During the last years I do a lot of mountain biking tours. To record this tours I currently use my Android phone and a GPS tracker application. I'm happy with it, but the problem is, the battery life is not long enough for whole day trips.

So I thought about buying a real GPS tracker device. I don't want to use navigation or routing but just tracking. So my problem is, I don't really know what are the important technical specifications I should look for.

For example: Is it important how many Gps points a device can store? I read values between 10'000 and 20'000 but how many do I need?

There are lot of similar questions like the kind of GPS module, the method to define the height, etc.

I need the device for my mountain biking tours. This means no cities or things like that, almost all offrode. The duration can vary from 1 hour to the whole day, but I don't think it is a problem if I have to reload in the evening.

  • You might want to check out our Android sister site, too: android.stackexchange.com
    – freiheit
    Apr 4, 2011 at 16:07
  • @freiheit: yes but this time I don't want to use a android app, but buy a real GPS device, because my mobile cannot record more than ~5 hours. Apr 5, 2011 at 0:30
  • 1
    Thanks for all your suggestions. I decide to buy a Garmin eTrex Vista HCx since its really cheap in my country at the moment. Apr 7, 2011 at 14:34

3 Answers 3


You might also consider buying external battery for you Android phone. I do not want to reccomend anything as I have not tried it, so here is plain Google search on topic.

Of course, it will add weight to your backpack.

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    Or perhaps simply buy an extra battery for your existing phone, swapping them out in the middle of the ride. It would eliminate having an extra gadget with you, since I assume you'd pack your phone in any case. Apr 5, 2011 at 16:31
  • Just saw your comment on the question about not recording for longer trips. Is this a limitation of the device or the software? Apr 5, 2011 at 16:32
  • @Neil Fein Its because of the battery. After 5 hours the battery of my mobile phone is down. Apr 6, 2011 at 15:43

I had a small tracker for a while and after faffing with it for a while sold it on eBay. So I may not be the best person to answer. But here goes.

You need to decide on the basic parameters:

  1. what is the longest ride you want to log? (distance)

  2. how long will that take? (time)

  3. how often do you need to log? (I find that every 10m is necessary in urban areas because there are often a lot of route choices, 100m is fine for offroad and every few kilometres is ok for touring).

That tells you how much battery life you need and how many data points you have to store. I'd expect that the data points answer will be less than 10k. Battery life is what mattered to me in the end - I was uploading every few days and recharging when I did it. What ended up killing the idea for me was the lack of display on the thing. I wanted to be able to see how much battery life and memory it had left without plugging it into a computer. It couldn't do that.

edit: for single-day use note that there are only 80k seconds in a day, and most small loggers need a second or so to take a reading. So a 30k point GPS could log every single second you were on your bike each day. More reasonably, logging every 10 seconds means at most 8600 points in 24 hours. So a 10k point logger will be fine.

I think more important points will be GPS reliability, robustness and how waterproof it is. If you have to tape an antenna to the top of your helmet to get reliable reception that will suck, and likewise if it stops working because you went over a bump or through a creek. So I suggest looking at those features rather than focussing on battery life or data points. Work out where you want to mount it and run from there (in a backpack is quite different from in a pannier or handlebar bar, and different again from under the seat or on the handlebars.

  • Thanks for you're answer, I see I should maybe provide more information. I'll add this in my question. Apr 3, 2011 at 23:50
  • updated my answer :)
    – Мסž
    Apr 3, 2011 at 23:58

Only advice I can give is not to buy the Garmin 405. It gets 6 hours of battery life if I'm lucky (and has a ton of other usability and quality issues). Then again, it's designed to be lightweight, mostly for runners. You can probably afford a little more weight on your bike tours.

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