Author Topic: GPS navigation apps/info?  (Read 2115 times)

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Offline MrBent

GPS navigation apps/info?
« on: January 21, 2022, 05:21:02 pm »
Hey, riders:

Doing my homework for an attempt on the GDMBR this August.  I've got both RidewithGPS and the ACA app on my phone.  Any preferences/opinions/insights as to what to use? I'm leaning towards the ACA app as it lines up well with the paper maps, which we have, but I've yet to purchase the ACA app maps.  Any experiences with the ACA?  We'd like to go with phones if possible instead of adding another piece of gear.


Offline aggie

Re: GPS navigation apps/info?
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2022, 06:58:55 pm »
I just downloaded the ACA GDMBR route on their app for my IPhone.  There are sections of the GDMBR without cell service and I'm not sure how the app works without cell service.  I know I will have to carry a battery to charge my phone battery.  I also downloaded the Ride with GPS GDMBR map to use on my garmin.  It is about 4 years old so not sure how many changes have occurred on the maps since then.  I plan on having all three with me when I do the route later this year (June?).

Offline HobbesOnTour

Re: GPS navigation apps/info?
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2022, 07:38:58 pm »
The GDMBR is bumpy and remote - two words that don't complement a phone as a navigation tool. The scenario of a nasty fall, a phone in a vulnerable position broken beyond use and no way to call for help or navigate is not pleasant.

Think of battery life and trying to charge the phone from a powerbank on the move. The phone connections aren't designed for that type of abuse.

Sorry! I know you didn't ask about that.

If you have the paper maps can you not make a RWGPS route and follow that? The paper maps and app maps should have the same info (stores etc.) no? It may be worth checking out if the app reflects any updates to the maps.

I tried one section (I think) on the ACA app on the Atlantic coast route. It was no good when I had to go off route because of bad weather.
For the uninitiated it's very simple - I can see where I am, where I'm going and what stores etc. are nearby.
I preferred my gps unit.

There was a sample map included when I downloaded the app to see what it looks like. Have you looked at that?

I know RWGPS will show elevation profiles I can't recall if ACA app did that.

A lot of these things are down to personal preferences.

Again, I'd urge you to have a good think about using a phone as a primary navigation device on such a route.

Good luck!

Offline Iowagriz

Re: GPS navigation apps/info?
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2022, 07:43:13 pm »
I've ridden parts of Montana with maps and basic bike computer. Also rode it with GPS on phone in airplane mode. Both work equally well. The GPS is nice to confirm you are on the correct route. Phone is fine, I rode with it in my jersey pocket. It can be a pain to unlock and view each time, but you get used to it.

Sent from my SM-N975U using Tapatalk

Offline OHRider

Re: GPS navigation apps/info?
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2022, 11:03:53 am »
I purchased the paper maps and then created RWGPS routes from those for my San Diego to El Paso trip last fall.  Creating the RWGPS routes really helped to understand the route- especially looking carefully at the distances between water and camp or hotel sites.  Generally I used my Garmin 830 for directions but there were so many long sections without turns that I often didn't even turn the routing option on.  I do find that the phone is very helpful when you have a lot of turns and want to see the route better.  I guess, to summarize, I use all options.

One thing that was a lot of work to create was a map table showing distances between campgrounds / cities / hotels. I was able to look at this on Google Sheets on my phone.  Just a nice to have and definitely overkill.  See attached screenshot.

Note that on RWGPS you need to download all the maps to the phone before leaving on the ride. This gives you access to the local roads if you don't have cell service.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2022, 11:44:23 am by OHRider »

Offline ray b

Re: GPS navigation apps/info?
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2022, 02:05:03 pm »
Any preferences/opinions/insights as to what to use? ... We'd like to go with phones if possible instead of adding another piece of gear.
All the thoughts above are good.

I spent a couple months doing the GDMBR this summer past. In addition to paper maps, ACA phone app on my Samsung Note 8, and ACA GPS on my small-screen, Garmin Etrex 22x, I also carried a small Surface Go2 tablet. 

I used them all for different purposes. The Etrex 22x kept me on track. En route, the phone came out to update me on estimated distances and travel times to various services. In towns or crossroads with cell signals, I'd take the phone out of battery-saving airplane mode to click and make calls directly to businesses listed in the ACA app. The big maps were great at the beginning and end of the day to review the big picture, which somehow, always sticks in my mind better when using big paper. The computer/tablet also provided additional mapping capabilities, but a free state highway map might have done the same thing for about the same weight. For one of the updates to avoid logging, I used by RWGPS and a direct download to the Garmin. My preference was for the Garmin, but I could have gone either way.

Did I have a preference at the end of the trip? Well..., no.

If I had to pick only one, then I would still go with paper - less risk of malfunction. 

If I was in a hurry (as you will likely be with an August departure) and had to shed weight, I'd probably go with the GPS, using paper as a back-up.

We all feel the need to carry a phone - so I'd have no problem using the ACA app in navigation mode on my phone as primary - and have done so on road trips (such as the Lewis and Clark) with the phone firmly attached to my stem with a motorcycle-quality mount.... Hobbes' comments on problems mounting a phone for the GDMBR are on the money. Presumably, once shock-proof phone-mounting systems improve, Frontpack improves the platform for ACA maps, and power management for phones improve, we'll all be using the ACA phone app. Right now - not quite ready for prime-time in the back country.

“A good man always knows his limitations.”