While making hybrid maps worked ok for me I was always looking for a way to streamline the process. In 2005 while reading Outside Magazines Gear of the Year issue I came across the solution. In that issue there was a review of the Trimble RECON, a beefy GPS unit that exceeds military specifications for drop, vibration, immersion and operating temperatures. It also had better accuracy than the consumer grade GPS I had been using up to that point. The best part of the RECON was that georeferenced digital copies of topo maps, aerial photographs and satellite imagery could be uploaded onto the unit. This meant that I would be able to see where I was on the unit in relation to the targets I was looking for. Moreover, I was able to create custom attribute menus so that I could log very detailed vector data (points, lines, and polygons). This allowed me to come out from a hike with a very complete set of data that could immediately be uploaded into a Geographic Information System (GIS) (I will tell you more on how cool GIS is in a later post). With the RECON I was able to have everything in one hand as I hiked in the jungle. It is important to state that even today any time I venture into the jungle I still take a topo map and a compass. Why? Electronics break, batteries run down. I never had any issues with the RECON at all in the field. I upgraded to the Trimble NOMAD in 2008 it is a very solid platform too.