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GPS recomendtions


Traildad
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I am looking to upgrade my GPS unit from the old Magellian Meridian I have. From my experience one of the most important features of a GPS for hiking is the map. Having a map with the trails on it can be a big help. I have looked around and haven't been able to find any info describing map content regarding hiking trails. What GPS do you use and how do you rate its map? If money was no object, what would you buy today? If you were shopping on a budget, what would you buy today? I see that many modern GPS receivers have lots of bells and whistles. I think I will stick to a good but plain gps'r. I really hope there is one with a map that shows at least all city, county, state and federal parks and their trails systems. I was out the other day and after 4 hours of hiking I wanted to find the shortest way back to my car. Pressing backtrack would only take me backwards on the 4 hour hike I had already made. A good GPS map of the trails would have allowed me to find a shorter trail if one existed. I look forward to your suggestions. Thanks for the help. Ken

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Aaron Zagrodnick

I've honestly never used a dedicated outdoor GPS unit so I wouldn't be able to suggest a particular unit or brand, however in regards to specific detailed trail information I'd say a paper topo map of the area you'll be hiking in is hard to beat and may end up being more accurate than digital maps depending on publication dates. However, I do use the Gaia GPS app on my smartphone, not for navigation but just for the fact that it allows me to download all of the USGS topos and aerial imagery for very large areas, the equivalent to a huge and unwieldy amount of paper maps. And if you need to spot check your position it works for that as well. You can also navigate with the app if you wanted, but you're limited by the phone's battery life and I find using a paper map less of a distraction.

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Battery life is one of the main benefits of a gps'r over a phone. A map on a gps'r or a phone shows you exactly where you are on the map. A paper map has advantages if you know how to use it well. I prefer the GPS'r for those reasons. Thanks for the reply.

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Aaron Zagrodnick

Yeah, I wouldn't rely on the phone for full-time navigation, especially with the battery life concern, but if you just need to spot check your position from time to time and for use as a backup it works pretty well, and I've had batteries last over a week+ used this way. (Turning the phone off when not in use) In regards to the dedicated GPS unit though, maybe something like the Garmin Oregon 600t might be what you're looking for?

Oregon 600t comes with built-in US topographic data for the entire US, including Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, and a worldwide basemap with shaded relief — all the tools for serious climbing or hiking. Map detail includes national, state and local parks and forests, along with terrain contours, elevation information, trails, rivers, lakes and points of interest.

Looks like it comes with 100K U.S. maps and the ability to add 24K, although you could run into battery life issues there as well, but perhaps more convenient to deal with AA's on the Garmin vs. the phone and a rechargeable battery pack or something along those lines.

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Traildad..........

I've used a Garmin GPSMAP 62s for many years with good results.

http://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/prod63801.html?cID=145?pID=63801

It's a pretty old school unit, but that is what I like. It comes with a built in base map, but you'll have to buy an additional sectional map to get better details. There is a national map, as I recall, but it is not as detailed as the sectional maps. I've been told there are web sites where you can download maps and save money, but I have never explored the possibility. No touch screen, it has old fashion buttons that work fine.

It has 1.7 GB memory, and Garmin says its waterproof. I have gotten mine wet, but waterproof sounds a bit extreme of a claim.

What I especially love is that it's durable, and has a really good sensitive GPS antenna. I've always gotten a strong signal. Works every time.

Garmin has a 62 model with a built in camera, a 64s model with satellite imagery, and a more high tech Oregon and Montana series.

I prefer the simple and durable 62s, Garmin makes a bunch of good products.

Gary M.

Olathe, Kansas

Edited by Gary M
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Traildad,

I have used a Garmin Vista HcX for many years and works well for me. Purchased it several years after the more sensitive antenna's became the standard. I use SD add-on chips to get detail topo maps (mostly use the colo/utah chip as most of my hiking is in my home state of colorado), also purchased one for: wy/idaho/montana as I get up to those areas reasonably regularly. These have 1:24000 detail. Also have the national chip, but as gary m says, it is not nearly as detailed (1:100,000 I think?). These SD chips are a bit pricey at $90-$100 per, but I have only had to purchase the (3) I have mentioned over the past 8 years. I always have a paper map as backup, along with a compass (additionally, my altimeter watch has a compass mode that I have only used very occasionally). I will typically lay in waypoints before heading out on a trip, and that along with the topo display via the SD chips means I don't have to refer to the paper map very often. Carry the paper backup as electronics can always fail!

I have never tried the phone apps--mainly because the displays are way too small for my aging eyes!

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  • 1 month later...
Blackdiamond1194

My favorite is my Samsung Galaxy SIII with the BackCountry Navigator app. Download detailed maps to the phone while a wifi connection is available then hit the trail. The Samsung phone has replaceable batteries ($35 for two on Amazon) and I have three extras with me.

I have an old Garmin Vista that I take along as a backup. The Garmin acquires satellites a little quicker and more reliably in canyons and other line of sight issues. It also keeps locked onto the sats while in my shirt pocket, so I use it to record my track.

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