GPS upgrade

Beendare

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I just got back from a central Ca pig hunt on an invite from a buddy....good chance to check the GAIA Phone app GPS [with maps] and I have to say it was a huge fail. It could be operator error...so floating this out there for comments.

I have Gaia GPS and the maps on an iPhone 7. It works great around here in the SF Bay area trails...but those have cell towers. Down out of Parkfield ,Ca [pop 18] we had zero to poor service and I couldn't get Gaia to load....or it would partial load in like 15 minutes.

The claim is this works without cell towers.....anyone actually doing this in remote locations with zero cell service?

Edit; My bad....threads are better with pics....in case you haven't seen central Ca in spring...
petes ranch re.jpg

mikes pig best.jpg
 
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Beendare

Beendare

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Chris, thx for the link. to answer your question, NO I did not download maps as I wasn't sure exactly where this place was.

So you have to download the map of the location you are headed...got it. I can see this will be a problem already on say a drop camp moose hunt where the pilot says we are going to make a change....

When you open the map with no cell towers does your location show up on your phone?

Have you used this app in the bush without cell towers?
 
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I haven't used Gaia app, but it operates the same as onx maps phone app. You can save/download numerous maps and then the app will function as a standard gps unit. Your phone has gps capabilities that will function without the need cell towers or cellular connections, and the app will track/show your locations in the bush. Have used onx maps in both Colorado and Wyoming with downloaded/saved maps with phone in airplane mode.
 

ChrisS

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You can download a pretty large area even if you only have a general idea (~20-30 square miles or more). The topos don't take up a huge chunk of memory. Aerials do, but I usually only download a few square miles of those. It will also function in airplane mode so you can keep your phone from searching for a cell signal and save battery. I've used it in MT, CO, and all the time in the Adirondacks. The screen resolution is fantastic and its intuitive to record waypoints and tracks.


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Brendan

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I use Gaia regularly without cell service, and on airplane mode to save battery (iPhone 6 here). The GPS will work and show position in that scenario - but as said you need to have maps downloaded in advance. I personally download both topo and satellite. You do need to get used to the functionality of the app and how to download, how to enable the maps, etc. But, I think the amount of downloads is only governed by how much space you have on your phone.

Takes a little getting used to , but for in the field scouting, I prefer the interface of Gaia to my Garmin units. Better topo and sat imagery. If I'm just slogging it through the dark timber at night and need to keep a close eye on my heading / GPS - I still prefer my Garmin Montana for that. Test before you go into the field by downloading maps, putting the phone on airplane mode and making sure it works and you know how to get what you need.

But, If you make a change and go to a new location without having maps downloaded and without cell service - you are SOL. I've never done an Alaska fly-in trip so that's never been an issue for me. But, you have me thinking if I did I'd want to have a Garmin unit along as a backup loaded with all the same Waypoints just in case. I do this with a Garmin watch now, but that'd be a pain in the butt as a primary GPS.
 
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Beendare

Beendare

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How about signal like say when you are in heavy timber or down in a canyon? Is it as good as the signal from a dedicated GPS unit like the Garmins?
 

Brendan

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How about signal like say when you are in heavy timber or down in a canyon? Is it as good as the signal from a dedicated GPS unit like the Garmins?

I've found no difference there. Signal is the same in my experience.

A couple of the key reasons for me. The topo and satellite maps are WAY better than my Garmin Montana. The iPhone screen and navigation is just that much better, and I use mine a lot for in the field scouting, looking for parks/openings, ridges, terrain features, etc. as opposed to just pure point to point navigation. And, I can load all my waypoints created in Google Earth or in Garmin Basecamp into Gaia. Just a note, you have to upload through the Gaia website and then sync your phone - you'll want to make sure you don't set the option to make everything public :D Also, I'm carrying my phone anyways as I use it for pictures, and it syncs with my Delorme Inreach for Satellite Text / Emergency / Weather Updates.

Downsides: Get a Lifeproof Case for your phone so you don't break it - needless to say it's not nearly as rugged as a Garmin. You need to have the maps pre-loaded. And - you're signing yourself up to bring a charger like a Dark Energy as opposed to more AA's that you can use with the Garmin if that matters. I think the Garmin does better on batteries if you want to leave it on tracking a route or something like that, but I do that rarely. I prefer the Garmin if I'm spending a ton of time staring at the screen trying to follow a bearing line in the dark (Example - there's one area in MT I hunt where I have to cover a mile in thick timber in the dark every morning to get to a ridge I want to start my hunt at. I spend a good portion of that mile staring at the screen of my Garmin so I don't veer off course in the dark stepping over deadfall. Gaia will work there, but for pure navigation I like the Garmin better)
 

ChrisS

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Thanks for the info. Do you use a lot of battery using your phone for gps?
If you're using it to create tracks and checking it every 5 minutes - yep. You can go through a full charge in a day or two. I use mine to locate myself, get a bearing to somewhere I want to go, and then navigate using a pin-on ball compass and a map. If you're judicious with the use, you can stretch a single charge out to a week or more.

One thing to be considerate of with an iphone is to keep it warm. I've found that the battery life on my 6s gets squirrelly when the temps are below ~20F or so. You can have 50% one minute and zero the next. Warm it up and plug it in to a power source (like a portable power pack) and it'll be back up to 50%.
 
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Beendare

Beendare

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Some good tips guys thx Chris and Brendon......I owe you one.

This system is not as intuitive as a dedicated GPS so it looks like I need to delve into it.

Have either of you guys or anyone used it as their stand alone unit in Alaska?
 

Blockcaver

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My experience is outstanding with GAIA. It worked on a NWT muskox hunt at 73* N last fall, just as it works in remote parts of BC, AZ etc. To see what you have in the phone as a base, as noted above, put your iPhone 7 in airplane mode. Scroll up to your Alaska hunting area. In Imagery and Roads your scale bar will read about 3/8" = 2 miles (zoom: 8:1) before "Fuzzing" or blanking out.......not very much detail. If you are on Wifi.......(or download the maps) you can tighten that up where 3/8" = 1000' (zoom: 12:1) up where I hunted on Alaska's north slope.......decent enough but not super resolution for extreme detail. Other more civilized areas I get resolution up to 3/8" = 20' (zoom:18:1).......just depends on what the aerials are I guess.

If you have a bunch of memory, download maps at max zoom (that doesn't turn fuzzy) for the area in question. Last year I was running on very limited memory on the old iPhone 5 and would download at lesser zoom. Worked OK but nice to have a new iPhone 7 with "unlimited" memory to save max resolution aerials that are available. I find saving maps is quick and simple and I believe GAIA doesn't duplicate any corner overlays so you aren't wasting memory on the phone. Also the use of the phone as the GPS becomes intuitive very quickly, you just get used to it and go. I can save and retrieve points and scroll around North America in seconds.....way better than any GPS I ever had.

I also have had the opposite experience with GPSs versus iPhones on toughness......never broken an iPhone (carried virtually every day of the year, in a pint freezer ziplock when hunting in the rain) but had 5 Garmin GPSs break (touch screen broke on the last one) or the screen malfunction (streaks with no data) through the years. YMMV
 

Titan

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I use GAIA on my iphone 6s. I also carry an Ampy battery backup just in case I somehow run the battery down. The app used to suck the battery down before you could airplane mode. Now I can use it for a couple days before needing to recharge.

You can store quite a bit of map info on your phone. I store one highly detailed map for the area that I know I will be going...then I make a couple giant, lower quality maps for "just in case" scenarios. I won't be able to see the detailed topo lines, but I can see landmarks and know where I'm going.

Just be sure to download the maps on Wifi. Your data plan will hate you otherwise.
 
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