Before investing in GPS equipment, it is important to clearly define your needs in terms of accuracy level required and end results expected. Do you simply want to be able to navigate in the woods, or do you want to map out points, lines and areas that can be differentially corrected and imported into a GIS (a computer mapping system)? Do you need real-time differential GPS for any reason?
Is 15 meter accuracy good enough? If so, you don’t have to worry about differential correction. If you want to make a map from your data, is 1-5 meter accuracy sufficient, or do you need sub-meter accuracy for your application? Remember that more accurate equipment is more expensive. If you decide you need high accuracy, be sure you can justify the added expense.
In addition, consider your needs for durability and weather resistance, and details such as whether or not an external antenna can be connected to the receiver, and its size, weight and suitability for your method of survey (e.g., will it be used in a backpack, mounted on a vehicle, or carried in your hand?).
Identifying your requirements ahead of time will help you determine which type of receiver to purchase, and specific features you will need in order to accomplish your objectives. It will help you avoid purchasing a receiver that you will be disappointed with later because it can’t perform the way you expect it to. A good strategy is to clearly outline your project requirements and then contact several GPS equipment manufacturers with your specifications. As you research available equipment and ask questions, you will gain an understanding of what kinds of equipment are currently available and will meet your needs.