Adventures With Lloyd

on CanoeCanadaEast.Com

Gear and Kit



GPS compasses are the new toy on the block in the world of navigation. They have allowed the tech savvy people of the world to go geocaching and find fast food restaurants without having to learn anything about navigation. They are used in numerous industries and have limitless applications. The only issues I have with GPS handhelds are; the fact that you need batteries, the incompatibility of water and electronics, and the fact that the US government reserves the right to deny GPS to anyone at any time. The Europeans are now working on a GPS grid independent of the US system that may prove more useful to the average person though, and this is good news for GPS owners. All GPS systems that I have seen come with a warning that they are not to be used as a primary means of navigation and that is a bit scary. When the company tells you, "don't rely on my product", what message does that send?



I use a Lowrance I finder, the exact same thing as the Silva Atlas. Lowrance doesn't make many handhelds, but instead makes GPS units for aircraft and ships and mainly sells sonar fish finders. This is the company that supplied equipment for the scientists that went looking for the Loch Ness monster in 1987. The handhelds they do produce are very good. Silva, the leading name in navigation since the 1930's also

sells this unit. Lowrance is quite friendly with its customer service policies, there are on line reports of tech specs being given so people could make it work with Linux, and shipping replacement parts free of charge. The best thing though is the price. For under $200 you get an SD card expandable GPS unit that is world class. The closest comparable Garmin or Magellan will be double that price.



My friend Tim uses a Magellan. It does almost everything that mine will do with the added bonus of being able to add geocaching waypoints in bulk through a USB connection. The Magellan series are all waterproof and theoretically they float, but I have not seen this tested yet. For our purposes the GPS is used more often to keep track of distance traveled in the canoe, marking campsites so they can be found in the dark, and geocaching more so than any exploration of unknown lands. They are a good piece of kit but have limitations. Tim's new one has an all color display.



Garmin is probably the most popular of the GPS brands. They are solid units too and are available with every bell and whistle you can think of. The Rino series is coupled with a two way radio transmitter receiver so you can talk with your canoeing buddies across the lake and even send them your location or receive theirs. This is a great idea when you are independently looking for campsites or inadvertently get separated. The only issue then becomes that everyone in your group has to be using Garmin Rinos to take advantage of this feature. On the positive side they do still communicate with normal walky-talkies so at least they can serve a dual function.

Silva Guide

It is pretty hard to beat the magnetic compass and a map. Silva also is the industry leader in magnetic compasses. Mine is a Guide 426 and is worth about $20. Silva has numerous models from military models to school orienteering uses. The Guide model is a general all around compass. Most compasses are not completely accurate. Silva says that they guarantee theirs for plus or minus two degrees.

This doesn't translate into much error on shorter trips. The declination of magnetic from true north must be set locally as magnetic north wanders continually from the north pole. Compasses may be thrown off by metal that is nearby but do not require batteries or special waterproofing. They are absolutely necessary on most longer trips and will never be replaced by GPS totally.


Back to Gear and Kit