I like my Garmin Oregon.
Posted by: yaknot on Oct-29-12 2:58 PM (EST)
I had it for three years now replacing an older Etrex. I've been a member of SAR now for four years and use my GPS quite a bit. Most California/Oregon (CORSAR) units use the 60 series. Not saying they're the best but they are a good unit. I like having a 1:24k map on the unit. I've been many searches where we didn't have good maps or simply walked off the map and had to rely on the GPS map.
I frequently use the navigate-to-a-destination feature even when ground pounding out on a search. It works like the car units but doesn't talk just beeps when coming to an intersection. It works great on a trail. I just set a way point and tell it to navigate on a trail. The GPS will tell me exactly how far I am from my destination and which way to go. You can also customize the data fields to give you whatever information you think is useful.
We wouldn't send a SAR team out without at least one GPS. Incident Command keeps track of the teams by having them give their GPS location. Also tracks are downloaded to a computer by the Search Mangers to determine how well an area was covered. Knowing how to use tracks not only can keeps you from getting lost but also save you lots of money when you drop a radio or a trekking pole since you can backtrack to find whatever you lost. Been there, done that.
It doesn't do you any good unless you know how to use the GPS. Learn about the different datums. The older maps use NAD27 and UTM so that's what we used until recently. All CORSAR units now use WGS84/UTM. Air units still use Lat/Long as well as cellphone companies (ping coordinates) but in a different format. It helps to be on the same page when giving coordinates. You don't want to find out that all that time trip planning was for naught when you used NAD27 instead of WGS84.
Use common sense with using the GPS and don't disengage your brain from the navigation problem. The GPS is just a great tool but isn't infallible. We have lots of call outs because people dumbly follow their GPS into remote logging roads and then can't turn around or get stuck.
SAR is now into the lost-hunter season (5 call outs in two days), next, the lost-mushroom hunter season (last year a group was lost for six days -- we started thinking alien abduction!) and after that is the lost-DIY-Christmas-tree-cutter season. We've been really busy with call outs lately plus quite a few evidence searches. We get called out on a lot of assists so you never know where you'll end up searching. You could end up bushwhacking on the coast in the dense coastal forest or up on the PCT up by Crater Lake in the snow.
I like to use Google Earth to plan trips and then copy the way points into my GPS.
Give Geo-caching a try. Lots of fun. I did it on lakes using my canoe.
It doesn't make sense to buy more than you need since the technology is constantly improving. There is a major upgrade coming in a couple of years using satellites having a stronger signal which will give an accuracy to a meter.
Check out some of the new units also have the Russian system on the GPS along with the US system.
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