When out photographing in nature, I can get carried away with hiking deeper into the woods or taking an unknown trail. I’m usually pretty good with direction and find my way back to the car. However, I thought it would be good to have some sort of handheld GPS device in case I needed assistance.
After reading several reviews, I purchased the Bushnell Backtrack D-Tour GPS. What appealed to me about the Backtrack D-Tour over many of the other devices is that it also has a function to record the trip data from your hike (more about that feature later on in the blog).
In this blog, I’ll review the Bushnell Backtrack GPS D-Tour and also tell you how this device can be useful to hikers and nature photographers.
The Backtrack GPS D-Tour has 2 Main functions.
Mark and Return to a Location
The Backtrack D-Tour gives you the ability to mark up to five locations and use the D-tour to guide you back to the marked location. The device uses icons to distinguish between the different locations. The D-Tour does not give you a map like the GPS in your car, but it does give you the direction and distance to the marked location.
Recording a Trip / Hike
D-Tour also has a feature that will track your hike and allow you to view it on your computer via a Windows or Mac app that you download from Bushnell. Bushnell doesn’t have an iOS or Android version of the app at this time. The app will display a map of the route that you took on your hike. You can also get GPS locations on the trail map by hovering the mouse over the location.
The app also shows a graph of metrics captured during your hike such as distance, speed, temperature, and elevation.
During the hike, the Backtrack D-Tour will also show you real time information about the hike. The D-tour shows distance hiked, current speed, average speed and the memory remaining in the unit. The device has enough memory for 48 hours of trip data.
Uses for Nature Photographers and Hikers
- The Backtrack D-Tour can guide you back to your car or camp site after long hikes
- Use the D-Tour to mark a photo location that you’d like to return to photograph. However, the d-tour can only mark 5 locations.
- Help you plan future photography trips. Studying the map, distance, and trip duration can help you to plan future trips.
- If you use nature photography hikes for exercise, the Backtrack D-tour can give you statistics on the distance hiked and your average speed.
- The D-Tour can also be used to help determine the time it takes to return to your car or camp site. If you know the distance from your car and your average speed, you can determine when to turn around and return to the car.
What I like about the Backtrack D-Tour
- I found the trip recording function to be very useful. I like to see where I hiked and map that information to the photos that I took on the hike.
- The device is compact (3.5 in x 2.5 in x .75 in) and can easily fit into a jacket or vest pocket. There is also a loop on the device where you can attach a string to hang it around your neck.
- The real time hike information is useful, and like I mentioned above, can help to determine when to turn around and head back to the car.
What I dislike about the Backtrack D-Tour
- The links that came in the instructions packaged with the device and the links in the downloaded manual do not work. I found the pdf version of the manual by searching the Bushnell website not by the link in the mini manual included with the product
- The device is fairly accurate in pointing you in the direction of the location that you marked. You can also use the distance to your mark in addition to the compass direction to help determine the direction to the mark. It is really important to calibrate the device each time you use it.
- The device can take several minutes to find the satellite when arriving in a new location. The satellite also needs to be found in order to calibrate the device. Make sure you build this prep time into your hiking schedule.
- The D-Tour isn’t necessarily cheap at $77.99 on Amazon.com given the directional accuracy issues.
Overall, I am enjoying using the Bushnell Backtrack D-Tour on my nature hikes. At this point of my experience with the device, I don’t think I would blindly trust the device to track back to my car. From what I can see, directional accuracy is an issue with most of these devices. Frequent and proper calibration seems to be the way to improve the directional accuracy of these GPS devices.