View Full Version : GPS what features do I need, recommend models.

March 31, 2002, 03:04 AM
I'm in the market for a GPS, to be used for Hunting, Hiking, and road travel. What features should I look for and any recommendations for brands and models. I can spend up to $350.

March 31, 2002, 03:31 AM
i like the garmin e-map best of all worlds imho
light weight for carrying, can load maps into it from all over...road or topo

features...upgradeable firmware, maximum ammount of waypoints possible, good battery life, built in ability to use topo/road maps!


March 31, 2002, 08:41 AM
Garmin 12XL . Works great, punch in
"mark" before you leave your house,
location, etc and you can return with
no problem.
All kidding aside i have used Garmin for
years both flying and hiking they are top

March 31, 2002, 08:43 AM
This discussion reoccurs regularly. Use the search function for some good advice. There are basically two kinds of GPS devices, those used for land navigation and those that have an electronic map. Both have their strong points. Go to www.garmin.com they make a model for just about anything. For my money Garmin was the best. Good luck.

March 31, 2002, 09:02 AM
I'd get the Garmin Vista. I have a Legend. It's cool, but the Vista has more memory. Great for hiking, etc., and has altimeter.

The Vista is right around 350, but this doesn't leave bucks for the map CD's or goodies. The Legend can be had for 250, but it doesn't have the altimiter and has less memory (for map downloads).

Both feature one-hand operation, and are WAAS compatible. WAAS is the Wide Area Augmentation System. Short explanation, more accuracy. Use the link Sierra provided. Garmin has a very nice feature-comparison chart, which lets you look at some other models mentioned as well.

March 31, 2002, 10:30 AM
1) If you can't use a map and a compass (I'm not implying you can or can't), DON'T buy a GPS! Learn how to use a compass and a topo map first. Anyone using a GPS should know how to navigate and travel with good old fashioned tools that don't need batteries or a clear view of the sky. GPS's, even thoses with maps (unless they are topo), tell you what direction to go, but don't tell you there's a 300' cliff between you and the car.

2) GPS's have come a long way in the past few years. I used to say never get a Magellan - now they're pretty good. That being said...

3) Buy the best Garmin you can afford.

4) Mapping models - beware of mapping models that will not help you much in the woods (don't show topo info etc.). They may link well with a laptop and USGS Topo maps, but the maps "built in" to some are not very complete. Some can download maps into the units, which can be helpful.

5) Road travel - ANY GPS is good for road travel if you hook it up to a laptop and use software on the laptop. Most new mapping programs, even MS roadpoint, will accept input from a GPS and show your position and movement. For the freddom of not needing a laptop, it depends if you want the GPS to tell you where to go. IF you do, top of the line Garmin (I forget the model) sells for about $1k as I recall. Too big for hunting though. :)


March 31, 2002, 11:13 AM
I agree with LevelHead: use a GPS to locate yourself and use a map and compass or laptop software for everything else. The devices with built-in maps - including the connect-to-your-GPS software in Palms and Visors - are cumbersome and offer little utility.

I've used a Garmin 12 - acquired before they made the XL - for years and, despite trying, have never found a reason to upgrade.

March 31, 2002, 12:16 PM
I think I'm getting a handle on this.

And yes, I agree with Levelhead, you should know how to do it analog before doing it digital, I do have a lot of experience both on land and sea doing it the old way, (celestial navigation before even calculators were available) just looking for an easier way in my old age.

Fred Hansen
April 1, 2002, 03:30 AM
I have a Garmin e-trex Summit. Built in electronic compass and altimeter. I love it, it has saved my bacon more than once. I learned sea and land navigation the old way, and concur that it is imperative to do so in order to be safe. I have never heard anyone complain about Garmins. Considering that they are electronic gadgets, that says alot.

April 1, 2002, 06:01 AM
I also have the Garmin E-Trex, but the one without the electronic compass. I consider the electronic compass to be almost essential. Of course since I don't have it, I carry an old fashioned compass, which isn't all bad. In fact it is probably good insurance. If you have never used GPS before, GPS will not work unless you have a clear view of the sky. Therefore it often doesn't work in places like the woods. So, I get a bearing in a clearing and follow it and then recheck my bearing at the next clearing. That works unless where you are going is between clearings. For example, I shot an elk two years ago and managed to mark a waypoint on my GPS. I also hung a full sized bed sheet from a tree above the elk. I walked back to the truck to get my pack, when I was 20 yards away, I couldn't see the sheet. I had a hard time finding it again, and couldn't have if I didn't have a compass.

April 18, 2002, 10:52 PM
444 - Don't you mean an unobstructed view of the sky instead of a clear view of the sky? My Garmin 12XL has no trouble with rain, snow, clouds or light foilage but if you get into a narrow canyon or thick foilage, it will occasionally lose the signal. Its true the Vista and Legend are pretty snazzy but not good enough for me to trade my 12XL. Oh yes, on any GPS I have found the altimeter feature to be a wild guess.

April 19, 2002, 10:37 PM
Maybe they are better now days, but the Garmin had, was pretty useless. If there was any kind of tree cover, it would not aquire a fix. Since I hunt in heavy cover, it was of no use to me. I gave it to my brother, who sails a lot. He says it works ok out on the open ocean.

The other drawback always was that you needed a map anyway, and some experience in reading it.

I guess I am just technically challanged, but I still manage to get along well with basic Silva compass and map. At least, I have never gotten lost, and have no trouble getting 'there and back'

May 27, 2002, 10:19 PM

I have a webpage with info and reviews on GPS units that might help you at


EOD Guy in VA
June 1, 2002, 01:57 AM
I've used the Garmin eMap for some time and love it. Fits in a shirt pocket. Can be connected to a laptop PC and used to get large maps and voice commands using such programs as Delorme Street Atlas USA or topo maps

June 1, 2002, 10:19 AM
It all depends on what you want to do, but I like having map display on a handheld. I also like the new WAAS units that Garmin has. I work with GPS for a living and have a $12,000 unit that gets me to within 10 centimeters of where I want to be. Our archeologist at work just bought a WAAS handheld, and when testing it, we found he was pretty consistently reading to within 15 feet of the high dollar unit. Of course if you just want a unit to get you to a camping spot, even the $100 handhelds without WAAS will get you to within 20 yards of your target now that Selective Availability is inactive.

I second the recommendation on checking out the GPS page on Jesseshuntingpage.com. I'm just a lurker over there, but he's got a great GPS section.

Disclaimer: Even though I'm a tech-head, I still like to collect and use compasses. Don't leave home without one (and the knowledge to use it).