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GPS Tracker for Backcountry Excursions

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by 25cschaefer, Sep 16, 2016.

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  1. 25cschaefer

    25cschaefer Member

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    I live in Northwest Montana and am planning a future hunt, but there is one big hang up, my wife.

    Being a competent woodsman and Nordic skier, living within walking distance of some of the best wilderness areas in the continental US, I am planning a solo, pack in, mid-winter wolf hunt. But, my wife is a little apprehensive - imagine that. She's worried I will get lost, eaten, injured, avalanched, or worse and the only way I can go is if she can monitor me.

    I have been looking online for "GPS" trackers and it seems most of them actually use cell phone towers to triangulate position. There aren't cell towers in any of the wilderness areas I've ever been in. The ones I have found that are true GPS seem to be; huge, expensive, short battery life, need a cell phone or computer to operate, or have more features than I need or want.

    I want a tracker that is:
    Light
    Water proof (or that will work through a small Pelican case)
    Simple (an SOS button would be okay)
    Battery efficient (I will be gone for 1-2 weeks)
    True GPS

    I'm looking for something that will update my position on a topo map every 10min to hour that my wife can see as it is happening. I'm not concerned about privacy.
     
  2. horsey300

    horsey300 Member

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    Having family in the types of areas you're discussing, I might suggest something a bit more old fashioned, long range 2 way radios and map skills have served search and rescue teams quite well through such terrain, if you two could set up checkpoints on a topo map and check in every few hours to confirm locations would leave you less stranded should something bad happen, contact the forest service and ask their advice. Your wife may not be able to monitor you on a screen but you and she should be able to communicate via repeater channels for close to 12 miles and (imo) be more equipped to contact rescue teams/ranger stations. GPS is great but for the reasons you listed, I would prefer a radio with extra batteries, we used them every place I worked for the state parks here and without repeater, we could still range several miles to hq and when fighting fires, they served much better for locating other units than a GPS could
     
  3. climbnjump

    climbnjump Member

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    Here you go: http://www.findmespot.com/en/

    It's satellite based and your wife can track you in real time if you'd like. I used one for several years and it worked great.
     
  4. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

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    That sounds like a perfect solution for the problem!
     
  5. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    Garmin Etrex

    http://g.factoryoutletstore.com/cat/1661/Garmin-eTrex-Handheld-GPS.html?cid=2887&chid=1600

    Quite affordable. I bought mine for duck hunting, finding ponds on the lease in the dark. One can punch in the coordinate and it will take you there. I use it mostly, now, in the boat. It's a good GPS for marine use, waterproof. These things are awesome for finding your way back to the boat ramp in the bay or finding a reef you have marked, even will lead you to said reef with multiple waypoints marked as a route. I've used 'em to get across the bay in the dark or the heavy fog, dodging obstacles and keeping me out of trouble. Only bother when you can't see well is making sure you don't run up on a crab trap float.

    I don't live near a wilderness area, but the etrex could handle that, too. :D I think the Spot is a good thing to get you out of trouble and if I were doing what you are doing, I'd seriously consider it. I know guys that do some serious off roading via motorcycle that have the Spot.
     
  6. X-Rap

    X-Rap Member

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    I can't think of an economical radio that would be reliable, I see endless worry and false alarms which search and rescue will not take lightly.
    There are a couple satellite based systems, I think one is based on subscription, the other is charged based on usage. It's been a while since I checked into them but it seemed like at least one system had limited text messaging.
    I have always done OK with defining an area and time in which I'd return and with the passing of every year cell reception has improved to the point that one can at least check in from select locations.

    Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk
     
  7. astocks2622

    astocks2622 Member

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    We use the Spot in our flight school airplanes. You can give anyone the device specific link to follow your progress. You can set it up to auto update our to just mark locations when you tell it. There is also SOS capability, and gives SAR your current coordinates. It is a subscription service though...

    Sent from my MotoG3 using Tapatalk
     
  8. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator Staff Member

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    I like the Delorme. You can even send satellite based text messages with it.
     
  9. Patocazador

    Patocazador Member

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    A GPS unit like McGunner described does not use cell phone towers. It uses satellites. Once you are familiar with its operation, it will work anywhere on earth if you have a view of the sky.
    You can purchase a topo map of the US that is fairly accurate and load it. Marine maps are also available.

    It will NOT send an SOS or a message. You have to be competent to get back on your own. If you want that capability, be prepared to spend a lot on a satellite phone or less on a simple SPOT SOS signal unit. These are available at Cabela's, WalMart, etc. for ~ $150.
     
  10. matrem

    matrem Member

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    I showed up at a large tract after dark several years ago that I'd never seen or set foot on.
    My Verizon phone was completely useless, but my Garmin E-Trex always knew exactly where I was. Made that trip far more enjoyable.
     
  11. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    Tell her she can find you like the Texas Rangers found the Comanches -- look for buzzards.
     
  12. X-Rap

    X-Rap Member

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    Doesn't sound like the OP has concerns about his abilities but his wife needs to know he's not down with a broken leg or something.
    Satellite is about the only option.
    Thankfully he wants to go in the winter so the bears will be down otherwise this thread could take a whole different turn.
    That said winter present some potential problems for satellite reception in the snow. For me the greatest anxiety while off the grid is having people down off the mountain freaking out.


    Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk
     
  13. 25cschaefer

    25cschaefer Member

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    The Spot Tracker looks like what I'm looking for, I don't know why Google didn't come up with that when I typed in "GPS tracker" but you guys got it. I'm a little turned off by the subscription part of it but I guess they have to pay for satellites somehow.

    Is there a place to rent something like this?

    I know a pilot, if he has one he might let me borrow it, maybe even air drop me lunch every day.

    Thanks guys and/or gals
     
  14. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    I just use a traditional GPS. I'd bought a good one and carry plenty of spare batteries. Based on my understanding of the SPOT devices they are OK for letting family track you and to notify rescue personal of your location, but probably not as good at getting you home. Perhaps a SPOT in addition to a GPS.
     
  15. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    How long are you going to be off the grid? It's only $10 for a month.
     
  16. Don McDowell

    Don McDowell Member

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    Get a set of the Garmin Rino gps. They will track one another, and will pin point the location when the radio transmits. They will work at 5 miles or more distance between.
     
  17. X-Rap

    X-Rap Member

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    For reliable 2 way communication and tracking ability for your wife back home there probably isn't a better option than this one.
    Radios and phones are to dependent on terrain. Having the month to month subscription option is pretty attractive and transmitting your position with transmissions as well as automatic tracking is pretty cool.
    I do a lot of solo activities from motorcycle touring, to back country hunting and fishing and as I get older i feel this is something I will be taking a close look at.

    http://www.inreachdelorme.com/
     
  18. grogetr

    grogetr Member

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    I used the spot tracker on a motorcycle trip to Alaska a few years ago and it worked great. You can have whoever you want be able to watch where your at and it can send pre determined messages for when you stop for the day or are taking a break. There is a sos button if you need rescued. I rented one for a month that way I didn't have to buy the unit or pay for a year subscription because I wasn't going to need it anymore. I can't remember where I got it but found it with google search. I think it came from Az.
     
  19. wilkinsonarms

    wilkinsonarms Member

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    I used the Delorme InReach on a motorcycle trip from the US to Chile. It worked well and I had no issues. However when I returned home I tried canceling a day after I got billed to a new credit card I didn't authorize (old one had been cancelled). They wouldn't refund the money which annoyed me.
     
  20. redbone

    redbone Member

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    Ham radio for me. Repeaters are almost everywhere. But that's another hobby.
     
  21. X-Rap

    X-Rap Member

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    Ham radio is interesting but all I've ever seen were fairly large and bulky and seemed like they worked off a long range principal.

    Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk
     
  22. redbone

    redbone Member

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    There are lots of small HTs (hand transceivers) available. The trick is to be able to hit a repeater with one. Here in hilly southern Indiana, I'm good for 10-20 miles max, but with mountaintop repeaters you may have more range. Check repeater locations for your area here:

    http://www.artscipub.com/repeaters/

    You have to be licensed, so it's not like just buying the gear. But the entry level license is not all that tough either.
     
  23. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I have a few fairly compact ham radios that are "pocket sized" but something like that Spot device would likely be a much better choice in this situation.

    It works with satellites orbiting the earth, not something placed on top of some surfaces. It obviously has very low power consumption, no need for a bunch of extra gear to keep batteries charged. He can be checked up on without having to call in. He and his wife also don't both need to get licensed to operate ham radios.
     
  24. redbone

    redbone Member

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    Jmorris: I agree, that's why I said "for me" - I'm already past the equipment and license obstacles and it's really just the luck of the draw on the repeater location, and constructing a modest antenna so as not to be limited by the rubber ducky. But on the other hand, if the OP is for some reason already interested in ham radio and is willing to get licensed (wife too), then it's a viable option. Lots of folks cruise the wilderness with 40 meter qrp cw rigs....

    The Spot is probably the best off the shelf option for someone needing a quick fix and who is willing to pay for it. Or just bite the bullet and spring for a sat phone, although the ones I've used are plenty heavy and bulky. But, the newer iridiums are smaller, lighter, and can be rented by the day, week or month at what seems to me to be a reasonable rate:

    https://www.spdirect.com/?matchtype...KnDOYUpMQXt0os17LcYL2xNcuaDz1lM1JYaAr0p8P8HAQ

    My wife has seen me come and go enough that she doesn't worry about it. I tell her generally where I'll be and when I'll be back. That's as good as it gets! She really gets the idea that there are things that one needs to worry about, and there are a lot of others that it just isn't worth it to get bent about.

    "Honey, I have a chance to go to the Himalayas for a few weeks."
    "Oh, that's nice. Where, exactly?"
    "Northern Pakistan."
    "But it's February."
    "You know I have the gear."
    "Who are you going with?"
    "A guy from Oregon."
    "Okay. Be careful."

    At the time, she was in Kabul and couldn't really say much. The only thing that she didn't like was that I couldn't figure out a way to swing by and visit while I was in the neighborhood. I'm a lucky man.
     
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