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Alternatives for tracking your ride – other than your phone’s GPS!

When you start heading out on longer trail rides, it’s time to consider alternatives to your phone’s GPS

Here’s the issue: Most tracking apps like Equilab, MapMyRun, HorseGlobe, etc (there’s a pretty good list here) all use your phone! What a great way to drain the battery and then find yourself panicked because you don’t have enough juice on your phone to power the emergency phone calls you need to make.

When you are heading out on long trail rides, it is important to have the right gear with you. A lot can happen away from the barn. 

Preparing for the unexpected is essential.

I usually ride on trails that are close to home. I am blessed with over 100 km of forest trails at my doorstep. However, from time to time, I ride on trails that I don’t know, far from home and on those rides, I’d rather keep my cell phone as my ultimate backup in the case of an emergency.

I am here to tell you that there are options! Your phone can and should be used when needed, but you should consider a separate gadget to help you navigate and track your rides. Furthermore, GPS devices are more accurate than cell phone tracking. 

So save your phone battery for the right occasion and consider one of these two options!

Here are 2 great options to keep track of your rides without using your phone.

GPS Watches

Quality GPS Watches like my Garmin Vivoactive 4S are great for tracking activities.

Pros:

  • The battery lasts several days!
  • You can download the maps directly onto your device to help you navigate.
  • The GPS is integrated into the watch so you don’t need your phone to be on to use it.
  • Live tracking notifies your chosen contacts when you are starting an activity and autodetects falls and notifies your contact in the event of an emergency.
  • Most are waterproof

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Small screen to view maps

Handheld GPS

Handheld GPS devices are small, compact, and rugged. They are used by hiking enthusiasts and hunters alike. 

Pros: 

  • The battery lasts several days or weeks
  • Large screen to view maps.
  • Independent GPS
  • Waterproof

Cons:

  • A bit bulky
  • Needs to be stored in your pocket or bags
  • Pricy

While researching this blog post, I also came across the Garmin inReach Mini. It is really just a mini messaging unit that allows you to send messages through GPS when cell towers can’t reach you with navigation help tacked on. The battery lasts 14 days and allows you to share your location and contact an emergency center 24/7 with two-way messaging. This is definitely for those who ride out for days with no cell tower or person in sight!

For the backyard rider, your phone may be enough, especially if its battery lasts your 1-hour ride. 

For those who head out for several hours or love to cut new trails in the wilderness, additional navigation help that doesn’t depend on your phone is not only a good idea, it’s smart.

Do you ride with additional electronics as an alternative to your phone’s GPS to keep you safe?

I’d love to hear all about it below!

Looking for more information on the handheld GPS? The following resources can help you out.

https://gearjunkie.com/technology/gadgets/best-handheld-gps

https://www.switchbacktravel.com/best-handheld-gps

https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/gps-receiver.html

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