Bivouac.com   Document   Home     Help   Index     Login
Introduction to GPS - Make Waypoints and Tracks
    Date first written: 2017.05.05     Last Review: 2017.05.05

In order to streamline the GPS Data Transfer course, you need to be able to make (1) a waypoint and (2) a track log. A "waypoint" is a single point, with a lat-long, time, elevation,symbol and description. A "track log" is a continuous set of lat-long points. In this case, they are "track points". Track points have no description or symbol. To make a track log you must leave the GPS running in your pocket for the hours as you hike. GPS literature still talks about a third thing called "Routes" but with a modern GPS with maps, routes are no longer very useful. The main thing is waypoints and tracks.

  1. Learn how to look up Standard GPS Operations
     All GPS devices have some way of doing certain standard operations. But the details vary from device to device. To document this I defined a table of standard operations. I want to make sure you know how to look stuff up in this table. First, find the desired operation in the first column (in red) on the left hand side. Eg: Find "Mark a Waypoint". It is line 160. Go across that row to the 2nd column which corresponds to "Backcountry Navigator". Click on the link and read the detailed instructions.

  2. Make a waypoint
     Go outside, let your GPS find itself. Now you are looking at your location on the map. Make a waypoint. Now you see a flag or some symbol on your GPS. See the comparison table, "Mark A Waypoint"

  3. Make first track log
     Turn on track logging. Walk around the block. Save the track log. Make a couple more waypoints as you reach key points.

  4. Make second track log
     Make a second track log. Now back inside, find your "Track Manager".

  5. Manage Background Maps (Smartphone)
     For a Garmin GPS, the maps are usually built in. They are vector based contour lines and cover all of Canada. For a smart phone, you can browse anywhere when in Wi-fi, but have to cache the ones you need for any given backcountry trip. But you can choose which set of maps to cache. See the Standard GPS Operations under for your App. The Smart phone apps we are talking about use raster maps rather than vector. The contours are identical to the ones in the Garmin (100 foot) but the maps look better, because they are raster not vector. But they take more memory. So you typically only cache the maps you need for a given trip. I've got all the maps from Vancouver to Pemberton on my GPS, but if I go elsewhere, I have to download the necessary maps, usually 30 km radius from the trip I intend. The most common map is "CanMatrix". It's important to understand that although the maps look identical to the ones you see in Bivouac GMap "t2" choice, to get them into your cache, you do that directly using your GPS app, and it has nothing to do with Bivouac.

Now you are familiar with the track manager and waypoint manager. This is important because that is also where any roads and trails you import from Bivouac will end up. They will be in the same place as any tracks you are making. Now you can look at An Introduction to GPS Data transfer.