We’ve utilized much fancier GPS units over the years, but we keep going back to the Garmin Foretrex series. These wrist mounted units seem to be the perfect size for us; large enough LCD to see basic navigation and weighing three ounces with the two AAA batteries. The 201’s performed pretty well, but the current 401’s ability to maintain a signal is amazing. We’ve had it keeping our tracks under the densest New Zealand beech forest and way down in some narrow spots of Southern Utah.
The units are also waterproof to a certain degree, making them ideal for paddling. On packrafting adventures, we’ll often upload way points for critical take outs or hazards. Having this info ‘heads up’ on your arm allows you to check progress while keeping your hands on the paddle. The small 100 pixel screen doesn’t allow for uploaded maps, but for our needs it is enough to have the UTM coordinates to pinpoint our location on a paper map. This is how we rolled in the craggy mountains of New Zealand earlier this year; the beauty of UTM really shows when using maps divided into one kilometer squares.The tracking features have allowed us to retreat back down our route from the day before…that is now hidden under a foot of new snow. And we’ve lost count of the how many times we’ve slowly picked our way from one way point to another in a whiteout (or watch on the screen as we aimlessly circle one). But the best is when you get home, plug in the 401 and upload the crazy track you just laid down through some new territory.
Matt & Agnes Hage | HagePhoto