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Thread: Talkback: Rescue Teams Slam Techno Idiots

  1. #1
    Ultra King
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    "What is indisputably true, is that batteries can run out ? you should consider carring spares in case of emergency ? and that GPS users generally should also know how to use a map and compass and always carry one as back-up."

    Sorry if it is a bit old school but surely the map and compass is not the back up but the main navigational tool. It has a wider coverage in one field of view so you can see macro and micro details for navigation which even the larger mapping units are unable to do. That makes the map and compass potentially a more accurate tool for navigation than a mapping GPS in the hands of competent people. If you are not competent with map and compass then you can not be competent with GPS mapping.

    Also you can't get bearings to prominent features from a GPS with mapping quite so easy as with map and compass.

    There are many things a GPS will do such as give a reasonably accurate location fix. However there is a lot more you can do with maps if you have been trained in their use or even have good oldfashioned common sense.

    I'm sorry but to call the map and compass as a backup implies that it has been replaced in its necessary functions by mapping enabled GPS and has been relegated to a just in case use. It should be the main use with the GPS as the back up. I know people who use mapping GPS units to check their progress on a route more often than with the map however I have yet to find someone who I trust who didn't use the map and compass as the main navigational set of tools.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Metric Kate's Avatar
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    Have you seen the latest GPSs with mapping software, LiL? One certainly could very easily use them as one's principal nav tool and for those whose compass work might not be anally accurate, you're likely to get a more accurate bearing between features. I don't use a GPS as my principal nav tool, I like using maps and my compass, but there's absolutely no problem with using the latest GPSs with on-board OS (and Harvey's too if there are any with on-board Harvey mapping). A map and compass of course should be carried as back-up, and the knowledge to use them.

  3. #3
    Ultra King Mrs Nesbit's Avatar
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    >>> and they rely on technical gadgetry which they're not familiar with>>>

    I think that's the relevant bit. I've come across more than a few folk carrying a map who may as well have been carrying a newspaper for all the good it was to them.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Jon Doran's Avatar
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    If you have a decent GPS with OS mapping you can happily use it as your principal navigational tool, I use both and I certainly wouldn't go out with a GPS without having a map and compass with me. If you take something like a Satmap Active 10 and download a route onto it, so it's displayed on the unit, why would you use a map as well?

    Well, for one, you're right about the wider context you get with maps, but you can always carry a map as a stand-by for that purpose. Sorry if that's a bit new school, but it's quite feasible to navigate very effectively that way. Yes, you can use a GPS as a sort of confirmation tool and until OS mapping was available on GPS units, that's pretty much how I used them, but the latest stuff is a different kettle of fish and some people will use one as a main navigation tool.

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    I have seen the one recommended in the article and IMHO it was not as good as a map. In fact the guy using it was moaning about it to us, seems he wasn't asimpressed with it as he thought he would be. He was newish to walking about 3 years doing it since retiring and I got the impression he was sold this by a shop assistant as all he needed. He did have a map but it was in his sack. He had also gone wrong a lot that day. So had wee due to mist so perhaps that was a 0-0 draw that day.

    Anyway you might manage to use one but it does not as good IMHO. I guess I take objection to the back up idea. From those of my friends with mapping enabled GPS units they use it as regular spot checks on their progress along the pre-planned route but the actuall navigation is with a map and compass. That is why I don't personally think it should replace map and compass, relegating them to reserve or back-up status. Could be preference but I just think the combination of wider field of view and the relatively failsafe aspect of it makes it main tool for me and should be for all.

    Call me a Luddite but the two tools have been switched in importance. GPS is backup not main tool. Especially if smart phone option is usedas batteries are specific to phone. Not easy on a long trip to replace anything other than AA or even AAA I'd have thought.

    Anyway, am I alone in thinking this?

  6. #6
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    Perhaps its not the tool being used but the tool using it that is the problem!!

    BTWI still very occsionallyget lost with maps (well not lost more imprecise location determination). However for me the wider view is often what gets me out of the mess. Perhaps I'd not get as lost with GPS. Can anyone lend me a satmap to test that theory? Promise it won't be the last you see of me!!

  7. #7
    ‹bermensch Simon Chaplin's Avatar
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    I thought the backup to a map and compass was to carry a spare map and compass. I have a smartphone and the only app i have on it for navigation is a grid reference finder. It uses the inbuilt gps, gives me a co-ordinate and then thats it. Back to the basic map and compass.
    Saves on battery as I turn off all the normal smartphone functions whilst out and about. (And usually the whole phone so I'm not disturbed)

  8. #8
    ‹bermensch Simo's Avatar
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    I think the mapping is a bit of a red herring, I use the most basic Garmin etrex and set it to British grid ref and put in what I want from an OS map.It's just quicker than taking bearings all the time.

    In good weather I find a map entirely adequate providing you keep referencing where you are.If you were to use a GPS in foul weather for it to fail, you would be knackered with a map and compass as you wouldn't know where you were.The best you could hope for would be to aim in the direction of the safest terrain to get off the hill.

    I always have a compass in my map case and use that (without taking bearings) foremost, I will then use a GPS to reduce as much faff as possible if I want to get a move on.In extreme weather ie, thick persistent fog I will use both because I have put wrong numbers ina GPS before and taken wrong bearings before so having both is no bad thing.

  9. #9
    Mini Goon
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    "Call me a Luddite but the two tools have been switched in importance. GPS is backup not main tool."

    It's called personal preference. Some people do things differently to you. That doesn't make either of you wrong and it's not worth whining over.

  10. #10
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    Simon - Glad I'm not the only person to prefer map and compass as the main tool and anything else as backup. I also carry two maps when in the Lakes. OS 25k and BMC 40k scales. Sometimes a HArvey's 25k too. Only backup I have ever needed. The GPS gets relegated to finding the exact location of the top of a hill that I'm bagging. However it is often a good few metres out sometimes but still good on those flat tops where any stone is as good as another for the top.

  11. #11
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    I'm a ludite when it comes to technology, but I do use GPS but only to see where I've been, not where I'm going. I take my garmin 405cx with me on the bike or on the hill and it records my journey, heart rate, elevation, speed, etc.

    The when i get home I can check out how close I was to my original course (i.e. how good or bad my navigation was). I can also use it to see how fit I am, especially on the climbs, and to see if I can improve the route next time (as it plots the route you took on googlemaps).

    The 405cx doesn't show a map, so is fairly useless for navigating anyway, but I have used a handheld garmin but found this much too difficult to use, although I have foundf the altitude ocassionally useful when navigating the hills in fog.

    I tend to rely on a map and the key features of the terrain, the position of the sun, dead reckoning or, if absolutely necessary, a compass (but I do get embarassed when using one as it looks like I'm lost!!!! )

  12. #12
    Super Moderator Jon Doran's Avatar
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    I don't think the mapping GPS is a red herring, it simply means that effectively you're carrying a map electronically on a GPS unit with marker showing you exactly where you are. It's kind of the point where mapping and GPS meet.

    But it's a continuum. You can use a GPS as an emergency location finder. Or more regularly to confirm your mapwork is on track, say at principal path junctions or changes of direction or tops. Or, if you have a route downloaded onto a GPS with OS mapping on it, you can use it pretty much all of the time and maybe just use your map to give a wider context - 'what's that hill over there?' stuff.

    The reason I suggested that a map was back-up wasn't an attempt to create some sort of navigational hierarchy, it was because the Lakes rescue teams are talking about people relying on GPS apps on phones as their principle means of navigation.

    That's quite feasible given the right app - ViewRanger, Anquet, Memory Map or similar - but for anyone using a GPS in that way, a map is a back-up, isn't it?

  13. #13
    Super Moderator captain paranoia's Avatar
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    My main tool of navigation is to look at the landscape in front of me, and to see where I am, and where I'm going...

    I'll look at a map every now and again so I know where I am on the map in case I can no longer see the landscape.

    If that map is electronic or paper, I don't really care. There are pros and cons to both.

    If you're already carrying a GPS, and it has mapping, and you're using it to navigate, then it's probably going to be easier to use its map than to get out map and compass.

    So, whichever you choose as your primary navigation tool (landscape, map, GPS), it's a good idea to know how to use your backup system(s); carrying a GPS 'for backup' if you don't know how to use it is just as dangerous as carrying a map as backup, and not knowing how to use it.

    Oh, and in the case of the simpler, grid-ref only GPS units, they're not much use without a map to identify where you are, and, more importantly, where to go; being able to know your position to 5m isn't a lot of help if you cannot relate that position to the landscape around you. Just as a map isn't a lot of use if you don't know (and cannot use it to find out) where you are.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wee Jimmie View Post
    "Call me a Luddite but the two tools have been switched in importance. GPS is backup not main tool." It's called personal preference. Some people do things differently to you. That doesn't make either of you wrong and it's not worth whining over.

    Its not whining Jimmie. I just expressed an opinion that a map should be the first in your kit not a backup for just in case useas it is the most reliable without relying on batteries to work. Can't I have thaat opinion? Or is it best not to express this? A good laminated OS map or the BMC maps are pretty failsafe if you keep hold of it. So far never had one blown away on me but always have a spare anyway. Also it is more than likely the first navigation tool you are trained on. Perhaps navigation classes should start on GPS units.

    However I do have the view that both maps and GPS are tools for navigation and preference in gear is always evident in all areas of kit. It is just my view that it is overall the better navigation option and in my view is not the back up kit but the main navigation kit. Doesn't bother me much TBHsince I do most of my walking in the LakesI don't tend to use either. Most walks are done with GPS and map and compass in the sack for the whole walk. Even in new areas I tend to just look at the map a few times. A good trick I have for memorising maps with a quick look at the start of the walk. Something I used to use when I used to orienteer in my youth.

  15. #15
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    CP - I don't understand what you mean about using landscape. In navigation you compare the landscape with some reference, a map in whatever format it comes or a bearing, but I don't understand how you can use the landscapewithout a reference or prior knowledge of the area.

  16. #16
    Mini Goon Fleegle's Avatar
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    First, I must confess to not fully reading the article in question.

    I'm not averse to technology andhave a Garmin eTrex-H, which I use purely to log the route I've done, download it to my mapping progand nothing else.But I am firmly a map and compass man.

    I have no problem with GPS as a means of navigation, so long as the user has the ability to navigate comfortably and safely when the batteries fail.

    The main problem with the use of GPS, is a false sense of security embalmed on those who have the gadgets but not the full working knowlege of how to use it and even worse, if that wonderful piece of kit fails, how to get out of the situation they're in!

    The problem is not the tool being used, but the fool using the tool!

    That could also be said for map and compass....

  17. #17
    Ultra King Parky Again's Avatar
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    "There are many things a GPS will do such as give a reasonably accurate location fix. However there is a lot more you can do with maps if you have been trained in their use or even have good oldfashioned common sense."

    made me chuckle. there is a lot more you can do with a gps than you can with a map IF you know how to use it.

    people's experiences with gps or others using it always seem to devolve to the person using it not actually knowing how to use it properly. it will do so, so much more than just tell you where you are. that's not a criticism but an observation. like navigating using a map so navigating using a gps requires just as much training and practice in order to be proficient with the tool.

    if you can use both properly you have an unbeatable navigation tool that will pee rather dramatically over either used individually.

    when first using the satmap i thought "MAP" rather than "GPS". once i'd got "MAP" out of my head it makes so much more sense. it's a gps that happens to show your position on a map.

    you can navigate successfully with a non-mapping gps if you learn how to use it properly and using a map to check where you are i.e the map is backup.

    however, non mapping gps are best suited to digital mapping where they really come into their own.

    if you are prone to just having a general wander about in the outdoors (as i am prone to do fom time to time) then using a satmap is ok whilst a non-mapping unit is,er, difficult to say the least.

    if you are following a route then something like a satmap is perfect. i've never had to look about to find out where i am nor take a bearing or anything else because where i am is shown on the map. it's rather good in the dark too.



    use that new fangled technology of a compass and an accurate map if you are more comfortable with it but it's difficult not to respond to criticism of something that you have never used nor even tried to use properly.

  18. #18
    Ultra King Paddy Dillon's Avatar
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    I prefer a map printed on paper, where I can see ALL my options at a glance, for days ahead if need be. Try doing that on a titchy little screen! I've come across people who look like real plonkers when their batteries pack up, and who just look completely blank when I offer them the chance to look at my map.

  19. #19
    ‹bermensch ShoutsAtQuietMice's Avatar
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    I always carry the relevant map but viewranger on my phone is my principal nav aid these days, given a 10 fig gr it can put me within a couple of metres of a feature easily, it's way easier than using a map when your tracking down a 50cm high standing stone, cist, ruined stone circle etc etc in 30cm tall heather, which is my main reason for being out on the moors and hills nowadays.

    If i was pushed, i wouldn't swap a map and compass for my box of digi chips, not a chance.

  20. #20
    Goon Rod MacDonald's Avatar
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    Now now Paddy, no need to show off your navigational God status. Presumably those unfortunates whose batteries gave up were looking at a map of sorts prior to your turning up with the paper version, and so were possibly only wondering why you thought it necessary to wave your map at them. I've said this before elsewhere, and I'll say it again,
    There are many instances where a GPS is FAR superior to a map and compass, and I'll happily pit my GPS against anyone from the old school on the middle of the Cairngorm Plateau, in a blizzard or in the dark.

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