Will the Trimble TopoCharger Make GPS Devices Obsolete?

Topocharger 1 Getting completely lost in the woods has never been so difficult now that the Trimble TopoCharger is on the market.

A combination smartphone power source and software integrated with more topographic maps than you could ever dream of exploring in ten lifetimes might make this package an absolute must-have for nature nuts among us.

I saw this product first-hand at Outdoor Retailer’s 2013 Summer Market and I was absolutely floored. This is a hiker’s dream. And here’s why.

Why the Trimble TopoCharger is an Important Product

Trimble Logo In recent years, dedicated GPS units have become more and more irrelevant as smartphone apps and accessories have been created to take their place. The idea is to have everything you need integrated into a single device, saving you money, pack weight, and the trouble of juggling multiple handheld machines.

Trimble Outdoors now finds itself at the forefront of that race for integration.

The company has been doing brisk business with their topographic and navigation apps, but now with the TopoCharger they’ve found a way to fully transform your phone into the only GPS unit you’ll need…if, that is, you only plan on trekking across 49 of the 50 United States.

Trimble TopoCharger: Getting Down to the Details

The Trimble TopoCharger has three main components:

  • Navigational App
  • Physical Power Source
  • Removable Chips (SD and MicroSD cards)

Topo App The navigational app features a complete set of topographical maps for nearly all the states in America (only Alaska is missing, though I’m sure it’ll become available in time). The program allows you to zoom in on maps with up to 15 levels (1:1250 to 1:24) and will show you every inch of the state in which you plan on having your adventure. The whole TopoCharger bundle doesn’t work on all device platforms, but the app is usable on iPhones and Android OS, giving it wide-open market possibilities.

The power source isn’t exactly a charger, as the name implies. In fact it’s nothing at all like a charger. What it is, though, is a battery extender, and a pretty good one at that. The shell accessory is able to double the length of your battery’s power. It comes in at just 85 grams, too, giving it a barely noticeable increase in weight. The drawback with this component, though, is that it only works for newer iPhone units (iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, and iPhone 5).

The removable chips allow you to transfer topographic maps between smartphone devices. This is particularly great if you have a family of hikers and campers, as they let you switch between iOS and Android OS phones.

All in all, the Trimble TopoCharger offers you a bundle of goodies that all but totally replaces the need for a separate GPS device. If you don’t own a smartphone (and a newer model at that), you’ll want to research all your other options before deciding on the navigational app (since you can’t use the “charger”), but those Apple fans out there are in for a real treat with this guy.

Should You Buy the Trimble TopoCharger?

Topocharger 3 For folks like me who call the Rockies home (or at least “home away from home”), and who are proud owners of iPhones, I can say that I’d absolutely recommend you give this bundle some serious consideration. The app works well , the shell does great work to make your phone last all day, and the chip SHOULD give it real versatility (I’m still waiting to get my sample from them).

That being said… you’ll still want to explore all your options before throwing down the cash.

The Trimble TopoCharger comes in at $149 (or $169 for folks living in Texas and California). And that’s a pretty penny. It’s especially “pretty” because of the limited number of maps you get. Yes, 49 of the 50 states is a pretty good deal and most of us won’t ever have to use any more than that…

But for right now, for this amount of money, you might be able to find a dedicated GPS device that’ll take you all over the world.

Bottom line: should you buy it? I say absolutely, if it offers you everything you think you need in the long run. If you’re worried that it won’t cover all your bases, though, I say wait. The bundle will either drop in price, upgrade in software, or maybe even both in the coming months and years.

I know that’s not the most definitive answer, but here’s the reason: this is a REALLY GOOD bundle of integrated navigation equipment; I’m just not sure the price is quite right yet.

If you’re looking forĀ other GPS devices, here are some cool ones from our favorite retailers:

But let’s talk about it! Do you own the Trimble TopoCharger? If so, what do you think: is it a must-have or a wait-for-more? I’m hemming and hawing about making the purchase myself, so I’ll gladly take any input you’ve got!

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