Gershon as phat said - no one follows the bearing exactly do to obstacles, however if you vary from your course with a compass, you have to correct for it, whereas the line on the GPS screen and the data displayed simply updates its self. With a compass you NEED to know the bearing to the location, a GPS knows the exact location.
A method. I set a waypoint before I leave my truck after putting in fresh batteries. While hiking I leave the GPS turned on and in my pocket where it can get a signal. (I hike in mountains above tree line mostly). If I stop for a while I can shut it off to save the batteries. If I hike and forget to turn it on, it still shows the part of the trail where it was turned on. I can piece together section of recorded data. The only time the GPS is on is traveling. I have a spare set of batteries that I call my "gettin out batteries" that are only used to follow a track back.
In the terrain I camp in - mountains 7,000 to 10,000 feet, and big peaks, I do not need a map or compass, I may have a photo from Google Earth, BUT trying to return to my truck I have walked down a parralel canyon and had to go over a rige to get to my truck. Why? Because I thought the shown straight line bearing did not follow the road and I thought (knew?) that my truck was on that road - it wasn't, it was 3/4 mile away over a ridge.
This is maybe a good example for you. Jim
Edited by Jimshaw (01/09/1202:39 PM)
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.
. A bearing to the truck would have you crossing almost impossible terrain.
Not in real life, unless you're well, a bit slow.. even with a compass and a bearing you want to go, you make allowances to go around terrain/obstacles. you don't slavishly follow the compass over a cliff... or at least, you're not supposed to
Nor would I follow a GPS off a cliff, but we were called out to watch someone get picked off a cliff by a helicopter after just such behavior.
There are ways to walk on bearing without getting off bearing, and navigate around cliffs, rocks, swamps, etc. Shooting a bearing to an intermediate goal - a distinctive land feature or tree - is a great way to cover distance without marching along in a straight line holding up the compass.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki
Loc: Fairbanks, AK
Where I grew up, LP Michigan, the only thing I used the GPS for was geocaching. Roads for the most part run N/S and E/W - mis-place yourself use the sun for directional(N/S) and walk one direction until you reach the road. Did this for 20 years. (Dark? Well Saginaw is that big glow spot... (insert nearest city/villiage))
Alaska - whole nother story. Winter eats batteries (yes I keep two extra sets close to my body.) I took a class to learn some basic nav and feel better for it.
I don't have any maps loaded on my (very old) GPS - I use a map and the coordinates on my GPS to figure out where I am. Thinking about upgrading my GPS though.
I got to thinking about the truck situation. I think the objection is you can't take a fix with a compass.
It is possible right at the start. Just turn around and find 3 big and recognizable things. Preferably within a mile or two. Take a bearing to them. The triangle made on the west side should encompass all the area you will reasonably hike in.
As long as you can still see one of the references, you can find your way back.
For now, let's assume you can see them. We can complicate it later.
(Note: this works well in the special case where the road forms an eastern boundary for the hiking area.)