A Step by Step Guide to Using a Handheld GPS

Are you into hiking technology but you still have no idea how to use a handheld GPS? Then, this is for you. A hiking GPS is not quite the same as Google Maps on your phone or the navigation system you use in your car. It’s a little more complex than that. Most GPSes or hiking watches have many features you can utilize to help you not only pinpoint where you are and where you’re going, but also record your trips.

The first thing to know before you use a handheld GPS is that it’s meant to accompany a map, not to be used as a replacement. Because it needs to attach to at least four satellites before giving a read out, you should not be so reliant on a GPS as your main mode of navigation. If you have a weak signal or you go in and out of service, you could risk receiving inaccurate information, which could ultimately mean you’ll end up very lost.

Reading coordinates isn’t too hard, but it’s helpful to know a little about them. Do you remember learning about longitude and latitude in middle school? Once you have a better grasp on coordinates, it’s time to understand how a GPS uses those coordinates. Basically, the GPS takes a set of coordinates and places it on a grid, to tell you your location based on its relative position north/south and east/west.

The great thing about choosing a good handheld GPS is that you can customize how you view your coordinates. Choose what’s best or what makes the most sense to you. What’s nice is that you won’t actually be the one internalizing these coordinates; your GPS will be using them to easily guide you.

If you’re eager to start using your GPS in the backcountry but need a little more help, take a look at this…


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