Smart phone vs gps

flatlander51

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May 20, 2012
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Maryland
I'm planning on useing my smartphone this year as my gps but my partner will be carrying a gps as a back up. Anyone have any experience with this? I'm also looking for a solar charger if anyone has any experience.

My phone can also couple as a back up flashlight, camera, video cam, compass, and note pad. And only wieghs 7oz
 

hflier

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Mar 18, 2012
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Tulsa, OK
Yes, your battery will go dead in record time. Would be OK for a day trip. Thats it.
 

miller1

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Feb 26, 2012
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Michigan
smart phones work awsome for this but the battery life will be very short lived especially if you start using the other fetures you mentioned,
 

Goober

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Central Wisconsin
Goal Zero Guide 10 is what I use and love it. No issues. They make bigger and smaller depending on your needs. Brutally tough so far, and packs nicely. I literally take that thing everywhere with me now. The only device I do not have rehcargable batteries in is my SPOT, it requires Lithium ion batteries to run.
 

a3dhunter

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Colorado Springs,CO
I used backcountry navigator and found that you had to download the area map before you lost service and even then, when you tried to zoom in to where you were at, past 15x zoom the maps would have full tiles that would not load. Thus making the topo have full squares that were just grey.
If you aren't looking for detail, and just want to know what drainage you are in, it will work but don't expect to be able to zoom in and check for near by benches, or springs, etc....the detail just isn't available like it is on a regular gps.
 

Curtis C

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Mar 1, 2012
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Colorado Springs, CO
A smartphone will work great for a note pad and good for pics or video. Other than that you wont get much from it when outside cell range. I'd take whatever money you planned to spend on a solar charger and buy a gps if a gps is what you want.

C
 

Brandon Pattison

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Michigan
Goal Zero Guide 10 is what I use and love it. No issues. They make bigger and smaller depending on your needs. Brutally tough so far, and packs nicely. I literally take that thing everywhere with me now. The only device I do not have rehcargable batteries in is my SPOT, it requires Lithium ion batteries to run.

Nice, it doesn't seem to be too heavy. I would like to try one out some time. What devices have you used it with, pros and cons?
 

Becca

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Wasilla, Alaska
We have a gps we like so we haven't tried that function, but have been experimenting with downloading audiobooks to the iPhone. Nice to have something to listen to in the evenings, or if weathered in the tent during bad weather. Also download a few ebooks just in case of days and days of bad weather. Turned off phone and wifi, and got 8+ hours of playback time with no issues. I did power off the phone whenever not in use, and kept the screen off as much as possible when playing audio. I can get a full recharge of the iphone with our solio solar charger, and can recharge the solio in a day if the sun is out (claim 48 hours if overcast but haven't tested that).
 

Jon Boy

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Paradise Valley, MT
What GPS apps are you guys running on your smart fones? And do they show public/private land? Not the greatest option for the back country but I can think of a few spots that have good service where this would be helpful.
 

larryschwartz

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Annapolis, MD
I use Backcountry Navigator that a3dhunter mentioned. As he said, you can download the maps for the area you will be in BEFORE you go there so that signal isn't an issue. Also, it does not need your phone to have phone signal as it can "talk" to the GPS satellites directly using your phones GPS receiver. The latest version is also supposed to help with the gray tile issue he mentioned.

As far as being able to see detail on a GPS, I still prefer to have a map with me when I want to look at the surrounding area or look at details like where draws/saddles/springs and so on are. The GPS is nice to show me where I am on the map, but I don't like to depend on it as my whole/sole navigation solution/tool.

And finally, there are some neat stoves out there, like the BioLite, that use thermo-electric generator (TEG) technology to convert the heat energy from your stove into electricity that can be used to charge or power personal electronics. They are a nice alternative to solar panels since they work when it is overcast and you are going to be boiling water anyway. The BioLite is a wood burning stove with the TEG attached to it so you would need wood instead of isobutane cannisters. There are also pots with the TEG built into them that you could use on any stove.
 

Sonoran

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May 29, 2012
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Flatlander I use my iPhone as a gps and it has alwasy worked perfectly for me here in the soputhwest. I carry a new trent IMP charger that will fully charge the phone up to 4 times. The nice thing about these chragers is you can charge your phone while on the move easily and they are prettly light weight. I use the "topo maps" porgram and load all maps ahead of a trip. This program has continuous running UTM location and will also show you where you are on a 7.5 min quad. I don't generally leave the phone on full time and just fire it up when i need to confirm where I am. I always carry a map and compass as well. I have been using this in leiu of a dedicated GPS for the past few years and while it may not get satelite triangulation as fast it is a weight saver and the smartphone performs many more functions than a dedicated GPS.
 

In God We Trust

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May 2, 2012
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Lakewood, Colorado
I don't get service the majority of the time in the back country here in Colorado. I use a GPS, I know it will work and batteries last a long time plus replacing AA batteries is easier than carrying a solar charger for your phone. I keep my phone off so it will be charged in case I need to call 911.
 

Rizzy

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Idaho
I have been trying to get the trimble navigator to work with no luck so far, i would 't recomend it
 
OP
flatlander51

flatlander51

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Maryland
Sonoran do u typically have service where u hunt or does it work without as long as u download the maps ahead of time?

If u turn ur phone on airplane mode it will not constantly search for service and last twice as long.
 

rye_a

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Apr 23, 2012
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Colorado
I don't get service the majority of the time in the back country here in Colorado. I use a GPS, I know it will work and batteries last a long time plus replacing AA batteries is easier than carrying a solar charger for your phone. I keep my phone off so it will be charged in case I need to call 911.

X2. I do have a simple GPS program on my phone that will give me my UTM coordinates in the event that my dedicated GPS dies, but for the most part I use a true GPS unit rather than dealing with charging, etc.
 

wyelkhunter

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Mar 14, 2012
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Kinnear, WY
My phone in airplane mode lasts just as long as a regular gps does with batteries. Pre-download your maps and you are good to go. It is all personal choice. My phone isn't quit as accurate as my gps but close enough for what I do.
 

Pueblo

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Mar 12, 2012
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Damascus, OR
My iPhone 4 does not have GPS service on Airplane mode. Like Sonoran, I just turn it off to save battery. If I really need GPS, which turns out to be almost never, I turn it on, wait for a signal and use my pre-loaded topo maps. I use the "Topo Maps" app too, very cheap to buy and unlimited free maps that can be downloaded as either hi-res or low res. I've gotten to the edge of signal and been able to get a low res map downloaded via 3G in a pinch, but I'm pretty good about getting all the maps for my area loaded as hi res nowadays. These are USGS 1:24,000.
 
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