Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Backcountry GPS app for phone?

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Backcountry GPS app for phone?

    Hi, I am considering a GPS App for my Android phone (HTC Lte). What I am primarilly interested in is an app that can get me a real-time locate on a high res, contour map. I am not looking for a trip / way-point planning tool.

    I have been looking at purpose specific GPS devices, but it seems that you are into those for a few hundred dollars, then have to download the maps for a hundred more, and they really don't seem to offer a lot more than many phone apps do.

    Just started looking. I see there are a few out there, but the user reviews include a lot of people who are really not using the app the way I would (detailed BC navigation), or who are not too tech savvy. Anyone out there using something they like and would recommend? I don't mind paying a few bucks for a phone app, if it works well.

    I am OK with old school, high res, large area, paper maps for general navigation. What I want is something that I can pull out to ground-truth my exact location when I really need an accurate fix... Say when a hundred feet or less is the difference between heading down the wrong slope, or trail, or drainage, or ridge; especially when in unfamiliar terrain or if the visibility is bad, and especially if there are Avy hazards in the area.

    After that a breadcrumbs/tracking feature would be nice, but not critical, especially if I could load the track record / GPX file to a PC or web-site later.

    Something that has easy access 1:2400 topo maps and can store them for later use when I am off-grid would be great. Useability without cell service, depending solely on satellite access, is a must.

    Thanks,
    Tom
    Seize the Dog!

  • #2
    There are issues: GPS apps tend to suck battery hard on phones. Many phones are assisted GPS, which for some (but no means all) phones means no GPS without cell signal. Phone GPS tends to be of less than stellar precision, and then there are registration problems between positioning and mapping. While they'll probably all boast way less than a hundred feet, the nature of the beast is that they're all wrong some of the time, especially in areas of rapidly changing elevation.

    Comment


    • #3
      Have you seen this one?

      http://backcountrynavigator.com/

      I upgraded to the PRO version last year and haven't regretted it. I admit to being no "pro" at using this app, but I have had success doing exactly what you're asking. Basically you can go in and create a new "trip" find a point or several points and create a few waypoints and the maps with those waypoints on it are saved onto the phone's memory. I run the app on "airplane mode" so it picks up GPS signals but nothing else. I can leave it in my pocket and depending on the temps it will stay charged for 6 to 8 hours. There are some additional settings like if you're going to use it to chart your track then how often you want it to check in which changes the battery usage. I also use a standard handheld GPS to generate coordinates that can be matched up to a paper map, but having carted them both around on a few trips I find the phone is sufficient as long as you manage the battery. If I get worried I power it down and reboot it each time I want to check my location.

      Not saying this is the best app out there, but when I searched and posed the same question at Ttips this was what I settled on. After that it's a matter of figuring out the interface. I wouldn't call it "intuitive" but it's not horrible. These apps have a lot going on and devices have a lot of variance in storage so I don't think there's a super simple solution. BTW, I think it cost $10 or so. You can use it for free, but I think the map database or something hinges on buying it. I tried the free version for awhile but realized that the functionality of really using it relied on purchasing the rights. I haven't been disappointed considering what a small investment it works quite well. FTR I'm using it with a HTC Rezound Android 4.0.3
      Last edited by Matt J; 9 February 2014, 06:24 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        i use backcountry navigator and really like it. it cost $5 or $10, was worth it after my first trip.

        to save battery, put your phone on airplane mode or just turn it off once you leave the TH, with a full charge of course. Mine usually stays in airplane mode so i can take pics, then turn airplane mode off with gps enabled and grab a waypoint, check location, etc. Back to airplane mode or off. using gps will drain your battery fast as mentioned, but you don't really need to have it on all the time, most of the time.

        For maps, you download the region you want beforehand so the maps are stored on your phone which means fast drawing times and no need for a cell signal. in general i think it downloads the largest scale available which is 1:24k for most of the continental us.
        your phone has to have a reasonable gps chip in it, it cannot be one that uses triangulation. I've got the samsung galaxy 4 and its a battery hog, but i have no problem making it last for a 3 day outing if you are smart about usage. The accuracy is more than plenty unless you are out geotraching or something and need to have sub-5 meter accuracy.

        Comment


        • #5
          I like OruxMaps. It's free, powerful, and not that hard to figure out.

          Comment


          • #6
            FWIW, if you do get a purpose specific GPS, you can get free maps at http://www.gpsfiledepot.com.

            I got an older Garmin relatively inexpensively off ebay, and have used it to decent effect once or twice, but the user interface on the older non-touchscreen ones is ... not quick. The battery life is decent though. I haven't tried the newer touchscreen GPSes.

            Comment


            • #7
              I've got a couple old gps's that I'll sell too. They are going to be relatively obsolete in the not too distant future because you can do most everything with a smartphone you can with a recreational grade gps.
              The more modern Garmins with the touchscreen interface are a vast improvement over the older ones with the joystick control. I don't see any reason to carry a gps, camera and phone when my phone can do the job of all those three devices.
              It took awhile for me to accept that modern phones have this capability, I was a hold out for awhile assuming that their gps abilities weren't there. Now it's great to have one device in my pocket for all these needs.

              Comment


              • #8
                Avenza PDF Maps is now on Android. It is easy to download free quads if you know the map title. It works well out of cell range.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by bergbryce View Post
                  They are going to be relatively obsolete in the not too distant future because you can do most everything with a smartphone you can with a recreational grade gps.
                  I doubt it. Lots of people don't have or want smartphones.
                  Yay!...(Drool)


                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by BillyFromTheHills View Post
                    I doubt it. Lots of people don't have or want smartphones.
                    I don't care about smartphones, but long for a screen that you can actually see and a UI that actually works without a PhD in the OS.
                    It's turns! Of course it's worth the hike!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by BillyFromTheHills View Post
                      I doubt it. Lots of people don't have or want smartphones.
                      Could you quantify "lots of people"?

                      One civil servant in Sandpoint does not quantify as a lot.

                      Just pulling your leg, but honestly I think you're in the minority here. There won't be anything but a "smartphone" in 5 years and we'll be calling them "phones" again.

                      BTW, We're going to overnight up that way in a few weeks. Probably get out and ski Schweitzer's nordic before crossing the border the next day.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I'm one of those 'lots of people'. I have never owned a cell phone.
                        I thought about getting one once. But then realized that the only time I would need/use it
                        is in the backcountry, where there is no cell service.

                        Stupid devices! So pointless.
                        I hate those things. Everybody that has one stares/pokes at it constantly.

                        Get off my lawn!


                        Oh, sorry - carry on.
                        My bad.
                        Coastal Crest Snow Patrol
                        https://brentheffner.smugmug.com/
                        http://www.youtube.com/user/MrJibmstr
                        https://www.strava.com/athletes/1816044

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I try and be careful not to use my phone as a distraction to pass time and to ignore calls that interfere with human interactions. I agree that it's discouraging to see how many people sit in restaurants playing on their phones missing opportunities to talk with each other. Sometimes you see three or four people all doing it at the same time.

                          Anyways, it'd be great to live in a world where a cell phone isn't necessary, but that isn't a reality for many. You both live in smaller communities which puts you in a minority these days. Latest census would put that at only 20% of current population.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Matt J View Post
                            Could you quantify "lots of people"?

                            One civil servant in Sandpoint does not quantify as a lot.

                            Just pulling your leg, but honestly I think you're in the minority here. There won't be anything but a "smartphone" in 5 years and we'll be calling them "phones" again.

                            BTW, We're going to overnight up that way in a few weeks. Probably get out and ski Schweitzer's nordic before crossing the border the next day.
                            Hey Matt,
                            If you like, I can take you guys on a tour of the side stashes at Schweitzer, or on a quick trip in the mountains. Let me know....PM or something and I can give you my cell (not smart) number.
                            Yay!...(Drool)


                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Matt J View Post
                              Could you quantify "lots of people"?

                              One civil servant in Sandpoint does not quantify as a lot.

                              Just pulling your leg, but honestly I think you're in the minority here. There won't be anything but a "smartphone" in 5 years and we'll be calling them "phones" again.

                              BTW, We're going to overnight up that way in a few weeks. Probably get out and ski Schweitzer's nordic before crossing the border the next day.
                              I think there will be a market for simple cell phones for people that don't want to pay the extra cash for an internet hookup in a handheld device.
                              Yay!...(Drool)


                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X