How to Use GPS

Laying a Track with GPS

Two mountain bikers find their way with a GPS unit.
Two mountain bikers find their way with a GPS unit.
Thomas Northcut/Getty Images

Laying a track is another important GPS receiver skill. You can use your GPS to leave a virtual trail, which allows you to follow your trail out if you become lost. Your GPS will have a button that's responsible for dropping track points. You can drop the track points as close together or as far apart as you like. The closer together you place your track points, the more accurate this trail will be if you have to follow it out. When you use the tracking feature, you don't need to manually enter the track points, the GPS will automatically mark them for you at the distance you specify before your trip.

All of the features available on GPS receivers are nice to have, but these features come with a drawback. GPS receivers can be hard on batteries. Lithium batteries have the longest battery life, but may cause distracting lines across the GPS screen when they're new. To eliminate this problem, many people use lithium batteries in another piece of equipment for a few minutes before putting them in their receiver.

You can prolong the life of your batteries, no matter what type they are, by turning off nonessential functions. Backlighting, compass mode and other auxiliary functions can be switched off. Also, if your GPS loses its satellite lock, turn it off to conserve battery power until you find an open area to lock in on the satellites again.