Hiking and Backpacking

GPS Systems -
How Do I Choose the Right One For Me?

Hello, Hikers and Backpackers! It's RJ, again, sharing some thoughts on how you might better enjoy that great sense of freedom you experience exploring the wonders of our world . with the added security of a GPS System.

For you purists out there, this may seem like heresy, but believe me, if you have never used a GPS on the trail, borrow one from a friend and see how your horizons widen (literally) with every step.

GPS Systems are the hottest items in electronics. They get us where we are going quickly, safely and without arguing over "turn right - no, turn left". So if we all want a GPS — most of us probably need one — how do you choose the right one for you?

First and foremost, you must decide how and where you are going to use your GPS. Sounds simple, but it really isn't. There are dozens of different varieties of GPS Systems.

GPS units can be specifically built for use with car travel, motorcycling, biking, boating and fishing (for lakes, rivers, shoreline, offshore, with charting capabilities, with fishfinders, etc. — there are even fishfinders which attach to fishing poles), hiking and for integration with personal training software.

There are units which combine land and marine maps, so that you can take these "crossovers" from car to boat to hiking trails, and back.

In most instances, hikers and boaters are able to mark thousands of way points to find their way back home, even from the most remote areas.

Here's a unique item: Garmin has produced a handheld full GPS system which, in addition to guiding you over on-road and off-road venues, can track your dog's every move, even when you can't see or hear him, by means of a wireless transmission unit attached to his collar. This provides an added measure of security when taking "Rover" into new, unfamiliar territory.

Another feature to consider is specific mapping, options include:
• U.S. only;
• U.S. and Canada, including Puerto Rico and Alaska;
• North America and Europe;
• North America and Caribbean;
• Inland Waterways only;
• Coastal Shores only;

Most people buy systems loaded only with maps they will use most frequently. If more extensive mapping is needed, most systems can import (by download or card slots) a wide range of optional maps.

Cost and size of the GPS are other factors you should consider. Prices vary widely - from under $200 to over $1300 - depending on the flexibility and amount and type of information you require.

Screen size is something most people don't weigh into their choice until they find themselves straining to see their next move. Portability can play a role, too. Do you want a good sized screen with both window and dash mounts or would you prefer a handheld unit which is compact and lightweight and more practical for long hiking trips?

And consider "long-life" battery types and recharge capability which may be offered as options - especially if you plan hikes or camping trips of several days duration. If you won't be able to recharge your batteries during an extended stay, spare batteries are a wise investment.

Generally, popular brand names such as Garmin, Magellan, Lowrance, Cobra and Bushnell offer excellent value and advanced technological features which provide good quality reception in almost all environments and geographic areas mapped into their units.

Once you have made your choice and receive your new GPS, you will be flabbergasted by what it can do for you - regardless of your type of journey or your destination. You will find your GPS is more than useful - it is FUN!!

We invite you to visit our website to browse through our many and varied GPS system options — we offer deep discounts in all price ranges.

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