Evening Runners and Walkers,
I am interested in buying a GPS for trail running and walking too.
When I have done some trail marathons, it has taken a while to get my map out of my rucksack and find where I am; while I have been doing this, I have been envious of those who have breezed passed saying something like, Yes, it's straight on and then right. In some ways, I would prefer the map and thinking it through but on a run you can get a bit cold and want to keep going.
I don't want a watch as I'd use the GPS for days on the hills.
As ever, I'd be grateful for knowledge and expertise of the running forum and in anticipation, thank you.
Step 1 - have your map and compass to hand.... says the orienteer.
Step 2 - see step 1.
GPS with breadcrumb trail is great, until it isn't. I do use a watch with one (Suunto user) and it's great. But when it gets to fine details, urban turns etc, it's not that good TBH. I tend to use a preloaded route on Viewranger with OS maps under it for that.
I do have a Garmin eTrex that I've used for years bike touring and I take that out on winter runs in areas I don't know to avoid using the battery on my phone.
There is no one good answer. As usual. The longer you go the more you have to trade off between battery life and mapping use.
> When I have done some trail marathons, it has taken a while to get my map out of my rucksack...
If you're having to navigate in a race, then the map shouldn't be in your rucksack, it should be in your hand. If you get a GPS device, will it be in your rucksack?
> I have been envious of those who have breezed passed saying something like, Yes, it's straight on and then...
Were they using a GPS device? More likely they just knew where they were and where they were going. In events with a fixed course (year on year) it's easy enough to memorise the route.
If you actually have to navigate then the best thing is to learn some technique from the orienteers - i.e., how to read a map & compass (and the terrain) on the move. You should never have to stop. Slow down perhaps, but not stop.
> I don't want a watch as I'd use the GPS for days on the hills.
Could you explain this a little more? I use my watch in the hills all the time. If I need better mapping I get out my phone or even a map, but for knowing which way to turn a watch with a route preprogrammed is perfect.
I've used separate GPS in the past but I find them heavy and much less convenient than something always on my wrist.
Have you considered an OS maps subscription on a phone? There are issues around using a touch screen when it's wet so it might not work for you. You can download the routes in advance at full 1:25k. You could probably get a very capable 2nd hand phone for the price of a dedicated gps unit.
A handheld GPS will be a PITA for running, a watch will be much better and the latest models of (for example) the Garmin Fenix have support for base maps so are pretty good for general navigation too.
I agree with the orienteer(ers?) above. Keep the map in your hand and orientated the whole time while tracing your route with your thumb, very easy with one of those Harvey Ultramaps. With little practice it's very intuitive.
As above, if you're moving fast (ie actually running all the way) you'll probably find that a handheld is a right old faff compared to a simple breadcrumb on a watch. Over distance on rough ground you'll have loads of time to use a handheld. I hate lugging mine around compared to the watch but can't deny the utility of a big screen with a decent map (see TalkyToaster). Either way, just make sure that you've uploaded your planned route before you set off and you'll be grand.
PS, Ignore ye olde worlde mappists unless you're especially interested in the discipline (and many are, which is fine) everyone else has moved on. While it's useful to be able to navigate in the dark, in a hurricane, with sideways sleet and peat bog up to your knees on Kinder with nothing more than a magnetised matchstick and an out of date OS while being chased by a bear, you'll actually be really glad that Ronald Reagan lobbed up some satellites, instead of being lost and trying to work out regional declination and whether that map squiggle is a rock outcrop or a marsh as your headtorch gets even dimmer and helicopter rescue actually seems like a viable way of getting home so long as you don't get the bill. Fallback if it's REALLY remote - have map/compass in the bottom of your pack in case of armageddon events and be able to find the nearest road if you can't hear it.
PPS phones are crap. They always stop working just when you need them.
PPPS a decent handheld is really expensive and has sod all use apart from the twice a year you'll not use your watch instead.