So long as you have a smart phone (with GPS and Compass – be sure it does before you buy it!) you don’t need a Garmin or any other GPS device, and you don’t need to pay for any maps or Apps. You can organise your phone so that you need never get lost.
However you do need to download the particular area you want to explore onto your phone as an offline map before you venture out into the wilderness. You should try this with your home area first so that you are sure you know how it works, then with a different area you are also familiar with. You need to be sure of yourself and your phone.
You need the Google Maps App from the Play Store installed on your phone and when you are downloading the ‘map’ you need to be connected to the internet. When you open the Maps App you will see three parallel lines on the top left hand corner. Click on them. A menu will open. Scroll down to ‘Offline Maps’ and select that. At the top of the page you will see ‘Select Your Own Map’. Tap on that. A map of the world will open. (probably it will already be centred on the area you are in now). You can navigate to any area of the world you want to download. Google will tell you how much space on your phone the download will take up. Obviously you need to have the available storage. Click ‘Download’ to transfer the map selected to your phone. It will stay on your phone for a year. You have to refresh or ‘Update’ it before it expires. You have to be careful at this point that you are getting the map in the detail you need.
Now you can go offline. So you can turn off your Wifi and/or data and be in flight mode and still view the downloaded map. You just open the App, go to Offline Maps (as you did before) and select the appropriate map you want the phone to display. It will open. With ‘location’ selected, by pulling down the menu at the top of the phone, the phone’s GPS will locate your position on the offline map (by tapping on the round ‘location question mark’ icon below right, so you should never be lost again. You can view the Map as ‘Default, Satellite, Terrain’ etc by selecting from the menu icon on the top right hand corner of the map. BTW: You can tell your phone to default its ‘Location’ service to the phone’s GPS (rather than towers etc) if you are in a remote locale. This will save some battery usage.
I use this App all the time to navigate my way around the bush both in Victoria and in distant countries. We used an offline copy of all of Northern Scotland, for example. It works brilliantly when you have the map open (in offline mode).
It will even speak and tell you how to get ‘Home’ or to any described point just like Google online maps which you probably use in your car, but this still works when you don’t have any internet. It’s great for driving around in foreign countries where internet services are patchy or expensive.
Enjoy your journey.
PS: Be sure to close the App and turn off ‘Location’ and put your phone in ‘Flight Mode’ when you are not navigating as it will eat through your battery.
Please tell your friends.
TIP: You need to be sure that you have opened all the bits (they are technically called ’tiles) of the map you want before you download it, then after you have downloaded it you need to check (offline) that it is all there in the detail you want and need before you head off into the wilds. It takes a bit of practice to get all the bits you need downloaded in satellite view for example, but it is possible. I will update this post with more detail when I have time. I am busy preparing for a long trip at present.
PS: In satellite view you can see the topography. I have tried lots of other methods (See comments below) but this is the only method I know of which is free, accurate and up-to-date and which works everywhere in the world. Also, at least having to update your map each year ensures you have a current copy. Things change.
NB. Note the comment below from Scott. Hey Steve, I thought these downloadable maps might be of interest to you. A bloke on an Aussie hunting forum set it up for himself and then made it publicly available for free.http://www.getlost.com.au/downloads/ This bloke is certainly taking a big risk but it really does look as if he has posted eg all the Vicmaps to be downloaded for free. I haven’t yet checked whether they are Georeferenced and will work with your phone’s GPS but I suspect they are. My advice to anyone watching is ‘Get them while they are available!’ NBB: Be sure to switch on your VPN before you download them!