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More Training Info > Garmin Fitness GPS Elevation Gain Accuracy

Garmin Fitness GPS Elevation Gain Accuracy

Q: I use a Garmin GPS when Iím running or hiking to record location and elevation change. Why do I keep getting such bogus readings for total gain and loss?

A. The accuracy of the latitude and longitude is superior to that of elevation data in the GPS system. Your device might tell you that on a single outing you gained 75% more elevation than you actually did! The software applications that calculate the total climb and descent cannot look at each successive track point. If the current point's elevation is higher than the prior point's elevation, your device takes the difference and adds that to the total climb. Each tooth in the sawtooth pattern of data increases the total and range of error.

However, you can a) use an altimeter watch to give you total elevation gain, loss, rate of ascent or descent, or instead of buying another device b) you can smooth or average the data, or c) you can get automated elevation correcting software. You might want to investigate Garmin's MotionBased Gravity system, MapMyRun, and the SportTracks Elevation Corection plug-in. By having more accurate elevation information you can chart all the pertinent details of your runs, hikes, and outings.



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