Getting Started with GPS

Head out for a walk in the woods and take your GPS for a spin. 

Now that you’ve selected the right GPS unit for your needs, it’s time to get acquainted. GPS devices vary, so the best way to get comfortable with your specific unit is to review the user information that came with it. But there are some general tips that can help you get the most out of the unit you’ve chosen:

Take your time. Make time to use and get to know your unit before you need it for a forest management activity. Change the settings to suit your preferences, and bring it along for a test run during a short walk in your woods. Along the way, practice creating new waypoints, tracks and routes to learn the unit’s capabilities and quirks.

Use only what you need. Your unit’s screen settings and extra features, such as electronic compasses or barometers, can sap its battery. Keeping your screen as dim as is comfortable for you and turning off features you’re not using at the moment will help you stay powered up longer while out in the woods.

Be prepared. Sometimes GPS units run out of battery or can’t get a good satellite signal. No GPS unit is perfect or failure-proof, so bring along an old-fashioned compass and paper map too when working in your woods, just in case.


Seek out help when you need it. If you get stuck, know there’s plenty of help available. Your local extension service or family forester can help answer your questions about using GPS in your woods. Many local extension services even offer classes, pamphlets and online guides to help you find your way.

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