Off road navigation

One of the challenging tasks for adventure riders, especially when off-roading, is the navigation aspect. There are many different ways to manage your directions, from old fashioned paper based maps to state of the art satellite based navigation systems.

All of these methods will work more or less flawlessly as long as you have an exact concept of your track and if you’ve practised the chosen method in a way that it is your second nature. For those of you that are still in search I will briefly explain my favourite planning and navigation method.

Disclaimer: This report is based on my personal experience and I am not payed by any of the companies that are responsible for the mentioned products and software tools.

The challenge

During the last decade I’ve tried out many different brands and models of navigation devices. All of these devices suffered from big drawbacks in terms of usability or availability of 3rd party maps. But the navigation device itself makes only half of the story. The integration of these devices with planning tools is at least as important to the overall usability as the GPS device itself. We all know that the best plans sometimes even do not survive the first day. Therefore it is crucial to have the ability to quickly change tracks on the spot – without pulling out a heavy laptop.

Another option that came to be during the last couple of years were Smartphones. At first glance I saw this as a promising alternative. Today there are many different software companies creating mobile navigation apps, but never the less I came to the conclusion that this would not be the way forward for my navigation setup. With the inherent risks when going off-road there is a good chance of destroying a very expensive smartphone which happened twice to me. Furthermore many of the better apps require an active internet connection in order to show maps, which is a bummer if you are somewhere out in the bush with no connection. So something better needed to be found.

The GPS device

I’ve decided to use the Garmin 346 LMT-S as my navigation on the motorcycle due to a couple of reasons. First of all it is very cheap. I got mine @ Louis for 249€, it comes with a complete mounting kit and the lifelong maps for Central Europe. Also you can load Open Street Maps onto the device which is a must if doing some serious off-roading.. But the real differentiator is the transparent integration into Smartphones via bluetooth which allows me to transfer GPX data (waypoints, tracks, routes) directly from the smartphone into the device and vice versa.

Creating tracks with MapOut and Garmin

Attached you will find a short clip that explains the process of creating a track with MapOut, including the usage of an existing source track and the transfer to the Garmin device.

Hope to see you soon on the track!

Cheers
Ralf

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