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Discussion Forum - Gear ! - GPS: handheld, watch or smartphone?

Author: Mark Webb
Posted: Sun 5th Jan 2020, 11:05
Joined: 2019
Local Group: Norfolk & Suffolk
In the past I've recommended the Toughphone Defender Pro which I've been using for the last 3 years, It's a great phone but I recently broke the screen and battery fixing so it's no longer waterproof, so useless for hiking and wild camping. I've had to buy a new phone and have purchased the new Ulefone Amor 3W reviewed here: . It was cheaper and has a much longer battery life. I've been very impressed so far, the GPS is quick and it was fast to sort and add the 1/50,000 OS (for the whole of the UK) mapping that I use. It even transferred all the saved routes from my old phone. I will keep updating the above review of the phone as I test it and learn more.
I couldn't think of doing any of the walks I've done without one of these rugged waterproof phones. Cape Wrath Trail in 2017. TGO Challenge in 2018, LEJOG+ 3 Peaks in 2019 and Scottish National, Pennine Way and Skye Trail planned for 2020. wildwalkinguk
Author: Paul Green
Posted: Wed 6th Nov 2019, 19:08
Joined: 2019
Local Group: Cornwall & Devon
Been using my smartphone.....but thinking of getting a Fenix.

Thoughts appreciated?
Author: Mark Webb
Posted: Tue 21st May 2019, 8:01
Joined: 2019
Local Group: Norfolk & Suffolk
I have all the Uk OS Landranger 1/50,000 maps (which I did have to buy £60) loaded on my Tough Phone Defender Pro.
This phone works when there is no phone signal. It is a totally independent GPS so links to the maps to show me where I am, any where in the Uk.
I have walked LEJOG this year without needing paper maps. It was also great on the Cape Wrath trail in 2017 and the TGO Challenge 2018.
Having the Phone, GPS and Camera in one unit has been a revelation, It has saved me days of walking on the above walks and reduced the stress when walking so remote.
Highly Recommended.
Author: Helen Abbott
Posted: Sat 18th May 2019, 10:15
Joined: 2010
Local Group: Thames Valley
Also the £25 subscription Viewranger OS mapping mentioned here can be downloaded for use offline, as much as needed for any given walk.
Author: Tim Bedwell
Posted: Sat 11th May 2019, 8:57
Joined: 2016
Local Group: Surrey
Not sure what the mobile signal is like around the HH route. With a smartphone most apps would require a data connection to show the maps. You ideally need an phone/app that has inbuilt gps that works with offline maps. I use a garmin etrex, so not best qualified to make a recommendation as to what app would be best. You probably just need to make sure that you choose an app that lets you download the maps you will need in advance.
Author: Andrew Beck
Posted: Fri 10th May 2019, 21:20
Joined: 2017
Local Group: Thames Valley
From the sound of your requirements I think a cheap smartphone with GPS capabilities would be best.

The reasoning for this that your usage pattern does not really justify spending a lot of money and if you don't get on with it then it's not a lot invested and you can still use it as a phone.

You can get free apps like Viewranger that will show you a free map based on Openstreetmap (which is quite good, though you could spend the £25 extra to get all Ordnance Survey for a year)
It will also show the GPX route on the map (plus much more if you want it)

There are also free apps for Smartphones like "Here" that will act as turn by turn car navigation.

You can get a phone with GPS as cheap as £15 (plus £10 of air time) like
Note I've not tried this phone, it's bottom or the range so it might be slow but you could probably go in to your local Vodafone shop and have a play with it.

You could pay more money for a GPS unit likely a Garmin and then use Openstreetmap based maps like TalkyToaster map to keep the cost down, but they are usually bulkier than a phone.

Yes there is factor of batteries for the Hundred but from you description on your use case is that you could keep the phone turned off until you really need it (then turn it on and wait for GPS lock, use it and then turn it off again) and you would not be using this device to meet the mandatory kit requirements (you would still have the paper maps,etc )

At such low cost, it is a gentle introduction to Tech.
Author: Don Arthurs
Posted: Fri 10th May 2019, 8:30
Joined: 2017
Local Group: Kent
In addition to the GPS response in your post to the Hundreds forum

For car navigation the typical handheld or watch has no voice function, so would require you to be constantly checking the screen which is a big no (though a passenger could do it for you). Short of a dedicated car satnav your best hope would be your phone with some navigation software and voice function.
Author: Simon Pipe
Posted: Fri 10th May 2019, 0:24
Joined: 2006
Local Group: Bristol & West
In response to my own post: I am accepting I should also have some sort of satnav in the car. Will any of the hiker's devices - watch, handheld GPS or smartphone - help me get to my event in the first place?
Author: Simon Pipe
Posted: Fri 10th May 2019, 0:21
Joined: 2006
Local Group: Bristol & West
I give in. I cannot concentrate on an RD for long periods these days and need technical help. Could someone provide some human help to get me started, please?

Should I buy a watch such as Forerunner 245, or a handheld such as Garmin 64; or get mapping on a smartphone?


I'm not well off, but have just come into a little money and this would be an appropriate way to spend it. I don't want top-end stuff that will play music or send a drone to fetch a pizza without me even having to ask.

I'm a runner. I've never checked heart rate or any of that fancy stuff - I often don't time runs and don't know how far I've gone - but I'd like to be better and a watch would help. The only races I do are fell races: no GPS allowed.

I can't afford a really fancy watch with maps: so it would be breadcrumb trail. I can't imagine what it's like to follow one but people seemed to do okay on the Oxon 40/20.

I really don't like tech, and I need to be taught stuff: I can't get started on my own.

I don't like wearing watches. I guess I could put up with it, or keep it in a pocket.

I only do four of five LDWA events per year, so I'm not interested in buying electronic maps of the whole UK. If you don't do this, is the Garmin 64 not so good?

I don't have a decent smartphone and can't invest in one in time for the Hundred, because work might buy me one - but again, not in time. But it's a possibility for later, which might mean a watch is best for now, with the prospect of smartphone mapping later.

Garmin 64 looks good but quite chunky: I tend to do LDWA events wearing an Ultimate Direction running vest, and there's not a lot of spare room for a Garmin.

I do not want lots of data to obsess over: it's not good for me.

I'm happy with an RD most of the time but on a Hundred, I will have a confused period and get lost, maybe losing half an hour. I like to use RD and paper map together.

Hoping for kindly advice.


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