GPS - what price point gives the most benefits?

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Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
5,222
992
Lancashire
Been doing a lot of research into GPS for hiking with other activities like cycle touring capabilities. It's a classic trap of "for another £x you get this extra feature" and before you know it you're pricing up to nearly a grand with maps.

So my question is for those who have bought and use a hiking GPS. What price point or model level do you think is most efficient or gives the best benefits for the price?
 

gra_farmer

Full Member
Mar 29, 2016
872
518
Kent
GPS Units come in many levels, I have done a lot of surveys, and spending £2,000 on a GPS mobile computer, gives you sub meter readings. But to get the most out of them you need the correct software, such as arcpad, which costs hundreds.

The difference in practice is remarkable, between a garmin and a real GPS computer system. For example, using a garmin to find a lost observation borehole that has not been seen in 15 years, it took 7 people 3 days, and still didn't find it.

I used my magellan mobile mapper field GPS computer, and found that borehole in 15 minutes.

With the correct kit you can find anywhere or anything. The added benefit is with a good GPS system and software, you can load any map from any source, for anywhere in the world. You don't have to buy maps, spend the money on the unit.

For example, I can geo reference a photo of a map, loaded on to my GPS unit and navigate by that.

For a few hundred pounds you can get slightly older units GPS computers that will beat most commercial GPS units on the market, and the best bit is that you can calibrate them. I do this everyday when surveying.

The current level is RTK units, centimetre accuracy, and even millimetres in the open by the sea....a bit more pricey £10,000, plus subscription, sim card, mobile data, etc.

This thing is that everyone uses their mobile now, the accuracy is rubbish, but no one cares. I have been a lecturer and have failed masters students on geo referencing errors, he was using his phone and got 300m error.

In summary a high end garmin will give you 15m error as standard in the open, 100m error or more in woodland. Maps are extras on top of the unit.

Same money will buy you an older GPS computer, 5m or less accuracy and you can use open source maps for free.
 
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Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
5,222
992
Lancashire
I think for me I want 25k and 50k mapping so that bumps up the price. I need one for walking and the other cycling. I think Oregon 700 at £699 with all the newer GPS trickery with the activity tracker style connectivity of the trinity of WiFi, Bluetooth and ANT+. It has sensor connectivity which I like and might use on occasion. The only shortfall is a small screen.

However when getting the bigger screen on the Montana 700 increases the cost by £130 I could live with it. I do not want to spend £830 even though I could. I'm too tight.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
5,222
992
Lancashire
In real term, non-business/professional use, we're talking a tough handheld that's very easy to use. If you're within 10ft of a stile you need to use then you're more than likely going to spot it. That's not unusual for the new garmin units that finds satellites from any network then uses the two with the best/ most accurate fix. In UK probably GPS and Galileo.

I doubt I'll need sub metre accuracy. I am probably the type of user who plans a walking route last minute then follows it by checking the GPS every n so often for reassurance I'm still on route. I need an intuitive interface that allows quick route plotting and a device that allows me to keep on route when walking or cycling. I'm not a pro user needing to pinpoint a location with precision. It might be nice to have but unnecessary. IMHO of course.
 

gra_farmer

Full Member
Mar 29, 2016
872
518
Kent
I think for me I want 25k and 50k mapping so that bumps up the price. I need one for walking and the other cycling. I think Oregon 700 at £699 with all the newer GPS trickery with the activity tracker style connectivity of the trinity of WiFi, Bluetooth and ANT+. It has sensor connectivity which I like and might use on occasion. The only shortfall is a small screen.

However when getting the bigger screen on the Montana 700 increases the cost by £130 I could live with it. I do not want to spend £830 even though I could. I'm too tight.
Search magellen mobile mapper or trimble GPS, for £350 you might get it with arcpad installed, and never look back. Maps down to 10k are everywhere and free, you just need the correct unit and software. It is then just drag and drop the map titles on to a sd card, plug it in and off you go.

In fact I'll do a listing in a bit
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
5,222
992
Lancashire
Trimble

Is this what you're thinking of? Would that be as simple to use as garmin gps unit. Not adverse to complexity in tech just I'm not so good at route planning. My preparation just about goes to putting my boots on and hopefully having the right map lol!

It sounds a complicated setup to use as a pure route navigation device.
 
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TLM

Native
Nov 16, 2019
1,966
918
Vantaa, Finland
In summary a high end garmin will give you 15m error as standard in the open, 100m error or more in woodland.
Hmmm I am getting much better from my mobile with reasonable weather conditions. My unit shows Galileo satellites but I haven't been able to figure if it uses them. it also shows the Russian and Chinese configurations but again I don't know if it uses them. I get the 15m radial error when in wet thick (local) forest and about 5m in the open. In city surroundings (and mountainous areas) one does sometimes get large errors and a very unstable marking. True that sporadically one does get much larger errors than mentioned but so far I have not spotted a stable large error (except the time when I had my map datums mixed up).

I have sometimes wondered how accurate our maps actually are, with theoretically sub meter accuracy (with Galileo and std simple clocking) I am not certain all maps are quite upto it. Haven't met anyone who knows the answer to that.
 

Winnet

Forager
Oct 5, 2011
170
42
Aberdeen
Maps by their nature will always be generalisations of what is actually there. The biggest handicap is the scale of the map since you can't accurately depict what is on the ground at 1:50,000.

G

Sent from my SM-G973F using Tapatalk
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
5,222
992
Lancashire
I've had accurate positions back when I'm did use my ancient gps60. Often checked it at summits / trig points and other known locations. Bear in mind it is something like 20 years old model and things have moved on since. If often gave locations within 10m distance, often much less on the hills.

My phone running viewranger I have no idea of checking as the GR doesn't want to show despite changing it through the appropriate settings option. An annoying glitch. However when I was standing near an identifiable point on the paper map my location point on viewranger was nowhere near it. Side of an open hill with plenty of sky for connection. Highest sensitivity setting too. If that's Samsung or viewranger issue I have no idea. The GPS antenna certainly isn't as good as modern GPS unit ones and I suspect no multi channel and all the other newer developments in such phones.

Of course having tried the phone route I do need to try the new GPS route for navigation. It may be it's no better or even worse. I can't see how considering my use of old GPS tech in the past was a lot better than my phone is now.

I think the best option is probably professional units used by surveyors or the like but I doubt they're as user friendly.
 

TLM

Native
Nov 16, 2019
1,966
918
Vantaa, Finland
On simple walks I would consider SatNav in mobiles good enough combined with working map SW, on more demanding trips I would use a dedicated unit and the mobile as a backup. Professional use is different.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
5,222
992
Lancashire
My ancient gps60 was often a lot more accurate than that. That's even with possibly as much as 20 year old tech.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
5,222
992
Lancashire
In Finland we have the whole country covered with 1:20000 maps, a sample.
In the UK is 1:25,000 scale. I don't know many people who still walk with the 50k scale these days. The 50k misses not only boundaries but also permissive footpaths. I'm not even sure open access land is marked on 50k. Kind of useful to know things imho.
 

Winnet

Forager
Oct 5, 2011
170
42
Aberdeen
Even at 1:25,000 scale, 1mm on the map equates to 25m on the ground. It is a fun exercise to measure the width of a road or house and then work out how big it would be on the ground.

G

Sent from my SM-G973F using Tapatalk
 

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