Before you can start using your GPS receiver, you obviously need to give it some power. For portable GPS receivers, that usually means AA or AAA batteries. Manufacturers all give estimated battery lifetimes for their personal trackers, but the actual number of hours a GPS receiver will run depends on how it’s being used. For example, with the backlight on, battery life goes down because more power is consumed. In addition, what type of batteries you’re using can also make a difference. You can really get geeky with batteries and powering your GPS unit. If you get a charge out of electricity, you can google some nitty-gritty information sources that cover voltage, milliamperes, and GPS drainage rates. When you check these sources, you’ll run into mAh, which means milliampere-hours. Most rechargeable batteries like NiMH have the mAh rating printed on their label. This rating is the battery capacity. Typically, the higher the mAh number, the longer the battery will last.
After considering all the options, making your list, checking it twice, and finding out which personal GPS homing device are naughty and nice, you’ve finally come to that blessed event where you’re the proud owner of a GPS receiver. But before you step out the door for a 100-mile wilderness trek or cross-country road trip, intent on relying on your new electronic gadget as a guide, be sure spend some time getting to know your GPS receiver. A good place to start your GPS familiarization process is with the user manual. Many GPS receivers have a quick-start guide that gets you up and running in a matter of minutes. These guides are perfect for those impatient, got-to-haveit now people; however, I suggest that you also take the time to read the full user manual. Otherwise, you could miss out on some important information contained in the full user manual.
In addition to the user manual, this section will also help you become familiar with your GPS personal tracking device so you can get the most out of it. Obviously, because so many GPS receiver models are on the market, don’t expect to find detailed operating procedures for your specific model here: You need your user manual for that. What you can expect is basic information that applies to most GPS receivers, including some things most user manuals don’t mention. Based on a number of years of search and rescue experience, I can list numerous occasions when hunters and hikers thought that their GPS receiver was some kind of magic talisman that would prevent them from getting lost. And quite often when the search teams finally found them, they had no clue whatsoever how to properly use their GPS receiver. If you’re going to rely on a GPS receiver for navigating outside of urban areas, take the time to find out how to use it so the friendly, local search-and-rescue people don’t have to come looking for you. I’ll step off my soapbox now, thank you.