How do I use GPS to find my way?

This document does not contain information for operating specific GPS units. Instead, it will provide examples for uses of GPS in the outdoors.

There are two general ways that GPS can help you find your way:

 
1. GPS can help you pinpoint your exact location on any map which is marked with the UTM grid.
 

Example: Bob wants to know where he is on the map. He turns his GPS on and after a few minutes, the GPS unit shows Bob his UTM coordinates. Bob can then look for the UTM markings on the map to plot his location.

Related FAQs: What is UTM?
  When should I use UTM instead of LAT/LON?
 

Marking the topo map

 
 
2. GPS can bring you to a specific location when you know the coordinates, even if you don't have a map.
 

Example: Sue needs Bob to come to her location. Sue tells Bob what her coordinates are via radio or cell phone. Bob enters the coordinates into his GPS unit and presses the GOTO button. Bob's GPS is now pointing towards Sue. It also shows the distance to Sue "as the crow flies". Bob follows the arrow until he can see Sue.

 

Example of handheld GPS unit