Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Garmin for the semi-luddite
Display Avatars Sort By:
Mike Gervais
Re: caution re thinking "unlost" button on 11/22/2013 21:43:10 MST Print View

Charlie thank you for your post. I think it is the advice I've been needing to hear. I've looked at the garmin lineup at REI a couple times in the last week and don't get a warm fuzzy for any of them.

I think I might follow your advice and map-it for a while. I don't want my excursions to be (electro) gadget-centric.

Michael Driscoll
(Hillhikerz) - F

Locale: Monterey Bay
Garmin for the semi-luddite on 11/24/2013 07:53:16 MST Print View

Hikin Jim to your ?(BTW I love my Meta 2p)... the etrex line has the 10, 20 & 30... priced at (and lets use REI)110; 180; 270... for my money a gps unit that does not have a sd card or expandable memory is a deal breaker as this is how I load custom maps and sometimes I have a 4gb img file that needs to be read... as for the 30 it has a compass, altimeter, Wireless communication; all good but I never use those features, & do not need them for 90$ more... however if you were going to do the SAR thing it may be almost mandatory to have that feature... so in the Garmin line the E-20 is a sweet spot in my mind for price and functionality it has a lot going for it; so why don't I own one; well just can not get use to the little button that runs one around all the stuff that is inside the gps... however last week I was out and about and got to play with a brand new etrex and the button had a very positive control like no other I have played with in the past; so did they change to a new type I do not know... I own a 62s and just turn off the features I do not use the best I can... I can use it in the snow and on the water the buttons have a positive feel with gloves on (most of the time) yes it is to big & heavy & the battery life could be better; but then I just try and have someone else carry it for me...

to the OP It looks like your going to take Charlies advice, & I ditto that

that being said; besides the obvious reasons to have a GPS; I like them for post trip analysis; I usually never refer to a GPS while on the trip... I like to look back on the track they record in google earth and other topo 24k programs and view the stats how fast, time spent resting, moving... last summer I did Mount Price and Mount Agassiz via Lake Aloha up the slabs of insanity and found it interesting my decisions going x-country and the route I chose up and back... will it make me a better hiker, who knows, it is probably along the lines why I take a camera and never share the pics... both of those tools help me look back on a trip; I like that...

Mike thanks for the thread...

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Re: Garmin for the semi-luddite on 11/24/2013 15:46:37 MST Print View

Michael (Driscoll), thanks for that. Several people have suggested that the eTrex 20 is the "sweet spot" in the Garmin line. I'm not sure I need a barometric altimeter in my GPS since I have one in my Suunto watch. I also don't think I need a compass (particularly if it doesn't show degrees) since I usually bring one on any trip.

As far as navigation is concerned, I think I'll still be using a lot of paper maps and terrain association. It really forces one to focus on the terrain. Documentation and post trip analysis are really what I want a GPS for. I tend to share a lot of photos on my two blogs, but I too like to have them to relive the trip. So also is how I envision my use of a GPS (although I wouldn't be adverse to using one in a tough spot, navigationally speaking, like a storm or something).

Adventures In Stoving
Hikin' Jim's Blog

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: Garmin for the semi-luddite on 11/24/2013 16:11:02 MST Print View

I agree with much that you wrote. But bear in mind, if you don't use a GPS a fair amount, you may not have the skills to just turn it on in a pinch and get what you need. At least that's the way it works for my old brain. If I don't use the gadget regularly, I won't remember how to use it when I need it.

Bill D.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Garmin for the semi-luddite on 11/24/2013 20:59:14 MST Print View

>> If I don't use the gadget regularly, I won't remember how to use it when I need it.<<

That is really true about the new Garmin's. Some of the advanced features are what make me really like my Etrex 20 but trying to remember how to take advantage of those features can be a challenge if not done frequently.

I like the custom map feature a lot, but you have to be able to convert your custom map to the correct format, bring it into Google earth and skew it to the Google earth base and save it as a KML. Then you have to bring it into Base Camp. At that point you can transfer it to your GPS. The good thing is that you can take a PDF map from a Park website that has the trails mapped on it and eventually have that map (and trails) on your GPS with your current location pointer walking the PDF trails... that's a nice feature!

I also like the fact that for $30 you can buy a subscription to Garmin's BirdsEye imagery. It's really nice to have an option to add imagery as an additional basemap on my Etrex 20. I generally have Garmin's Street mapping, Topo and BirdsEye imagery loaded on my Etrex 20. I have a few free ones as well but they are used for special areas and not always loaded.

Edited by skopeo on 11/24/2013 21:01:15 MST.

Seth R
(Lerxst) - F

Locale: Northeast
Late to the party on 11/25/2013 03:34:19 MST Print View

Just wanted to cast a vote for the Oregon 450. Found it at Cabelas for $150 (now OOS). I get all the maps I need for free at GPS depot. The unit is incredibly fast and accurate. Get some Sony Enenloops and you are G2G. Learning curve is very easy.

Jeff McWilliams
(jjmcwill) - M

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: caution re thinking "unlost" button on 11/25/2013 06:12:59 MST Print View

Another second for Charlie's advice.

And if you want to get experience using map and compass, see if there is an orienteering club in your area that runs events. Go to the events.

While a typical orienteering event happens on a smaller scale than a trek through the back country, the map reading and interpreting skills are the same.

Go check out and see what they offer. Draper seems like it should be close to you.

Stuart R
(Scunnered) - F

Locale: Scotland
Re: Garmin for the semi-luddite on 11/25/2013 15:12:05 MST Print View

>> If I don't use the gadget regularly, I won't remember how to use it when I need it.<<

If you find the interface on the Etrex series less than intuitive, consider the Dakota 10 or 20. Basically an Etrex with a touch screen.

Mike Gervais
Ordered the etrex 20 on 11/29/2013 22:18:32 MST Print View

Thanks for a very informative thread.

I'm soon to lose my discount opportunity on a Garmin purchase so ordered the etrex 20 while the getting was good. I intend to use it with map and compass. With experience I'll find which system becomes a back up to the other.

Matt Weaver
(norcalweaver) - F

Locale: PacNW
etrex 20 on 11/30/2013 11:23:22 MST Print View

I have the etrex 20 and like it, though I certainly don't use it a ton when I'm out with it. It has however saved my bacon a few times. I like to study maps and find old trails to get to otherwise relatively popular destinations, taking the "backroads" so to speak instead of the common routes. This often takes me through overgrown and indecipherable trails that some times give me difficulty in locating myself on the map. Before etrex I used a topo gps app on my phone; once it popped right up and I was able to easily locate myself and confirm that I was on the right path. Another time it couldn't locate and I had a bit of a panic attack that lead to a leap of faith and ultimately all ended well and I reached my destination, through a bit of luck and a bit of educated decision making. Since then I've carried the etrex which has never failed to quickly show my position, which gives me great peace of mind. I make it sound like I get lost all the time; I really don't! But due to the unmarked nature of a lot of my hikes, I do value the peace of mind offered by being able to quickly confirm my coordinates before I get way off track. 9 trips out of 10 I would feel comfortable leaving the gps at home but I take it along anyways because ish can and has happened to me, so the relatively low weight is a welcome addition. And it's kind of fun to have recorded documentation of some of my outings. If I were hiking on well marked trails all of the time, I would likely just stick to the physical maps.