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Old 04-25-2007, 11:18 PM
 
Location: Haines, AK
1,123 posts, read 2,907,380 times
Reputation: 644
Default Buy a dang GPS already...yes, I mean YOU!

Just a word of wisdom for the outdoor types from one who's been there many times before...Go buy a dang GPS already...yes, I'm talking to YOU!

I was reading the thread about the latest guy who got himself chewed upon by a bear, noticed one very important point. The guy probably saved his live or at least his hand because he was able to call for help right away, and more importantly....he could tell the rescue helicopter exactly where he was. How is this possible in the backwoods of Alaska? He had two very important tools, a satellite phone and a GPS receiver. Sat phones are great for this kind of situation, perhaps the best tool ever invented if you're injured in the middle of nowhere and need help now. But....they're USELESS if you don't know where you are.

Sat phones are expensive, but you can rent them for trips in remote locations. In contrast, GPS receivers are dirt cheap, you can buy dozens of models used or new for less than a hundred bucks. The ones they make nowadays run forever on just a set of AA batteries, some are even waterproof and float. These days they're quite simple to use, and lots of places offer instruction in how to use them if the manual doesn't do it for you. Anyone that can read a map can learn to use a GPS with relatively little trouble.

Anyone that plans on venturing beyond the road system really ought to have one already, and know how to use it. There can be no more useful tool if you get injured and have to call for help. If it was up to me they'd be permanently installed in every car, truck, ATV, snowmachine, boat and if I could find a way to do it there'd be one embedded in every snowboard, pair of skis and snowshoe sold. The cost of even a fancy GPS is a drop in a bucket compared to the money people spend on their vehicles and even the most weight concious cross-country skiier can easily carry the extra few ounces they weigh.

A bit of disclosure here, I am not exactly a neutral party in this debate. My last job was flying the exact helicopter that picked up that guy that got chewed on by the bear. When I was working there it was a constant source of frustration trying to find people who knew they needed help, but couldn't really explain exactly where they were. I don't have to imagine how agonizing it would be to have your friend or relative bleeding out before your eyes while you do the cell-phone relay trying to talk a pilot to your location.... I've heard it myself from the other end far too many times.

So, enough already, if you don't have one now get one before your next big trip, bring some extra batteries, learn how to use the thing. Its cheap insurance in case something goes drastically wrong
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Old 04-26-2007, 09:56 AM
 
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
222 posts, read 740,034 times
Reputation: 107
I currently have 2 GPS units. One is permantly mounted on my boat, a real nice unit that shows location on a color map and my other one a handheld Garmin 12XL that was actually my first unit.

One day out on Lake Mead in early March I came upon a capsized boat with a family of 7 floating in the chilly 54 degree water. I called for park ranger assistance while another boat and I pulled them from the water. The park rangers where very happy that I had GPS to give them our location. They were on site in 15 minutes after I radioed for assistance. And while we were rescuing them the park rangers called for EMT's to meet us at the dock with the family to take them to the hospital for evaluation. Other than the loss of their vessel, the family came out fine and everyone lived to see another day.
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Old 04-26-2007, 02:26 PM
 
Location: Alaska
1,437 posts, read 3,017,692 times
Reputation: 873
Absolutely, I have an eTrex Legend. $129.00.
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Old 04-26-2007, 02:39 PM
 
Location: Hazel Green, AL
20 posts, read 62,095 times
Reputation: 17
The Lengends (which is the one I have) are a bit cheaper now, especially if you know look around. Heck you can get the eTrex Vistas (step up from Legend) for $120.00. I was pricing them for as a replacement for my ageing and well beat on Legend. Thing stays in my truck with me at all times, unless I am hiking somewhere or doing some geocaching.
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Old 04-26-2007, 10:45 PM
 
Location: Haines, AK
1,123 posts, read 2,907,380 times
Reputation: 644
Default way to go guys, tell all your friends

Wat to go guys, tell all your friends. It never ceases to amaze me that people who will spend $5k without blinking on a 4-wheeler (that can easily get them in trouble) will choke on a measly $100 for a GPS (which could save their life).

Next step, learn what a spheroid is and how to set it on your unit. If you want the best accuracy your unit will provide, you have to set the spheroid to whatever system was in use when your map was surveyed and drawn. However, if you're using it to tell the medivac helicopter where you are here's a hint....all aviation GPS units use WGS-84. All aviation charts are based on that standard, there is no way the pilot can re-set his panel mounted unit to US1927 or whatever you might be using.

Regardless of what standard you are using, when you call for help use lattitude and longitude and make sure that you tell them whether you are using degrees, minutes, and seconds or degrees, minutes, and tenths of minutes. Other units like township and range and the military MGRS are usually useless to a rescue pilot, stick to lat. & long.
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Old 04-26-2007, 10:57 PM
 
43 posts, read 180,217 times
Reputation: 20
Wow! you guys are the greatest. If I ever get stranded in Alaska, I'd want you guys, Rance, Rotohead, and others to come to my rescue. You guys are the greatest!

Wan2Batraveler10
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Old 04-27-2007, 08:06 AM
 
Location: Alaska
1,437 posts, read 3,017,692 times
Reputation: 873
rotorhead, more than gps, don't you think anyone who lives up here should be required to know how to properly use a map and compass?
Batteries don't last forever, and a good compass is not expensive.
And as far as maps go, you could start another thread on this topic alone.
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Old 04-27-2007, 09:08 AM
 
395 posts, read 1,066,349 times
Reputation: 106
Danny, a map does U no good if U are lost. A compass is fine but it does not pinpoint your location. Still, the tools mentioned are better than nothing.
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Old 04-27-2007, 10:38 AM
 
Location: SE Alaska
957 posts, read 1,490,587 times
Reputation: 438
Thumbs up Agree...BUT...

I agree, a GPS is a great tool; I use them for my work regularly. But it IS important that people (mostly who I'm addressing is outsiders or not-very-exprienced) understand that a GPS is only as good as :

1. The dry bag you carry it in (I know they say waterproof but it's not entirely true)

and

2. The batteries you carry with you

3. Your own knowledge of how to use the thing and your woods-savvy in general.

Just hiking out there with no real clue of where you are on a map, in relation to landmarks, etc, is not a good idea. GPS units can sometimes be thrown off by geological terrain and mineral deposits; not to mention the fact that if you don't know about "NAD"s and Datums, you might program your GPS totally inaccurately. But if you're out there, definitely carry one. It can most definitely help save your butt.
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Old 04-27-2007, 03:22 PM
 
395 posts, read 1,066,349 times
Reputation: 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alaskagrl View Post
I agree, a GPS is a great tool; I use them for my work regularly. But it IS important that people (mostly who I'm addressing is outsiders or not-very-exprienced) understand that a GPS is only as good as :

1. The dry bag you carry it in (I know they say waterproof but it's not entirely true)

and

2. The batteries you carry with you

3. Your own knowledge of how to use the thing and your woods-savvy in general.

Just hiking out there with no real clue of where you are on a map, in relation to landmarks, etc, is not a good idea. GPS units can sometimes be thrown off by geological terrain and mineral deposits; not to mention the fact that if you don't know about "NAD"s and Datums, you might program your GPS totally inaccurately. But if you're out there, definitely carry one. It can most definitely help save your butt.
True about being foolish not knowing your surroundings even with maps and compass but, unfortunately, even the best sometime become disoriented. Just asked some of the "experienced" people who became losted in recent years. Then to be injured on top of that. I've recalled 2 separate incidents in the L.A, Ca area where tragedies occurred when the "experienced" hikers were lost in the local mountains in cold weather.
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