Let’s face it. GPS is here to stay. Now before you light the torches and raise the pitchforks, let me explain. GPS is not a substitute for a paper map, though many city dwellers certainly think so. (More on this debate in “Paper or Plastic?” Sept. ’11.) When you’re stranded in the desert out of gas with a dead battery, that fancy GPS won’t get you home like a good paper map will. However, with the recent popularity of events like King of the Hammers, where higher-speed desert roaming is part of the thrill, a good GPS is essential since it is pretty hard to read a map while blasting down a trail.
For a good GPS geared to off-roaders, look to Lowrance. The leader in marine navigation has used its knowledge of the harsh conditions that boats endure on the open ocean to tailor GPS units under the Baja line just for the off-road crowd.
The latest addition to this line is the affordable Elite-5m Baja, which is waterproof, dustproof, and shock-resistant and has all the features you want in an off-road unit that the typical street GPS is lacking.
The Elite-5m features a built-in 16-channel GPS+WAAS antenna and, unlike the HDS models, also includes an external LGC-16W antenna for even greater precision. This unit has a 5-inch adjustable color screen and keypad backlight control for easier viewing at night. With the ability to store 3,000 waypoints and 100 routes on its built-in memory and the option to expand using the MicroSD card slot, you’ll never run into trouble storing your favorite trails.
Visit 4wheeloffroad.com to see our longterm updates as we continue to test this neat unit in real-world situations.