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#105147 - 12/02/08 07:50 PM Re: compass vs GPS [Re: chaz]
rambler Offline
member

Registered: 02/04/03
Posts: 46
Never solely rely on anything electronic. It is not if they fail, but when they fail. Ever back up data on your computer? But, once hiking into a canyon near Prescott AZ, I soon lost the trail as dry run off paths looked like trails. Anyway when I got down into the canyon floor the GPS helped me figure out where I was. Next day as I started to hike out, I also followed a dry river bed and the trail was not visible. Suddenly I came upon a vertical wall of smooth rock, once a waterfall. I had to climb up out of the river and soon found the trail, but where on the map was I? Again I used the GPS and found that I had not yet gone off my map, so I knew I was okay as the trail was helping me complete a circle. Supposing I had not had a GPS, just my map and compass. Guess what? I would have been fine and able to locate my exact position. Why? Do you know how a steep vertical waterfall shows up on a contour map? When contour lines cross streams or rivers, they loop slightly uphill or upstream. Water runs downhill, right! So, as the line crosses the stream it shows which way is uphill or upstream. But, if a waterfall is there the line goes straight across showing a straight drop down. That is where I was. No GPS needed as long as I had the topo map! Without a compass one cannot walk in a straight line for very long. You will start to walk in a circle. Try it next time you are on a playground field, a soccer field, etc. Put on a blindfold and try walking in a straight line. Have someone sighted next to you to keep you from walking into danger. It won't work if there is traffic or other noise to help keep you oriented. You will soon start to curve off to start what would become a circle. In the woods without a blindfold, pick a compass course to follow, then put the compass away. In ten minutes time you will be way off course. That is why I never hike without a compass. Get off trail and you will walk in a circle without a compass. It has happened to me several times, once even on a small island in Maine, Roque, Is. Once at night when I was trying to stay on course, following stars and only occasionally checking my compass. I came upon fresh tracks in the snow and soon realized they were mine of only 20 minutes ago. It happened again when skiing, came upon my tracks again, and another time while hunting. Came upon the same road I had started on half an hour before. Never thought I was walking in a slow circle. Even while hiking the AT in NY, I had to use a compass to get myself back on the trail. Hike in the fall with leaves on the ground. It is easy to find yourself off the trail and without a compass you could soon be really lost. Be careful taking short cuts through the woods if you do not have a compass. The Army dropped off a guy in Alaska by chopper where there was only snow, no landmarks. They pointed him north, left him alone an hour or so. Guess what? He walked in a circle.


Edited by rambler (12/02/08 08:12 PM)

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#113595 - 03/31/09 07:17 PM Re: compass vs GPS [Re: Bearpaw]
WasteLand Offline
newbie

Registered: 03/24/09
Posts: 5
Loc: Alabama, North Carolina, Afgha...
Originally Posted By Bearpaw
Except those were all infantry officers. When you're an artillery officer, who knows that a six-gun sheaf of fire will plaster 8 football fields with shrapnel, you stay pretty motivated to know where you are.

Most infantry captains simply turned to me and asked "Art'y, where the hell are we?" We didn't have to concentrate on moving 40 Marines (2d Lieutenant) or 160 (Captain), so I could keep very close tabs on where we actually were, using topographic features from the map, an occasional compass bearing and so forth.

Nowadays I much prefer a map for navigation. If the terrain in flat and heavily forested (NC coastal areas for instance) a compass is nice. If I'm with my wife, a GPS is occasionally nice to play with (since I don't carry one on solo trips). They all have a place.

I'm surprised no one hasw mentioned using the sun for a quick orientation. It's my best quick reference versus a compass.

My concern with GPS is mostly for those who don't have a decent foundation in basic orienteering who rely totally on GPS. I really do feel that those who wander into the backcountry ought to have at least very basic map skills.


Just wanted to throw out a Hey to another Arty guy. USMC Scout/Observer here!

I like to run with both a compass, map, and a GPS. Just depends on the mood or what kind of trip I want.


Edited by WasteLand (03/31/09 07:17 PM)

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#113618 - 03/31/09 11:55 PM Re: compass vs GPS [Re: WasteLand]
Bearpaw Offline
Moderator

Registered: 07/25/04
Posts: 1732
Loc: Tennessee
Semper Fi! Welcome aboard.
_________________________
http://www.trailjournals.com/BearpawAT99/

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#114783 - 04/21/09 03:44 PM Re: compass vs GPS [Re: billstephenson]
300winmag Offline
member

Registered: 02/28/06
Posts: 1342
Loc: Nevada, USA
Bill,
If you have e-TDD (e-Trex Dissacociative Disorder) then you should get a Garmin Oregon or find one of the phased out Garmin Colorados like I have.

Easy to use, GREAT frikkin' reception/antenna!, and, my favorite, a 3-D map display if ya want it.

Eric
_________________________
"There are no comfortable backpacks. Some are just less uncomfortable than others."

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#114784 - 04/21/09 03:54 PM Re: compass vs GPS [Re: rambler]
300winmag Offline
member

Registered: 02/28/06
Posts: 1342
Loc: Nevada, USA
Yep! Rambler is correct. ANYTHING electronic can fail. That's why I carry Katadyn chlorine dioxide tabs to back up my electronic Steripen.

And that's why even the GPS manufacturers recommend carrying a map and compass.

MURPHY'S LAW - Anything that can go wrong WILL go wrong.

O'TOOLE'S COROLLARY - Murphy was an optimist.

Eric
_________________________
"There are no comfortable backpacks. Some are just less uncomfortable than others."

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#114785 - 04/21/09 05:15 PM Re: compass vs GPS [Re: 300winmag]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
I haven't had a chance to play with the new color touch screen GPSs yet but they do look like a big improvement over the eTrex models.

I mostly use my eMap in our houseboat when driving at night and unfamiliar areas of the lake. I have it hooked to an antenna and it gets great and fast reception.

You can get an eMap with memory and external antenna for around $125 on ebay now. I dunno what the Garmin Topo maps cost, but I think I paid around $100 for mine new.

Money is too tight for a new Garmin any time soon, but I will certainly look into them now. Who knows, a deal might fall into my lap smile

Bill

_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#114802 - 04/22/09 02:27 AM Re: compass vs GPS [Re: billstephenson]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
"anything electronic can fail. I carry XXXX as a backup in case"

of course. you could just not carry the unreliable electronic junk smile

_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
Browse my pictures


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#114803 - 04/22/09 06:07 AM Re: compass vs GPS [Re: phat]
DTape Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 666
Loc: Upstate NY
Originally Posted By phat
"anything electronic can fail. I carry XXXX as a backup in case"

of course. you could just not carry the unreliable electronic junk smile



Accepting that gear can fail doesn't necessarily mean it isn't reliable. wink

_________________________
http://ducttapeadk.blogspot.com

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#114838 - 04/22/09 08:52 PM Re: compass vs GPS [Re: Jimshaw]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3967
Loc: Bend, Oregon
All,

The idea that "anything electronic can fail and therefore is unreliable" and therefore should not be used is a total load of horse feathers. mad

Your car has an electronic brain, do you not drive it to the trail head anyway? confused

Do you not own or use a cell phone because it MIGHT break? A compass can break too. Your shoelaces can break, etc, etc. crazy

So give me a break about GPS being unreliable. Yes sure maybe a nearby nuke might burn its circuits out - ha ha. Speaking of which, a gps IS reliable enough to deliver a nuke. wink

Geez anything CAN break. Its a popular misconception to single out electronics. The saving grace of a GPS is that the user CANNOT mess with the programs. blush

Jim thanks
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#114844 - 04/22/09 10:53 PM Re: compass vs GPS [Re: Jimshaw]
Bearpaw Offline
Moderator

Registered: 07/25/04
Posts: 1732
Loc: Tennessee
Originally Posted By Jimshaw
Geez anything CAN break. Its a popular misconception to single out electronics.

Jim thanks


People single out electronics because they provide a false sense of security to folks with little or no backcountry skills who then call for rescue.
_________________________
http://www.trailjournals.com/BearpawAT99/

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#114947 - 04/25/09 04:17 PM Re: compass vs GPS [Re: Bearpaw]
Becks Offline
member

Registered: 01/27/09
Posts: 18
Loc: Switzerland
Hi,
imo you need a bunch of devices for navigation. Depending on the situation I am using a compass, GPS or an altimeter. If you are just walking, a compass and a map are enough. If you are stuck in a white out, navigation with a GPS is more reliable than using a compass and helps you out of the situation. And if you are on the way up to a mountain, the altitude is a more precise way to predict where you are and if you should consider to turn around than any other method.

Alex

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#114966 - 04/25/09 11:47 PM Re: compass vs GPS [Re: Bearpaw]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3967
Loc: Bend, Oregon
bp
People single out electronics because they provide a false sense of security to folks with little or no backcountry skills who then call for rescue."
_________________________________________________________

but BP, what do they use to call for rescue? Electronics? not semaphore crazy

The problem is with an entire class of modern wussy campers who think they deserve to be rescued if they mess up doing something dangerous. mad whats up with that? confused SPOT and other such stuff should NEVER have been manufactured. The wasted public dollars trying to rescue people who were unprepared and ventured into the woods with the attitude that "oh well I can always press my rescue button, or call on my GPS cell phone in case I mess up or get lost". Its like people who speed because they have air bags in their BMWs.

Adventure does not include a film crew and a waiting ambulance. A GPS can help avoid being separated from your camp or truck better than any other single navigation item, or collection of them. wink
Jim crazy


Edited by Jimshaw (04/25/09 11:48 PM)
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#115020 - 04/26/09 11:38 PM Re: compass vs GPS [Re: Jimshaw]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Originally Posted By Jimshaw
bp
People single out electronics because they provide a false sense of security to folks with little or no backcountry skills who then call for rescue."
_________________________________________________________

but BP, what do they use to call for rescue? Electronics? not semaphore crazy

The problem is with an entire class of modern wussy campers who think they deserve to be rescued if they mess up doing something dangerous. mad whats up with that? confused SPOT and other such stuff should NEVER have been manufactured. The wasted public dollars trying to rescue people who were unprepared and ventured into the woods with the attitude that "oh well I can always press my rescue button, or call on my GPS cell phone in case I mess up or get lost". Its like people who speed because they have air bags in their BMWs.

Adventure does not include a film crew and a waiting ambulance. A GPS can help avoid being separated from your camp or truck better than any other single navigation item, or collection of them. wink
Jim crazy


Jim, spoken like a true Darwinian. crazy
_________________________
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

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