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 Post subject: Bad Elves in the Backcountry?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 26, 2013 4:13 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 11:41 am
Posts: 315
Location: Altadena SoCal
I loves me some iPhone 4 in the BC—not the 4S, and I’m still rockin’ iOS 6. It’s neither my primary tool for navigation nor is it without fault. However, I am none too pleased with it’s internal GPS which relies heavily on cell signal assist Location Services.
My main gripes are battery life and location speed. I already have a discussion on maximizing battery life here. But GPS lock speed becomes a problem when the phone has no cell signal to assist the GPS locating; e.g. I’ll wake the phone up, open a GPS app like Theodolite, and it will take a few minutes to figure out where I am. And forget about Strava in the cell shadow of a mountain.

To remedy this, I’m thinking of gettin’ me a BadElfGPS (not the Pro). The idea is I can leave the phone in Airplane Mode and plug the Elf in only when I need the GPS. It would simplify my trailhead ritual, eliminate my wake-the-phone-up-and-off-Airplane-mode routine, improve tracking time, and—over the course of the day—improve battery life b/c it’s in Airplane mode all day (except for when I’m actively using the Elf).

Does anyone have any experience with this device? Most reviews are from a wifi-only iPad or aeronautical perspective; neither of which interest me. Their website says a Bad Elf will help the internal iPhone GPS, but I take that with a grain of salt (‘cause I would say that too if I were trying to sell you something you already have).

(I understand the Bad Elf will not help battery life if I’m using active tracking apps like Strava or MotionX. But I don’t use those splitting, so I’m not concerned)

The other obvious and more time-tested option is a traditional GPS device. Some are even cheaper than a Bad Elf. I’m just not that amped on carrying yet another small, expensive, electronic one-trick-pony into the BC: beacon, phone, radio, camera, (+ GPS?). Not to mention PLB, SPOT/InTouch, and digital snow thermometer...none of which I own. I just appreciate the versatility of the smart phone.

 Post subject: Re: Bad Elves in the Backcountry?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 8:50 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 18, 2011 9:02 pm
Posts: 250
Location: OR
I've had good luck w/ Offline Topo Maps on my iPhone 4. You need to download your maps on either wifi or 3g but I'm able to locate myself quickly once I'm out of range. As long as you don't continuously run the app it's easy on the battery. The same developer also offers Gaia GPS but I rarely use that as it will kill your battery quickly as it tracks your route.

"For future reference, the time is now."

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