck-up' for a competent orienteer running TD5 courses would be pin-point navigation for someone like you.
Ann65 - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to TOS:

Perfectly described!

In an earlier post someone said that GPS "has made many of the old navigation techniques redundant", its good to read from your post that orienteers are still using them and, using my words, could navigate the pants off a GPS user.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Ann65:
> (In reply to TOS)
>
> Perfectly described!
>
> In an earlier post someone said that GPS "has made many of the old navigation techniques redundant", its good to read from your post that orienteers are still using them and, using my words, could navigate the pants off a GPS user.

Let's get real. A device that tells you exactly where you are to within a couple of metres is manifestly superior to one that tells you roughly which way you are pointing. It's arguable whether GPS has already made compasses redundant or whether it will make them redundant in a few years but it is clearly an overwhelming superior technology.

The second question is whether a digital map is superior to a paper map. Again it's arguable about whether digital maps have already made paper maps redundant but there is little doubt about what will win in the end. Having all the maps you need with you at all times without wasting pack space, being able to buy new maps whenever you have a cellphone signal, zooming to change the scale, having the map set automatically and displaying your position on the map are all compelling advantages.

Of course navigating with paper map and compass is a worthwhile activity in itself and many people will choose to navigate that way for fun or as a sport. People still sew or knit for fun despite the fact there are much easier ways to obtain clothing.

Irk the Purist - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
Using a map and compass I can tell you where I am to within a couple of metres before you can turn on a gps.
DancingOnRock - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
> (In reply to Ann65)

> Of course navigating with paper map and compass is a worthwhile activity in itself and many people will choose to navigate that way for fun or as a sport. People still sew or knit for fun despite the fact there are much easier ways to obtain clothing.

The over-riding consideration is cost. As I said before. You're unlikely to have a backup GPS device considering the cost at the moment. What backup devices will there be? At the moment if you go down the smartphone route you'll need another smartphone with either the map preloaded or a backup sim or payment plan. All very messy for the lone walker.

I could knit a jumper, it would take a long time and be cheaper. However, I can afford to buy a jumper because I could use the amount of time it would take to knit one, to earn enough money doing what I specialise at, to buy several jumpers.
Ann65 - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Eric the Red:
well said - the point is that it is possible to navigate with a map and compass as accurately and quickly as when using a GPS and depending on the level of individual skill even better (whether for fun or sport).

Simon Caldwell - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to TOS:
> When an orienteer talks about GPS analysis of their run and say "where I actually went", they're talking about tweaks to course they ran, not as you are suggesting, getting so lost they haven't a clue where they went.

You obviously haven't seen me orienteer ;-)
Carolyn - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Ann65:

> well said - the point is that it is possible to navigate with a map and compass as accurately and quickly as when using a GPS and depending on the level of individual skill even better (whether for fun or sport).

Definitely into the realms of splitting hairs, but....

Wouldn't an already good navigator be (probably only marginally) faster if they used a GPS? It'd give all the same info as the paper map (no reason why you couldn't get an orienteering map and all controls loaded onto a GPS), and could be set to automatically centre on current location, saving the need to try and keep a thumb on your position, or other similar techniques.....they'd still be using all their arsenal of navigation techniques, just with an extra one added in.

But, back to random ponderings. I'm pretty sure I only automatically check GPS position against the map behind it because I'm so fluent reading OS maps, and so can do it very quickly. I know I don't have that level of fluency with an orienteering map (obviously I can interpret the contour features and paths quickly, but I have to think about/check the vegetation colours, for example). And I suspect many GPS users on the fells have a similar level of uncertainty with much that's marked on an OS map - which means you're very tempted to ignore a whole lot of useful information and concentrate on the GPS position. I'm not sure if using a GPS makes it harder to, or less likely that a user will, learn those skills, though, I suspect it's down to individual motivation.

Mind you, a course in thick forest and it could all go to pot!
Carolyn - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to captain paranoia:

> I had one of those moments on the Roybridge trip this year; we came to an obvious sheep pen, marked clearly on the map, but the mapping GPS had us a fair distance from it. No sooner had I decided that the GPS was clearly wrong than it snapped back to the correct position. Almost certainly a multipath issue, as we were surrounded by hills.
>
> And multipath is probably the most important issue to consider regarding 'trustworthiness' of a GNSS fix.

At the risk of sounding a little thick, what's a multipath issue? Presumably something along the lines of satellite signal getting bounced off side of hill as well as direct line of sight?

Practically, in a very deep gill, I've seen a trace that's displaced sideways by maybe 50-100m, so tracks the line of the path in the bottom of the gill, but gives a implausible trace along the steep wall instead. And I can kind of see how that might happen from that sort of thing.

Along which lines, is there a book you'd recommend? My theoretical knowledge is fairly limited - did do a short intro a number of years back, but about all I remember of it was "there's more to this than I realised"!

tom_in_edinburgh - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Eric the Red:
> (In reply to tom_in_edinburgh)
> Using a map and compass I can tell you where I am to within a couple of metres before you can turn on a gps.

So you have about 15 seconds to give me your position within 2 metres.

You've been walking across a moor for an hour. You know you're on the path so that part of your position is fine. But how do you find out to within 2m how far along the path you have walked when you only have 15 seconds to do it?
Ann65 - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
By using some of the techniques you earlier claimed were redundant.

One method to judge the real benefit of a new technology to an individual is if it allows you to do something you couldn’t do before, or that it can carry out a current task faster.

I’m referring to the core purpose of the equipment, in this case GPS, not the peripherals such as being able to buy a new map when on the hill(why), be able to have all the maps of the UK and Europe with you when out for a walk or be able to zoom into a map, etc.

Now GPS technology has allowed us, world-wide, to do many things we couldn’t do before, but during the last 20 years we haven’t just discovered that we can now navigate accurately in mountains.
Martin W on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> Let's get real. A device that tells you exactly where you are to within a couple of metres is manifestly superior to one that tells you roughly which way you are pointing.

Get real yourself. You could, for a start, compare like with like: position and direction are two different things. If you don't understand that properly then you're not really qualified to lecture others about navigation IMO.

> It's arguable whether GPS has already made compasses redundant or whether it will make them redundant in a few years but it is clearly an overwhelming superior technology.

GPS is a positioning technology (the clue is in the name). If you want to know which direction you're pointing you need something that references a fixed directional datum, such as the Earth's magnetic field - ie that which we call a "compass". Many handheld GPS devices do have an electronic compass built-in to augment the GPS (though the eTrex 10, for example, doesn't) and most modern smartphones so too. But it is fundamentally still a magnetic compass, albeit one with an electronic interface, and it's still subject to the same vagaries as any other magnetic compasses eg false readings caused by rock with a high ferrite content such as are found in the Cuillin.

A GPS-only device can only report your heading if you are moving - it does that by "looking back" along your track. If you are stationary then the best it can do is tell you the direction you were last moving in. Even small amounts of positional imprecision over time are enough to undermine that approach, since the unit will think that you're moving about in random directions. The effects of this shouldn't be underestimated: for example, even when I'm standing stock still my Garmin 310XT usually tells me that I'm wandering about at anything up to 5kph.

> The second question is whether a digital map is superior to a paper map. Again it's arguable about whether digital maps have already made paper maps redundant but there is little doubt about what will win in the end.

Evidence, please, for this lack of doubt? Plenty of people on this thread have raised doubts. And why does it have to be about "winning"? Why can't both co-exist, as they do now?

> Having all the maps you need with you at all times without wasting pack space

How many maps do you need? The OS used to cover the whole of the West Highland Way at 1:25,000 with just two maps. Harveys now do it at 1:40,000 (which should be plenty for a waymarked route like the WHW) on just one map. Most day walks only need one map, or two if the map boundary is in an awkward place. Even three or four Landranger maps is hardly a significant weight, no worse than a GPS with backup batteries (and maybe a backup GPS, just in case?)

It's pure fantasy to imply that without a mapping GPS everyone used to stumble around with half the OS maps for the UK in their rucksack.

> having the map set automatically and displaying your position on the map are all compelling advantages.

A lot of your arguments are based around the advantages of a device which integrates positioning (GPS), heading information (compass) and digital mapping. It's true that the result is convenient, and an argument could be made that reducing the task loading involved in the largely mechanical processes of locating yourself on a map reduces the risk of mistakes in stressful situations. Equally, though, there are undeniable disadvantages to being overly reliant on electronic equipment in remote areas which should not be lightly dismissed.

I often do carry a basic eTrex GPS when I'm out in the hills. Most of the time I carry it simply to record my route for later reference, but I don't have any compunction about using it to re-orientate myself if I think it's necessary - and if I think it would actually be quicker than just looking around me and engaging my brain a bit more firmly. I also have a smartphone with the Viewranger mapping GPS app on it, though I have yet to bother trying to use it out in the hills since a paper map (usually a photocopy of the relevant A5-sized section of the paper map, with the full map stashed safely in my rucksack as a backup) has been more than adequate for me to date. If I found myself having to rely on the phone for navigation I'd be extremely concerned about battery life. Batteries do run down: it's inherent in their function, unless you never actually turn the device on!
tom_in_edinburgh - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Ann65:
> (In reply to tom_in_edinburgh)
>
> I’m referring to the core purpose of the equipment, in this case GPS, not the peripherals such as being able to buy a new map when on the hill(why),

More often the map tiles get bought on the way to the hill as a result of changing plans than on the actual hill. There's not always a shop that sells O/S maps and is open when you need it.
Ann65 - on 21 Jun 2013
A reminiscence.

I started using a GPS during the mid 1990s when the constellation of 24 satellites just started to provide full availability. Selective Availability was still being applied.

The first unit I used was an early Magellan which used to lose satellites even on the Cairngorm plateau for up to 15 minutes at a time and it often took as long to get itself ready for action from a cold start.

About the time I started playing around with a PDA with an OS map and a Bluetooth GPS a group of walkers I knew asked if I would give them some navigation instruction for a day. When we met up some of them were armed with those newish ‘GPS thingies’ and said they would like to use them. The first problem was to get everyone with the correct Map Datum so that they all found themselves in the same car park, then we were off.

After walking the path for a bit I did a leg over rough ground, using map and compass to demonstrate what could be achieved. I told the group where we were and after a bit of consultation of GPS all agreed that I was correct and they were suitably impressed that it was possible to be so accurate with a map and compass.

During the morning, the GPS units gradually disappeared into pockets and sacs never to be seen for the rest of the day – they were all hooked by the ‘old technology’.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Martin W:
> (In reply to tom_in_edinburgh)
>
> Get real yourself. You could, for a start, compare like with like: position and direction are two different things. If you don't understand that properly then you're not really qualified to lecture others about navigation IMO.

Absolutely. When I want to know where I am a device that tells me which way I'm pointing is much less useful than one that tells me where I am.

>
> GPS is a positioning technology (the clue is in the name). If you want to know which direction you're pointing you need something that references a fixed directional datum, such as the Earth's magnetic field - ie that which we call a "compass".

Sure. But I want a positioning technology. If I've got a positioning technology I can figure out direction much more easily than if I have a direction finding technology and need to find position. And it turns out the phone has a compass and an accelerometer and some pretty good radios in it as well as GPS and over time the software will get better at fusing the data from all the sensors together so I actually get position and direction and an element of dead reckoning when it can't see the satellites.

>
> Evidence, please, for this lack of doubt? Plenty of people on this thread have raised doubts. And why does it have to be about "winning"? Why can't both co-exist, as they do now?

They can co-exist. But the way markets work one technology tends to dominate. The whole trend is towards digital documents taking over from paper because they are more convenient. Maps are just another example.

>
> It's pure fantasy to imply that without a mapping GPS everyone used to stumble around with half the OS maps for the UK in their rucksack.

The issue is more they had to decide where they were going and buy the maps for that location in advance and usually photocopy the bits they wanted. It's very convenient to be able to change your mind about where you want to walk and be able to grab the map tiles you need in the car on the way there and to have every map you ever bought sitting on the device.

And if you are on a longer walk where pack space and weight is at a premium then a bunch of paper maps does use space.


> I often do carry a basic eTrex GPS when I'm out in the hills. Most of the time I carry it simply to record my route for later reference, but I don't have any compunction about using it to re-orientate myself if I think it's necessary - and if I think it would actually be quicker than just looking around me and engaging my brain a bit more firmly. I also have a smartphone with the Viewranger mapping GPS app on it, though I have yet to bother trying to use it out in the hills since a paper map (usually a photocopy of the relevant A5-sized section of the paper map, with the full map stashed safely in my rucksack as a backup) has been more than adequate for me to date.

Most of the time a paper map is adequate even without a compass. But ViewRanger is better when things get challenging like when you are trying to find a path that is on the map but invisible in real life because it's overgrown or under snow.

> If I found myself having to rely on the phone for navigation I'd be > extremely concerned about battery life. Batteries do run down: it's inherent in their function, unless you never actually turn the device on!

Yes, you need to be concerned about battery life, it's very manageable by choosing the right settings in the app so it doesn't get fixes too frequently and carrying a reserve battery just in case.

Irk the Purist - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:
If I need to give you an accurate position to 2m, I'd be able to do it in under 15 seconds, provided my map was to the correct scale. Using a map is about knowing where you are, not finding where you are, so I'd know before you asked.

More realistically, I could give you a 6 figure reference in under 15 seconds yes. By using contours mostly but also other features if I had to as well as a well developed sense of direction, timing etc.

You're missing the point. A map is about so much more than knowing where you are. It’s about where you are in relation to all the features not just immediately around you but over the next hill or at the end of the valley. It’s about using a map to help you pick the most appropriate route through the terrain based on the group your with, the aim of your day, the conditions underfoot, the weather, things you’ve seen and fancy a look at etc... If you can point me in the direction of a GPS that allows the user to move quickly through technical terrain, allowing them to choose a route on the fly and change their mind as they come across different terrains and base those decisions on the contours and roadheads that could be up to 10 miles away, I’ll use it. But only if it’s £6.99 which is the price of an OS map. Maps are 100 times for convenient than GPS for this purpose, not least because of their huge screen size (how big is a map? 40" screen) with infinite zoom and instant scrolling using what I like to call my eyes.

GPS has it’s place in finding a known location quickly (SAR), for aircraft and naval navigation, for arctic exploring etc but for genuine mountaincraft, for allowing someone to enjoy a day on the hills with the freedom to go where you want, no.

I do take one with me onto the hills when I lead groups because an 8 figure grid reference is pretty handy for SAR, like I said, but I never use it. Not because I'm some stuck in the past bearded freak, but because it's inconvenient and not as good as the map I have in my pocket.
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Ann65 - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

"trend is towards digital documents taking over from paper"

Has this not been said since Windows 1.0 or 2.0 and the Intel 286 processor.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Eric the Red:
> (In reply to tom_in_edinburgh)
Maps are 100 times for convenient than GPS for this purpose, not least because of their huge screen size (how big is a map? 40" screen) with infinite zoom and instant scrolling using what I like to call my eyes.

Absolutely, a 40" wide piece of paper is so perfect out on an open hillside in the wind and rain that everyone folds it smaller. And I really like how paper maps cover a large arbitrary area which is not centred on where you want to walk so you might easily need multiple maps or find you've got no context in one particular direction because your close to the edge of the map.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Ann65:
> A reminiscence.
>
> About the time I started playing around with a PDA with an OS map and a Bluetooth GPS a group of walkers I knew asked if I would give them some navigation instruction for a day. When we met up some of them were armed with those newish ‘GPS thingies’ and said they would like to use them. The first problem was to get everyone with the correct Map Datum so that they all found themselves in the same car park, then we were off.

I'd agree. I used to have an old PDA with GPS and it was far worse than a map and compass. I used it a couple of times and then forgot about it because it took so long to get a fix and was just generally horrible. I've never bought one of the non-mapping outdoor GPS units.

But ViewRanger on a newish smartphone is something else. Far from perfect but much better than a paper map and compass and that gap is just going to widen over time.


Ann65 - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

The PDA with map and GPS I had wasn't too bad, as long as it was waterproofed and you remembered to lock the device once set up as an accidental press of the wrong button in a pocket could mean the whole thing had to be reset.

I think we all have to remember that, with GPS and other bits of kit for the hill, our need for it all is primarily commercialy driven. What is required, with reguard to equipment, for a safe mountain walk is a lot less than the outdoor companies would like us to think.
Orgsm on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Eric the Red:
> (In reply to tom_in_edinburgh)
> Using a map and compass I can tell you where I am to within a couple of metres before you can turn on a gps.


What scale map are you using for that accuracy , 1:1 ?
PopShot on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to Beat me to it!:
> (In reply to Eric the Red)
> [...]
>
>
> What scale map are you using for that accuracy , 1:1 ?
>

It is perfectly possible to read off a grid reference of 8 digits from a standard 1:50,000 or 1:25,000 map using a grid reference tool or romer card.
PopShot on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot: 8 numbers I mean. The one that describes a 10 X 10 metre area.
seaofdreams - on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

In reply to PopShot:

utter nonsense.

At 1:50000 scale 2 cm is 1km
10 mm is 500 m
1 mm is 50

Making
0.2 mm equal to 10 m

I am a geologist who makes maps for a living, I am also mountain rescue and there is no way I could achieve that level of presion at 1:50000 scale. The pencil mark is 0.5 mm wide!
on a good day I am accurate to 50 m by 50 m on 1:50000 and I have tried (1800 samples on a 100 m grid springs to mind)

This is part to do with the fact that I am normal but also to do with the resolution that that map is printed to. A contour is approx 20 m wide at true scale.

Good navigation is not about knowing where you are to the nearest 10 m. And what ever tool you use it's the training that counts.
Orgsm on 21 Jun 2013
In reply to seaofdreams:

Entirely agree with you, popshot is talking out his roamer scale, 0.04mm amazing eye sight plus triangulation on dart moor for instance...
seaofdreams - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to Beat me to it!:

Yeah 1 degree uncertainty sighting on a object 1 km away with a real geological compass gives you 17 ish meters of uncertainty based on the old rotten idiom of "half the smallest division"

Even with a Brunton you are in the realm of needing to adjust for mag dec to the nearest 10 min to get down below 10 m.

"Pass my total station good sir and just head over to that trig point and hold this pole, we will soon get a good fix" - "what do you mean the trig point has fallen over! Are they not maintaining these things anymore........"

OwenM - on 22 Jun 2013
In reply to seaofdreams:
> (In reply to PopShot)
>
>
>
> At 1:50000 scale 2 cm is 1km
> 10 mm is 500 m
> 1 mm is 50
>
> Making
> 0.2 mm equal to 10 m
>
>
Interesting, as a young squaddie some years ago I was sent into the middle of Rhyder forest to with an 8 figure grid of a tree. Pinned to the tree was the next 8 figure grid reference, there were about fifteen in all spread over about twenty miles. Always wondered just how accurate those grid references were.
Simon Caldwell - on 23 Jun 2013
In reply to seaofdreams:
> Good navigation is not about knowing where you are to the nearest 10 m. And what ever tool you use it's the training that counts.

Well said
Jamie Light on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:
> With recent leaps forward in GPS technology is the use of map and compass as navigation tools on the hill obsolete? I recently purchased a Memory Map GPS which displays full colour OS maps with my position displayed in real time. Very affordably priced and user-friendly too. Is the modern role of the map and compass as a back-up only or does anyone still use it as a primary navigation tool?

My iPhone 4S packs in around 2degrees celsius, luckily my map and compass is good for pretty much any conditions...
Seocan - on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to Stone Muppet:

Not being a teenager any more I'm not up to speed on text speak. What does the upper case part of your message mean?
Seocan - on 24 Jun 2013
Sorry should have included the required text:

HTH.HAND.


Not being a teenager any more I'm not up to speed on text speak. What does the upper case part of your message mean?
Dave Stelmach on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot: I find a GPS very useful when skiing, as I can download ski maps onto it and it tracks ski runs and lifts as one way streets.
On walks, I prefer to use a map and compass and read the terrain.
MDavies007 - on 24 Jun 2013
PopShot; I thought I would offer a more "positive" reply, as the majority of responses to your question seem largely negative. Many of the negative points pessimistically focus on things that "could" go wrong, despite these being somewhat unlikely and/or also applicable to the map and compass too!

I do regularly use a GPS-enabled "smartphone" when I go hill-walking. I also take a paper map and compass, which I regularly use as the walk progresses. I use them both together depending on what information I require at that point.

Here are areas where the smartphone offers an advantage, IMHO.

~ I think a phone is an essential piece of kit to take anyway (who doesn't take one?) to call for emergencies. If I'm taking one, why not take one with GPS too?
~ If you do have an accident, you can tell emergency services exactly where you are by reading the coordinates to them
~ In a (sudden) white-out, knowing exactly where you are (and at what altitude) and navigating quickly to a safe exit (how quick is taking a bearing off a colleague and pacing, in a howling Cairngorm storm?) could be a life-saver.
~ With smart route-planning beforehand, you can program important waypoints into the GPS, including critical features and exit points.
~ GPS data telling you things like "average speed over ground", "time to waypoint" etc. can really help assess your performance against expectations, and whether your target is safely reachable in the time allocated.

The much-repeated stuff about ruggedness/waterproofness and battery life is rather quaint and old-fashioned. My 2-year-old phone has toughened glass, a silicone surround and sits in an Aquapac. It gets regularly knocked and dropped, rained and snowed on and hasn't broken. Battery will last a good 12-14 hours, in the cold too, and carrying a spare power-pack or solar charger for multi-day trips is feasible and no real weight penalty. Those who say "it took ages to get a signal/couldn't get one" either do not have a clear view of the sky or did not start the GPS early enough when moving into the new area prior to the walk, thus forcing a cold boot. Bad use of tool!

In summary I would say this. It is a tool, like a map and compass. Learn how it works, what GPS can and cannot do, and how accurate your smartphone implementation of GPS is. The software (Memory Map or other) is very good but you need to know how to use it, understand the data it is giving you.
nscnick - on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to Jim C:

The reason is that maps can have errors, just try overlaying a computerised 1:25,000 map with a 50,000! While this error is not important, if you are on the track that is shown then you aren't going to be far wrong for example. The GPS gives a false and (flat battery or satellites not visible reason) sense of accuracy that is occasionally and invariably not justified. So the GPS track shows where the map has an error compared to the ground, which is possubly interesting. The point is that to navigate in all conditions and at all times being able to use a map and compass is essential. A GPS is nice to have and can be useful and even life-saving but people have an unrealistic dependency on them so that when it dosen't work they are lost! And a GPS is more likely to not work than a map and compass. The solution to any errors is to state a grid reference obtained either by dead reckoning or reading a gps, and accompany it with a description, such as NW corner of the field or the junction of two burns, or where the contour lines come together, etc. Observation of a GPS shows that it has varying accuracy, and especially of altitude. Anyone questioning this should ask why it takes many days of observations and use of multiple differential receivers to obtain a very accurate fix by using GPS, as has been done recently in revising the Munro and Corbett tables! Also just try geo-caching and see why you need a description or clue in addition to the spurious 10 figure references used.
nscnick - on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

I know how the GPS works. But waiting for it to get a fix, in poor reception conditions can take a very long time. I need to show the track in question, which followed the tourist route precisely except for when the cloud thickened over and it was also snowing when it went haywire. A GPS needs at least 4 satellites for a fix and more for something more accurate. Also try using one in dense wood, sometimes they'll work, sometimes not. In any event it will plot the track between when it knows it has a firm fix of at least 4 satellites, usually around 1 second intervals, so if it is jumping around then it shows it has a) NOT got an accurate location and b) cannot see or receive enough good quality satellite signals to provide a continuous series of consistent track points. So under these conditions relying on a GPS for a fix is foolhardy and life threatening. The only solution is to know how to use a map and compass.
syv_k - on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to Nick Cole:

I have done some geocaching recently. When you find the cache, how far does your GPS say it is from the listed co-ordinates? I rarely get more than 12m off, unless in very thick woodland or Central London. That's pretty good agreement really -much more than that and I might note that the co-ordinates are a bit off for me and might need checking. That is with an iPhone. I have a garmin that is slightly more accurate, but I don't use it for geocaching because the interface is unsuitable.

I sometimes find Google Satellite view more useful than a regular map for micro nav in such circumstances. It can give you a chance of identifying a particular tree or bush. Great tool.
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GeekyNick - on 24 Jun 2013
In reply to PopShot:

I'm doing my Gold Duke of Edinburgh's Award at the moment and have been following this thread with interest (although I can't say I've read every response !). The DofE's official guidance is that GPS may be used as a "secondary navigation device" and this has lead to some interesting conversations over what exactly constitutes primary and secondary usage.

I use my Nexus 4 (Android Smartphone) as an outdoors GPS with an app called "Maverick" that provides OS Explorer (1:25000) mapping (amongst others) and the ability to create/import waypoint sets and routes. I use this in conjunction with Quo on PC for planning purposes. Battery life is taken care of with a 10000mAh external battery which gives me around 4 full charges and it lives in an aquapac pouch. I have found it to be an immensely valuable tool used in conjunction with traditional navigation such as bearings.

I still use map and compass primarily and the GPS is used to check my position or if I'm unsure of a particularly tricky section. For the most part though I actually prefer orientating the map, taking bearings etc. to following my position on the GPS.

For me the answer is simple - carry both, learn to use both (I have found there is a surprising amount to learn about GPS !) and use them effectively together. Lyle Brotherton's "Ultimate Navigation Manual" has excellent information on using GPS as well as its role within navigation as a whole.
george mc - on 28 Jun 2013
In reply to george mc: Thanks George, I've borrowed that: http://www.ukhillwalking.com/news/item.php?id=68165
Carolyn - on 28 Jun 2013
In reply to george mc:

Fabulous!

And should be re-posted on the how to make language teaching more appealing thread.....
captain paranoia - on 28 Jun 2013
In reply to Carolyn:

Sorry, Carolyn, I missed this question.

Multipath is a problem in radio signal propagation, where the signal arrives at the receiver via multiple paths, due to reflections off buildings or other large objects, e.g. hills and cliffs.

It can cause problems with signal strength, and, in the case of GNSS, the reflected signal can be stronger than the direct signal, which messes up the triangulation, causing an error in the position fix.
captain paranoia - on 28 Jun 2013
In reply to Eric the Red:

> If I need to give you an accurate position to 2m, I'd be able to do it in under 15 seconds, provided my map was to the correct scale.

What scale did you have in mind to achieve a 2m accurate position?

At 1:25k, 2m is represented by 2*40/1000 mm, i.e. 0.08mm. I very much doubt that you can measure your position that accurately, even if you can find a feature on the map that is plotted to that accuracy; even with one of my vernier Romers, I can just about read the grid ref of a feature to 10m.

You certainly won't be able to achieve that accuracy by resection, since your reference points won't be plotted to that accuracy, and a normal compass won't give a bearing error much better than 1degree.

I'm quite happy to defend traditional map and compass skills (and was teaching them last weekend), but let's at least be realistic at what can be achieved with them; 2m with a 1:25k map isn't realistic.

A GNSS receiver with SBAS correction in a clear environment will give a position fix that far exceeds the accuracy of the printed hillwalker's map (so much so that the accuracy is superfluous to requirements of land navigation, even if it is useful for geocaching). That's why GNSS is used in surveying in preference to traditional methods.
Irk the Purist - on 28 Jun 2013
In reply to captain paranoia:

I use between 1:5k and 1:10k when orienteering depending on the location but even on a 1:25k it is easy enough to pinpoint your location to the same resolution as the features drawn on it, be they contours or whatever.

I also said in quite a long post that's been selectively quoted that a GPS is for locating and a map is for navigating and I stand by that. What use is an 8 figure grid on a 1:50k?



Carolyn - on 28 Jun 2013
In reply to captain paranoia:

Cheers, I think that's pretty much what I had in mind by the phrase. And explains what I've seen, but haven't understood the cause of.

That's two useful things I've learnt off this thread, pretty impressive!
captain paranoia - on 28 Jun 2013
In reply to Eric the Red:

> I use between 1:5k and 1:10k when orienteering depending on the location but even on a 1:25k it is easy enough to pinpoint your location to the same resolution as the features drawn on it, be they contours or whatever.

Agreed, which was rather my point; a 1:25k map doesn't have features surveyed or printed to 2m accuracy. And I'd be surprised if even a 1:5k map does (2m = 0.4mm). It was your claim to be able to determine your position to an accuracy of 2m from a map that I was questioning, not whether you need that accuracy.

> I also said in quite a long post that's been selectively quoted that a GPS is for locating and a map is for navigating and I stand by that.

Agreed; as said earlier, I sometimes use a GPS PDA with mapping. It has no route following or guidance facilities.

> What use is an 8 figure grid on a 1:50k?

Agreed; it's essentially the same point as my comment about GPS position accuracy being superfluous, and the jist of my discussion here:

http://www.outdoorsmagic.com/forum/gear/os-mapping-accuracy/45714.html

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