UTM vs. Lat/Long

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colowlkr
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UTM vs. Lat/Long

Post by colowlkr » May 03 2011 8:14 pm

I notice most people use the lat and longotude settings on their GPS, but, I've always found the UTM numbers easier to find my location on a map. Can someone explain the advantages of using the lat/longs over the UTM? Many of the compasses come with the UTM grids on the surrounding plate anymore for use on your maps. I guess I've just never been educated well on using latitude and longitude!
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SuperstitionGuy
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Re: UTM vs. Lat/Long

Post by SuperstitionGuy » May 03 2011 8:43 pm

The one advantage of lat/long that may someday save your life is that is what the Arizona DPS helicopter guys are most familiar with and use when they go to pick you up when you call in that you have just been bitten by a rattle snake or have broken you leg. :scared: :whistle:
But on the other hand UTM is much preferred by search organizations when they set up search grids to look for your remains. :lone: :-({|=
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big_load
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Re: UTM vs. Lat/Long

Post by big_load » May 03 2011 10:08 pm

I use UTM except when providing information to somebody who can only deal with lat/long. Among other things, it's much easier to estimate distance and travel time on a UTM grid, especially when I'm tired/cold/hot/thirsty or otherwise not running on all cylinders.

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sbkelley
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Re: UTM vs. Lat/Long

Post by sbkelley » May 04 2011 11:17 am

With mapping in general, lat/long is a more "universal" system for the globe as whole, while UTM is better suited to smaller geographic areas (like those at which we use to hike!) The series of 60 UTM zones across the globe all reduce distortion at localized (regional) areas, but if you were to use UTM coordinates in, say, polar regions you'd get some distortion/error as compared to lat/long...you can see this effect on a wall map where Greenland and Antarctica look enormous. Many of those maps are in some form of the Mercator projection. Since we don't often hike in polar regions, this isn't an issue for us :)

You should also be aware that distortion increases a little when you're near UTM zone boundaries, so it's a good idea to know which UTM Zone you're in, as well as if you're near a zone boundary. I believe that most GPS units take this into account. Here in central Arizona, we're in UTM Zone 12, but the west part of the state gets into Zone 11.

I realize it's a long-winded answer, but UTM is perfectly fine for hiking at these latitudes, as is lat/long. It's just good to know both systems. The units of meters versus degrees, though, is why I find it easier to convey hiking distances in UTM, as big_load said. Now if you want to get away from metric, you can use the State Plane Coordinate System to get to feet, but that's another conversation ;)

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colowlkr
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Re: UTM vs. Lat/Long

Post by colowlkr » May 04 2011 5:40 pm

Thanks Guys! I always thought I was just weird for using UTM. At my job we have to use the lat and long with the decimal instead of feet and inches, but, I've always been more comfortable with UTM when hiking. :y:
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azbackpackr
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Re: UTM vs. Lat/Long

Post by azbackpackr » May 04 2011 8:07 pm

colowlkr wrote:Thanks Guys! I always thought I was just weird for using UTM. At my job we have to use the lat and long with the decimal instead of feet and inches, but, I've always been more comfortable with UTM when hiking. :y:
I have NEVER used lat long, and find it very annoying when other people do. In our search and rescue youth group we always used UTM, and it certainly is easier than messing with lat long when using topo maps. I had no idea that "a lot" of people tend to use lat long.
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Re: UTM vs. Lat/Long

Post by joebartels » Apr 05 2015 8:38 pm

UTM... now on the map
utm.png
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big_load
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Re: UTM vs. Lat/Long

Post by big_load » Apr 05 2015 8:51 pm

@joe bartels Wonderful!

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Re: UTM vs. Lat/Long

Post by Nighthiker » Apr 05 2015 9:32 pm

I use UTM's, Lat. and Long. and Township and Range. I also use protractor type compass, GPS, stars and USGS topographical maps. I like using UTM's, you can plot a "first down". Folks that use Lat. and Long. more than likely are using the decimal equivalent. When utilizing a map use the correct map datum when using a GPS and when giving coordinates to another person using a GPS make sure you are both using the same datum and coordinates.
jk

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Re: UTM vs. Lat/Long

Post by autumnstars » Apr 06 2015 12:53 pm

@joe bartels
Excellent!
I am a big fan of UTMs because one unit is roughly equivalent to one meter - that is something I can understand on the ground level.
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