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Uses and Applications of Portable GPS Navigation Off-Road Devices

written by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 5/29/2009

If you’re looking to take the road less travelled, a portable GPS navigation off road device would be a smart decision for keeping track of where you are and guiding you whether you’re still in a vehicle or out hiking. Learn more about the applications of GPS devices that are portable below.

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    GPS Navigation Off Road

    While portable GPS navigation off road devices are used primarily for recreationalists who want to get off the beaten path, they are also invaluable to folks who make a living out in the forests, deserts, and other vast tracks of uninhabited land in various capacities. There are a large number of portable GPS navigation models on the market that will cover a wide variety of purposes.

    The term off road mostly applies to being out on an old dirt road, the type of unmarked jeep trail or open terrain that only 4X4 vehicles and ATVs can handle. GPS tracking while on an off-road expedition is important especially when you’re looking for an unmarked fork in a road with many forks or of course in an emergency situation. In that case you have your portable affixed to your windshield or wherever you keep it on the dash to keep you abreast of your progress. Off road also applies to being out of the vehicle entirely, on a trail for instance with your portable in your hand or stowed in a pack. The handheld ones are really light and they even make these navigators small enough to be worn around your wrist now.

    Since portable GPS devices come with so many different features and capabilities this channel helps you decide what would be the best choice for you with the helpful Buyers Guide to the Best Portable GPS Navigation System. There are unbiased reviews for all the major models available right on this site.

    These devices are great for Geocaching, but you must find a model that is extremely accurate because finding an object in a very precise location is the objective when engaging in this technologically advanced form of treasure hunting. If you don’t know much about it and how popular it’s become, especially for the kids, read up on it in Meaning of Geocaching – Who Made Up That Word?

    Hand Held Portables for Way Off the Road

    Factors to consider when you’re using a portable primarily for out in the wilds on the trail are whether it’s small, lightweight, has a long battery life, and is durable and waterproof. You also want to make sure the screen is easy to read in the sun and that its user-interface is intuitive. Moreover, you’ll want to know that when you’re orienteering in the bottoms of high narrow canyons or in thick timber that you’ll be covered. Some receivers are better than others so check the reviews and specifications.

    Use your portable GPS navigation off road for all of your outdoor activities. This device is really handy when you’re huffing and puffing on, say, a long backpack trek. Everybody likes a little break once in a while ostensibly for the purposes of checking out exactly where you are on the portable GPS. It is a worthy excuse indeed.

    My climbing buddy has a Garmin eTrex® H which is one of the cheapest portables you can buy but it’s extremely effective, lightweight, durable and still works in deep timber. On 2 AA batteries, this model will last 17 hours which is ideal for long backpacking forays into the wilderness. You can operate the eTrex® H with one hand and the user interface is quite intuitive. We bagged a peak in winter on a two day trip when the temperature never rose above 10 degrees and had absolutely no trouble with it.

    Of course, the relatively low price of this particular eTrex® means you don’t get all the bells and whistles with this handheld but it gets the job done. The one serious drawback I find with any portable GPS device is that sometimes; when it tells you, for instance, that you still have four miles and 4000 feet of elevation to go in order to reach your destination that is information I would rather not know. Someday they’ll develop one that can sense a person’s mood and lie to them in order to foster optimism and a belief that we really are almost there.mt howe 021