Let’s consider here for a moment that you aren’t familiar with what a GPS device/receiver is and what a snowshoer can do with one.
Basically, a GPS (global positioning system) device is a battery-operated handheld gadget that connects with a constellation of 27 Earth-orbiting satellites. The U.S. military developed and implemented this satellite network as a military navigation system, but later opened it up to anybody and everybody.
So, if a snowshoer was out and about in the wilderness, they could use a device to pinpoint their location on a map (the unit has its own set of maps included). The device connects with four or more satellites to provide the user’s location to within three meters. It’s very accurate. The GPS device also provides coordinates, which are excellent for locating a point on a map. It’s all very simple once you have the chance to test out a GPS device’s capabilities.
I believe snowshoeing with a GPS device is essential. Not only can a GPS device save your life, it’s useful in almost any situation. Of course depending on consumer electronics is not the best suggestion for anybody snowshoeing in the elements, I recommend bringing a paper map and a compass as back up. You never know when those store-bought batteries will run out of life and leave you in a situation of possible danger.
Oh yes, bring extra batteries too.
Snowshoeing with a GPS device can be fun as well. A “sport” called geocaching is an excellent way to get involved this winter with the outdoors and a snowshoeing group as well. Although geocaching is geared for summer fun, it can work in the winter as well (depending on the cache and where it’s placed).
For those of you new to geocaching…it’s more or less a treasure hunt with a GPS device. Snowshoers can visit http://www.geocaching.com and plug in a location to find the caches in your area. At that point, pick a cache and go. Remember to plug-in the coordinates into your GPS device and allow your device to help identify the easiest route to the cache.
Some caches are better than others. But, when visiting Geocaching.com, research the where, what, when, who and how. There’s nothing worse than looking for geocache only to be disappointed near the end of your hike and hunt. That would suck!
Geocaching can be fun if done with enthusiasm and a sense of adventure. Try it out. Go for it. But, you must have a GPS device to participate in a geocache adventure (a compass and a map would be very difficult, but if that’s what you prefer…by all means).
If you are in the market for a GPS device there are many to choose from. In my opinion, you have three brands to choose from: Magellan, Garmin and Cobra. Each brand has its pros and cons, but I will let you do the research and discover the wonderful world of GPS devices.
Here some Brands to check out:
You will probably spend anywhere from $100 to $500 for a GPS device. There are many to choose from and many offer a myriad of features, but I would suggest purchasing a device that has a built-in compass, mapping included (most do anyway), are durable for the outdoors (waterproof and shockproof), and WAAS-enabled. (This is just a few items to think about when shopping for a device.)
by Ryan Alford – Snowshoe Magazine