Kit Focus — SatMap Active 20 GPS Mapping Navigation Device

I have always had a love of maps. I can sit for hours looking at the contours, colours, and trail lines; imagining the landscape that they represent. For me, maps are adventure art; but they are also an essential tool for exploration. The SatMap Active 20 GPS is my latest investment into mapping, and as a portable highly-accurate and versatile handheld mapping device, it is a superb companion.

For cycling, maps exist on many of the leading brands' computer units, but for the most part if you take them into really back-and-beyond destinations and they will fail to show you the true lay of the land—unable to show you the topography, geology, or small but potentially critical features like stream or bogs.

These smaller but critical details about the composition of the landscape are what can make or break hiking, running, and biking adventures. The best way to identify with them, before it gets too late, is to consult an Ordnance Survey map or similar international variant.

The problem with traditional paper maps, as much as I love them, is that they can slow you down—both in terms of plotting routes, and because a pannier full of (potentially wet) maps is a physical burden. For that reason, it is logical to embrace technology, and deploy a digital mapping device that can both show your location on a waterproof screen, and help you plan, follow, and track routes.

The SatMap Active 20 Platinum GPS is a leading light in terms of portable GPS map navigation. In addition to multiple scales of OS maps it will also display more than 50 foreign country outdoor maps, as well as some marine charts.

First of all, the Active 20 stands out because of its design. It is rugged, shockproof, waterproof, and it has the ability to use the unit either through touchscreen interaction or through physical buttons (ideal if you are wearing gloves). In addition, it has a whopping 16 hour battery life, with easily replaceable batteries that can be charged from any car, wall, or power pack that has a USB outlet.

The SatMap Active 20 is certainly capable of dealing with the rigours of the great outdoors, but it also works in harmony to show you the profile of the land. Pinpoint accuracy is provided thanks to the use of all the major GPS networks (GPS / GLONASS / GALILEO) and a barometric altimeter. You can track across the map with speed to survey the surrounding area, because the high processing power of the unit and the use of independent mapping cards means there is no lag time in buffering map data.

As well as providing the highest level of accuracy and map surveillance, the SatMap Active 20 is also a planning and tracking device. You can upload routes to the memory card by simply dragging them across from your computer using a USB connection, or by subscribing to the Xpedition mapping service and synchronising over Wi-Fi (I must admit I have not tried this feature yet). You can also plan routes on the device itself, by laying a series of waypoints.

When it comes to tracking and following a route, the SatMap Active 20 provides a huge amount of data: from bearings and COG (course over the ground), to integration with Bluetooth heart rate data and cadence metrics. The files are stored safely on the device and can be downloaded by USB cable on ending your activity.

The SatMap Active 20 handheld has become my go-to mapping solution for hiking, biking, and even kayaking adventures. It provides you with peace of mind that you know exactly where you are at any given moment, and useful information on tracking your routes and waypoints for future reference.

The Active 20 is intuitive to use, and reliable in performance. Much as a chart plotter on a yacht has in many ways replaced the need for paper charts (you should still have them as a back-up), the SatMap Active 20 is a superb alternative to traditional Ordnance Survey mapping for over-ground navigation.

Find out more at Satmap.com







The SatMap Active 20 GPS unit was provided to The Expedition Journals for testing and review

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