I've been familiarizing myself with my InReach Explorer+ and I can't figure something out. When tracking it doesn't seem to display/record the ascent/elevation gained on the device or in the Earthmate app. This seems like a critical piece of information that is missing. I'd love to rely on this device for everything but it seems thatI'll have to track on a smartphone app or GPS watch to get the information I need. Am I missing something or this is a very basic feature missing?
Track points and messages have elevation information. You can examine the elevation of individual points in a variety of ways, both on the device, in the Earthmate app, and (after sync) on the web site. However, none of these is capable of displaying an elevation profile.
You can display the current elevation in data fields on the device. But there is no measure for elevation gain or loss.
Inexplicably, waypoints apparently do not include elevation.
So, AFAIK, you can post-process your tracks to get this information. But there is no way to display it in the field.
Back before I retired, I worked in the aerospace industry with certain aspects of the Navstar Global Positioning System (which people seem to always shorten to GPS). In particular, the accuracy of altitude in GPS receivers is significantly poorer than the other 3 dimensions (east, west, and time). It is still much more accurate than almost any other method of altitude position determination. Another factor is that commercial hand-held devices are not as accurate as survey-level devices which get to the millimeter level. Commercial handheld devices also are more vulnerable to various types of interference (you may have noticed that accuracy in heavily forested areas or in areas with deep canyons or tall buildings also is much less).
And there appear to be a growing number of people playing with "spoofing" just for the fun of it (there was a recent article in a recent issue of one of the GPS-related magazines)
Still, I have to wonder how much accuracy you "need". Most maps with contour information space the contours by 10 meters or up to 40 feet.
Yes, I know that there are GPSRs that show maps, distance traveled, and altitude gained, especially geocaching-oriented widgets. I have a collection of "historical" GPSRs, some of which are Garmin (and Magellan, etc, etc, etc....)