You may have a viable option in your pocket right now.
Many smart phones have a GPS chip inside them and with the proper application you can use your phone as a GPS to do almost everything that a dedicated GPS unit does. There are hundreds of iPhone mapping/GPS applications to choose from, and new ones pop up every day.
We tested the ViewRanger application. The ViewRanger app is only $7.99 from the Apple App Store (ViewRanger also provides apps for many other smart phones including Android, Blackberry, and Symbian operating systems); and the map content is included (unlike Garmin’s proprietary mapping software, where you pay substantially for map content).
ViewRanger is designed for especially for outdoor enthusiasts and supports all the features expected of a high GPS device, including track recording, waypoint navigation, map coordinate entry and GPX file exchange. ViewRanger uses your smart phone’s connectivity to support map downloads, real-time phone-to-phone and phone-to-web location sharing, and wireless synchronization with a web based route planning and social media sharing tool.
Excellent map quality. The maps from ViewRanger have the highest quality topographic mapping information that we’ve seen. These maps can be downloaded when in cell range and then cached for offline use.
GPS Accuracy – Accuracy of the app on an iPhone4s compared to a Garmin GPSmap60CSx was surprisingly good. The ViewRanger app and Garmin data were within several meters of each other.
Battery drain. ViewRanger, and most other GPS apps, drain your batteries very quickly. In our tests we found that ViewRanger will use about 10% of battery life per hour, with all other functions turned off. The single worst feature about ViewRanger is the battery issue.
For day rides where you can easily recharge your phone ViewRanger is an excellent tool, however for extended backcountry trips you’ll find that the drain is so severe that it doesn’t allow you to fully use all of the capabilities of the software, which is unfortunate because the maps are wonderful.
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