It’s important to be conversant with basic GPS skills

The basic GPS skills that every user needs to master before buying a handset are:

1. How to enter a waypoint: There can be nothing more tedious than punching waypoints one by one, manually. A better option is to either use a full keyboard or just copy paste from a website and then upload. You can also extract or download waypoints you have recorded on your journey and print them directly on a map. This will require software specific to your GPS.

2. Learn how to determine your position: Map reading is an important part of determining your position; the more detailed the map the more specific will be your reading. You can either use the internal map in the GPS handset to understand your location or you may do so by recording waypoints and then using an external map. If your handset shows maps, chances are it has simple maps loaded in it because of memory constraints. You can upload detailed maps, but you would need software specific to your brand of GPS and, you will need plenty of memory.

The maps that your find in Garmin's MapSource are functional but they are definitely not detailed. National Geographic has map software called TOPO that provides excellent topographic maps. But unfortunately these cannot be uploaded into GPS units because these units are not compatible with third-party maps. But there's a way out: use Gramin's software to download the recordings you made in the field; then transfer these coordinates to the National Geographic's software to produce a detailed map for your travel. The good thing is that National Geographic offers TOPO CDs by the state. So you only need to buy the CD you need. This makes TOPO quite inexpensive. You can also try packages for road maps such as DeLorme.

3. Learn how to navigate: If you're a new GPS user you must remember one thing: your handset is not like a traditional compass. You need to be moving for the GPS to help you. Begin by choosing your destination waypoint so that the unit knows which direction to look in; then simply start walking so that the system's navigation feature gets activated.

Along with location there are other interesting things that your unit can throw up. It can give you your altitude, the distance traveled, your speed and the track that you took.

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