UKC

/ GPS devices

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Tyler - on 20 Dec 2017
What are the advantages of having a dedicated device as a smart phone app seems to deliver the same functionality at lower cost (assuming you already own a smartphone).

What is the best smartphone app for this purpose and what is considered the best dedicated device (mainly uk, anything abroad would be a nice to have)?

Thank you
davidbeynon on 20 Dec 2017
In reply to Tyler:

Not forcing my emergency navigation device to draw from the same power supply as my emergency communication device is a big one for me. Most smart phones are a bit fragile as well.
Welsh Kate - on 20 Dec 2017
In reply to Tyler:

Although smart phone batteries are improving, gps use on phones, especially apps with mapping, still eats battery life. If the battery lasts long enough for you to follow your route and get home safely then that's fine - and you can always take a powerpack with you to recharge. But if that fails, and you get lost, you've no way to call for help. Phones are also generally less robust than dedicated gps units, and less able to deal with wet conditions.

There are various smart phone apps; I've only used Viewranger so can't give a balanced opinion on the different apps out there, but if you are getting one with mapping, make sure you can download the mapping and not have to rely on data connections in the middle of nowhere!
In reply to Tyler:

Hey Tyler, we have various skills articles on digital navigation that could help you with those (and other) questions:

Modernise your navigation - https://www.ukhillwalking.com/articles/page.php?id=9765
Smartphones in the hills, pros, cons and tips - https://www.ukhillwalking.com/articles/page.php?id=8285
Electronics on the trail - https://www.ukhillwalking.com/articles/page.php?id=7801

Ridge - on 20 Dec 2017
In reply to Tyler:

I have Anquet maps, pricy but excellent.

BUT:

1. GPS eats battery, (I reckon my S6 will run with anquet in the background for about 10hrs on a good day).

2. If it's not a good day and temperature is sub zero phone batteries die very quickly.

3. Phones are fragile and probably not waterproof.

4. Touch screens, they don't like gloves and they don't like water on the screen.

5. Phone apps suck nav skils out of your brain.
Tyler - on 20 Dec 2017
In reply to:

Thanks all, in terms of functionality they do the same thing?
mbh - on 20 Dec 2017
In reply to Tyler:

If you are running it is handier to look at something on your wrist than to look at a phone.

That said, when my last GPS watch broke and I only had a phone, I got along just fine and liked having the map of my route that came with the Strava app I was using.

As for which is the best dedicated device - there surely is no one answer. It depends how much money you are willing to spend, and what you want from it. Let others speak for the benefits of what they have. I have a Garmin 230 and use it just for running. It is very good for that. I like the bluetooth link to the phone, which does away with the need to wait until I get home to a computer before I can upload my run to Garmin/Strava, and I find that I really enjoy the diversion of the 'steps' function, which runs all the time. Today: 3 mile run first thing got me to 5000 something steps, a morning of Christmas shopping in Exeter with my wife took that up to 16000! No wonder shopping is so tiring. You wouldn't get that useless? info from a phone each day because you might not carry it with you everywhere you go. Or maybe you would. Lastly, the 230 can be recharged on the go from a USB battery, which is useful for long days out/Ultras, and is slim enough to be worn all the time as an everyday watch..

jonnie3430 - on 20 Dec 2017
In reply to Tyler:
Dedicated device will last longer and is more robust than a phone.

If you're navigating with map and compass (and everyone should,) the phone is a good back up of things go wrong and you need to get an accurate fix on your location, or get an accurate steer on where you are going. (Some phones are more accurate than others, my S5 mini GPS is terrible and I wouldn't rely on it!)

You do need battery though, so I'd suggest charging the phone, putting it on airplane mode and only taking it off for short periods to check for messages, etc. You should have most the charge left at the end of the day if it's needed for navigation.

You can just use Google maps as the app, turn on terrain and you should be able to relate it to your map.
Post edited at 16:37
JIMBO on 20 Dec 2017
In reply to Tyler:

If a gps runs out of battery you can just pop in two new AA batteries unlike your phone...
blurty - on 20 Dec 2017
In reply to Tyler:

I use an old Satmap, used it loads in the UK & the Alps. Really excellent in every respect (1 set of batteries was fine for a 5 day ski tour in the alps (light use, and with power longevity setting)). Never any trouble until I put it through the washing machine by mistake. The people at Satmap charged me a £60 service and it came back as good as new - still going strong 3yrs later.

Satmap is expensive to start with, but worth it in the long run. The only potential downside might be Strava compatibility - I've no idea if it would be able to do that.
captain paranoia - on 20 Dec 2017
In reply to JIMBO:

> If a gps runs out of battery you can just pop in two new AA batteries unlike your phone...

As above, if your phone battery runs out, you can pop in a power bank and recharge. Some phones still have replaceable batteries, although the obsession with wafer-thin phones has limited that in recent years.

You don't have to have GPS on all the time. You can easily turn the GPS receiver off and back on when you want a fix. Between such fixes, you can navigate pretty much conventionally with the map displayed on the phone. If you do this at at least a four hour interval, and leave it enabled for about 15 minutes, it will retain an up-to-date ephemeris, allowing a warm fix when you do need it.

You only need the GPS on all the time if you want to log your route, or are obsessed with the likes of Strava. Even then, most decent mapping apps will automatically control the GPS receiver, turning it on once every few minutes to get a fix to log, and then turn it off ('track log rate' or similar setting). How fast are you moving, and how accurate a route log do you need?
Coel Hellier - on 20 Dec 2017
In reply to Tyler:

It depends quite a bit on whether you want to use the GPS fairly continually to navigate, or whether you want it in case you get lost. If the latter then the battery worries are sorted by charging it before you go and then taking it with you switched off, for use when actually needed.

If, though, you are the sort of person who stares with blank incomprehension at the suggestion of not continually fiddling with your phone, then maybe you need a dedicated GPS to fiddle with also.
The Fox - on 20 Dec 2017
In reply to Tyler:
What everyone else said re pros and cons

Re which App -
GPS GB does a great job for me.

What you planning on using it for?
Wingnut - on 21 Dec 2017
In reply to Tyler:

Phone screens can be a pig to read in strong sunlight (ok, on the rare occasions when we get any), and trying to drive a slightly fiddly phone GUI with your nose because you don't want to take your gloves off gets annoying quickly, whereas low-end GPS units still have physical buttons that will work with gloves on. That, and there have been occasions where I've been looking for two waypoints at once and having a second device, and hence a second screen, helped.

(Also, I've had dedicated GPS units survive sitting in pools of water on kayak spraydecks, be dangled in rivers, and on one occasion get accidentally dropped in the bog and then have the piss washed off it while still switched on. Plus the one I dropped and then accidentally stood on while trying to pick it up. I'm sure there ARE phone cases around that will cope with that sort of thing without making it impossible to actually use the phone, but I'm not about to test this experimentally, because I like having a working phone!)

I do a fair bit of geocaching, and whether I use my phone or my dedicated GPS (or a bit of both) depends very much on where I'm going and what exactly I'm planning on doing there.
george mc - on 21 Dec 2017
OwenM - on 21 Dec 2017
In reply to Wingnut:

> Phone screens can be a pig to read in strong sunlight (ok, on the rare occasions when we get any), and trying to drive a slightly fiddly phone GUI with your nose because you don't want to take your gloves off gets annoying quickly, whereas low-end GPS units still have physical buttons that will work with gloves on.

Bright sunlight and rain can be a real pain on my phone but my GPS (Garmin Montana 600) doesn't suffer anywhere nearly as bad. I've also had the whole thing covered in rime ice, I just wiped it off and carried on. I use one of those little rubber tipped pen like things with it, saves taking your gloves off.

DancingOnRock - on 21 Dec 2017
In reply to Tyler:
I use the OS app on the phone £3.99 gets a month of maps. Download them and save them when I have a broadband connection. (In fact the maps I saved in October are still saved?) Print out some A4 sheets of the area I’m going and stick them in a bag.

If I need a fix in the hills. Get the phone out and it overlays my position on the OS Map. Turn on airplane mode and it’ll save a lot of battery. Take a powerbank as reserve power if you’re that worried.
Post edited at 18:17
L Baz P - on 08 Jan 2018
In reply to Tyler:

I use MemoryMap on my phone. £140 for the whole of the UK at 25k in HD. The app is free.
The phone has a power bank (which is the same size) strapped to it with a rubber band. This charges the phone three times. Don't need the power if I only look at it occasionally.
I also use this set up on my mountain bike with a handlebar bracket.
jspinks - on 08 Jan 2018
In reply to Tyler:

I think there is an argument for covering all bases. Apps including mapping can drain the battery quickly if you use the app frequently but if you already have your phone in your pocket, why would you not have a basic GPS app on the device just in case? You might drop your dedicated device. A basic GPS app will (should) only use battery when the app is on screen so there is no downside.

Full disclosure, I am the developer of such an app.

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