Set Yourself Up for Success

  • First things first! Before you ever saddle up—take a “test ride” at home and work out the kinks before you hit the trail.
  • Handheld users: set up your dashboard/trip computer for easy reference while riding. Get comfortable with the device.
  • App: will the app record your trail in "airplane mode?"  Can you run two apps at the same time (if you have multiple apps)?
  • App: get your more detailed maps pre-loaded for those rides where you're out of cell tower range.

Pre-Ride Check

  • Turn the device on or open the app and allow time for the GPS to locate you.
  • Make sure you’re in an open area if at all possible.
  • Mark the start of your trail with a waypoint if you’re in an unfamiliar area.
  • Device: Are your batteries fresh? Do you have spares in your saddlebag? (Hint: If you ride a lot, buy those AA batteries in bulk at Costco— it will save you a bundle.)
  • App: Is your phone fully charged? Do you need external battery or a solar charger?

Saddle Up

  • App: Touch the "Start" button.
  • App: Disable non-essential apps, run the app (lock the screen) in the background so you don't accidentally turn it off or pause the track while riding.

End of the Trail

  • Device: SAVE the track and then CLEAR the track. Turn off the device.
  • App: Touch the "Stop" button. SAVE your trail (each app is different). 

Where to Carry the GPS

  • Device: In your saddle bag or on your body — but don’t bury it with a bunch of other stuff that might impede the ability to keep in touch with satellites during the ride.
  • App: Carry it on YOU—not your horse for safety purposes should you and your horse part company—you want to have access to your phone to call for help, etc.

GPS Power Tips for App Users

  • Minimize screen brightness.
  • Put phone in “Airplane Mode” disabling cellular activity.
  • Shut down non-essential apps.
  • Limit calls and texting while riding.
  • Invest in a solar charger or an external battery.
  • Keep the phone at a reasonable temperature. Batteries achieve optimum service life if used at 20°C (68°F) or slightly below. Avoid letting the phone overheat in direct sun, and keep it in pocket close to your body in cold conditions.

General Tips

  • Update the app when available to ensure that you have the latest maps and eliminate bugs.
  • If you’ll be riding where there is no cellular service, pre-load maps at home.
  • Get a clear signal and keep it: Make sure your GPS has a clear view of the sky overhead. Towering rock walls or dense forest canopy can weaken your signal reception.
  • Move to an open area if you have trouble getting an accurate location reading.
  • Plotting Waypoints: Number chronologically…will make it easier to find your way back and you will not have to try to remember which waypoint comes next.
  • Get Garmin Basecamp at It’s FREE!

GPS Tips and Tricks