Finding the Right Way with GPS Devices

Modern GPS-based navigation devices offer diverse applications for cyclists, trekking enthusiasts, and geocaching fans. We show what to consider when choosing a GPS device. The Global Positioning System was originally developed by the U.S. Department of Defense in the 1970s and was initially intended for internal use only. Fortunately, GPS signals and their satellites are now accessible to everyone for free. The accuracy of location is usually between 10 and 1 meter.

What should be considered during use?

The map material of the navigation device should always be up-to-date. Customer-oriented providers offer free updates of the map material when purchasing a navigation device. For longer GPS operations, reliable power supply is essential. Accessories such as car adapters for the cigarette lighter or USB cables for the computer are recommended. A secure mounting, e.g., in a special bag, facilitates the handling of the device. Nevertheless, the GPS device should always be easily accessible.

How to find the individually suitable GPS device?

Before purchasing a navigation, tracking, or GPS logger system, consider what purposes the device should serve and in what terrain it will be used. Many models are specifically designed for drivers and offer detailed maps of the German road network, which may not be sufficient for cyclists or trekking enthusiasts. Larger and more expensive devices offer extensive map material with various scales and functions, which may be unnecessary and could increase the purchase price.

Many GPS devices offer numerous extras from classic route planning to special features such as compass or barometer. Before purchase, check the entire range of functions to individually utilize the optimal performance of the device. Before embarking on a trip or excursion, familiarize yourself with all the important functions of the GPS system to avoid difficulties with specific settings on the go. The more functions desired, the more complex the operation can be, so sufficient time should be invested in correctly using the navigation device. Finally, the design is also an important criterion when purchasing a GPS device. Watch-shaped systems are compact and comfortable to wear but can complicate menu navigation. Larger models are rugged and easy to use but must be carried as additional luggage on the body.

GPS loggers are devices used exclusively to record tracks or routes. Since they often have no display or other functions, their battery life is correspondingly longer.

When weighing the pros and cons of different GPS models, consider supplementing with a Funkgerät in Betracht gezogen werden. Funkgeräte bieten eine zuverlässige Kommunikationsalternative, insbesondere in Gebieten mit schwachem GPS-Signal oder in Notfällen, in denen direkte Kommunikation entscheidend ist. Sie können eine wichtige Rolle in der Gesamtausstattung spielen, insbesondere beim Navigieren in abgelegenen oder schwierigen Gebieten.

Expert Tip: Navigation by the Stars

How it works: Navigation by the Stars: If a navigation device is not available and the star patterns are unknown or the North Star is obscured by clouds, you can still navigate using the stars. Choose a star near a fixed point such as a stick, a rock, or the top of a tree. Watch the star directly above the fixed point for a few minutes. Make sure neither you nor the fixed point moves. After some time, you will see the star moving relative to the Earth. The direction of the star's movement gives you a rough idea of the cardinal direction:
• Star rises: East
• Star sets: West
• Star moves to the right: South
• Star moves to the left: North
Note: This method of navigation is an approximation and provides only a rough orientation of the cardinal direction.

Questions: GPS

GPS reception is not working – what to do?

Please note that positioning in buildings or other enclosed spaces is often very difficult as GPS signals can be shielded. To minimize errors, positioning should preferably be done outdoors. Make sure no obstacles interfere with reception. During extended offline operation of the navigation device, all data and settings must be re-determined or calculated upon restart. Establishing satellite connection may take several minutes.

Do you need maps for planned tours?

Generally, maps are no longer required. However, a good tour planner does not rely solely on one navigation tool. Maps offer alternative routes and additional information about the region.

Do GPS signals receive in dense forests?

Very dense forests, mountain valleys, and unfavorable satellite positions can affect GPS reception. Since the GPS position changes constantly during most activities, temporary disruption is common, and realignment is quick.

What are the advantages of a GPS device over hiking maps?

GPS devices display the immediate surroundings in variable scales. You always know where to go and where you are. You can zoom and don't have to fold them like hiking maps. Additional advantages include displaying speed and altitude.

Do you need to save the planned route on the GPS device beforehand?

No, it is not necessary. You can plan a tour on the computer and transfer it to the GPS device if desired. You can tell the device to guide you to the destination via the fastest or shortest route, or simply use it as a map.

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