4 Reasons to Get a Handheld GPS

Many of us are nervous about new technology. We want the new opportunities that it offers without the required education to use it. However, if it is important, we will push ourselves through the learning process just to enjoy the benefits of the device.

Global Positioning System (GPS) devices are one such technology. They use satellites to triangulate your position on the ground and then display that position on an uploaded map. In cell phones and car GPS units, they show you where you are and can provide directions to other locations that are on the street map. In handheld GPS units and some GPS smartphone apps, they allow you to record the coordinates of a specified location, keep track of where you have been, and set a route to where you want to go.

The advantages of having a handheld device and/or a GPS smartphone app are:

  1. The freedom to travel anywhere and not worry about getting lost

Since the devices, when they are on, track where you have been, you can always follow that trackback to your starting point. You can also save these tracks so they can follow them in the future.

  1. They can help you find things

The stewardship program, hiking websites, and federal agencies often provide coordinates of the locations they want you to visit. You can enter these coordinates into your device, and it can lead you to that location. This is great for finding a site or site features in a large site.

  1. You can take your own points (coordinates)

This allows you to save the coordinates of a location so that you can find them again in the future. This is particularly helpful if you need to remember where you parked your car or tell the agencies where the damage to your site occurred.

  1. You can provide your exact location to emergency services

Should you get hurt or stuck far from any roads, you will want to tell emergency services exactly where you are. If you can provide emergency dispatchers your exact location, they can transmit the coordinates to Search and Rescue, so that they can use their GPS unit to find you.

To use a GPS effectively, it is recommended that you take an introductory class. In such a class you should learn how to use the device, what the device limitations are, how to read the maps, how to set the coordinate system, and how to read the coordinates.

GPS units are complicated, but if you are a serious hiker, they are an indispensable tool that may save your life.

If you would like to learn more about GPS devices, GPS apps, and tech that can help you when you are monitoring, please visit the NSSP Safety and Technology page. NSSP also holds GPS classes upon request and our staff is always happy to give one-on-one tutorials to site stewards.