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Buying a new GPS, please advise.
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Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Buying a new GPS, please advise. on 12/13/2009 10:08:36 MST Print View

Hey Ya'll,

I'm an experienced GPS user, and shopping for a new one. Anyone have any opinions on which way to go?

It seems like Garmin remains the main game in town, I'm OK with that.

Essentially there are three options:

Legend/Vista HCx: best battery life, most readable screen, cheapest, but a small screen with a clunky interface. It's kind of old technology.

Dakota 20: A small, lightweight touch screen. Screen is harder to read in full sun. Reviews of it are mixed but decent. Has a shorter battery life.

Oregon 300: Large, hi-technology option. Poorer battery life but it makes use of the latest in whiz-bang tech. Best for reading maps, etc It's expensive.

What do ya'll recommend?

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Buying a new GPS, please advise. on 12/13/2009 10:15:37 MST Print View

Garmin foretrex 301 for me.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Buying a new GPS, please advise. on 12/13/2009 10:25:16 MST Print View

I'm looking for a mapping GPS. The foretex is nice and simple though.

David W.
(Davidpcvsamoa) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
Re: Re: Buying a new GPS, please advise. on 12/13/2009 10:28:11 MST Print View

I have an Oregon 200 that I am enjoying. The one negative for me was the maps it came with, which need to replaced/supplemented. After adding a memory card I was able to load North America Topo maps and road maps both of which work great. This model has also been criticized for the screen brightness but I have generally found it not to be an issue. I can read the screen in the sun even with sun glasses on. The battery life is good and its ability to acquire a signal is great. The touch screen controls are excellent.

Here is a review I found helpful:

Oregon Review

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Re: Re: Buying a new GPS, please advise. on 12/13/2009 10:53:18 MST Print View

What source do you use for adding maps?

David W.
(Davidpcvsamoa) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Buying a new GPS, please advise. on 12/13/2009 11:29:36 MST Print View

I installed Garmin's Topo 2008 for trails and City Navigator 2009 for roads.

I bookmarked this site: which someone else on this forum posted as a place to get future maps. However, I have not had a reason to grab maps from this site yet and can't comment on its maps.

Edited by Davidpcvsamoa on 12/13/2009 11:30:23 MST.

Joe Kuster
(slacklinejoe) - MLife

Locale: Flatirons
Buying a new GPS, please advise on 12/13/2009 18:39:55 MST Print View

If your adding maps, might as well get the 400T. Simply put, I've changed my expectations for pathfinding after owning it for a year. I now expect to be able to navigate in the worst conditions possible and not only stay on my planned route, but when things get dicey due to conditions, switch routes by using the information on the device. It's simply amazing and the firmware updates have addressed pretty much all of the initial complaints. Battery life is good, but not as good as some B&W models. My 400t with locked screen and only using enough backlight for my needs tends to last as long as my Gecko 301 did.

I went with the 400, but the others can work as you can download 3rd party maps, some of them are quite good and almost all are free. It takes a bit more technical prowest and patience to get it done however.

Edited by slacklinejoe on 12/13/2009 18:42:20 MST.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Buying a new GPS, please advise on 12/13/2009 22:51:38 MST Print View

Joe, thanks. I'm seriously considering the Oregon model. I think that I'd go with the 300, rather than the 400t. While the 400t has maps included, you cannot load those maps on your computer. If you buy the 300, and the map DVD, then you have the maps on your GPS and computer for the same price.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Buying a new GPS, please advise... on 12/14/2009 00:11:28 MST Print View


Edited by skopeo on 04/28/2015 11:46:36 MDT.

Willy P
(uuilly) - F

Locale: Sierra
Delorme? on 12/14/2009 01:16:48 MST Print View

Right now I'm looking at the delorme PN-40. I like the features + the data plan but they don't have mac support.

Also baffled that Oregon 400 can't load maps but the Oregon 300 can?

Every time I research this decision I end up retreating to a compass, mechanical altimeter and a map. It's always un-appealing interfaces, lack of mac support or bad data plans that send me away. Perhaps I'm misinformed. I would really like to hear people's positive experiences.

Don Selesky
(backslacker) - M
Re: Delorme? on 12/14/2009 05:48:45 MST Print View

"Right now I'm looking at the delorme PN-40. I like the features + the data plan but they don't have mac support."

Yes, but you can set your Mac up for dual boot.

For the record, running Windows under Parallels will *not* let you sync up your GPS - you need to have Windows on bare hardware, although Garmin's Topo program runs fine there, obviously.

Brian Johnson
(Sirclimbsalot) - F

Locale: Midwest
Just saw this thread... on 12/14/2009 10:11:05 MST Print View

I posted this deal in another thread for those who are interested:

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Delorme? on 12/14/2009 10:32:05 MST Print View

"Also baffled that Oregon 400 can't load maps but the Oregon 300 can?"

No, that's not true. Both can load maps, and the 400 also comes preloaded with 100k maps of the entire US.

The advantage of the 300 is that it DOESN'T come preloaded with those maps. You have to buy them separately. But the map DVD costs $100 (which is the price difference between the 300 and 400, so it's a wash). Owning the DVD lets you install the maps on your computer as well as the GPS. That's an advantage over the preinstalled 400t.

Willy P
(uuilly) - F

Locale: Sierra
Ahh, thanks. on 12/14/2009 14:55:34 MST Print View

That makes sense. Thank you.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Colorado 300 on 12/15/2009 12:19:23 MST Print View


I agree, get the Garmin Oregon THREE HUNDRED so you have the maps on your computer. I did the same thing when purchasing a Colorado 300. And buy the "camera ready" SD card W/ the gold contacts, and in a 4 MB size so you have plenty of room for the maps and any improved map version in the future.

To my mind Garmin's Oregon it the best mapping GPS currently on the market. Plus its battery life is somewhat better than my Colorado GPS. BUT, you'll need to go to Cabela's and buy the Bennett Marine DVD on how operate the Oregon's many capabilities as Garmin gives you only rudimentary instructions. That's what I had to do with my Colorado.

Edited by Danepacker on 12/15/2009 12:23:57 MST.

Brad Smith
(DocOne) - F

Locale: Southwest
New GPS on 12/15/2009 20:48:36 MST Print View

I have a Garmin Legend HCx and strongly recommend the memory card version if you purchase the Legend/Vista. With a 2GB card you can get both road and topo maps loaded for at least 1/4 of the US on one card. Overall I'm very happy with this unit - the high precision receiver tracks well and it is relatively easy to use with just a bit of toying around.

I personally recommend grabbing the free topo and trail maps from and routable street maps (openmaps) from here:

Once you load them the topo maps are often better than the ones from Garmin, and the road maps are good enough for most applications.

If I'm going to a particular site, I will often download key waypoints/landmarks directly to the unit from google maps to supplement the free maps. Then I'll add the area geocaches and head out.


Edited by DocOne on 12/15/2009 20:49:29 MST.

Alexander Laws
(goldenmeanie) - F

Locale: Los Angeles
oregon 300 on 12/15/2009 21:24:27 MST Print View

The Oregon 300 is on sale at LLBean for $299 at the present...

Ben R
(snowfiend131) - MLife

Locale: Western PA
What did you buy? on 01/02/2010 12:33:35 MST Print View


I'm in the same boat, and considering the Oregon or Vista Hcx. What did you end up buying, and why?


Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Garmin Geko 301 on 01/02/2010 14:30:09 MST Print View

At first I wanted something with the cool mapping abilities until I decided that if the unit failed and I didn't carry a backup map I would be out of luck.

In the end I opted for a Garmin Geko 301: cheap and light.

Someone sold it for dirt cheap on ebay because they wanted the cool map stuff. I think I payed $50 with an adapter that lets me run it off a cigarette lighter in the car and upload/download to my computer.

For backpacking/hunting I use it to get a compass setting for my next way-point then turn it off or read the UTM coordinates to find my place on a printed map.

Mark Stalbird
(Off-road) - F
"buying a new GPS" on 01/02/2010 16:19:13 MST Print View

I personally prefer units free of previously installed maps.

I like creating my own routes,drawing,color cordinating trails,yes...i like to play.
I use Mapsource and Topo USA.

I've always used Garmins as they seem to be "the main game in town".