GAIA GPS | Plan, Get In, Get Out

I found this phone app quite helpful when exploring . . . more specifically when bikepacking in unknown areas. A dedicated GPS device would probably give better performance, but they can be rather expensive.

I have always had this app on my phone, along with another similar app. I don’t find myself using it very often. The phone is just not the right tool for many of the trips I do due to battery life and durability. Something that really shines with the Garmin GPSMAP 60 series devices. I currently own a 64st. In past years the topo was the best mapping resource for exploring but with the advance of Google Maps and other satellite data providers, the topo’s just don’t get updated often enough anymore, except when you’re out of range of woods roads and cell service then the topos are king, but then the cell phone is just not the right tool in those places. However with the cell antenna turned off, and just the GPS on, I’ve always been impressed by the battery life in phones. A setting that Google has made more complicated and cumbersome in recent years.

The Garmin GPSMAP 60 series are simply the best tool for exploring in remote places. Completely waterproof, usable while drenched, usable with gloves on, usable in freezing temperature, real buttons, no touch screen. Their newest one, the 66, has finally updated the screen to higher resolution! Once big issue with the Garmin units is updating maps is a very cumbersome process, if you want anything other than what Garmin provides.

Gaia GPS and similar programs like Backcountry Navigator have their place, especially with OpenStreepMaps that very often show trails that you won’t see mapped anywhere else. Their features are impressive and the ability to update is a big plus over the dedicated Garmin unit.

Thats been my experience.

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