Planning to Navigate when the Internet is Down

In today’s world, where smartphones and the Internet are a daily part of our lives, navigation is something that most people don’t have to think about daily. Most people who live in a big city know the areas around their home, school, work, grocery store, pharmacy, hospital, and all the essential places.

But when it comes to survival and emergency preparedness, planning to navigate is something that needs to be considered. At the minimum, you must always carry a compass and learn the basics of navigation. You have to be prepared. In case power is down or the Internet lines are disabled, here are your options for navigation.  In the mean time earn income and check out this Chad Kimball course to plan.

1. Download offline map apps.

Map apps come with offline mode for a reason – to guide you when you’re getting off the grid, when you don’t have a local SIM card and data, or if you encounter emergencies when the Internet is down. The good news is, you can still rely on your smartphone or tablet’s maps. Most navigation apps can work entirely offline, and GPS in most smartphones and tablets doesn’t need an internet connection to work.

On both Android and iOS devices, any mapping app comes with an ability to track your location without needing to connect to the Internet. The GPS on your phone still works.

Where to Buy
Garmin Oregon 450t Handheld GPS Navigator
Garmin Drive 61 USA LMT-S GPS Navigator System with Lifetime Maps, Live Traffic and Live Parking, Driver Alerts, Direct Access, TripAdvisor and Foursquare data
Garmin inReach Mini (Gray) Satellite Communicator Bundle with Hiking Backpack Tether | Belt, Carabiner Clip | Hiking GPS, Waterproof, GEOS Emergency Response
Bad Elf 2200 GPS Pro (Black/Silver)

When you are connected to the Internet, your phone uses an assisted GPS, which uses the locations of cellphone towers to figure out your location. When you first open the navigation app, you may probably see your location go from a big blue circle to a smaller, more precise one. That big circle comes from the cell tower and crowd-sourced Wi-Fi information, while the more precise circle comes once the GPS satellite information gets added to the mix. Assisted GPS doesn’t work without data service, but the GPS radio can still get information directly from the satellites if needed.

Finding the initial location can take longer without Internet, but the accuracy will be more dependent on things outside of your control, like surroundings and terrain.

There are different navigation apps in the market, but not all are created equal. Here are some of the best offline maps to download while you’re connected to the Internet to prepare yourself for any emergency:

  • Google Maps
  • CityMaps2Go
  • GuruMaps
  • Here WeGo
  • Maplets
  • AllTrails

2. Stockpile preparedness maps.

If the grid goes down, the Internet is inaccessible, and your electronic devices stop working, you may need to rely on your good old-fashioned paper maps. Trail maps, roadmaps, and topographic maps can be extremely valuable, especially in an off-grid disaster situation.

For road maps, you can get a local one, a national driving atlas, or the maps of your surrounding areas. Better yet, get all these and keep it in the glove compartment of your vehicle. This way, you can be ready to go when SHTF.

Topographical maps are also great for times when you need to bug out on foot. These maps are packed with useful information. You can print it online or buy from most outdoor hiking stores. Topographical maps include information about water sources, the difficulty of terrain, roads and trails, buildings, railroads, campgrounds, and vegetation.

3. Use GPS devices.

Owning a GPS device will give you an advantage when you have to deal with navigation. GPS devices can provide you a wealth of information that can be useful during the early stages of a disaster. Here are the kinds of GPS devices that can be helpful to you:

Hiking or backpacking GPS devices

These devices are designed for rugged situations. Their main abilities are pointing out possible routes, providing topographical information, and downloading waypoints. You can get your entire route, including campsites, caching points, and watering holes.

  • Garmin Oregon 450t Handheld GPS Navigator 

    This GPS navigator from Garmin is one of the high-end GPS units that has been highly rated, and it can give you great information about the place that you’re traversing. From 3D views to wireless share and route data, this device can give you major advantages compared to using ordinary paper maps. The touchscreen display is readable even in direct sunlight, plus its GPS receiver is high in sensitivity.

  • Garmin Drive 61 USA LMT-S GPS Navigator System 

    If you want a screen-centric GPS, the Garmin Drive 61 USA LMT-S GPS Navigator System is for you. It features back-up camera compatibility with its GPS navigation abilities. It comes pre-loaded with lifetime maps of the US, plus you can enjoy a long-lasting battery and spoken turn-by-turn directions. You just need to take care of this GPS because it can be hard to carry at your side when you’re out without fear of damaging the screen.

  • Garmin inReach Mini 

    Smaller than most smartphones, the Garmin inReach Mini navigator does more than pinpointing a location. It comes with a spine mounting kit with a belt clip and a USB charging cable. This small GPS device is packed with a variety of functions, from clock to messaging, to weather updates and emergency response.

  • Bad Elf 2200 GPS Pro 

    The Bad Elf 2200 GPS Pro is more connected to the outside world than the best cellphone service carrier. This device is an external GPS receiver that uses Bluetooth to feed GPS data directly up to five iOS devices. It displays latitude, longitude, altitude, direction, speed, and time on its backlit LCD screen. It comes with 100 hours of data storage and can come with 16 to 35 hours of battery life.

Car GPS Devices

The great thing about GPS devices is that it can give you the ability to reroute and recalculate your destinations during an emergency quickly. If you have a GPS in your car, you can rely on it when the Internet is down, and you need to evacuate. But during a mass evacuation scenario, when everyone is trying to get out of town, then these devices may cause you to become stuck in traffic, as everyone else is probably using their GPS, too. During these kinds of situations, take the alternative back-road routes, not the first route suggestion.