Mar 19, 2013 at 10:56 pm #1300674
Does this exist? I'm looking for topographic maps with 1:24k resolution if possible.
Should I just buy a different GPS?
Bob Gross, help!Mar 19, 2013 at 11:09 pm #1967709
I don't use Android apps.
If you are looking for a topo mapping app, that is one thing. TOPO! is different and has nothing to do with Android.
I use dedicated GPS receivers.
–B.G.–Mar 20, 2013 at 3:23 am #1967722
I have used Gaia GPS, seems to work well, you can cache the CalTopo maps, check Caltopo.com to assess the quality for yourself.
It's $10 but if you don't like it you can get a refund by contacting the developer, who is very active in working with you if you have any problems with your particular device.
Also, I use GPS Status which enables a manual download of up to date A-GPS data, which give the GPS information on the recent position of the satellites, which helps get a faster fix.
DaveMar 20, 2013 at 8:25 am #1967798
>>>TOPO! is different and has nothing to do with Android.
I'm not entirely sure what this means! What is TOPO!? :P
>>>I use dedicated GPS receivers.
Can you recommend a couple effective, and cost efficient receivers?
Thanks Dave, I'll check that out.Mar 20, 2013 at 9:45 am #1967817
Also check out an app called BackCountry Navigation. Unlike Gaia you get a free 2 week trial. You can download caltopo maps for offline use as well as import others .gpx files. I've tried the app and it works pretty well. I haven't tried Gaia but I would think both have similar functionality and features.Mar 20, 2013 at 9:49 am #1967820
Nevermind on the first question Bob. I see TOPO! is software from Nat. Geo. after a google search.
CheersMar 20, 2013 at 12:11 pm #1967885
"Can you recommend a couple effective, and cost efficient receivers?"
Garmin is the first brand name that comes to mind, since it is the market leader. Garmin has a broad product line, and there are Etrex models that sell for something around $100. I currently own three Garmins of different vintages.
There are many other brands, but few have the user interface worked out as finely as Garmin.
If you wander off into a completely different market other than for hiking, you will find other brand names, but they aren't relevant here.
–B.G.–Mar 20, 2013 at 12:44 pm #1967896
>>>I currently own three Garmins of different vintages.
I have an older garmin for car navigation, model nuvi 205w. I uploaded some topo maps I found on gpsfiledepot.com. The topo maps are nice but the garmin isnt very smooth. Are there certain garmins that are built around ease of use? Do newer garmins have better mapping capbilities? Sub $100 is my ideal range.Mar 20, 2013 at 1:29 pm #1967910
Garmin has been in that business for a long time, so it has had the time to polish the user interface. Not all Garmins have an identical interface, but once you understand the interface on one, you will easily pick up the interface on another. If you have a relatively recent model, like within five years old, if the user has an interface problem, it is generally because they didn't bother to read the user guide first.
Also, if you buy a GPS receiver that is intended purely for one application, like car navigation, and then if you try to use that for a completely different purpose, you are likely to find lots of interface problems mostly from your own head.
I have one Garmin model that can be set up to do car navigation, or else you can set it up differently to do hiking or geocaching or something else. It takes only a few seconds to switch it over from one to another. However, if the user forgets which way it is set up, then that makes problems as well.
"Do newer garmins have better mapping capbilities?"
Better than what? What kind of mapping capabilities do you seek?
The single biggest weakness of a typical GPS receiver is the small size and resolution of the display. You can see only maybe 1% of what you can see on a large paper topo map. As a result, I don't even try to make my GPS receiver compete with the large paper topo map.
The next biggest weakness is that of the map database. Typically there will be all sorts of minor errors in the database. If the company is giving away that database as a feature of the receiver, then that means one thing. If they are selling it, that means something different. Very few will do major updates of the map database simply because there is no profit in it. If you are a backpacker trying to follow a trail, you should not need very much of a mapping database. If you are trying to go off-trail, then topography gets much more important, but the topography is unlikely to be changing or needing updates.
Once every year, I try to do a head-down exercise where I watch only the GPS screen and try to go where I am going without looking at the surrounding terrain. Most of the time, I backpack purely head-up with the GPS receiver turned off.
To paraphrase Yogi Berra, "You can see a lot just by looking."
There is a lot to be gained by learning to read a topo map and do most of your navigation that way. The GPS receiver makes a good backup system since it will operate with no visibility or in bad weather. During bad weather or bad visibility is when humans need the most help, and that is where the implications of getting lost become the most severe.
My concern is that too many people can do land nav only with their face at a screen, and they can't effectively navigate by traditional methods. Once batteries crap out, they are in trouble.
I once hiked with a guy who had some Garmin model with a barometric altimeter feature. The question is: does the barometer adjust the GPS altitude, or does the GPS altitude adjust the barometer? The answer is that it could go either way, but if the user doesn't know how it is set up to function, then you don't know what you will get. This particular guy got into that situation, and he was cursing the receiver until he finally got frustrated and turned it off. Well, that was because he didn't read the book and try to understand.
I taught specialized GPS classes for almost 15 years, so I learned (1) how to get the best results out of my own receiver, (2) how to troubleshoot the other guy's receiver, and (3) how to teach the other guy so that he understood [and so he didn't bother us anymore].
Some of the worst cases of GPS understanding happened in some people with the highest educational level, so don't feel pregnant.
–B.G.–Mar 20, 2013 at 4:25 pm #1967954
Wow thanks Bob, that was a lot to take in! I think I have had an epiphany as a result, and that is to not rely on a technological device when my life may be on the line. In my case, my life should not be on the line because I will be following trails. Nonetheless, I see it's importance as a back-up tool (as long as I know how to use it properly).
I learned how to read a topo map in a College Geography course a few years back, which has been very helpful since then. I think I'll just stick with physical topo maps and maybe find my user guide for the Garmin that I already own (and read it).Mar 20, 2013 at 4:44 pm #1967960
@trailbehindLocale: San Pablo Park
"Garmin has been in that business for a long time, so it has had the time to polish the user interface."
I think that one of the most striking differences between most good iPhone/Android GPS apps and a Garmin is the UI. Regardless of how long Garmin has been in business, "User Interface" is not their strong suit, which is a legacy of having to iterate hardware. It's not just the nice screen that makes iPhones easier to use than Garmins – the UIs are much better because of the medium used to create them.
Garmins are rugged, have good batteries, proprietary maps, and high GPS precision. On the other hand, Garmin UI was still in the dark ages last time I used one (5 years ago). Which was a fundamental reason why I made an iPhone app.
When the user has issues with a device because they didn't read the user manual, I regard that as primarily a flaw in the design of the device. I've never read a user manual in my life, not for a toaster, video game, Garmin, or anything else. If it's not IKEA furniture or a software API, I'm not reading the directions.Mar 20, 2013 at 6:33 pm #1968003
Andrew, spoken like a true software nerd.
–B.G.–Mar 21, 2013 at 9:14 pm #1968427
@sparkyLocale: Southern California
What I do is download USGS topos onto my phone. It works great and has actually helped me out of a jam a couple times.Mar 22, 2013 at 8:34 am #1968508
@jraiderguyLocale: Bay Area
The app from Google called "My Tracks" just updated today, and finally allows import of KML files (google earth files). I haven't tested it for backcountry use, but if KML import works well, it would be possible in theory to have your route on the map and then just follow it. Here's the site for the app (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.maps.mytracks&hl=en)
Also, Overland Navigator is regarded as one of the better "cottage" GPS softwares, but it is developed by an enthusiast of overlanding (off-road backcountry vehicle travel/expedition). It sounds like he is developing version 3.0 for iOS only. http://spatialminds.com/blog/overland-navigator-30-os-selection.html
There's also Backcountry Navigator (http://www.backcountrynavigator.com/), which does have an android version. I haven't tried it yet, but it is generally well reviewed on forums. People often say it is full features, but maybe not the cleanest possible UI. It looks like its been updated since I last looked into it though.
There's probably a learning curve with whatever system you choose. Personally, I'm going to see if I can use Google My Tracks to follow a path imported via KML. If that works, it might be enough for me. If not, I'll try Backcountry Navigator. I'm not sure what maps are built into each, but it shouldn't take long to mess with each and see.Mar 28, 2013 at 12:56 pm #1970528
@brillbLocale: Northeast USA
I use Backcountry Navigator Pro on my Android phone and tablet. It's awesome. You can pull many different map database sources, so strictly speaking for the OP question, the map resolution isn't a function of the app but what maps you want to use.
The thing that makes Backcountry Navigator superior for me is that I travel somewhere every week for work. I can reach in my pocket and have a topo map to anywhere in the world after a quick download, and get in some fun hikes wherever I am. I've been able to use it not just in the USA but in India and Europe as well. Works great both on my phone and on my Nexus 7 tablet, which is nice to have a larger map format.
However, when I'm actually going out someplace serious… I buy a local map. It might be super convenient to have my Android phone, but a paper map and my Suunto MC-2G Compass are always going to get me back out of the woods.Mar 28, 2013 at 1:09 pm #1970534
@jraiderguyLocale: Bay Area
Thanks for the thoughts on Backcountry Navigator. I think I'll check it out. I tend to spend lots of time exploring various maps before hikes, just for the fun of it, so it would be nice to have a GPS app to plot POIs and stuff. I don't currently carry a stand-alone GPS, but I do always carry my cell phone because I'm afraid to leave much in my car after a couple break-ins over the years.Mar 28, 2013 at 9:38 pm #1970682
@nsherry61Locale: Mid-Willamette Valley
+1 for BackCountry Navigator
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