Rating: 4 / 5
The new Garmin Colorado ia a MAPPING GPS and comes in various versions. I got the 300 version as it comes UNLOADED (no maps). The purchaser must buy Garmin's "Topo 2008" Mapsource CD for another $90. download it into your computer and then upload it into your (4 MB) SD card. You must remember, to upload ALL of the US Topo 2008 map you'll need 2 SD cards. I uploaded all the U.S. west of the Missippi plus western Pennsylvania on one card. That is close to the maximum number of maps the 300 model will accomodate, regardless of SD card capacity. Uploading 1/2 the U.S.takes at least 45 minutes so be prepared.
I prefer this method of the 300 model to the Colorado 400T (T for Topo)because the 300 will have much more memory for uploading other Garmin-friendly topo user stuff found online.
Using any of the Garmin Colorado series is far easier if you order Cabela's Colorado Series instructional DVD "Getting the Most From Your GPS".
Garmin is very short on instructions and this DVD is a MUST to fully utilize all the functions without getting extremely frustrated. (Garmin, are you reading this??)
Once you learn to edit waypoints, form routes and tracks, calibrate and use the compass and altimiter and use the trip computer you'll find any of the Colorado series very accurate and relatively easy to use. This Colorado GPS will pick up satellites far better than any of my friends' GPS units when we are in tall timber or canyons. It's worth the extra $$.
Mapping GPS is the future of GPS usage and the Colorado, and newer touch-screen Oregon series from Garmin are just about the best out there.
I would recommend using lithium batteries for their longer life and lighter weight. And, yes, the Colorado series uses batteries more rapidly than non-mapping Garmin models so, unless you are doing a route on your GPS, I'd advise turning it on only when necessary.
Garmin's "Topo 2008" Mapsource can be used on your computer for marking a route and printing it (on waterproof paper) to carry with you, along with your compass. This is still cheaper and more compact than using a real USGS topo map. A map and compass are mandatory backup items when using any GPS - but you already knew that.