Having a GPS is all good and well, but not every GPS will satisfy your needs. When you go out to buy yourself a GPS you have to consider carefully what you want to use it for. You will need a different GPS for a self-drive trip into remote areas than for other activities such as hiking, mountain biking or just normal city navigation.
Hiking or mountain biking
For hiking or mountain biking you have to look for a robust GPS that works with replaceable AA batteries, like the Oregon and GPSMap62 ranges. These don’t come with a city navigator map preloaded and do not give voice guidance but are great units for outdoor activities.
Travelling by motorbike
For travelling by motorbike you need a GPS that is water resistant and dust proof and you have to be able to read the maps in direct sunlight. The Zumo range is ideal.
If you want a GPS for city navigation you should consider the Nuvi range. Any of the Nuvi models will do a perfect job to get you from point A to B and is easy to use and search for Points of Interest (POIs) around you. There is not much of a difference between the entry level units and the more advanced ones unless you specifically want features like lane assistance, 3D buildings and other city features.
The Nuvi range only display road labels and points of interest (POI) on the map screen at low zoom levels (50m – 80m). The information is embedded in the T4A map and you will be able to search for it under “Where to” then “Points of interest (POI)” but it is not displayed at higher zoom levels when you look at the map under “View map”.
The Nuvi GPS at 2km zoom level.
The Nuvi range comes preloaded with a city navigator map and is very affordable.
You could also use the Tracks4Africa GPS map to navigate yourself to recorded POIs on our map. We cover campsites, fuel, lodging and a very extensive range of other features related to travellers on our maps. The further away you go from the cities the better our detail becomes.
Travelling remote areas
If you are a self-drive traveller who wants to venture into the remote parts of Africa you must have a Garmin GPS with Tracks4Africa GPS maps. If you are going to use Tracks4Africa GPS maps and want to get the full potential from your navigation system you need a GPS that will display the map in a particular way otherwise you will not have all the information on the T4A maps at your disposal when you travel.
Also read: Essential travel tips for southern Namibia
The Nuvi range is not ideal for travelling into remote areas as it does not display road labels and points of interest at high zoom levels. Our road labels carry information such as “off-road” or “deep sand” which is critical to your decision making. The map also carries POIs which provide additional information, for example seasonal flood warnings or dangerous sections on a trail. You would want to see this type of information on the map as you drive or when you plan a route.
If you want to get the full benefit of your Tracks4Africa GPS maps, the outdoor devices are better than the automotive devices like the Nuvi range. Unfortunately the outdoor devices are more expensive and come with smaller screens.
GPS and trip log
If you intend to record your route with your GPS, then you need a GPS that can record and manage the tracks for the length of your trip. This is called trip log. This is handy if you want to trace back on a route you have just driven, but is only really necessary in the case of extreme off-road driving. GPS tracks can be used for your trip report afterwards and are very welcome at Tracks4Africa in order to update or improve our maps.
Also read: The Kalahari is not for sissies!
Beware, although some of the Nuvi models can record a track it does so in ‘lock on road’ (LOR) mode. This means that the track which is recorded will snap or lock onto the road on the map providing a false recording. The recording can only be used where there are no roads on the map or if the navigation mode is set to “offroad”. On the outdoor GPS units the LOR function can be disabled.
If you plan to venture into areas which are not covered in detail by the maps you have installed, then you might want to import tracks and waypoints to your GPS which can be used as a guide. This feature is normally only associated with outdoor type GPS units.
Also read: Smartphone vs GPS for navigation
There is one Garmin model which offers all the right features for travelling into remote areas and it can be used for hiking, biking, motor biking or city navigation: the Montana. It is rugged, has a big enough screen and is a true outdoor GPS which displays all map features and allows superior track management. It is, however, an expensive device.
Did you know that all Tracks4Africa Africa GPS Map owners get one free update to the latest version, and 50% off any subsequent updates purchased? Go exploring with the most up-to-date map at your fingertips. Visit our online shop for our latest guide books, paper maps and GPS navigation.