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good hiking gps under $150
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Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: good hiking gps under $150 on 02/28/2013 21:09:44 MST Print View

I use eTrex for my recreation GPS mostly for geocache and it's pretty good, as far recreational GPS goes.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: Re: good hiking gps under $150 on 02/28/2013 21:27:15 MST Print View


Edited by rmjapan on 06/19/2015 10:45:49 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: good hiking gps under $150 on 02/28/2013 21:53:24 MST Print View

"It updates GPS sat postion data every 2 weeks thru a PC so it can lock on to a signal really quickly too."

That is really funny.

GPS satellites are not geostationary, so their position in space is constantly changing rapidly.

Most GPS receivers get ephemeris data in the downlink, so the fine data on the satellite orbits is updated frequently, like every 15 minutes. Plus, GPS receivers don't need a PC or a network connection.


Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: Re: Re: Re: good hiking gps under $150 on 02/28/2013 23:16:23 MST Print View


Edited by rmjapan on 06/19/2015 10:45:14 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: good hiking gps under $150 on 03/01/2013 00:14:25 MST Print View

"Frankly Bob, I could care less about the technical aspects of how it aquires a signal."

Yes, I agree, you don't understand much about GPS.

All GPS receivers within the last 15 years or so use supplementary orbital data (the ephemeris data). It's just that they do it a lot easier, more automatically, faster, and better than the camera.


Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Camera on 03/01/2013 05:56:55 MST Print View

My camera (Nikon AW100) has a built in GPS, but the darn thing won't tell me my co-ordinates. The GPS tags your pictures with the co-ordinates but you can't view them until you're back home.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: Camera on 03/01/2013 06:47:20 MST Print View


Edited by rmjapan on 06/19/2015 10:44:38 MDT.

Michael Driscoll
(Hillhikerz) - F

Locale: Monterey Bay
good hiking gps under $150 on 03/01/2013 09:32:47 MST Print View

My 2 cents... etrex20... old school the compass & bring a map...

In the last 2 years or less the big 3 of hiking GPS units G, M, D have gone online 24k downloadable for the country (I had a beef with G on that one) a $30. dollar service a year (download a map where ever you think you may be before it expires) I have used all 3 and G is OK... this will make the unit play nice for geochache use...

If entering a lot of waypoints manually I prefer a D but that is not common...

I have noticed REI has the G 100k micro SD card for the country going for $19 at the moment in some of there stores, not everyone's cup of tea, but a good cheap fit for the E20...

While a GPS can do a bunch of stuff I mostly just use them for tracking where I was & where a pre-selected camp site is or my car if I can not see...

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: good hiking gps under $150 on 03/01/2013 10:10:54 MST Print View

I got all the maps for my eTrex 20 from GPSFileDepot. The topos and trails for Missouri and Kansas have been accurate for me and are very small.


kevin smith
gps on 03/02/2013 07:14:37 MST Print View

thanks for all the info guys

very informative

im not really into the whole it has this or that or can do this or that aspect of gps technology i just need something super user friendly and easy to understand so even a dummy like me can use it

i dont really care how it does its thing as long as it works simplicity is key as

like i have stated earlier im just not very tech savvy

as long as the unit has a good compass and can mark waypoints and take me to them

thats all i will really need

so far the garmin dakota 10 and etrex 20 are looking pretty good

im sure there are others out there in my price range like the venture hc which i had
and sold because i couldn t figure out how to use it

hopefully ill find one that even i can use successfully


Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
smartphone issues on 03/02/2013 10:05:08 MST Print View

Jeff made some good points about issues with smartphones, that some have already addressed, but to toss in my 2 cents ...

"First, I've seen plenty of cases where smartphones can't maintain satellite fix but my GPS can. Maybe this is limited to slightly older units I have tried. Maybe it's because the GPS antenna in the phone isn't nearly as good as the one built into my GPS."

I agree that this is a valid concern. For me, what matters ultimately is the empirical rather than the theoretical; I've used the GPS built into multiple smartphones in the past and have had overall good results. It's not just the antenna, it's also the chipset built into the device, and these have been getting better. I think it's also a matter of expectations; I realize that a multi-function device typically doesn't do "best in class" at any of the functions.
And now adding GLONASS helps IMO to mitigate time to lock on and ability to lock on and accuracy. This web page gives a good sense, I think, of what GLONASS adds to the picture (and I would add that in "the real world" those times when I pick up more satellites my smartphone does so much better at locking in and giving me an accurate position fix):

"Either way, I don't find a smartphone to be a reliable GPS device, and GPS devices themselves aren't considered 100% reliable."

I don't know how to respond to this one; a heart pacemaker isn't 100% reliable, but it's hopefully "reliable enough". I've never had an issue with a GPS or smartphone failing to work as designed, and I've used a number of alternatives over a number of years. I don't mean to debate the value of learning to use map and compass (!), but I don't see this as an argument to factor in.

I will agree that some GPS units are designed to be more tough and/or waterproof, and in fact most backcountry GPS units are indeed more so than most smartphones. It's another trade-off. In something like 9000 miles of backpacking I've always carried a GPS-enabled smartphone in a neoprene or similar case on a pack strap and have never had an issue as a result. Well, up to last week, which I think was somewhat of a special case, a couple of pieces of bad luck had to line up in that situation (lost my smartphone in deep snow while leading a snowshoe trip). And I could have lost a GPS in just the same way.

"Second, my GPS is IPX7 waterproof rated, and it is in a ruggedized case with rubber corners to absorb shock. My phone would do poorly if I were to drop in into a mud puddle, creek, or onto a rock."

Agreed, per above, but ... also question how significant a factor this is, per above. My smartphone in a snack-sized ziplock does just fine against rain. Sometimes a bit of a PITA using the touchscreen that way, but in the infrequent times when I need it, no problem.

"Third, cell batteries are much more expensive and difficult to find, and don't last as long as my GPS batteries. In a pinch, just about any corner gas station has AA batteries."

This is actually the prime reason that I carried a standalone GPS on the CDT --- one encounters a lot more situations where a GPS is a helpful on that trail, and being able to carry spare lightweight lithium batteries and use the GPS as much as I wanted without thereby compromising my ability to take photos or to journal, that made it worth carrying a separate GPS. But for most trips, including long distance trips, I find that a spare battery or two for my smartphone is plenty. Really, cell phone batteries can last quite a long time with some education on how to limit default-mode power drains.

"Finally, if my phone is my GPS, and while using it I break it or the batteries die, I've not only lost my supplemental navigation device, I've also lost my ability to call for help."

I think that you're saying that by keeping the smartphone handy (to use as a GPS), you expose it to more risk, whereas if you just had a dumb phone you might wrap it in something protective and store it deep in your pack --- something along that line?

Acknowledged. Since my phone is an all-in-one device for me, I always keep it handy anyway, so for me at least there's no incremental risk exposure. And I've got a pretty good track record at carrying the phone with no problem. Leading a snowshoe trip last week was a real exception for me; I think in part it had to do with the distractions of "playing leader". On solo trips I've just not had a problem with pulling the phone out to take pictures or infrequently make a voice recording or whatever while on the trail.

A related point is that carrying a separate phone, GPS, and camera (and maybe more devices) adds to weight carried, as well as complexity. And I really like that my photos end up on my internet-capable device, ready to be uploaded directly. And that if I end up hiking somewhere unanticipated, I can download maps on the fly for my GPS. For example, that happened in 2011 when early season creek crossings were so fierce my hiking companion and I had to bail out of the Bob Marshall wilderness and do one long-assed walk-around. Unanticipated walk-arounds are typical on the PCT and CDT, more commonly due to fires. But there are a lot of potential situations where a person can be taking a long walk and end up going somewhere they hadn't planned on from home.

"Maybe for casual hikes, it is okay, but otherwise, I am very reluctant to adopt the "multi-use" philosophy in this particular area."

Each to their own, of course, but I hope I've been clear in laying out the logic "on the other side" of this, for why the smartphone multi-use approach can be a good one for more than casual hikes.

Jeff McWilliams
(jjmcwill) - M

Locale: Midwest
Re: Smartphone Issues on 03/02/2013 12:18:22 MST Print View

Good points, Brian.

My experience has been mainly with two smart phones. An older HTC smartphone used by a friend, and my Samsung Galaxy "S". The Galaxy S was released in September, 2010, and has long since been replaced in Samsung's smartphone lineup by newer models, specifically the Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy Tab.

While hiking and geocaching in Michigan's Upper Peninsula in the winter of last year, my Lowrance Endura GPS had no issues maintaining a lock in the Tahquamenon Falls area, while my friend's HTC smartphone completely lost the ability to determine its GPS location.

In another recent incident, I tried using my Galaxy "S" with "MapMyRide" to record a mountain bike ride I did here in Southeast Michigan. On a 6 mile loop, the phone successfully logged about 1.5 miles of the route, and lost the rest. It was stored in the upper pocket of my day pack during the entire ride. On that same trail, I've never had a problem using a Garmin Forerunner 305 to record the entire route.

I also read articles like this one, of a hiker in New York's Adirondack High Peaks, who needed rescuing because he was trying to use his phone to navigate, and his batteries failed.

Granted - these are anecdotal. I agree that newer phones may have better GPS receiver chipsets with improved sensitivity. I also agree that a phone with GPS capability and downloaded maps is better than nothing. However, I still trust a GPS more, because of experiences like these and after reading articles like the one above.

I also never go out into unfamiliar territory without a printed map and a compass, because truthfully, I don't trust my GPS receiver 100% either. On the other hand, I've been in cases where I was socked in by fog, and I liked the peace of mind knowing I could pull up my location on my GPS if my map & compass nav skills had failed me.