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New to GPS and GPX files?

If you are new to GPS and GPX files
For those new to GPX files it can be confusing trying to figure out what you want / need to do with them.
 
Lets start with a basic explanation of what is inside a GPX file.  The 3 things that can be contained in a GPX file are; Waypoints, Tracks and Routes.  A GPX file can have one, two or all three things.  The GPX files on BG Gear have all three items, Waypoints, Tracks and Routes.  Here is what each one is.
 
Waypoints:
Waypoints simply represent a location on the earth and contain coordinates, a waypoint name, elevation, notes and other things.  Your mapping software or GPS unit will likely have two ways you can see the waypoints, showing the spot on the map and in a list displaying all the waypoints.  When looking at the map portion of your mapping software of GPS unit the waypoints are simply placed on the map in the location they belong.  When looking at the list section of your mapping software or GPS unit the waypoints can be sorted in various orders, for example by date, alphabetical order, symbol type or other ways of sorting.  Waypoints themselves do not intrinsically have an order to them, that is where routes come in.  If you look at the list of waypoints in your mapping software or GPS unit, you will likely find they are not in order of how they are intended to be followed.  This concept has confused a few people and I feel the need to be a little repetitive in saying that your mapping software or GPS unit simply places waypoints on the map in the correct location or shows them in a list that can be sorted in a number of ways.
 
Tracks:
Tracks are a collection of points put together in a string to show a path of travel or intended travel.  Tracks do not contain waypoints with individual notes and unique names.  All the points from a track are kept together in the track and the track as a whole can have a name date etc applied to it.  Your mapping software or GPS unit can display the tracks on the map as lines and also show a list of tracks you have.
 
Routes:
Routes are basically a list / collection of waypoints in a specific order.  When a route is created in mapping software or a GPS unit the waypoints it refers to are listed in a very specific order and do not get re-sorted.  The order of the waypoints the route refers to is usually listed in the order in which they are intended to be followed to form the route.  On the mapping portion of the software or GPS unit routes are shown as a collection of lines connecting waypoint to waypoint with straight lines to make the route.  Note that the lines connecting the waypoints are just straight lines.  Routes do not show every little turn that is to be made.  For example a route may list a waypoint for a campsite then draw a straight line to a nearby hill top.  If you are following that route in a straight line and find a lake in your path, you need to walk around the lake then continue up to the hill top.  Just because you had to go around the lake does not mean the route was wrong.  The route just had fewer waypoints listed and the user needs to navigate around obstacles.
 
BG Gear GPX files:
The GPX files at BG Gear contain waypoints, tracks and routes for the route you downloaded.  If navigating the route and you want to follow the waypoints in order using your GPS, you will need to set your GPS to follow the route.  Or you can not follow the route and simply look at the map as you walk and navigate to the next point you know you need to get to.
 
To get started with seeing how all this works try loading the GPX file into your mapping software and look for a way to look at the routes, waypoints and tracks.  With the above explanations and a little fiddling with your software or GPS unit things should become clear to you in short order.
 
There are many mapping programs and apps like Google Earth, Garmin BaseCamp, National Geographic Topo!, BackCountry Navigator, Gaia GPS and many others.  There are also a lot of different GPS devices ranging from dedicated GPS units to smart phones with GPS apps.  Each piece of software and each device has its own way of using GPX files.  If you are unsure how to use a particular device or software, refer to the documentation for the device or software to learn how.  I am only familiar with what I use and do not keep up with much else.  It will be up to you to figure out how your particular software or GPS unit works.
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