Tag Archives: review

iPhone App Review | Tide Prediction

Have you ever wanted to a walk safely along a beach, across a tidal estuary or around a rocky headland? Well of course you could check the BOM website from home before you left, but what if you had forgotten and only had your iPhone with you?

Sometimes knowing when high tide is going to be can be critical to planning a safe bushwalk. There are many locations where part of the walk will be along a beach, around a headland or across a tidal estuary. Often the guide book will warn that if the tide is high you must take and alternative inland route or even camp and wait for the next low tide. Being caught on an exposed headland as the tide advances is not much fun.

In Australia, I have used this information to safely plan walks along the Great Ocean Walk in South West Victoria and along the South Coast Track in Tasmania.

The following list of iPhone apps includes one that is actually a weather app which includes tides as one of its features.

AU Tides Pro

AU Tides Pro Screenshot

Contains downloaded database for 2010-2012, which means you don’t need to be connected to the internet

World Tides 2012

Contain downloaded database for 2012 only, which means you will need to buy a new version at the end of 2012. This app only allows access to tide predictions 6 days ahead. World Tides uses the Simply Harmonic Formula and harmonic constants provided by the UKHO to give 7 day tide predictions without the need for an internet connection. Features: Moon/Sun Rise/Set times, large slidable tide graph, recent locations, built in zoomable map, gps sensor, search, and details page. 

Pocket Weather AU

Pocket Weather screen shot

I have used this as my weather app for over a year and don’t see the need for an additional tide app. It does need internet access which makes it useless in remote areas, unlike the other three which actually download the tide database. Weather is sourced directly from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) – an Australian Source for Australian Weather! #1 Weather Application in Australia, Best Australian App winner, Staff Pick in iTunes Store many times –

Shralp Tide (FREE)

Shralp Tide Screenshot

No network connection is required, so you can check anytime, anywhere. ShralpTide displays the current tide along with the high and low tides for the current day and the next 4 days. Includes an INTERACTIVE FULLSCREEN TIDE GRAPH in landscape mode. Turn the device on its side then touch the screen to see the tide at any time in the 24 hour window. Shralp Tide does not include all of the tide stations in the world. It has good coverage of the US and Canadian coasts as well as Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Beyond that there is spotty coverage of international locations.

The benefit of an iPhone tide app is that the calculations are done automatically for you if you select one of the non-standard ports. Of course, your iPhone probably has a GPS, in which case the app will work out what is the appropriate location on which to predict your tides.

You can of course use the Bureau of Meteorology’s tide predictions available on their website, which are based on a series of “standard ports” around Australia. In Tasmania, Hobart is one of the five standard and one secondary ports with calculated tide predictions available. Time differences for a limited number of other secondary ports are provided so you can work approximate tide times yourself by adding or subtracting the time difference.( see map below)

From BOM

I don’t know the technical side but my iPhone app Shralp Tide gives the following for Wednesday 28 December for the first high tide.

  • Maatsuyker Island (south of the bottom of Tasmania) high tide at 1.31 am as 0.69m
  • Hobart: high tide at 12.34 am of 1.05m
  • Bramble Cove : HIgh 3.17 am 0.78m

Bathurst Harbour is not listed nor Port Davey; you must use Bramble Cove.

BOM Tasmania gives Hobart as the nearest standard port and lists tides at secondary “ports” as a time difference from Hobart

Hobart HIGH at 1:02 AM 1:07m

  • Maatsuyker Island +0:25 H:M
  • Bramble Cove, near Port Davey is -0:48 H:M
  • Hobart 0:0

Using these differences the iPhone app gives a pretty close estimate except for Bramble Cove which seems to be way out!

PS Don’t forget to allow for daylight saving if not done automatically by the app.

  Creative Commons LicenseThis article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

iPhone Apps for Bushwalkers Revisited

It’s over a year since I began reviewing iPhone apps for bushwalkers. During this time I have tried hundreds and found that I only use a few regularly.

While there are hundreds of iPhone apps useful to bushwalkers and growing every day, what you personally find useful is determined by your past experience, the type of walking you do, your interests,  and your willingness to be dependent on high tech devices.

After trying most, I regulary use only a few of these. On bushwalks, my choice will vary as it is dependent upon on the duration of my walk, and hence how important it is to save battery power,  and upon how much non-walking time I will have available.

My iPhone Apps

Navigation: Bit Map, Declination, Maps, Google Earth, Compass
Field Guides: Good Reader, BooksApp, Kindle, Aus. Birds (Morecomb), Field Guide Fauna Museum Victoria, Bird in Hand, WhatBirdNZ, Wikipanion, MyEnviro, FrogLog
Bushcraft / Survival : KnotsGuide, SASSurvival, Knots, GoneTrekking
Camp Food: Jamie Oliver’s Recipes, Poh’s Kitchen, Nigella Quick (….LOL)
Fitness: Walkmeter, Beat Monitor, Cadence, iHandy Level
Weather: Pkt Weather, Rainspotting, Clouds, iBarometer, ShralpTide, Clouds,WeatherNZ
Travel: Frequent Flyer, Webjet, Plane Finder, Lonely Planet, Trip Advisor
Astronomy: Star walk, Star Guide
NZ: WeatherNZ, WhatBirdNZ, SnowReports
Photography: Flickr
Medical: Elastoplast, MediProfiles, St John NZ

Disclaimer: Navigation using your iPhone always needs to be backed up with a compass, map and a dedicated GPS. 

I have written reviews of many of these iPhone apps previously in this blog, several articles about how to use iPhone apps in general while bushwalking, and detailed articles which focus upon iPhone apps for navigation, fitness and NZ.

Read more…..

  Creative Commons LicenseThis article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Bushwalking Equipment | The Ideal Camp / Hut Shoes

There is nothing like stepping out of you hiking boots at the end of a long day into something more comfortable. Need to go outside in the middle of the night? What are the alternatives?

I’ve just come back from a few weeks in NZ, and during this time decided that, despite what others might think of me, the time was right to buy a pair of  Crocs.

Crocs Yukon Sport

NZ huts require that you remove your boots before entry and either leave them at the entrance or in the drying area. In the middle of the night, “the call of nature” may require a 25m walk through the bush; hardly something you can do in your socks, and without waking the whole hut, putting on your heavy wet boots is not an option.

What should you look for in the ideal hut/camp shoe?

  • comfortable
  • lightweight
  • compact
  • non-slip sole
  • adaptable for emergency use
  • waterproof
  • drain easily
  • quick drying
  • reasonably thick sole
  • long wearing
  • stop on your feet

I want to be able to wear my camp shoes on the trail,  cross rocky creeks in them if needed, AND use them in the hut or around my tent.

What are the options?  

Thongs/flip-flops, Crocs, neoprene or fleece booties, thick socks, Dunlop Volleys, Vibram FiveFingers shoes…. I’ve seen them all and each has their supporters. Unfortunately, none of these will satisfy all your needs and so each becomes a compromise, decided by personal preference and your environment.

Dunlop OC Volleys

I have used neoprene boots in the past. These are lightweight, compact but have thin soles which make them unsuitable for rocky ground and they don’t dry or drain easily.

Fleece boots are great in a hut; warm, lightweight, reasonably compact, but unsuitable for outside use.

Thongs are compact, lightweight, cheap but lack grip and slip easily off your feet.

Volleys have their ardent supporters and meet most of the criteria, but are reasonably heavy, get dirty easily and don’t dry quickly; not really what you want in a hut.

Vibram FiveFingers (VFFs) are new on the scene, lack a thick sole or heel and imitate barefoot walking, which is something that most of us don’t often do. Take care, they use muscles and parts of your foot that you have probably neglected. They are not the sort of shoes you can put on and walk for kilometres without previous experience.

Crocs meet almost all criteria, except they are a little bulky!

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Bushwalking Equipment | Do closed cell foam sleeping mats absorb water?

You’ve probably heard comments that closed cell sleeping mats don’t absorb water, but is it true?

Intuitively, most people don’t trust the sales talk that closed cell foam pads don’t absorb water.

Thermarest Z Lite

On any track you will see that most people carry their closed cell pad in a plastic bag, strapped to the outside of their packs. If it has rained heavily, you will see them drying their mat in front of the fire.

Well what do the gear review websites say? Anything from they don’t absorb water at all, to they absorb very little. What is the truth? Well this depends on the quality of the mat you have and how much contact the mat has had with water.

My closed cell foam mat absorbed about 17- 25% of its weight in water, depending upon how I exposed it to the water. Deep submersion along with squeezing absorbed more than a superficial sprinkling from the garden hose

My advice would be to keep your mat inside your pack, where it will not be exposed directly to water, perhaps even using it as a pack liner.

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Review | The Shell Guide to the Routeburn (NZ) Track by Philip Temple | Pt 3 Route Guide

Planning to complete the Routeburn track in New Zealand? Want some hints from someone who has walked the track many times? Interested in the flora and birds? This article is a part review of the 40 page Routeburn Track Guide by Philip Temple, published by Whitcoulls in 1976, which has become a NZ tramping classic and still contains valuable information.

© Bushwalker

Route Guide

The track is 39 kms long and average travelling time according to Philip Temple is only 13 hours ” … so that a very fit, skilled tramper with a light pack might accomplish it in one summer’s day.

As is common, he recommends completing the walk in 3 days

Day 1 Routeburn Lodge (Shelter) to Routeburn Falls Hut(8km, 2.5hrs, + 250m)
Day 2 Routeburn Falls Hut to Harris Saddle (4.8 km, 1.5 hrs, +300m) and then to Lake Mackenzie (10.5km, 3 hrs, -300m)
Day 3 Lake Mackenzie to Lake Howden (9km, 3hrs, +?m) to Milford Road. (3.2km, 1 hr plus 1hr if climb Key Summit, – 150m)

Routeburn Falls Hut. Photo taken by Steffen Sledz

Day 1 Track Notes

Bridal Veil Ck footbridge 1 hr
Birds: parakeets, robin, fantails
Flora: Montane beech forest dominates between 500 – 1150 m with three species of beech: red (lower, warmer slopes), mountain , silver. Forest floor thickly carpeted by coprosma, fuchsia, ribbonwood, pepperwood and on the Hollyford slopes, kamahi, broadleaf and totara.
Upper flats: arrive after couple of hours, to cross the river by bridge. The Flats (702m) were the upper limits of horse traffic.
Looking north up the northern branch of the Routeburn you can see Mt Somnus (about 5.5 km away, true 32.5°, GR E0280942 N5048358, 2282m) and further away to the right is Turret Head (16 km across Dart, 62.4° True, GR E0292265, N5051650, 2350m)
Routeburn Flats to Routeburn Falls Hut (976m) 3.2 km, walking time 1.25hrs. The lower hut is DOC and the upper private.
Flora: giant mountain buttercup blooms in early summer in the beds of the higher creeks

Lake Harris, Routeburn track, from the path from Harris Saddle to Conical Hill. © Zoharby

Day 2 Track Notes

1. Routeburn Falls to Harris Saddle, the boundary between Mt Aspiring and Fiordland national parks.

Flora: giant buttercup, flowering spaniard, daisy, gentian, ourisia, hebe, snowgrass.
The track above Lake Harris may be impassable if snow covered and should not be attempted in bad weather.
Views from Harris Saddle: Hollyford valley to west, and behind that the Darran Mountains with Mt Christina (2692m)12 km away to the SSW ( 232° T). Mt Tutoko ( 2964m) to the north.
If you have time there are excellent views to be had by climbing Conical Hill (1515m) to the north of the saddle.
Harris saddle only has emergency shelter

2. Harris Saddle to Lake Mackenzie

About 2km from the Saddle there is a track intersection with Deadman’s Track and after another 2km a large square rock which can be used as an emergency bivouac. Don’t waste time on this section if the weather forecast is looking to be poor.

Looking north, “…..you will be able to see right down the Hollyford to Lake McKerrow and the sea at Martins Bay ….” 8.5 km to the south (200° T), at the head of the Hollyford Key Summit (GR E0272856 N 5033572) stands out.

Great reflections of Mt Emily (1815m) to the NE can be obtained in the lake early morning or evening.

Mackenzie Hut at Mackenzie Lake, Routeburn Track, New Zealand. © Steffen Sledz

Day 3 Track Notes

1. Lake Mackenzie to Lake Howden via Earland Falls

Views: Hollyford and Darrans
Flora: veronica scrub, beech forest, red of rata blossom in summer.
Birds: sweet notes of the bellbird, rattle and bell call of the kaka, whooshing beat of the bush pigeons, waxeyes at forest edge, brown creepers deeper in the bush, black backed gull on rocky bluffs.
After 2 hours reach Earland Falls. After another hour you reach Lake Howden.(671m)

2. Lake Howden to Key Summit (919m) to The Divide shelter on Milford Road

View from Key Summit, Routeburn Track NZ © Metapede

Great views from Key Summit which is a botanists mecca, where “… stunted beech trees take the place of subalpine scrub and merge into perhaps the finest bog and swamp region .. with plant life ranging from sundews, bladderworts and orchids to bog forstera, bog daisy and bog pine.”

Related reading

iPhone app: What Bird NZ

Previous Routeburn Track Planning posts

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Review | The Shell Guide to the Routeburn (NZ) Track by Philip Temple | Pt 2 General Information

Planning to complete the Routeburn track in New Zealand? Want some information about  access, accommodation, weather, clothing and equipment, fitness and preparation. This article is a part review of the 40 page Routeburn Track Guide by Philip Temple, published by Whitcoulls in 1976, which has become a NZ tramping classic and still contains valuable information.

General Information

Ranger Stations and Access

Located at Glenorchy and Te Anau. Check in /out required

Can be walked from either end. Eastern access is from Queenstown to Glenorchy.
Western access from Te Anau to The Divide on the road to Milford Sound

Accommodation

  • Off Track: Queenstown, Te Anau, Glenorchy,  Eglinton Valley (on Te Anau-Milford Hwy)
  • On Track: Commercial Lodges at Routeburn Falls and Lake Mackenzie but can only be accessed as part of a Guided Walk.

Weather and Season

“Prevailing winds are NW and SW; heavy rainfall is common and snow may fall down to 1000m at any time of the year. The Hollyford Face between Harris Saddle and Lake Mackenzie is particularly exposed to wind and precipitation and the Saddle is normally snow bound during the winter and early spring. The usual season for track walking is late November to mid-April. The saddle crossing should not be undertaken at any time except under favourable weather conditions.

Clothing and Equipment

Temple warns that the weather is very variable with trampers needing to carry both warm weather and cold weather/snow gear. He gives the normal warnings about the need for a waterproof parka, well broken in boots, first aid kit compass and map.

Fitness and Preparation

The author gives some excellent advice on the need to be fit and have well broken in boots so that “you will have more time and opportunity  to appreciate the scenery and natural features that you have made so much effort to reach!” His wise counsel that “there’s only one way to get fit for tramping- and that’s tramping” is very sound.

Approach to Walking

 I like his hints on how to walk. “Don’t rush and don’t loiter….. And rests should not be too long, otherwise you may stiffen up and lose your rhythm…..Start out early each day, so you always have time on hand. … Remember the golden rule – the pace of the party is that of the slowest member.

Part 3 in this series will discuss the actual route notes provide by Temple.


Related reading

Related Routeburn Track Planning posts

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Tramping Book Review | The Shell Guide to The Routeburn Track (NZ) Philip Temple, 1976

Philip Temple

In the seventies, Philip Temple wrote a series of Shell guides for many of the great New Zealand walking tracks including the Routeburn, Milford, Heaphy, Tongariro, Waikaremoana, Copland and Hollyford.  The Routeburn Track Guide, published by Whitcoulls in 1976, has 40 pages, including a two-page centre map, and a personal notes page. While it is no longer in print, it has become highly sought after as one of the first guides to the track. Philip Temple has written 36 books going back to the early 1960s, with many related to New Zealand and his mountaineering experiences. He was a keen walker, personally walking the routes and taking part in expeditions to New Guinea and the sub-Antarctic. His diverse skills have included landscape photography and he continues to write novels.

 I love reading walking guides and my bookshelf is full of such guides. It was therefore with a great degree of anticipation that I waited for my copy, bought online from the Tall Ships Gallery in Palmerston North.

This book is well illustrated by historical photos of Routeburn Flats, The Earland Falls, Emily Peak reflected in Lake Mackenzie, Lake steamer Antrim at Kinloch, Sir Thomas Mackenzie, the original hut at the start of the track, Harry Bryants open air buses, a two page map of the Routeburn track, Routeburn Gorge, Routeburn Falls, Lake Harris in spring, Looking down the Hollyford Valley, Lake Howden and the Greenstone Valley, Mounts Christina, Crosscut and Lyttle, Harris Saddle and shelter.

Preface

This guide is one of a series and in the author’s words ” ……designed to assist those who would quit wheels for walking, shoes for boots, and make the effort to explore the country first hand.”

History of the Track

The track has enormous historical significance for the Maoris as it represents an early route from Lake Wakatipu to mine greenstone in the mineral rich ranges to the north-west for trade in South Westland and Central Otago, which continued to the mid-nineteenth century. Wakatipu was first seen by Europeans about the same time. Not long after goldminers, searching for an more direct way to get their gold to Australia other than via Dunedin began exploring the Routeburn with the aim of establishing a port at Martins Bay.

Over the last hundred and forty years, the Routeburn has steadily gained popularity with tourists and trampers. Early in the 1900’s the track was extended from the Harris Saddle to Lake Howden.Then in the nineteen thirties, a motor service from Kinloch into the Routeburn commenced. Just before WWII the final section of the Routeburn track was completed and in the nineteen seventies the road over the Dart river meant that the Routeburn became accessible by motor car, replacing the lake steamer Earnslaw.

General Information

This section gives information about access, accommodation, weather, clothing and equipment, fitness and preparation.

In  future posts, I will comment on Philip Temple’s sound advice and his route guide.

Related reading

Related Routeburn Track Planning posts

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Navigation Software Release: MacGPS Pro (Version 9)

Do you own an Apple Mac? Want some outstanding mapping/navigation software that is fully supported by a Mac enthusiast? Want to be able to view EWC maps such as those provided free of charge by GeoScience Australia (250K) and stitch them?

I have just updated to version 9. (Update: Version 9.2 was released in November) I have been using MacGPS Pro for almost 20 years and can highly recommend it as the best mapping and navigation software for Mac owners. The developer, Dr James Lawrence, continues to take a personal interest in this software which continues to grow in capabilities and user interface. New features are added regularly and the developer is receptive to new ideas such as inclusion of ECW  and the import of some OziExplorer format maps for Australians.

Attribution: The text below is taken from the MacGPS Pro website with minor modifications to make it more relevant for Australians.

Features of MacGPS Pro™ navigation software


Link your Mac with GPS receivers. Whether it’s a daylong hike, 4×4 excursion, geocaching quest, ski trip or sailing voyage — you’ll always know where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re going.

  •  Flexibility: Support of open-standard format maps, aerial photos and charts, scan-your-own maps, as well as our own maps and charts.
  •  Real-Time: Connect to NMEA 0183 from Serial port, Bluetooth, and USGlobalSat USB receivers. View your position on a wide variety of moving digital topo maps and marine charts on a Mac.
  • Waypoints, Routes, and Tracks: Create and edit. Use on the Mac. Transfer to and from many Garmin and Magellan receivers. 

New features for version 9.0:

  • Edit Track Points. Split and Join Tracks.
  • Hide individual Waypoints, Routes & Tracks.
  • Color Waypoint Icons match Newest Receivers.
  • Auto-Open, Margin Removal, Map Stitching, Find, and Guide Maps for NOAA charts, New Zealand, Chatham Islands and Australia Topos.
  • Map Stitching for EWC maps & BSB charts.
  • Revised Help & Alert Messages. New Shortcuts.

For Australia and New Zealand:

  • Geoscience Australia 250K topo maps: remove map margin, stitch together, auto-open, find by latitude and longitude, map name, or click on provided guide map.
  • Land Information New Zealand 50K and 250K topo maps: remove map margin, stitch together, auto-open, find by latitude and longitude, map name, or click on provided guide map.
  • Chatham Islands: Transverse Mercator 2000 map projection and grid coverage.

Other must-have features that make MacGPS Pro navigation software one-of-a-kind.

  • Works with many types of maps—even those you scan in yourself—in the most popular file formats, including GeoTIFF, JPEG, PDF, ECW and BSB. For full List
  • For optimum resolution and seamless map stitching, we recommend our MacTopos Maps series. MacGPS Pro is also an excellent viewer for USGS Digital Raster Graphic topo maps, NOS/GEO and BSB versions 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 charts, FAA flight sectionals, and many other digital maps.
  • Digital maps come in two different types. Raster maps are a scanned or photographed image of a paper map. This is the type of map that MacGPS Pro uses. Vector map files contain a mathematical description of the lines and areas that make up the map. MacGPS Pro does not support maps in vector format. Garmin “*.IMG” files are vector maps.
  • Maps and charts in raster-image formats such as TIF, PNG, JPG, GIF, PDF, BSB, and ECW can be imported into MacGPS Pro. These images will be automatically georeferenced if they are in GeoTIFF format, in ECW format, in GeoPDF format, in BSB format, or if they are accompanied by a “world” file, a “*.IMP” file (a CompeGPS calibration file), a “*.JPR” file (a Fugawi calibration format) or a “*.MAP” file (an OziExplorer calibration file). OziExplorer OZF2 image files are not supported.
  • Maps may be purchased, obtained by downloading them from the Internet, or by scanning them yourself. Maps can be calibrated and used on your Macintosh screen with or without a GPS receiver connected. USGS, TVA and Teale (California) DRG maps, DOQQs, and many other maps from diverse sources are automatically calibrated. Maps that do not contain calibration information can be manually calibrated with ease by clicking on a few known points. Check our Digital Map Library to help find maps for your area.
  • Please note that MacGPS Pro does not upload maps to any GPS receiver; the maps are used on the Macintosh screen.
  • Seamlessly stitches maps and charts together for USA, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand topo maps, and world-wide BSB-format marine charts. How It Works
  • If you have a map file already open in MacGPS Pro and open another map file with the same map projection and standard coordinates, then both maps will appear in the Map Window. Under the View menu, check “Remove Map Margins” so the margin of one map does not cover part of the adjacent map. With the margins removed, the two adjacent maps will automatically appear stitched together.
  • Calculates your speed and travel direction based on track log locations and times.
  • Capable of handling up to 65,000 waypoints, 250,000 track points, and 50 routes with 300 waypoints on each route.
  • Graphically edit waypoints, routes and tracks. Split or join track log segments.
  •  Link photos, websites or any other files to GPS waypoints.
  • Hide individual Waypoints, Routes and Tracks.
  • Optional large real-time position display makes for easy viewing at a distance or a quick glance.
  • Save GPS data as editable, tab-delimited text files for exchange with spreadsheets such as Excel, database software like Filemaker, and text-editing applications like BBEdit.
  • Elevation feature allows you to plot the altitude profile for track logs and routes.
  • Almost anything can be used as a map. Just scan it, save it as a TIFF or JPEG file, and georeference it with a few known points. Full Instructions

      Follow these instructions for importing your own scanned maps:
         1. Scan in any paper map.
         2. Save the scanned image as a TIFF, PNG or JPEG file.
         3. From the File menu, choose “Import…” and select your file.
         4. The software prompts you to enter map data, including projection and datum. (This is typically found along most outer margins of a printed map.)
         5. The scanned image is then displayed in the map window.
         6. Click on a known point and enter its latitude and longitude. (Refer to the MacGPS Pro Help menu).
         7. Repeat with at least one other known point (four points is ideal).
         8. Click “Done”.
         9. Your map is now georeferenced and ready to use.

  • Coordinate conversions to-and-from 123 user-selectable datums and 25 map projections plus user-defined datums and grids to support maps for a broad range of countries. Full List
  • For Australians:  Australian Geod ’66    Australian Geod ’84    GDA94     WGS 84
  • Sky chart shows current and projected Global Positioning System satellite overhead positions at any specific location and time.
  •  Includes Maptech® World Marine chart and NASA Blue Marble World Topo Map.
  • For those new to GPS, MacGPS Pro includes its own easy-to-follow, comprehensive illustrated tutorial in its Help menu.

For more information visit the MacGPS Pro website