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Washington GPS Options, Smartphones etc

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The following thread got off topic discussing GPS units, page 2 has most of the GPS stuff:

http://www.thumpertalk.com/topic/1098400-little-naches-side-of-things/page-2#entry11818832

 

so I thought I'd start a new thread to discuss GPS options.

 

The technology is changing for viewing maps on smartphones and several apps make use of a phones GPS sensor.  Also there are free download maps from goveremnt agencies and private parties, and user created trails on sites like switchbacks.com.

 

I thought we all could learn more about this subject by sharing information and our experiences.

 

This picture illustrates the advantange of using a smartphone vs a typical outdoor GPS unit.

 

P1000755.JPG

 

Compared to the outdoor GPS unit the smartphone is not as physically robust, nor water resistant, and is missing many functions. I've been using both on rides but keep the smartphone in its protective covers and in my pack.

Edited by Chuck.
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The following thread got off topic discussing GPS units, page 2 has most of the GPS stuff:

http://www.thumpertalk.com/topic/1098400-little-naches-side-of-things/page-2#entry11818832

 

so I thought I'd start a new thread to discuss GPS options.

 

The technology is changing for viewing maps on smartphones and several apps make use of a phones GPS sensor.  Also there are free download maps from goveremnt agencies and private parties, and user created trails on sites like switchbacks.com.

 

I thought we all could learn more about this subject by sharing information and our experiences.

 

This picture illustrates the advantange of using a smartphone vs a typical outdoor GPS unit.

 

attachicon.gifP1000755.JPG

 

Compared to the outdoor GPS unit the smartphone is not as physically robust, nor water resistant, and is missing many functions. I've been using both on rides but keep the smartphone in its protective covers and in my pack.

Good idea...

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I'd rate pretty low on the Tech scale, but trying...   I use the Every Trail Pro  to track my trips with google maps and the Motion X GPS to send the wife my location ( I ride alone mostly )  Both for the IPhone.  Trying to expand my apps also

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I use a garmin etrex with nw topos. The biggest complaint I have is the tiny screen. It can take forever to get my bearings and plan a route, especially since it does not zoom or scroll seamlessly. Its much better suited to hiking than on a bike because of this. Another thing to keep in mind with nw topos is that they are also better suited for hiking as opposed to on a motorcycle. Many fs/logging roads on nw topos in my area are no longer traveled; some probably not in 20 years, judging from the trees in them. There is no distinguishing a well used road from not. On foot thats not a big deal as it is rare to find an area that is impassible, if not a little slower. On a bike a few downed trees makes an old road nearly impossible to traverse.

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IMO best of all worlds would be a waterproof hi res big screen like a smart phone, or better yet an ipad, with most of the functions of the latest gen Garmin GPS, including keys.   I would then use pdf maps and sat photos for the best in navigation.

My Garmin 3590LM while a slightly larger screen than my smartphone  doesn't have the resolution,  so using hi res maps on it doesn't help.

 

The reality is I'm stuck with a Garmin 62 and a smartphone, both which require a lot of editing and manipulation of pdf maps to make them usable.   

I have my old smartphone but the screen isn't bright enough for outdoor use. Next I thought about buying a used ipad but I'm not familiar with the screen specs for resolution and brightness.

 

I will add that I really like the screen resolution of my HTC Thunderbolt when using pdf maps.  I've been challenged uploading tracks so I still mount my 62 for that purpose.

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The Samsung S5 is a more ruggedized phone offering for those thinking of an all purpose type device..... and it has the ability for an external storage card that many phones are deleting.

Edited by trailwhale
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Rode last weekend and got to play with the backcountry navigator app. I am currently using the demo version. So far so good. It tracked my whole ride. Elevation gain and distance travelled with no gaps through the more wooded sections. Happy with it so far!

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I have the Samsung S5 and I've been looking for aps that I could use for an off road GPS.  It's water proof (up to 3 ft) and has a long battery life so I think it would work okay.  I have a trail tech Voyager that I'm not very happy with.  The good thing about using a smart phone is that you will upgrade every few years and most people carry them when they ride anyway.

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Rode last weekend and got to play with the backcountry navigator app. I am currently using the demo version. So far so good. It tracked my whole ride. Elevation gain and distance travelled with no gaps through the more wooded sections. Happy with it so far!

check out pdf maps. Great app that allows real-time GPS tracking while you ride overlaid on a GPS enabled map.

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I use a nexus 7 2013 version in a hard case and a ram mount tablet cradle 

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I use a nexus 7 2013 version in a hard case and a ram mount tablet cradle

Wow a 7 inch display while riding...impressive

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...impressive

It's not the length, or the size, it's how many times you can make it rise.

Oh, wait, we're talking devices here....

A few weeks ago, I had a heated, by-the-campfire, alcohol-fueled debate with 2 of my brothers-in-law about how whether or not the smartphone/tablet was going to make the dedicated GPS obsolete. I was on the "yes it is" side of the argument. I think there are a few options and features that need to be easier to access and/or mandatory (more durable, easier to see in sunlight, bigger battery/external power source, waterproof), but as usual, we'll be amazed at what a few years of technological advances will do to these phones.

For argument's sake, a lot of the features I listed as lacking, some android-based phones already have. We are an apple family, and I use and love my iPhone for nav, but I have thought about grabbing a used Galaxy off eBay, hardwiring it to the bike, and just using it for navigation.

Here's a question: If I were to do that, would I be able to access the apps to download solely with wifi if I am not hooked up to a data plan through a carrier? I'm pretty sure I could with the iPhone, but not knowing much about the android platform is the one thing that is keeping me from pulling the trigger. I'd hate to invest in a paperweight of that caliber.

Edited by ITLKSEZ

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The android os sure supports wifi downloads and even telephone calls. There might be a few older devices that don't do it, but it would be easy to check.

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I highly suggest trying Maprika (ios or android). It will probably come up as a ski resort app, but that's the one. It has most major riding areas and what it does different that I like is that it uses the paper maps to show your location on those with no work on your end. Others I've tried, I had to find my area and save that. With Maprika, you just download the map for the riding area and open it when you get there. For simple maps like Blue Lake at GPNF, it couldn't get any easier to navigate.

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Wow a 7 inch display while riding...impressive

 

it's about the same size as my garmin 2610 it replaced, the garmin is more like a brick though, very thick and heavy.   The matte screen does work better,  glass gets too much reflection outdoors

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Here's a question: If I were to do that, would I be able to access the apps to download solely with wifi if I am not hooked up to a data plan through a carrier? I'm pretty sure I could with the iPhone, but not knowing much about the android platform is the one thing that is keeping me from pulling the trigger. I'd hate to invest in a paperweight of that caliber.

 

my tablet is wifi only, I use both offline mapp app (big and has embeded maps) and I use google maps, I bluetooth teather it to my phone.   I've not really noticed a difference driving, but if I stop and have no service google maps does not work worth a crap and I have to use the offline map app.    Backcountry navigator is great, but not for routing it loads up topo maps for offline use

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Good thread just what I was looking for, going to try out some of these apps they sound good!    

 

Anyone know how to locate exactly the coverage area of your phone provider?  I took a ride last wk end and the trail system is more or less surrounded by civilization, but I could not get cell signal.  I was actually really surprised.  Is there an app for that?    

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I sure hope they get this figured out....although I haven't taken the time to use one, when in other states, I'm usually relying on someone that is :)

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Your cell phone provider should have a coverage map but most mapping apps don't require cell connection to work, they use the phone's GPS receiver. 

 

I have Avenza on my smart phone with a map of DNR digital map of Capitol Forest, and for the Cascades I  just installed Backcountry Navigator with hybrid map coverage for the areas that I'll ride using the new US topos that are based on aerial photos with contour lines together with AccuTerra overlay for trails and roads.  A nice package. http://backcountrynavigator.com/

 

The Avenza app is nice and battery life seems good, however the Backcounrty Navigator used a lot of power on one test so I may need to  install a mount and hook it up to bike power.  I'll do another test today.

 

Good info on the different available topo maps and combining maps to create a hybrid. http://support.crittermap.com/entries/22449208-Choosing-a-Topo-Map-in-the-USA

 

Backcountry Navigator is $11.99 on the Google Play store, AccuTerra is $19/yr for the US, the US Topo is free  on the Backcountry website.

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