Whether you are going hiking or camping, a GPS can save you from being lost. However, if you are a beginner and want to learn using a handheld GPS, you are welcome here. The system that you use to navigate through your car or mobile device compared to the handheld one is not entirely similar.
There are some complications, but it can give you a more accurate reading of your position by directly communicating with the satellites. So, let’s learn how to use handheld GPS.
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Don’t forget to put the map behind you while starting your journey because without the map the device would be worthless. Make sure; your map includes latitude and longitudinal lines as well as a grid of UTM zone. Although some of the tools show maps, those don’t show the latitude or longitudinal lines including values.
However, you shouldn’t just rely on the GPS because sometimes its signal gets weak and go out of service as it depends on the network. If that happens, there is a risk of getting the wrong information, and you can be lost.
On the other hand, WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) application has enhanced the signal ability of GPS in recent years. So, before you buy a handheld GPS, you had better ensure this feature on it. By the way, you should bear an extra fully charged battery and compass just for the safety.
Generally, coordinates are a digital signal that identifies a position relative to an axis. However, reading the coordinates aren’t so complicated as long as you want to learn how to use the GPS. Besides, it is helpful to determine your exact location. If you have the idea of latitude and longitude, it's enough for now. Let’s see how a handheld GPS shows the coordinates.
Suppose, you are in the middle of a field, and you want to know your position on the map. On the other hand, you might be seeking a particular place while you know the GPS position but don’t know how to get there from your current location.
Once you learned to find out your current position using a GPS, you can recognize Norther or Easter on your map anytime. Then, you can insert particular coordinates from the map, and your GPS would direct you to that direction. While you do this, your device would display a map as well as compass bearings to help you to reach your ending point.
Any orientation either it’s a UTM location or latitude/longitude coordinates inserted into a handheld GPS is called waypoints. It can be a peak of a mountain, trailhead, parking lot or a campsite. Before you start your trip, you can insert the coordinates of the places you would like to visit. If your GPS is well functional, it will show you the direction based on your waypoints. Once, you ensure that the GPS works fine, you are ready to go.
To avoid getting lost, some savvy hikers in the backcountry put some extra waypoints from start to ending point. These waypoints can be a spot where two or three roads meet together; a trail meets a bridge or a renowned landmark.
A series of waypoints inserted into a GPS unit is called route. Using “Find” or “GoTo” function, you can get information about each waypoint. Once the waypoints appear, you can ask for the bearing of that orientation from your present location. Some units may show you the travel time along with the change of elevation rate between the waypoint and your current position.
Universal Transverse Mercator, UTM has been developed in the 1940s. It contains USGS topographical Map as well as a standard feature of handheld GPS units. The latest UTM standard is WSP84 which is corresponded by all recently published USGS maps and standard GPS software.
The old USGS map used NAD27 which was developed in 1927 and later upgraded to NAD83. However, your GPS should have installed the default WSP84. You better check it on your handheld GPS device either the coordinates can be slightly off from the latest ones.
A GPS is an excellent asset to a traveler who likes to travel in low visibility areas like a snow-covered landscape, a featureless terrain or an open sea. On the other hand, it also provides more accurate info about the current position and makes a journey more flexible by creating waypoints. However, it would be a foolish decision to rely on it as it is an electronic device entirely. You never know what can happen so, it is highly recommended to check the battery, map and other stuff before you begin your adventure.
If you are still confused about how to use handheld GPS, please read the article with full concentration once more. Thank you for being with us all this time. Have a safe journey. Stay tuned for the latest updates. Take care and spread the goodness.
A passionate blogger! Editor at Chooserly, and a regular author at HuffingtonPost, LifeHacker & Forbes!