Trail Tracking

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crazy8
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Trail Tracking

Post by crazy8 » Thu Jun 21, 2018 10:09 am

Im not sure where else to put this post, so this seems to be the best suited spot.

When I go on my first trip, I want to track where we go. Everything from the boat ride to the island, the hike itself, and the boat ride back. With cell services being what it is out there (from what I have read so far), I have been trying to come up with something that's strictly GPS. My understanding is that my smartphone and an app can still accomplish tracking the whole thing, and I have seen things like the "SPOT" devices which seem to have to many bad issues and reviews to convince me that I should consider it an option, not to mention the plan pricing options for the service. What do you guys use to track all of your hikes? Do any of you take a SPOT or similar device purely for security/peace of mind sake?


JerryB
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Re: Trail Tracking

Post by JerryB » Thu Jun 21, 2018 12:34 pm

My wife made me bring a SPOT device when I went on a solo trip. Now, I use a Garmin InReach device, which is much more flexible It will track your trip and make the results accessible to you on your return home and to anyone else you like. Unlike SPOT, it also features some useful maps. With SPOT, the plans are expensive. With InReach, the plan is cheap and flexible, but the device is expensive.

These devices are worthwhile for safety purposes. I do not see much value in tracking my trips to the island. I am on trails and can easily mark out my trek on a map.

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hooky
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Re: Trail Tracking

Post by hooky » Thu Jun 21, 2018 12:35 pm

I think I'm going to pull the trigger on a Garmin inreach mini. It will synch with your smartphone. I always take my phone with me and use it as a camera anyway. As I'm getting older, I think it will give my wife a little piece of mind since I'm solo 75% of the time.

https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/592606

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thesneakymonkey
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Re: Trail Tracking

Post by thesneakymonkey » Thu Jun 21, 2018 2:13 pm

I use an older model garmin inreach. Worked really well on the island.

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Ingo
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Re: Trail Tracking

Post by Ingo » Thu Jun 21, 2018 2:20 pm

With a phone, you should be able to download the appropriate map(s) and use it as a GPS without cell service. However, you probably would have an issue with battery life if you have it on all the time. And possibly with losing the signal in dense tree areas. A dedicated GPS would likely be better on both counts, although I can't say I've kept up with the latest technologies and options.

In any case, I agree with JerryB on this:
These devices are worthwhile for safety purposes. I do not see much value in tracking my trips to the island. I am on trails and can easily mark out my trek on a map.


Midwest Ed
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Re: Trail Tracking

Post by Midwest Ed » Thu Jun 21, 2018 3:22 pm

I have the older (original) InReach. The battery life is excellent. I don't know about the new "mini". The GPS receiver is not as sensitive as it could be but I attribute that to the age of the technology. A heavy tree canopy or rain will sometimes block it as will the roof of my house. I would expect the new "mini" to be much better as is my 3 year old Samsung G5. The G5 has much greater GPS sensitivity than my first smart phone. There is a huge selection of maps available for your phone that work with the Garmin Earthmate software. You'll need a large secondary memory card for your phone. Don't get the Garmin with built in orienteering/navigation (i.e. Explorer) if you plan to have a phone, get the "SE" instead. It's not worth it as you can do all the navigation and then some on your bluetooth connected phone. You do need to keep your phone off most of the time for the sake of it's battery.

The tracking capability is quite nice although I think their cheapest plan charges 10 cents for each tracking point, where someone could follow you in somewhat "realtime" on the internet (one tracking point every 10 minutes). As a result I subscribed to the 2nd level up (out of 4) for unlimited points. The tracking interval stored internal to the device is much more frequent than 10 minutes and can be set according to your speed (e.g. walking vs vehicle). The other nice feature is you can suspend the account month by month and receive no billing except for a modest annual fee starting at $15 year.

If your curious about the on line tracking map, you can check out my trip logging for the time I spent in the UP in 2016 and 2017, traveling by truck, boat and foot. The pw = MidwestYooper. Anyone following that website would have seen each point added as they were produced and up loaded.
Last edited by Midwest Ed on Thu Jun 21, 2018 3:36 pm, edited 3 times in total.
8 trips, 1975 x 2, 1976 x 2, 1978, 1985, 2000, 2013


rich
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Re: Trail Tracking

Post by rich » Thu Jun 21, 2018 3:30 pm

I use Backcountry Navigator on my Android phone. It allows you to download maps and saves your location at an interval. No cell signal required after you've downloaded your maps. I've also heard GaiaGPS is a good app, but don't have experience with that one yet.


torpified
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Re: Trail Tracking

Post by torpified » Thu Jun 21, 2018 4:06 pm

I have gaia on my Iphone (https://www.gaiagps.com/map/?layer=natgeo). You can download maps at home to call up in the field, where you'll often have GPS but not an internet connection. The base service is free, but if you're willing to shell out $40 for a premium subscription, you'll get snazzy Nat Geo Trails Illustrated maps as well as the basic USGS ones.

I've never actually activated the GPS on a real trip but having the option is reassuring. (So reassuring that I've never invested in a SPOTlike device.) Out of curiosity, for walks around home, I've run the GPS, and could see battery drain getting to be an issue. But you can get external batteries--Anker makes a compact lipstick style one that's good for 1-2 charges--to recharge your phone in the backwoods.

Here's a slightly out of date but informative article about how to turn your phone into a GPS device. There are links to a page with tips about extending battery life.

http://www.adventurealan.com/iphone-gps ... ckpacking/

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Grandpa
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Re: Trail Tracking

Post by Grandpa » Thu Jun 21, 2018 5:55 pm

" Crazy8 wrote: June 21, 2018 12:09 pm
"Do any of you take a SPOT or similar device purely for security/peace of mind sake?"

I've been carrying an ACR ResQLink PLB for several years now since I often backpack solo. It was recommended to me by a search & rescue professional (Not IRNP). Fortunately, I've never had to use it.

Pluses:
- It's registered with the federal government search and rescue service (NOAA SARSAT), which I'm told is more reliable than some of the private monitoring services.
- I'm told that the signal is stronger than some PLB / Tracking devices.
- There's no subscription fee.

Minuses:
- When activated, it only transmits a distress signal with GPS coordinates. There's no tracking or 2-way communication.

I don't carry any other devices in the backcountry; I'm on vacation from devices!
Last edited by Grandpa on Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
First visit 1982. Last visit June, 2018. Isle Royale is my favorite National Park!


Midwest Ed
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Re: Trail Tracking

Post by Midwest Ed » Thu Jun 21, 2018 7:34 pm

Grandpa wrote:
Thu Jun 21, 2018 5:55 pm
Do any of you take a SPOT or similar device purely for security/peace of mind sake?
I've used an InReach for 2 years now. I've also boated from Houghton to Isle Royale in a rather small 24 foot RIB and we carried a rented EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon), rented because they were far more expensive 15 years ago. I'm sure you are aware but for others reading, a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) or an EPRIB for boaters are both excellent methods of rescue for life threatening situations. They are both essentially the same system with the battery specs and registration requirements being different (some EPIRBS also activate automatically if they hit the water.) They are also more reliable than a SPOT or InReach type of device as the technology and people involved for each system are different. The PLBs are monitored by NOAA government employees while the other systems are monitored by private corporations (or your family). The InReach type systems only send GPS coordinates with no homing beacon. (Note: original EPPIRBs had ONLY the homing beacon. The addition of GPS information does not make the beacon obsolete and is still particularly useful for a drifting boat.

The InReach allows very reliable and remote communications for all types of situations ranging from life threatening to a vehicle breakdown to immediately satisfying the worries of loved ones. The tracking capabilities also fills a need for us tech geeks. I travel the back country of the UP in Michigan and also soon around the country when I retire. Once you get away from the Interstate highways the cell coverage is often non-existent or far worse than the providers would have us believe.

If I was going someplace really dangerous or someplace hard to reach or if I was going to stay for an extended period of time I would rather have both systems. The main problem with PLB's is there is no choice regarding the response (the Coast Guard or the 7th Calvary will be arriving) so when I'm in need of actual rescue a PLB has no equal. But if I have a vehicle breakdown and it's a 50 mile walkout then InReach is the better choice. No one would think of paying the Coast Guard to change a flat tire.

A side note regarding Isle Royale...I would wager that if I broke my ankle on most any of the trails, that another hiker will find me well before the first responder due to a PLB (or inReach) activation arrives.
8 trips, 1975 x 2, 1976 x 2, 1978, 1985, 2000, 2013

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