BackpackGearTest
  Home Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Navigation and Map Gear > GPS > Bushnell BackTrack D Tour > Test Report by Katie Montovan


Bushnell BackTrack D-TOUR GPS

BackTrack D-TOUR
Picture from http://bushnell.com

Test Series by Kathryn Montovan

INITIAL REPORT: July 24, 2013

FIELD REPORT: October 30, 2013

LONG TERM REPORT: January 10, 2013

Tester Information

Name: Kathryn Montovan

Biography:

I have been backpacking, climbing, kayaking, canoeing and winter camping for over 12 years. My excursions are mostly weekend and occasionally weeklong backpacking and kayaking trips in the wooded and often wet, mountainous terrain of eastern New York, and western Vermont. I usually tarp camp with a small to large group and love to cook fun and delicious foods on my trips. In general, I strive for a compact and light pack and value well-made and durable gear.

E-Mail: sull0294(at)gmail(dot)com
Age: 30
Location: Groton, New York USA
Gender: F
Height: 5' 5" (1.65 m)
Weight: 150 lb (68 kg)

INITIAL REPORT

Product Information and Specifications:


Manufacturer:

Bushnell

Year of Manufacture:

2013
Manufacturer's Website: http://bushnell.com
MSRP NA
Listed Weight: NA
Measured Weight (without batteries): 2.8 oz (79 g)
Screen Type:
Grayscale LCD
Listed and Measured Screen Size:
1.625" x 1.625" (4.1 x 4.1 cm)
Listed and Measured Dimensions:
4.125" x 2.75" x .875" (10.5 x 7 x 2.2 cm)
Battery Type:
3 AAA

Product image
The Bushnell BackTrack D-TOUR in packaging

Product Description

The Bushnell BackTrack D-TOUR is a simplified GPS that tracks its location and helps the user find their way back to up to five marked locations by displaying an arrow pointed towards the location of interest with a measured distance to the desired location. It also measures the temperature, elevation, and has a built in digital compass. The BackTrack D-TOUR will record up to 48 hours of tracked trail which can later be uploaded onto a computer. This creates a map of where you have been that is complete with elevations, distances, and locations.

There is a very nice interactive tour of the functions of the BackTrack D-TOUR and the specific roles the buttons play in each menu on the Bushnell website at http://bushnell.com/all-products/gps/backtrack-d-tour#


Initial Impressions

This GPS unit is larger than I had expected, but I am impressed with the multiple functions it performs. It has four buttons: power, trip, mark, and settings. It seems fairly sturdy and strap attachment loop will come in handy for attaching it to my pack and preventing loss. The battery compartment on the back is easy to open but looks like it will stay securely shut between battery changes. The Quick Start Guide is helpful but it would be more helpful if the pictures demonstrated the steps instead of simply marking button locations. For example it would have been helpful to have a picture of what I should see when I press the `trip' button, and what you should see when a trip was actively being tracked. Most of the functions are fairly straightforward and I was able to set the time on the unit without instructions, but it would have been nice to have instructions for setting the time in the quick start guide. There is a complete users manual online that has more detailed instructions.

Trying It Out



After installing the batteries, I turned the GPS on and took the unit outdoors to get a satellite signal. Initially the satellite signal in the top right corner had a line through it showing that a satellite signal has not yet been found. After a minute or so, the line disappeared and the GPS unit was ready to use. I marked a point at my house by pressing the power button until there was a house in the lower left corner, then pressing the mark button. When I started walking the arrow on the display always pointed towards the point I had started and displayed the distance back to my house. Setting a second point was easy. I just pressed the power button until the desired symbol (house, car, star, flag, or target) appeared, and then pressed the mark button again.



I had a little trouble getting the unit to track a trip. I have now figured out that I need to press the trip button, then press it again and make sure that a walking stick figure appears in the upper right corner of the screen. When the trip is done, I press the trip button again before turning the unit off to save the trip. After a test walk with the dog I was excited to get home and see how the mapping software on the computer works.

Software Installation



The manufacturer claims that the BackTrack D-Tour will download tracking information to a Windows (XP SP1 or later) or MAC (10.4.9 or later) computer. My MacBook Pro runs OS X 10.7.5 so it should be compatible with the BackTrack D-TOUR software. I went to the website and entered my information and the serial number for the GPS (located inside the battery compartment). This was a very straightforward process and went very smoothly. So far, I have received no Bushnell related junk email as a result of this product registration.



The next step was to install the proper software onto my Mac. The website made this easy. The file downloaded smoothly and installed just fine.



I can open the BackTrack software and see the Google map that my tracks will be plotted onto.


The quick start instructions then say to turn the BackTrack D-TOUR on and plug it into the Mac with the program open. I did this and nothing happened. I also tried looking for the GPS in the finder window to get the information that way but the computer does not seem to recognize that the GPS is plugged in. At this point I have tried multiple things to get my trips to upload to the program. It looks like the GPS recognizes that it is connected to a computer but the computer is not recognizing that the GPS is connected. I will follow up with the company and report on this issue again in the Field report. 

The quick-start instructions have the following instructions and related pictures demonstrating what should happen when the GPS is connected. It looks like a very functional and useful mapping program.  

Summary

I am very excited to use the BackTrack D-TOUR to help with navigation and trip mapping and hope that I can sort out the computer troubles I am having. The unit itself is easy to use for marking locations, looking at the temperature and elevation, and navigating back to marked locations. I had more trouble getting it to track trips and upload them to the computer but will keep working on figuring this out and will report what I discover in my next report.

FIELD REPORT

Field Conditions:

I tested the BackTrack D-Tour GPS unit on two two-night car camping trips, weekly day hikes, bikes rides and runs. Early in the test period, I moved to a new region, so all of the trails were new to me but I stuck to fairly well-traveled paths. I encountered temperatures ranging from 45 F to 90 F (7 C to 32 C) and weather in the range from beautifully sunny to mildly rainy. The elevation remained primarily between 500 and 1000 ft (150 to 300 m) above sea level.

Function in the field:

Location markers: It was easy to mark a point of interest and to get the GPS to point back towards that point when I wanted to return to that point. I tested out the accuracy of the GPS navigation to marked points and found that I typically ended up within 50 ft of the landmark I marked.

Compass: I did not use this function for navigation but can see that it would be a handy feature if you are navigating off a map to an unmarked location. The directions instruct that when using the compass, you should calibrate it by moving the GPS unit in a figure eight shape. I tested this at home where I knew where North was and found that it was accurate enough for my purposes. I did not extensively compare it with another compass.

Recording trips: At first I had a lot of trouble recording trips that would show up on the computer. No matter what I did the routes would not save and transfer to the computer. After a lot of frustration and trial and error I realized that it might be a problem with the connector cable to the computer and tried using another similarly shaped cable. This fixed the transferring problem.

To record a trip successfully, I press and hold the trip button until I get to the trip screen, then I press and hold the trip button again until the stick figure in the upper right corner starts 'walking'. When I finish my trip and want the GPS to stop recording my locations, I go to the trip screen and press and hold the trip button until the stick figure stops 'walking'. I do not know whether the GPS will record a trip even if the power is simply shut off without ending the trip recording. After my early frustrations with recording trips I am a bit leery of doing anything differently than the instruction manual but will test this in the next testing period.

Customer service: I called customer service for a replacement cord for the BackTrack D-Tour GPS and spoke with a somewhat unimpressive customer service representative. She did not seem to be particularly interested in helping make my GPS work, but since I had already diagnosed the problem I did not need much trouble shooting help. When I told her that the GPS worked with my camera cord but not with the included cord she informed me that all of the cords are standard and that I could just use my camera cord instead. She did finally agree to send me a replacement cord when I insisted that I wanted a replacement. But not until she had already asked about where I purchased the GPS unit and found out that I was a gear reviewer for BackPackGearTest.org. The replacement cord was shipped and arrived quickly and at no cost to me. It works beautifully and I have not had problems transferring data from the GPS unit with the new cord.

Ease of use: This GPS unit is very easy for me to use but it was initially somewhat tricky and frustrating to learn how to use it. Most of this problem was associated with the broken cable that came with the unit. The buttons are also very stiff and I sometimes have a hard time pressing them down hard enough.

Durability: I did not have any accidents with the GPS during this test period. I have not noticed any cosmetic or functional problems with the BackTrack D-Tour as a result of my field testing but I have been fairly careful with it and have not dropped it or gotten it wet.

Computer interface:

Once I got a working cord to connect the GPS unit to the computer I found the user interface to be very easy to use. I plug in the BackTrack D-Tour, open the program and it automatically imports the tracked routes. It keeps a list of all the routes on the left side of the screen by date but also allows you to rename each route with a more descriptive title. You can show or hide each route which makes it possible to look at multiple routes at the same time.

At first I had a hard time figuring out how to access other information about the route. I knew that the GPS tracks speed, elevation, and distance but could not find these in the program. Then I discovered a small gray bar with dots that is centered at the very bottom of the map. Clicking on this bar brings up a subpanel that plots the elevation, temperature, and speed as a function of either distance or time. A nice feature is that if you move the cursor along the graph, it shows a dot on the map demonstrating where in the path those conditions occurred.


During this phase of the test I changed computers and had to reinstall the software to a new MacBook Pro. It was easy to install and when I signed in with my user ID and password, the program automatically retrieved my stored data from the online server. Now I am able to download the trips to either computer and they are accessible on either computer. I am amazed at how easy it was to set up and appreciate that I did not lose any data and can easily access my trips on multiple computers.

Summary:

In general, once I learned the quirks of this GPS, I found that it was very easy to use. This GPS unit gave me extra confidence while exploring new trails. When I wasn't sure which direction I should go, I would mark a location on the GPS and know if the trail disappeared I could at least make it back to that point to try another direction. In the field testing I mostly stuck to fairly well traveled trails and did not do any bushwhacking or map-based orienteering. For backpacking trips I think that this would make it into my back because of the safety net it provides, but on day hiking trips on fairly obvious trails, I think that the real benefit is in being able to map my route after I return home so that I can repeat hikes or share favorite hikes with others. The best trails are sometimes hard to find and often poorly mapped. In the past I have learned about trails from others and then often struggled to find them again on my own. This GPS makes it easy to save the route for later and know exactly where the trailhead and trail are.

LONG TERM REPORT

Field Conditions:

During this phase of testing, I used the BackTrack D-Tour GPS unit on three snowshoeing day trips. I encountered temperatures ranging from 0 F to 25 F (-18 C to -4 C) and both sunny and snowy conditions. The elevation ranged from 400 to 1200 ft (120 to 365 m) above sea level. I traveled in new areas and did some off-trail snowshoeing.

Performance:

This GPS unit performed just fine for me throughout the testing period. It worked well in below freezing temperatures. During the test period I never got lost enough to need to use this unit to find my way back to the trail but I did mark locations and then let it guide me back and in these staged tests the GPS performed well. It was easy to follow the arrow on the GPS unit back to the desired marked location and the location was accurate enough that it would have guided me back to a campsite or trail adequately. The battery lasted a long time between chargings, and the data it collected was fairly accurate for well-documented trails with comparison data.

Summary:

This GPS unit worked well for day hiking, snowshoeing, and biking but it was a little large for taking on runs.  During these shorter trips I mostly used the GPS unit for information about elapsed time, average speed, and current speed but the real reason the GPS unit was worth bringing along was the detailed route, distance, speed, and elevation data that I could download and analyze when I returned home.

For longer trips, this served as a backup navigational aid but would only have been helpful (beyond its function as a compass) if I was diligent enough to mark locations regularly. On day hikes in new areas I did stop to mark a point when I wasn't sure I was on the right trail. This gave me to confidence to explore without fearing that I would get terribly lost. I think that this GPS is useful as it is but would be so much better with a few additional features. I would like to be able to program in new marked locations using the computer interface before I leave on a trip. I would also like to be able to backtrack along my path, say, by navigating back to my location 30 or 60 or 90 minutes ago.  The GPS unit is already storing this information but the ability to access and use this information would make it so much more useful as a safety navigational aid.

Pros

  • Route tracking makes repeating a hike easy
  • Navigation to marked points is far better than breadcrumbs!
  • Provides detailed information about each trip
  • Simple functions are easy to use

Cons/Potential improvements

  • The buttons are hard to press
  • It would be really nice if I could load some points into the marked locations before a hike.  I could then use it to help me find the trailhead or campsites.
  • It is a little bulky and is too bulky to comfortably take running
  • The original cord that came with the unit was defective, but company replaced it free of charge
I would like to thank Bushnell and BackPackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the BackTrack D-TOUR.




Read more reviews of Bushnell gear
Read more gear reviews by Katie Montovan

Reviews > Navigation and Map Gear > GPS > Bushnell BackTrack D Tour > Test Report by Katie Montovan



Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to BackpackGearTest.org. Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

If you are an avid backpacker, we are always looking for enthusiastic, quality reviewers. Apply here to be a gear tester.


All material on this site is the exclusive property of BackpackGearTest.org.
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson