Replacing old devices with a Smart Phone

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12ersRule
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Replacing old devices with a Smart Phone

Post by 12ersRule » Thu May 13, 2021 3:35 pm

I've noticed that I've pretty much replaced a plethora of devices with my phone, Samsung S10, lately. My old Garmin GPS is dying right now. I basically just use it to download the occasional map (although the screen is so messed up right now, it's not even worth it) and to find waypoints.

I recently discovered that if I go with the full subscription of Strava, I can use the Beacon feature, which allows other users to track me. There is one major flaw with the Beacon feature though. When you send the initial message that starts the tracking, you have to have connectivity or at least send a text. Seems to work pretty well overall though. I don't think I'm going back to DeLorme or Spotify. Although, I need to be pretty careful about battery power on the phone because Strava sucks a lot of it up. I bring some portable chargers with me on longer trips though.

So, about replacing that GPS. What mobile apps are your favorites for setting waypoints on? Any success importing waypoints from LoJ, Peakbagger, or just an Excel spreadsheet?

What are you using for mobile maps? Strava doesn't really cut it in that area, I need the topo real-time. It's just loading it after the fact.

In closing I would like to say that it would be irresponsible to not bring at least a paper map of some kind wherever I am. Yes, a hard copy map and letting someone know where you're going and sharing your basic plan is always a good idea.

Appreciate any thoughts you have on this.
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k_fergie
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Re: Replacing old devices with a Smart Phone

Post by k_fergie » Thu May 13, 2021 3:43 pm

For GPS mapping I use caltopo and their android app. Their lowest level subscription lets you download a seemingly infinite number of quads so that you can use out in the field without cell service, but your phone's GPS still puts you as a dot on the map. You can completely map out your planned route on desktop before your trip (via importing a GPX or just drawing it in) and then just follow it right along in the field. I think the subscription is like $20 per year, which is not bad at all considering you can locate yourself within phone accuracy anywhere, without phone service. I've been using it for years while BC skiing because of the slope angle shading, but recently incorporated it into my bushwhacking adventures with great success
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Jon Frohlich
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Re: Replacing old devices with a Smart Phone

Post by Jon Frohlich » Thu May 13, 2021 3:48 pm

These days I use Backcountry Navigator Pro and download the topo maps for the area before I lose service. The default map source is the Caltopo 24k maps but you can choose others. Even international maps if we can ever do that again. I had the topos for the Routeburn track in NZ downloaded on my phone and it worked fine.
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CaptainSuburbia
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Re: Replacing old devices with a Smart Phone

Post by CaptainSuburbia » Thu May 13, 2021 4:03 pm

Gaia works good. I have an inReach but only use it for texting and so my family can track me.
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Re: Replacing old devices with a Smart Phone

Post by headsizeburrito » Thu May 13, 2021 4:17 pm

I've been quite happy using Caltopo on my phone. Only complaint is that it doesn't give pace info or display much data on recorded tracks compared to some other options, but maybe that is because they don't want to be Strava. I still wish that info was there, it's silly to have to manually calculate pace,which I document for myself and is helpful as a comparison when planning similar routes to ones I've done in the past. Before I was using Gaia on my phone and creating routes on Caltopo then importing them into Gaia, but Caltopo mobile is pretty good now so why not put everything in one place and have the account sync between trip planning on desktop and field use on mobile? Easy to use different map layers and create nice marked up maps. Works well and then I have an Inreach Mini for messaging/SOS features.

I've been considering getting a standalone GPS however just because it would be more durable than a phone. Not sure it would be worth it however since it would essentially just be a backup since navigating on a phone app is a way better experience (UI, screen, syncing, etc) than a standalone GPS. I discussed this in a thread on reddit yesterday where somebody was asking about the Garmin GPSMAP 66i, which integrates GPS navigation and InReach functionality. I'll just copy/paste that post below as it's relevant to the discussion and I'm interested in what others think on the subject:

----

I'm curious about this too as I've considered picking it up. I currently use Gaia/Caltopo on my phone for navigating and have an InReach Mini for messaging/SOS. The 66i is pricey at $600 and I wouldn't actually use it that much. My possible use case is to have it as a navigation backup since a phone is far better but also somewhat fragile. It would suck to drop your phone and have the screen break halfway into a week-long off trail outing. Of course on serious trips you'll also want to carry paper maps as backup so that negates some of the issues. Something like the 66i is much more robust than a phone so that would be less of an issue, but it adds weight vs just the InReach Mini and a phone you will be carrying anyway, plus the steep price.

Here is a review I found helpful: https://hikingguy.com/hiking-gear/garmi ... iew-guide/

There are also some user reviews on REI. General impressions seem to be that the hardware is good and the software and UI suck. A phone is better but less rugged. For most users a phone + inreach is more practical, but if you want a standalone GPS this is a reasonable option. From what I have found you can also own two devices (InReach Mini and 66i for example) and switch between the active device on your account. That way you are only paying one subscription, but you can't use them both at the same time.

Interested in hearing from anyone else that has this particular model.
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Will_E
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Re: Replacing old devices with a Smart Phone

Post by Will_E » Thu May 13, 2021 6:19 pm

CaptainSuburbia wrote:
Thu May 13, 2021 4:03 pm
Gaia works good. I have an inReach but only use it for texting and so my family can track me.
^This. Gaia is great, easy to use and import GPX files. And it’s free.
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Re: Replacing old devices with a Smart Phone

Post by kimo » Thu May 13, 2021 7:22 pm

No substitute for paper maps. I subscribe to Backcountry Navigator XE and Caltopo, but still purchase and carry paper maps on all trips.

My Garmin broke in 2013 so I moved to Backcountry Navigator Pro app on my Galaxy 4 at the time and have never looked back at a dedicated GPS unit. I enjoyed using BN Pro for many years. I subscribed to Backcountry Navigator XE last year for the vector maps but I think the app sucks. IMO the original BN Pro app is better but doesn't offer vector maps. I've been using Caltopo on desktop for many years, and recently downloaded the Caltopo mobile app. I look forward to trying out Caltopo's tracking function on our next trip. If it does what I need it to do I will probably switch to Caltopo for both desktop and mobile mapping.
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Re: Replacing old devices with a Smart Phone

Post by RETEP 1 » Thu May 13, 2021 7:56 pm

Trail Run Project has gotten me out of at least 2 sticky situations and been really helpful a few other times.
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Re: Replacing old devices with a Smart Phone

Post by randalmartin » Thu May 13, 2021 8:36 pm

Gaia for use while on a trip but use Caltopo for trip planning. Caltopo may eventually catch up to Gaia in the mobile app capability but for now the mobile app for Gaia is far ahead. Caltopo is a phenomenal tool on the browser on your home computer for trip planning. I'll save a route on Caltopo, export to GPX for import into GAIA which syncs to the mobile application. It sounds complicated, it isn't.
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Re: Replacing old devices with a Smart Phone

Post by Carl_Healy » Thu May 13, 2021 8:45 pm

Just add that I also use Gaia on my phone and love it.

Additionally I always carry an Anker power bank and often run a cable from it in my pack to my phone in my inner pants pocket when I'm hiking or climbing so that I'm always at 100% charge (admittedly not great for long term Li-Ion phone battery health but a must in my mind when in the backcountry). Keeping the phone in my inner pants pocket also keeps it warm too.

I also use a Zoleo satellite communicator which works great via Bluetooth to my phone (and can still do all the essentials without a phone.)
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Re: Replacing old devices with a Smart Phone

Post by a forest » Fri May 14, 2021 7:17 am

12ersRule wrote:
Thu May 13, 2021 3:35 pm


I recently discovered that if I go with the full subscription of Strava, I can use the Beacon feature, which allows other users to track me. There is one major flaw with the Beacon feature though. When you send the initial message that starts the tracking, you have to have connectivity or at least send a text. Seems to work pretty well overall though. I don't think I'm going back to DeLorme or Spotify. Although, I need to be pretty careful about battery power on the phone because Strava sucks a lot of it up. I bring some portable chargers with me on longer trips though.
This is interesting
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Scott P
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Re: Replacing old devices with a Smart Phone

Post by Scott P » Fri May 14, 2021 8:02 am

Well @#$% dangit. This year I finally committed to learning how to use my Garmin GPS and actually turned it on for the first time last week. Now everyone is telling me that people don't use those anymore. #-o :evil:
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