January 14, 2014 at 2:05 pm #12391Bill WertzParticipant
Hey there JMT hikers. Doing the JMT this September and want to know the consensus. Do you need a GPS device? If so which do you recommend? Also, if I take my iPhone to use instead of a specific GPS, how do you recharge it.
Thanks in advance.
BillyllwertzJanuary 20, 2014 at 11:41 am #12432Jeff HKeymaster
Bill, I would suggest that you NEED a compass and a set of good maps (and knowledge of how to navigate with these).
A GPS device is a “nice-to-have” but not a necessity, and should never be relied on as the sole resource for navigation. Having said that, I have taken both a handheld GPS (a Garmin eTrek HC) as well as an iPhone and can provide some feedback.
I brought the Garmin primarily for the purpose of recording the actual trip, not for navigation. I did not load any detail maps, and the default maps are pretty much useless (at least on the model I own). But it did record my tracks. Also, the batteries (2 AA) last about 22-24 hours, so you could probably get by with a couple sets of batteries per food drop (just remember to turn it off when not hiking).
NOTE: I learned (the hard way) that my Garmin had a limit to the number of points it could store, then it starts pushing the “older” points out of memory. When I returned home from the JMT, I found that I had only the last 3-4 days of the trip in memory. Everything else was “forgotten” (overwritten). Bummer.
As for the iPhone, this was actually handy. I brought a USB cable and small charger, and recharged it when I could (VVR for example). Then I kept it completely powered off most of the time. If I wanted a second opinion just to be sure I was on track, I had downloaded the Harrison JMT maps to my iPhone and the GPS would show my position on those maps. Not the most convenient (I had to power up the iPhone, which took a while) but handy when I used it (about 3-4x total).
I’ve seen guys bring Goal Zero solar chargers (seems to be the popular choice) but this adds weight. I’d only do this if you really had a lot of electronics that you needed to use (cameras, etc.).January 22, 2014 at 7:46 am #12440Bill WertzParticipant
Thanks Jeff for the insight. I was going to bring my phone anyway so I will more than likely not take a GPS. I found a hand crank charger system that only weighs 7.5 oz. I may try to use it more often if the charger works out okay.
Thanks for creating this site…really awesome.
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/brianlegge/soscharger-self-powered-iphone-and-smart-phone-chaFebruary 4, 2014 at 7:42 pm #12452Patrick NewellParticipant
No GPS needed. Leave the weight at home and enjoy studying the maps along the way. Of course pack a compass (with the knowledge of how to use one) but don’t bother with GPS unless you plan to hike off-trail. The JMT is wonderfully consistently marked by trail signs that you could almost hike it without a map.
Learn how to live and navigate without your electronic devices when on the trail. You will be proud of your abilities. Your choice to keep them with you for emergencies: a GPS waypoint will really help with a rescue, but with careful planning and good sense, you should never need a rescue.February 5, 2014 at 6:52 am #12453Jeff HKeymaster
Well said, Patrick. Thanks for joining the conversation!
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