Apparently The Best GPS For Geocaching Needs These Six Features…
I came across this article on the fairly reliable booshnews.com recently. It does come across a little as an advert for the Garmin GPSmap 478, especially as no other GPSr’s are mentioned…and it’s an article about buying your first GPSr and what to look for.
The article suggests six features and it’s hard to disagree with its fairly conventional wisdom. But when I examined my Blackberry Bold 9000, my main and first GPSr, I found it didn’t entirely match the advice.
1. WATERPROOF – Irregardless of whether you are a city geocacher, a camping geocacher, or a rugged trekker, you can be sure that your GPS unit will be exposed to some unexpected water in the form of rain, puddles, creeks, and rivers. This is especially true if geocaching will be family activity where young members of your family will be handling the device.
Well, the Blackberry is not waterproof. Strike One.
2. RUGGED – It is essential that you choose a device that can withstand repeated blows, dropping, and banging around. Make sure that the housing is strong and durable. Think about where you will be using it. No doubt, you will be going through brush, crossing different forms of water, climbing over rocks, and following the way points through dense forests. You will fall, and the device will either be dropped or fall with you.
Um, nope, the Blackberry is not rugged. Strike Two.
3. GOOD CONTRAST DISPLAY SCREEN – Some of the models do not have display screens that can be read in bright sunlight. You do not want to have to put the unit under a bush or your shirt in order to read it. Also, the screen is easy and simple to use, and again this is especially true if young members of your family will be learning and enjoying this wonderful outdoor hobby with you.
Finally, a hit! The Blackberry has an excellent colour screen that auto-adjusts to the amount of light meaning always perfect contrast.
4. LONG BATTERY LIFE – The one you should settle on should have at least a ten-hour battery life. If this type of unit does not fall within your budget requirements, then get one that lets you take lightweight extra batteries.
Running the GPS on the Blackberry does suck the juice and on long caching trips I tend to use a back up GPSr to save my battery. Strike Three.
5. LIGHTWEIGHT – Try to keep the unit you buy at no more than 8 ounces, and see that it is tiny enough to easily fit into your top shirt pocket, a jeans or jacket pocket, or will easily slip into one of your backpack side pockets.
The Blackberry is light as a feather. Another Hit!
6. KEEPS GOOD SIGNAL – Check reviews in geocaching forums or ask the sales clerk how the various units you are considering hold the signal under heavy tree and cloud cover and under tall buildings. There is not much worse that losing your signal when hot on the trail of a targeted cache.
And to finish on a good note, the Blackberry has excellent signal, better than other GPS’r I’ve used.
So the Blackberry ends with Three Strikes and Three Hits. Not really a great score for convincing anyone to buy a Blackberry for geocaching right? No. Yet I’ve had such a great time with it and can’t imagine geocaching without it. Why? Because whilst the Blackberry might not initially be rugged, waterproof and have a long battery life it can be made all of these things.
To take care of the rugged and waterproof you can get various otterboxes that provide varying levels of protection for your precious Blackberry. I use the Defender:
From the otterbox website:
Three layers wrap your phone in pure, 100% guaranteed PROTECTION. A thin, Thermal-Formed sheet covers your screen and keys. Next, a strong Polycarbonate shell caresses your Bold and gives added protection against drops and bumps. Lastly, a Silicone skin wraps around it all to absorb shock. Slim, sleek and stylish, this case is of superior quality.
Then to quite simply take care of the battery life issue – buy a second battery! They are quite cheap.
Why go to all this bother when you could, as the booshnews article suggests, simply buy a Garmin GPSmap 478? Because the Blackberry will give you much more than just a GPSr. Very briefly when you buy a Blackberry you also get:
- A phone!
- The ability to access the net and any website you might need while caching.
- Access to a number of programmes, specifically Cachesense, that allow you to paperless geocache.
- Quick and on the go access to Google Maps – perfect for getting to those caches faster.
- Want to get after a FTF? No need to wait to the GPX to download to your GPSr, simply look it up on the way! And…
- Emailo notification of newly published caches – be the first off the mark to find them.
- Tweet your finds – when you find them!
- and all the other fun that a Blackberry brings (email, address book, calendar sync etc etc etc).
So, the moral is – Don’t be put of buying a GPSr that might need a few extra bits to make it a super-geocaching tool, it’ll the best investment you ever made and be better than you ever expected!