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View Full Version : GPS - Recommendations?


Chris Phelps
January 12, 2008, 04:41 PM
I will be needing a new GPS for hunting this year. I had a Magellan Explorist 200, and it was nothing but problems right from the get-go. It only worked 10% of the time... the Topo 3D software that came with it never worked at all, and when I contacted Magellan about the issue, it took them 6 weeks to respond, and their response was that there was nothing they could do to help. Needless to say, I really don't want another Magellan.


Topographic maps are a must. If they exist at all, 3D maps would be awesome.
Road maps are not needed at all.
Reliability is another big issue.
The ability to map out routes or save POIs via computer would be very nice.
Compatibility with Google earth would be cool, but isn't a determining factor.


What do you guys have for recommendations?

jimtan
January 12, 2008, 07:30 PM
I have a Garmin Vista cx. It is very easy to use once you familiarize yourself with the functions. Has the full mapping capabilities, and is fairly compact. The research I did before my purchase led me to believe the best choice to be Garmin.

taylorce1
January 12, 2008, 07:59 PM
GPS are nice but most of the time I don't use them. The only time I was really happy that I had one was in AK. We were a little lost in the dark on an Ocean channel and there wasn't a whole lot of terrain we could make out on shore, so I whipped out the Garmin E-Trex and that got us pointed in the right direction. We could have pulled into shore and built a fire and waited for daylight and then we wouldn't have had any problem either. Most of the time though I hunt with just a compass and a topo map in my pocket. I'm more comfortable using stuff that doesn't require batteries to make it work when I'm afield.

hogdogs
January 12, 2008, 08:03 PM
While I have only owned one GPS unit I have had to operate dozens. As an offshore troller (not that kind of troll) I have fished off many boats. We find our self 60 to 70 miles off shore. The captains know i am capable of running us over "spots" and trust me to run all night running their boats on their gear. I am not a friend of Magellan. Every model i ran had a completely different battery of commands. I have run many models of various manufacture... Many you wont see as they ain't made in hand held versions. Garmin is HANDS DOWN the most user friendly of all! Once you run any Garmin you can run EVERY garmin. Plus they work dern good and are as durable as any GPS made!
Brent

ocharry
January 12, 2008, 08:45 PM
i have a Garmin 72,,, i like it a little better than the e-trex series because the screen is bigger,,, i think they still make the sister to it in the 76...

i would definitely go with one of the color screens,,,,

i also have a lowrance in my boat but it is a little on the big side,,,,, but it is a dandy!!!!!!!!! my .02

ocharry

SamC
January 12, 2008, 09:43 PM
I use a Garmin 76CS. It's a color unit with mapping capability. You can swap between topo maps and city/street maps, so it's easy to use in the car or while on a trip in the woods hunting. Here's a couple of sites w/GPS info.



http://gpsinformation.net/
http://forums.groundspeak.com/gc/

whitefish
January 13, 2008, 02:01 AM
I've used a variety of Garmins both for work and personal use - 12XL, Etrex, GPS Map 76, Legend Cx and a GPSMap 60Cx (the last two are color models). All have worked great and have been very reliable.

Any color Garmin that you can load maps on would do the trick.

As for the utility of GPS's, they have saved my hinny twice. Once out on an open lake in a snow storm (I couldn't see shore) and once moose hunting. They don't replace a compass, but they are their weight in gold when you get lost or turned around!

You can get topo maps from Garmin or you can make your own custom maps. Making your own maps is a little complicated (and techinically a violation of Garmin's copyright), but it can be done.

Chris Phelps
January 13, 2008, 02:56 AM
It definitely sounds like Garmin will be my next purchase! It's not every day you see a unanimous vote for one item. That, in itself, is quite impressive!

Thanks guys!

boltgun71
January 13, 2008, 07:06 AM
Another vote for Garmin. I have used several different models myself and you cant go wrong with a Garmin 76, Etrex Vista, Rhino 120/130, etc. IMO. All very user friendly and work just about damn anywhere. Nice downloadable topo maps are available for them as well. If you are using this alot for hunting and you like to do drives I would highly recommend a Garmin Rhino. They have 2 way radios built into them and whenever you talk to another person that is also using a Rhino series GPS/radio it will automatically update their location on your GPS screen. You will be able to see exactly where your hunting buddies are, making it a great tool for organizing drives or simply locating each other after you go your seperate ways in the woods. The 130 version also has emergency weather stations programmed into it for weather updates you can receive just about anywhere. Hope this helps.

Davis
January 13, 2008, 07:56 AM
I use the Magellan Meridian series, have used the Color and Platinum and like the Platinum. I use them for work as a Forester, to determine property corners or navigate. The Meridian's have worked wonderfully for me, are water-proof unless you go swimming (important for me) and they are the right size to slip in an upper pocket for navigating hands-free. For professional use, I chose the Magellan. But then, I prefer black-and-white screens (my color got stolen and I went to the Platinum) and don't have a use for 3d software. All I need or want is topography and accurate roads. The Meridian's accuracy includes private roads and long driveways which is really handy for accessing remote pieces of land.

Davis

kayakersteve
January 13, 2008, 08:14 AM
http://www.geocaching.com/. I use this site with my family to go on fun treasure hunts that the kids enjoy sometimes. They have links to review different units and compare prices from the homepage.

gfen
January 13, 2008, 11:08 AM
I own a Garmin 60CSx. Its advertised as having superior reception, and I can easily pick up sattelites indoors or in odd places. It also has a built in compass in case the GPS fails out. There's also a built in altimeter, but I'm not sure what the practical use of that may be. But hey, whatever.

grymster2007
January 13, 2008, 11:54 AM
I also have the Garmin 60CSx. Nice unit. One thing I don't see from them is 1:24K topos, other than for National Parks. Topos available for elswhere are ~1:100K; not that great a resolution. Wish they'd fix that. IIRC Magellen's software wasn't any better, when I looked a couple years ago.

Ace_Breaker
January 13, 2008, 12:06 PM
I currently own the Garmin Legend CX in color. It can load maps and has a memory slot. It is an amazing unit because of all the programs it contains(games, day and night info so you know when it's getting dark, auto night colors, alarm, stopwatch, etc. etc.). The thing is kinda like a Palm unit for the woods. The screen and color is awesome with a nice backlight to adjust it perfect for your conditions. The number one reason I chose it was because it goes around 32 or so hours on AA batteries. You won't find that in other units and some others need recharging. How are you going to recharge in the woods while on foot? Most other units get 12-16hrs. I just carry an extra set of AA and I've got double the use of other GPS units out there. I also think Garmin has the bast ability to track. I do also have a Magellan Explorist that I let my kid play with and the Garmin is much better. They do have a new unit that reads in depressions better at a price, but mine has been perfect in the woods. I got mine for $150 new on Ebay.

Globug
January 13, 2008, 01:08 PM
I have a Garmin GPS V for all-around use. I used to use it in the car, and it worked perfectly well for navigating to addresses, but my wife bought me a Garmin Nuvi 200, which I use exclusively for the car now.

That said, I have mounts for my GPS V on my mountain bike, my motorcycle, my fishing boat, and my kayak. I've used it on all of the above, and it works fabulously.

Some of the things I really like about it:

It will "autoroute" to an address or business with prompting for turns, it will navigate offroad/water with a compass needle, the display can be switched to vertical mode (like most handheld gps units) or used horizontally on your handlebar or dash mount, it is very accurate and gets a great signal, and takes (4) AA Batteries, so you can go extended times in the wilderness, without having to find a power source to recharge it..

The bottom-line for me, is that if I was going on a trip/adventure via car, boat, plane, on foot, or a combination of the above the GPS V would work for all of these and work well.

I still believe it is the best all-around gps on the market. It is a little long in the tooth now, and I'm not sure it's even being manufactured anymore, but it is still viable.

I really wish Garmin would bring out a new very-similar model.

http://www.mynewcheap.co.uk/res/user/1896.jpeg

grymster2007
January 13, 2008, 04:18 PM
Here’s the 60CSx mounted on the war pony with the RamMount u-bolt/ball setup. I’m going to add a ball to the handlebars of my dual sport also. I might even add a 12V outlet for powering off the bike; quad already has that. Now I need to look for a good solution for mounting in the truck.

GPS 60CSx (http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=29459&stc=1&d=1200258888)

Kreyzhorse
January 13, 2008, 05:35 PM
I will be needing a new GPS for hunting this year. I had a Magellan Explorist 200, and it was nothing but problems right from the get-go. It only worked 10% of the time... the Topo 3D software that came with it never worked at all, and when I contacted Magellan about the issue, it took them 6 weeks to respond, and their response was that there was nothing they could do to help. Needless to say, I really don't want another Magellan.

Man that's too bad. My Magellan Explorist 200 works like a champ. Just bought the Topo 3D is its excellent. Have you updated your firmware on the Explorist? I haven't had to with mine but in issues where the software doesn't work, that is the suggested route.

bclark1
January 13, 2008, 10:44 PM
Honestly, a $90 Garmin eTrex and a cheap compass backup served me well for a while. This Christmas I just got a Magellan Crossover, it mounts in the card and then is designed for outdoor use. It's apparently already got maps for state parks and things onboard, but I haven't had it in the field yet. I have driven it halfway across the country with good results, including getting back to my parents' cabin that Google Maps wasn't able to find until very recently. It also could get a signal indoors, which I'd say is analogous to a thick tree canopy (I did have that problem with the eTrex). Haven't tested topos, but they're in there. Marks waypoints and pulls coordinates intuitively. Supposed to be waterproof too, although I haven't tested that either. In any case, you'll probably have it figured out before I have a better review from the field, but it seems good so far.

MeekAndMild
January 14, 2008, 08:58 PM
Funny but I had trouble with my Garmen back about a decade ago. It threw me off GPS for a long time. But a couple of years ago I got a Magellen Topo and it works just fine.

davlandrum
January 15, 2008, 02:49 PM
I have the Megellan platinum and have been really happy with it. The first few years I had it, I used it a lot more than I do now. It rides around in my pack still, and I use it to mark certain spots. Then I download it to my computer.

One area we hunt has a lot of ATV trails and there is no map, so we would turn the GPS on track and over time have built a pretty good map of all the trails.

Chris Phelps
January 15, 2008, 03:43 PM
Man that's too bad. My Magellan Explorist 200 works like a champ. Just bought the Topo 3D is its excellent. Have you updated your firmware on the Explorist? I haven't had to with mine but in issues where the software doesn't work, that is the suggested route.


Updating the firmware was actually my first step, but it ended up completely killing my unit (wouldn't even show the map), so I had to reinstall the original software. About two to three weeks after I bought the unit, it died all together. It wouldn't even power up. At first, I thought the battery was to blame, but I tried a battery from a friends unit, and it still wouldn't power up. I even tried running the unit while it was plugged in. After the unit completely died, I compiled a list of all of the facts... times, dates, incidents, everything... and emailed a 1.5 page email to Magellan as well as Tiger GPS (where I bought the unit). Tiger GPS never responded at all, and it took Magellan 6 weeks to respond, only to tell me that there was nothing they could do about it. I am very unhappy with both of them, now. I will never buy anything else from Tiger GPS or Magellan.

Just a note: Magellan did not give Tiger as a reason for not covering the warranty. What they told me was that they had no way of testing my GPS unit, so there was no way of knowing what was wrong, and they didn't have the time to deal with any returned items. Their suggestion was that I 'simply buy another unit.' They also had a massive recall on a previous generation of the Topo 3D software, but they stated in their email that my particular bundle was not listed as having the software covered in the recall.

I still have the unit and all of the original packaging. It's tucked away in my closet. I know it isn't doing me any good, but I just didn't have the heart to throw out something I had spent $250 on at the beginning of that month. So, it's been collecting dust for the past year.


Funny but I had trouble with my Garmin back about a decade ago. It threw me off GPS for a long time. But a couple of years ago I got a Magellen Topo and it works just fine.

The Magellan had thrown me off GPS units for a while, as well. The big saving grace in my experiences came when I bought a Tom Tom One to use in my car. I drive for a living, so I bought the unit just on faith that it would work as well as everyone had said it would, and it truly does. Granted, an Automotive GPS unit doesn't exactly compare to a handheld, but it's just the knowledge that a GPS unit really can be pinpoint accurate... it made me willing to give handhelds a shot again.


Honestly, a $90 Garmin eTrex and a cheap compass backup served me well for a while. This Christmas I just got a Magellan Crossover, it mounts in the card and then is designed for outdoor use. It's apparently already got maps for state parks and things onboard, but I haven't had it in the field yet. I have driven it halfway across the country with good results, including getting back to my parents' cabin that Google Maps wasn't able to find until very recently. It also could get a signal indoors, which I'd say is analogous to a thick tree canopy (I did have that problem with the eTrex). Haven't tested topos, but they're in there. Marks waypoints and pulls coordinates intuitively. Supposed to be waterproof too, although I haven't tested that either. In any case, you'll probably have it figured out before I have a better review from the field, but it seems good so far.


Actually, the snow in VT doesn't clear the woods enough to actually make it too far away from civilization without snowshoes until about June. The GPS I am researching right now is for my Coyote Hunting this year, which will start whenever I can actually get back into the woods. I would be VERY interested in any review you could post. Especially if you are having better luck with Magellan than I did. I keep an open mind and take in ALL the facts. My mind isn't actually 100% completely made up until I am in the process of ordering my new unit. (Or in the store picking it up, as the case may be.) That is why I always start researching things months in advance. The Explorist 200 I own was the one item I actually bought pretty much on impulse... and look where that got me. Of course, I am sure I would have been much happier if I just went to walmart and paid the extra $50. I could have taken it right back up there. I know I am to blame for that. Live and learn.


I can land nav with a map and compass quite well... The GPS unit is just easier for my circumstances. None of the other guys I hunt with have any land nav skills, so if something were to happen to me, we could find ourselves in a heap of trouble real fast. The GPS would prevent any of that from becoming a reality.


Thanks for all the great info, guys! Keep it coming!

Kreyzhorse
January 15, 2008, 09:01 PM
Updating the firmware was actually my first step, but it ended up completely killing my unit (wouldn't even show the map), so I had to reinstall the original software.

Man that sucks. Don't know if this will help, but I was cruising the net and found out that there are secret commands for the explorist. This commands do various things but one of them is used to restore a unit and bring it back online. It works even if the unit won't turn on.

Not sure this will help, but if the unit won't boot at all, you don't have much to lose.

Good luck.

http://rhamphorinkx.newmail.ru/sf.htm

Chris Phelps
January 16, 2008, 02:37 AM
I can't read russian. :(

I am intrigued, though.

Lawyer Daggit
January 16, 2008, 04:09 AM
Go for something really simple like the Garmin Etrex. At least when you get into hunting camp you will remember how to use it.

Chris Phelps
January 16, 2008, 05:21 AM
huh? Why wouldn't I remember how to use anything?

lol I'm lost.

Steve in PA
January 16, 2008, 09:00 AM
I started with the eTrex Legend (blue) GPS and it works quite well. In fact I still have it, however I upgraded to the 60CSx and love it! I use it for hunting, geocaching and driving.


On the hunt............
http://i35.photobucket.com/albums/d159/Steve_in_PA/Geocaching/100_6359.jpg

On the road...............
http://i35.photobucket.com/albums/d159/Steve_in_PA/Geocaching/1120071257.jpg

rantingredneck
January 16, 2008, 09:12 AM
I've got an Etrex Legend that i've had for 3 or 4 years and have been really happy with it. Mine does not have the topo map but has the base map of N and S American highways. Topo software is available but I haven't gone there yet. I may upgrade to a Vista or another model in the next year or two myself.

davlandrum
January 16, 2008, 11:19 AM
Chris,

Check the text on the right hand side of the page that was linked above. It is in english.

I went to check it (I have a basic understanding of Russian and thought maybe I could help), and low-and-behold there was some english...:D

Chris Phelps
January 16, 2008, 02:57 PM
Wow.. good catch! I'm not sure how I could have missed that the first time. :o

davlandrum
January 16, 2008, 03:56 PM
Easy to miss, that is a messy website to say the least. I only caught it because I was skimming it to see how much I could understand and all of a sudden, my understanding jumped up to 100%:p

Chris Phelps
January 16, 2008, 04:56 PM
haha I love when that happens. For a brief moment, you are just like "holy crap, I can read Russian!!!" "... oh."

Capt Charlie
January 16, 2008, 05:36 PM
I use a Magellan Meridian Gold for hiking, riding and boating, and it works fine. But as far as "user friendly" goes, that, it ain't. I think all of 'em take some serious practice before using it under field conditions becomes second nature, but it does seem that the Garmin's are built a little more user friendly.

http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=16858&d=1137195510

grymster2007
January 16, 2008, 05:44 PM
Is there topo map software available for the Megellan that includes high-res maps, such as 1:24K? I can’t find any for the Garmin.

davlandrum
January 16, 2008, 07:50 PM
Chris - I used to read Russian while working for Uncle Sam, but haven't kept up with it.

I teach Excel at a little community center, pretty basic adult ed stuff. The coordinator, know I was retired Army, asked me to teach a map reading class. No problem, I will set it up and see if the local ROTC could come give a hand, etc...

Somehow the concept for the class, in the coordinator's mind, shifted from map reading to GPS use. I tried to explain to her that you couldn't teach a class where everyone shows up with a different GPS, they are just too different and I ain't an expert on every brand and style...Ended up not teaching any map stuff at all.

Warlokke
January 16, 2008, 08:17 PM
I am a Garmin eTrex vista owner and love it, however....I too want to upgrade but am waiting to see what the reviews on the Delorme GPS models are like. They accept and use the Delorme GPS 1:24000 topo maps and come pre-loaded with bunches of them...from what I have read they are great but they are still really new and I am holding off a bit until their is more data and experience with them.

Kreyzhorse
January 16, 2008, 09:22 PM
I can't read russian.

I am intrigued, though.

Caught me at first too. The right side of the page is in english. I'm sure something is lost in the translation but if the unit doesn't work now the worse it will do after trying is still not work.

fivepaknh
January 17, 2008, 12:47 AM
I bought a Magellan Sporttrak Map 3 ½ years ago. The base map was ok, but reception wasn’t all that great. I’d lose the signal once I entered the woods. I recently bought a Garmin Nuvi 350 for the truck and a Garmin 60CSX handheld for hunting. Both have been great. The 60CSX had great reception and picks up satellites from in my house. The base maps are terrible (no topo and highways only), but I bought Mapsource Topo by Garmin and uploaded the maps to my GPS. The topo maps also included all roads and some points of interest.

When I bought my first gps, the Magellan, I did a little research first on the web. Garmin and Magellan were pretty much neck and neck at the time. Since then I believe Garmin has taken the lead in the GPS market. Garmin would definitely be my first choice.

Chris Phelps
February 3, 2008, 03:05 AM
I hate to bring a thread back from near extinction but...

I just noticed the Garmin Vista HCx only has a base map. That means I have to turn around and spend another $115 on top of the price of the unit itself to get a topo?

Does this change the suggestion, or would it stay the same?

grymster2007
February 3, 2008, 01:28 PM
That means I have to turn around and spend another $115 on top of the price of the unit itself to get a topo?

Yeah... that's the way it seems to work, at least with Garmins. I bought the City Navigator software for mine, and National Geo Topo for CA. I'm hoping Garmin comes out with higher resolution topo software, then I'll buy it.

intruder
February 3, 2008, 02:37 PM
I bought a Garmin GPS 12 ,years ago. Never used it much It won't get a signial and if it did it would take for ever. No mapping feature or on board compass. Paid about $289 I think it was a waste of money. Rather use a compass and a map.