How to Use a Handheld GPS System

How to Use a Handheld GPS SystemIn 1993, navigation changed forever. With the official launch of the new Global Positioning System, navigating to any point on the earth became possible. Equipped with a handheld GPS system, a user can receive accurate information that can guide him through darkness or bad weather to his intended location. In addition to civilian uses, GPS systems help save lives and enable maritime and aviation operations around our planet.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Handheld GPS unit
  • Topographical map
Step 1
Allow the GPS to find the navigation satellites after powering up the unit. This may take several minutes, especially if you have traveled to a new location with the GPS turned off. Monitor the "Satellite Info" page to check on the satellites' status.
Step 2
Get familiar with the "Breadcrumb" feature. With the unit powered up, take a short hike. Look at the screen and you will notice small dots that show the exact trail you just traveled. Simply reversing direction and following the "Breadcrumbs" will take you back to your original location.
Step 3
Enter a waypoint into the GPS for somewhere you wish to visit. Find this waypoint in the "Find Waypoints" menu and press "Enter". Choose the "Go To" option on the "Waypoint" page. The GPS will now provide directions that will take you directly to this location.
Step 4
Try the high-tech treasure-hunting game called Geocaching. Log on to the Geocaching website and find a geocache near you. Enter the latitude and longitude into your GPS as a waypoint. Choose the waypoint as described above. Navigate to the geocache and find the hidden container.
Step 5
Determine your exact latitude and longitude. In case of an emergency or in order to tell someone how to find you, choose the "GPS Info" page on your GPS. Read your exact location in latitude and longitude from the first box on this screen.

Tips & Warnings

A Garmin Emap was used for this "How To". Consult the users' manual for exact instructions on how to use your brand of GPS.
Always carry a map and a compass for backup in case the GPS fails.
Carry reserve batteries.

Article Written By Daniel Ray

Daniel Ray has been writing for over 15 years. He has been published in "Florida Sportsman" magazine. He holds an FAA airframe and powerplant license and FCC radiotelephone license, and is also a licensed private pilot. He attended the University of South Florida.

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