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GPS options for trail running and, well, anyone.

A members question gets me pondering the navigation options I carry on me.

Kerry Adams
Kerry Adamshttps://thebloke.co.nz
A constant learner with an inquisitive mind, Kerry created The Bloke as a way to share what he was learning from the community of experts he found himself surrounded by. Somewhere along the line, he picked up one or two things himself. But don't call him an expert.
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“Hey Bro, was after some advice. I’m looking at getting a GPS for trail running mainly & hunting. Ideally, it should be:

  • Easy to use, ie download trail maps 
  • Easy to read, nice big screen 
  • Good battery life, preferably be able to use rechargeable and disposable batteries 

I’m looking at doing more trail running by myself and will turn it on when I’m not too sure which way to go direction wise. I’ve got a Garmin watch but don’t want to have to rely on that alone as will drain the battery. If you got any recommendations let me know. Cheers”

– One of the Blokes.

Two is one and one is none.

Key points – heading out by himself, into the backcountry. While it’s all very well to claim “I know this area like the back of my hand” – those old fellas tend to get lost just as much as anyone else – and – according to many LandSAR profiles – it’s the hunters who are likely to try and self-rescue (due to bull-headedness alpha male attitudes) and turn a search into more of an escape and evasion exercise.

If you are planning on heading out by yourself (or really, even with a group) it makes sense not to have a single failure point. I.e. only one method of navigation on your person.

The other consideration here is for Trail Running, where you want a quick reference to keep you moving – and this is one advantage I can see of a digital-based map over a traditional paper one.

My existing system

If I am heading out, I will have my Garmin Fenix on my wrist, able to provide Topo Grid Coordinates which I can then apply to my physical map. If I am just wandering about, I use either the compass around my neck (Silva Expedition S) the one on my pack strap (Sunnto Clipper) or the digital one on my wrist (the Fenix) to give me a bearing – having already formed a fairly good idea of where I want to head, generally, using a physical map that I have printed off MapToaster and laminated. MapToaster allows to you print out just the area you want, and scales and applies the grid lines and declination for your map. You can read more about my workflow over here – https://thebloke.co.nz/practising-navigation-garmin-tactix/

Hi there. Want to read the rest of the article? I talk about the various options, how they work together, what I have used in the past and where I would head in the future.

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