Help with GPS/Maps decision
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Bill Adams
(Twilliger) - F
Help with GPS/Maps decision on 12/21/2008 13:45:35 MST Print View

I have never used a GPS before, but am getting more interested in taking the plunge - actually have some $ right now.

question: The etrex HCx models seem affordable, but the base maps are useless - and after acquiring maps - the cost is right up there. Is it better to go big with a colorado, oregon or triton? Are these units more usable out of the box?

all thoughts appreciated

Bill

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Help with GPS/Maps decision on 12/21/2008 13:50:51 MST Print View

Hi Bill

The eTrex HCx units are pretty good. However, can I be a bit reactionary and say that nothing beats a good topo map and a compass? (If you already do this, great.)

Cheers

Charles Maguire
(hikelite) - F

Locale: Virginia
GPS on 12/21/2008 14:33:19 MST Print View

Bill I have to ditto Roger. GPS do break, batteries wear out, foilage handicaps and can prevent reception and a GPS without a map is kinda silly anyway.

Chuck

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: Help with GPS/Maps decision on 12/21/2008 14:35:35 MST Print View

Bill, I agree with Roger 100%. Any GPS is a machine and machines can fail and, according to Murphy's Law, your GPS will only fail when you are lost :-(

However, I have a GPS and love it! I really like the idea of researching a trip and uploading it to the GPS before I go and, I like the idea of downloading the trip after I return, especially if I've taken a really cool detour! The GPS allows me to keep a computerized record of my past and future trips. Also, upon my return, I load my trips into Google Earth Plus so I can see it in 3D and even do a fly-thru!

I guess this type of thing may not appeal to all but it will certainly satisfy any geek streak that one may have!

If you get a GPS, my main recommendation is that you get one with the high sensitivity chip. I think it's called SIRF III or something like that. Mine will track me through a cave (don't ask me how) whereas my old unit would loose me under the trees!

I have the Garmin MAP 60CSx which has all the map functions and will direct you turn by turn like a car GPS. I weighs a heavy 7.3 oz. All this is unnecessary for hiking and gets to be very expensive by the time one adds all the maps but, like I said, "It's cool!"

Bill Adams
(Twilliger) - F
re maps and gps units on 12/21/2008 16:33:27 MST Print View

thanks for the replies - the GPS may just be gadgeteer craving.

do the MAP models come with maps?

Should I live in Canada, on the Ontario/Quebe border and mainly hike around here, so Canadian maps are a must. NG topo appears to only cover the US

any other other thoughts on the new magellan units and the quality of the maps they come with?

Charles Maguire
(hikelite) - F

Locale: Virginia
Garmin 60Csx on 12/21/2008 16:40:50 MST Print View

Bill, although I use a 60CSx for SAR as backup only, I never hike with it, too heavy.

However, this model does comes with a basic map, but I bought the Topos Maps for my state and installed them in unit. I think they work real nice and you can put in waypoints to give you good quidance and fun, plus download your hike to computer at home to put on MapTech SW and vice-versa.

Sorry don't know about avail. of Canadian maps.

Chuck

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
GPS/Maps on 12/22/2008 03:17:58 MST Print View

Bill -

I rarely disagree with Roger's comments but I'm afraid I have to disagree with him on this one.

The reason you carry a map and compass is to figure out where you are and where you want to go. A GPS takes the guess work out of it.

Don't get me wrong, you will also take a map and compass. The 1.5 inch map on a GPS screen is nearly useless but the ability to locate your exact position and transfer it to your paper map instantly (in fog, heavy tree cover or at night) is why you carry the GPS. The compass is a backup system.

The Garmin Etrex HCx is a really good GPS that really holds a signal. The key is the "H" series, they have the high sensitvity receivers. The more expensive models (Colorado, Oregon) are aimed at the Geocaching market and are less well suited to hiking/backpacking.

As for maps, I'd recommend Garmin's Topo Canada series for hiking. If you want free maps (Canadian topo) check out:

http://www.ibycus.com/ibycustopo/

Edited by skopeo on 12/22/2008 03:21:07 MST.

NYC Hiker
(NYCHiker) - F

Locale: NYC
Re: Help with GPS/Maps decision on 12/22/2008 10:44:32 MST Print View

I now have an eTrex Legend HCx and love it.

While the Garmin maps may be nice, I prefer to make my own. Yes, it takes some time, but it's FREE!

There are lots of websites out there that describe how to create your own Garmin maps, but my favorite is this one

I find that I can tweak my maps more than Gamin's. For example, I can increase the detail on the topo features if I want. I can also make trails part of the permanent map (and I think I can make them routable, but I'm not totally sure yet).

I've found the geocaching forums a wonderful resource in creating my own maps.

Good luck!

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: GPS/Maps on 12/22/2008 14:27:19 MST Print View

Hi Mike

> The reason you carry a map and compass is to figure out where you are and where you want to go.
> A GPS takes the guess work out of it.

Ah well. One reason we don't take a GPS is that we rarely have to 'guess' where we are. Long experience with relying on the map and compass works just fine. Remember - there was a time before the GPS system existed, and we all managed just fine without it then. Not that long ago either.

Another reason is that we want to maintain our map skills to a high level, and having the GPS as a backup takes the edge off our skills. Pride ...

> (in fog, heavy tree cover or at night)
Fog - yes, this requires a lot of skill. It's possible.
Heavy tree cover - quite common, and we are used to it.
At night - I'm in my sleeping bag!

But everyone to his own style. The above is just OUR preference.

Cheers

Bill Adams
(Twilliger) - F
GPS maps out of box on 12/23/2008 13:53:27 MST Print View

Thanks for all the feedback - now know that pretty much any handheld requires either the purchase of more detailed maps (though topos seem readily available for free)or home made maps.

Personally, I am a big fan of meandering, not much for marked trails, and, witin reason, like "getting lost" and trying to find my way back, eg. knowing that I am between this marked trail and this river. Don't get me wrong, I won't do this in completely unknown territory. Getting off the trail gives me a better chance of getting away from people and closer to the wildlife. I am thinking a GPS will be useful for this sort of thing. I can't deny that "gadget syndrome" does not play role as well.

thanks for the help all