How to Use a GPS With Paper Charts

How to Use a GPS With Paper Charts – 4 Factors

With the GPS technology right and available in our mobile devices, we take for granted the knowledge that it can also be available well…right out of the paper charts or map print-outs. We rely on our mobile devices and navigation apps too much that we snob the skill we could have acquired off the high-tech limits. What happens when we venture in an area our GPS isn’t able to describe much?

How to Use a GPS With Paper Charts
How to Use a GPS With Paper Charts



GPS units basically provide information about latitude and longitude.  Others add perks like giving equation of your current location with X and Y factors.  However, a GPS device can only get clearer and more precise location through 3 or more satellites.  The more satellites available, the better location picture will be provided for you.


Locate North and Use Datums

The characteristics of a dependable map are the following:

  • Compass rose shows the location of true north and the magnetic one. With these indications, you can then navigate your way with the use of your compass.
  • Topography
  • Coordinate System


Using your GPS device or unit, try to find your coordinates with the aid of your map.  Bear in mind that there are times when the magnetic north vary from the true north by several degrees. Coordinate with your GPS and paper chart to ascertain that you have the similar north.


Meanwhile, a datum represents a location on a map through a geometric system.  Collect information about your datums. WSG84 is one of the most popularly used, but there are certain areas or regions which provide their own local datums.  In your part, just ensure that the datums you have in your paper chart and your GPS are in sync.


Measurement System

GPS devices assist different measurement systems. One of the popularly used is the Universal Transverse Mercator system which indicates a 60-zone division of our planet.  In each zone, a particular location is easily recognized through a pair of coordinates labeled as northing and easting.  This zoning comes with decimal precision.


If you have a toggle capability of switching your GPS coordinate system with the system of your map, it would be a great plus.  However, if your GPS does not have that kind of support system, you might find yourself in deep mathematical computation.

How to Use a GPS With Paper Charts
How to Use a GPS With Paper Charts