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Picking The Best GPS Device

Which Is Right For You

A few years back, a group of friends were talking about a new GPS device, and in one of the many cases in my life, my mouth worked faster than my brain and instead of asking if it was compact and lightweight for use in backpacking, I instead asked, “Is it portable?” So, now anytime I’m with those friends, the question always comes up of how my invention of the GPS kitchen table that continually announces, “You are here, you are here,” is doing.

As far as I know, no one has demanded or created the GPS kitchen table (I claim the patent if there is), but there are plenty of other GPS devices out there. Here’s my guide to help you figure out which one is best for you.

Phone

Nowadays, most smartphones come with a built in GPS function that combined with web features enables you to find about anything.

Example – Only the best thing ever, duh, the iPhone.
What you’ll use it for
– Finding coffee shops as you travel to unfamiliar lands like Staten Island, Joliet or Downtown Burbank.
Other Features
– Strangely enough, down at #4 on a smartphone, using it as a device to talk to people in other locations. (Followed by #3 – tracking your fantasy team.) (Note – I considered using the phrase “Using it as a phone” but I think that the definition of phone as a talking device will be going the way of the telegraph.)
What you won’t use if for
– Finding your headings on a backcountry trail. If you wanted to hike and use your phone, you’d have probably stayed on the sidewalk.

Car

Class it up

If for some crazy reason you leave the house without your phone, having your own personal car GPS device will keep you from getting lost.

Example – The Garmin nuvi 3790LMT.
What you’ll use it for
– Finding a way around a traffic jam or to a friend’s house while using your phone as a talking device to another friend.
Other Features
– Voice activation enables you to turn on your navigation system and speak the address so that you never have to take your hands of the steering wheel, or your phone.
What you won’t use it for
– With smartphones, my guess is you won’t use it at all as your phone already does all of the same things. Really, this is just a fun additional gadget.

Watch

One thing you can definitely say about watches as compared to iPhones, they are smaller. If you want to run and calculate your speed and distance without sweating on your phone, or possibly dropping it, the GPS watch is the way to go.

Example – Garmin Forerunner 410.
What you’ll use it for
– If you’re training for a marathon or just like to track your exercise, the Forerunner tracks your speed and distance. If you add that information to your diet, the weather, your sleep and other physical activities, you will be able to correlate what conditions make for your best workout.
Other Features – As an added cool training feature, you can also track your heart rate while you run to see if you are really straining or just kind of coasting along, you slacker.
What you won’t use it for – Stylish going out at night watch, unless you’re talking about the carb-loading pre-marathon dinner.

Boat

If you have enough money for a cool boat, from what I know, it’s pretty much a rule that you have to outfit it with a cool GPS.

Example – Garmin GPSMap 740s.
What you’ll use it for
– Hell if I know, I don’t have a boat.
Other Features
– Holy crap though, if I did, I’d want this because it is equipped with sonar so that I could find sharks and whales.
What you won’t use it for – It’s technology won’t allow you to see if there are just blubbery whales inside of dance clubs.

Golf

If at some point you become good enough at the game of golf that you want something besides your very own Steve Williams (caddy for Tiger Woods who also has GPS software installed in his body) to give you distances to the hole, then you’ll want a GPS golf device.

Example – Garmin Approach G5 North America.
What you’ll use it for – Golfing, of course, as it comes pre-loaded with over 14,000 golf courses in the U.S. and Canada.
Other Features – It lets you move the position of the flag in the preloaded courses to how you view it so that you can get a more accurate distance reading.
What you won’t use it for – Impressing the ladies with a gadget this geeky, unless you’re picking up golfer Anna Rawson.

Trail

Instead of grabbing a map and a compass (but that you should have just in case) you can grab a GPS device preloaded with a maps of the entire United States, just in case you make a right turn at Albuquerque.

Example – Garmin GPSMap 62st.
What you’ll use it for – Not getting lost and finding your campsite that in previous outings you thought “has to be just around the bend,” about one hundred bends ago.
Other Features – If your other camping buddies have the same kind of devices, if you get separated, you can send your coordinates to each other. It’s a lot easier than yelling “Marco” and “Polo” to one another.
What you won’t use it for – After you’ve gone deep into the wilderness to avoid the zombie apocalypse, you won’t use it just in case you accidentally send out your location to zombies that were tech geeks before becoming undead and know how to use GPS.

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About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."

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