Winter Snow Sport Gear
Backcountry Gadgets
Search Amazon for Electronics, Optics, Cameras:
Amazon.com
Backpacking Forums
BackcountryGear.com
backcountry gear

---- Our Gear Store ----
The Lightweight Gear Store
 
 WINTER CAMPING 

Shelters
Bivy Bags
Sleeping Bags
Sleeping Pads
Snow Sports
Winter Kitchen

 SNOWSPORTS 

Snowshoes
Avalanche Gear
Skins
Hats, Gloves, & Gaiters
Accessories

 ULTRA-LIGHT 

Ultralight Backpacks
Ultralight Bivy Sacks
Ultralight Shelters
Ultralight Tarps
Ultralight Tents
Ultralight Raingear
Ultralight Stoves & Cookware
Ultralight Down Sleeping Bags
Ultralight Synthetic Sleep Bags
Ultralight Apparel


the Titanium Page
WM Extremelite Sleeping Bags

 CAMPING & HIKING 

Backpacks
Tents
Sleeping Bags
Hydration
Kitchen
Accessories

 CLIMBING 

Ropes & Cordage
Protection & Hardware
Carabiners & Quickdraws
Climbing Packs & Bags
Big Wall
Rescue & Industrial

 MEN'S APPAREL 

Jackets
Shirts
Baselayer
Headwear
Gloves
Accessories

 WOMEN'S APPAREL 

Jackets
Shirts
Baselayer
Headwear
Gloves
Accessories

 FOOTWEAR 

Men's Footwear
Women's Footwear

 CLEARANCE 

Backpacks
Mens Apparel
Womens Apparel
Climbing
Footwear
Accessories

 BRANDS 

Black Diamond
Granite Gear
La Sportiva
Osprey
Smartwool

 WAYS TO SHOP 

Sale
Clearance
Top Brands
All Brands

 Backpacking Equipment 

Shelters
BackPacks
Sleeping Bags
Water Treatment
Kitchen
Hydration
Climbing


 Backcountry Gear Clearance

 WINTER CAMPING 

Shelters
Bivy Bags
Sleeping Bags
Sleeping Pads
Snow Sports
Winter Kitchen

 SNOWSPORTS 

Snowshoes
Avalanche Gear
Skins
Hats, Gloves, & Gaiters
Accessories


Stay Healthy--Eat Well

MARY JANES FARM ORGANIC MEALS

Mary Janes Farm Organic Backcountry Meals

NATURAL HIGH GOURMET MEALS

Natural High

 

Topic Options
Rate This Topic
#161840 - 02/08/12 12:06 PM Considering a GPS
Dave H Offline
member

Registered: 06/02/10
Posts: 57
Loc: Charlotte, NC
I was considering getting a GPS but I am a bit confused by all the options and terminology. I would use it when I hike into the national forests to find a particular spot but mainly to help make sure I can get back to my car. I might also use it when I kayak around some of the larger lakes to make sure I know the way back. I do take a map and compass though I thought a GPS might be easier.

Since I would probably only use this a couple of times a year price is a consideration. However I don't want to spend some $$ then realize it doesn't do what I want it to do.

I see Walmart has 3 Garmins for $119 and many more for much more $$. One big question I have is about maps. Some say they have a basemap others don't. I also see that you can purchase maps +/- $100. What is the difference? Do I need the maps? It seems it would be useful. Memory, I see 8mb up to microSD cards which I suppose you could get 16GB or more. That is a huge range. What do I need?

Top
#161842 - 02/08/12 12:48 PM Re: Considering a GPS [Re: Dave H]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3791
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
You probably want a GPS that has the ability to use maps. Not all have that. And, some, but not all, Garmins can use opensource maps (free maps you can download), and you can get some pretty good maps too, these can save you a lot of $$.

It's tough though, there are so many makers and models, so many price ranges, and so many different features.

After going through the options and weighing them all, last year I purchased a factory refurbished Garmin Oregon 200 that had a one year factory warranty. I paid around $200 for it on eBay, it was a "Buy Now" purchase.

I like it a lot. It doesn't have some of the features other models do, but it has a color touch screen, accepts the opensource maps, is easy to use, and the price was what I could afford to spend.

I think it's a good base model to compare against others you might be considering, and for me, it offered the minimum of what I wanted and has a few extras that are nice to have.
_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



Top
#161858 - 02/08/12 08:57 PM Re: Considering a GPS [Re: Dave H]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
I would spend plenty of time arriving at a decision, unless you have cubic dollars to spend on a GPS. Meanwhile devote your time to perfecting solid map skills, which you will need anyway, even with the very best GPS.

The more feature laden models are rather expensive, and the technology is still changing fairly rapidly. We all might find that the next generation of smart phones and apps will give us all the GPS we need and a whole lot more....


Edited by oldranger (02/08/12 08:58 PM)

Top
#161862 - 02/08/12 09:54 PM Re: Considering a GPS [Re: Dave H]
Rayman1968 Offline
member

Registered: 06/12/10
Posts: 30
Loc: Ventura, CA.
I've had a Garmin Oregon 450 for a couple of years now. I have a few Topo maps for it (California/Western US), but I also subscribe yearly to their Birdseye Satellite Imagery service.

I just download the satellite images of the places I hike and it's like having Google Earth in your pocket. It's pretty neat, but it kind of spoils you and you let your topo map reading skills slip...

Top
#161864 - 02/08/12 10:18 PM Re: Considering a GPS [Re: Dave H]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
If all you want is to mark a spot and go back to it, there are devices that do just that. I've seen them at REI.

If you eventually want to actually learn navigation, start with a map and compass, learn those skills, and think about how fancy you want to get with the GPS and data collection. If you're apt with a map and compass, which you should always have anyway, a basic unit without mapset works great for navigational aid. If you want to upload and download from a computer, have color topo maps, mark waypoints and routes, see elevation profiles, know your average speed, etc. then a more fully featured model is called for.

I prefer a good feature set, good satellite connection, and find that a Garmin 60csx with frequent calibration works pretty well.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

Top
#161870 - 02/09/12 01:21 AM Re: Considering a GPS [Re: lori]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
There are dozens of GPSrs around (GPSr as in GPS receiver) to choose from. Read as much as you can about them. There are many dedicated sites you can find using Google.
www.gpsfiledepot.com is a good one-it is Garmin oriented and has a library of free maps you can download.

I have a Garmin Map76CSx, which is the marine version of the 60CSx. Works and looks similar. Got mine off Craigslist. Not as fancy as the new ones, but nowhere near the price either.

There is even a GPS for Dummies book, but I've never read it.


Edited by TomD (02/09/12 01:36 AM)
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

Top
#161876 - 02/09/12 12:08 PM Re: Considering a GPS [Re: Dave H]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1018
Loc: Washington State, King County
If you have a smartphone, then before buying a standalone GPS, spend a whole lot less money for a very functional app such as GaiaGPS or Backcountry Navigator. Spend a little time with whichever you choose to get to know how it works, to include making sure you try it out in areas well beyond cell tower reception.

I own a standalone GPS and in some cases find it worth carrying but for the most part I'm happy with my smartphone for occasional GPS use.
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

Top
#161913 - 02/09/12 07:51 PM Re: Considering a GPS [Re: BrianLe]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
The problem with a smartphone app is battery life and recharging the phone. Many phones do not have replaceable batteries. My GPSr uses 2 AA batteries that can be easily replaced. I carry spares. In contrast, my Blackberry has a short battery life and although I could, I don't own a spare battery for it. Phones like the new Motorola Razr do not have replaceable batteries. If you carry a phone for emergencies, then kill the battery using it as a GPS with no way to recharge it, you've defeated the purpose of having it with you. I wouldn't carry a phone unless I had a solar panel to recharge it. Better yet, a SPOT, PLB or sat phone for phone or emergency use.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

Top
#161930 - 02/10/12 12:40 AM Re: Considering a GPS [Re: TomD]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1018
Loc: Washington State, King County
Hi Tom. Note that the OP said he wanted a GPS in this context:
Quote:
"I would use it when I hike into the national forests to find a particular spot but mainly to help make sure I can get back to my car. I might also use it when I kayak around some of the larger lakes to make sure I know the way back."

A smartphone seems like quite a reasonable choice for that sort of use.

You said:
Quote:

"The problem with a smartphone app is battery life and recharging the phone. Many phones do not have replaceable batteries. My GPSr uses 2 AA batteries that can be easily replaced. I carry spares. In contrast, my Blackberry has a short battery life and although I could, I don't own a spare battery for it. Phones like the new Motorola Razr do not have replaceable batteries. If you carry a phone for emergencies, then kill the battery using it as a GPS with no way to recharge it, you've defeated the purpose of having it with you. I wouldn't carry a phone unless I had a solar panel to recharge it. Better yet, a SPOT, PLB or sat phone for phone or emergency use."

True that some phones don't have replaceable batteries, in particular iPhones, but of course there are add-on devices that can take up the slack there. In my particular case, I use an android phone, and can carry a spare battery when it's an issue. For long trips I do, for shorter ones I don't bother. It's all situational. On the CDT last year I did carry a stand-alone GPS as I anticipated using it a lot more than is my norm, and as you suggest, in that case it was good to not have to worry about smartphone battery power for GPS use.

I suspect that for a lot of people, however, a smartphone would be enough. And again, for someone who already owns a smartphone, it's pretty cheap to try it out in some real world cases to see, before buying yet another electronic device ...
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

Top
#161932 - 02/10/12 02:45 AM Re: Considering a GPS [Re: BrianLe]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Point well taken, Brian. I'm used to watching my Blackberry die after a couple of hours of light use, so no way I'm relying on it for anything unless I know I have a power source for it. Also, using mine as a GPS means signing up for a service I would rarely use. Carrying my Garmin is worth the weight.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

Top
#162078 - 02/13/12 11:53 AM Re: Considering a GPS [Re: TomD]
dkramalc Offline
member

Registered: 09/19/03
Posts: 1067
Loc: California
There's something on the BPL forums about removing the sim card from your phone if you want to use it for backcountry navigation; that way it won't waste power trying to connect to a phone signal, but will still utilize GPS.
_________________________
dk

Top
#162474 - 02/19/12 10:50 AM Re: Considering a GPS [Re: dkramalc]
Barefoot Friar Offline
member

Registered: 01/23/09
Posts: 146
Loc: Houston, Alabama
If it's a BlackBerry, that shouldn't be an issue. Turn off the mobile network and wifi and bluetooth. This will allow you to use the GPS function without burning up your battery as your phone searches for cell coverage. Now, you will have to make sure the maps are downloaded to your phone before you leave... I use wifi for this since it's far faster than the 2G/EDGE network where I live.

When I was out last year with my brother and dad, I used the TopoSports app (I have a BB Curve 3G). I like it because it uses the USGS 7.5 minute quads. I have a great paper topo of the area we were in, and I was familiar with it, having been there previously, but I used the app on my phone to tell me precisely where we were. This was helpful because shooting a bearing on a landmark can be tricky in deep forest like that. I wouldn't trust it without the map, but that's because I've been trained to use the map.

I find that if you turn off the radio, power it all the way down if it's going to be more than several hours before you need it again (such as overnight), put it to sleep between uses, and close out the app when putting it to sleep (so it doesn't run in the background), then I get pretty good battery life. I'd have to re-test, but we went two days on that trip and I'd only used about 20% of my battery life.

Also, it depends on your battery. An old battery has shorter life than a new one, and a lot of that has to do with how you charge it. Some rechargables need to be recharged often, even if they're not drained. Others need to be drained all the way before recharging.... and this includes the initial charge when you purchase the battery. I had a cell phone once that I charged before use just like the paper in the box told me to do. It wouldn't keep a charge for more than half a day, and this is brand-spanking-new. So I called AT&T about it, and the tech support rep said that that battery needed to be drained all the way before charging. I told her I'd done what the paper in the box said, and she laughed and said, "Yeah, the paper is wrong. I'll make a note of it and send it along." She sent me a new battery, too. I did what she said, and drained it all out before charging it up and by golly it worked. So check the requirements of your battery (Lithium, NiCad, etc.) to see how to maximize battery life.
_________________________
"Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls."

Top
#162520 - 02/20/12 09:48 AM Re: Considering a GPS [Re: Dave H]
Ewker Offline
member

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 220
Loc: Tennessee
anyone use this GPS Garmin Etrex Vista HCx? If so is it a good one for a beginner

Top
#162698 - 02/24/12 11:04 AM Re: Considering a GPS [Re: Ewker]
Ewker Offline
member

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 220
Loc: Tennessee
Originally Posted By Ewker
anyone use this GPS Garmin Etrex Vista HCx? If so is it a good one for a beginner


bump

Top
#162722 - 02/24/12 02:24 PM Re: Considering a GPS [Re: Ewker]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3791
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
I'm not familiar with that particular eTrex, but the ones I've used I didn't like a lot. I had an eMap, which came out before the eTrex, and it had a pretty simple and easy to use interface. The mapping eTrex models I've used were kind of confusing to find the feature I wanted.

The eMap also had a bigger screen, and was easier for me to read.

Others here have said they liked them and didn't have any trouble using them, so it's really a personal thing.

When my eMap died I looked for a long time for what I'd replace it with and finally decided on a Oregon 200. It lacks some features I'd like to have, but it has all the features I had to have, like free maps, and being easy to use.
_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



Top
#163011 - 02/29/12 12:22 PM Re: Considering a GPS [Re: Ewker]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2675
Loc: NorCal
In general, eTrexes are good all-around GPSs--small, rugged and easy to use one-handed. The screen is a little small for map-based navigation, but okay for the actual GPS functions. I'd recommend the Legend over the Vista because it skips the barometric altimeter and compass, simplifying it and extending battery life.

The HCx editions have good processors, so are the best of the old model lineups.

I know nothing about the new eTrex lineup other than the obvious--complete redesign around big screens (are they touchscreens? I can't tell). Unless you can get a screaming deal on an older model, I'd probably consider a new one.

Cheers,
_________________________
--Rick

Top
#163326 - 03/05/12 11:46 AM Re: Considering a GPS [Re: Ewker]
Ewker Offline
member

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 220
Loc: Tennessee
I ended up buying a used Garmin 60CSx GPS. It has all of the stuff that comes with it when he bought it new. He is also leaving all of the Smokies loaded on it.

now to figure out how to work it

Top
#163412 - 03/06/12 08:48 PM Re: Considering a GPS [Re: Ewker]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Ewker, we have what amounts to the same GPS, mine is the marine version so the model number is different, but other than that, I have read they are the same. If you go to www.gpsfiledepot.com you can get free maps that you can download using the Garmin MapSource software and then onto your media card using the cable. The software is free at the Garmin website if you don't have the disk already.

GPSfiledepot has forums and is a great place to ask questions about maps and pretty much anything else. The handbook could be better, but there are plenty of resources online.


Edited by TomD (03/06/12 08:49 PM)
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

Top
#163435 - 03/07/12 09:53 AM Re: Considering a GPS [Re: TomD]
Ewker Offline
member

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 220
Loc: Tennessee
TomD, that is good to know. Thanks for the link to that site. I am sure I will be spending a lot of time on that forum (great another one to visit)

I haven't got it yet but the guy took a picture of everything it comes with and I am sure the disk comes with it


Edited by Ewker (03/07/12 09:54 AM)

Top
#165650 - 05/04/12 04:06 PM Re: Considering a GPS [Re: Ewker]
sargenv Offline
newbie

Registered: 04/27/12
Posts: 4
Loc: Bay Area, CA
The 60 CSx is a good unit.. I've been using mine for about 5 years albeit not specifically for backpacking.. more for geocaching.. but I've used it on some day hikes and it's very accurate. The Antenna on these units seem to be more sensitive than other comparable units of the time.

I picked up a non-map model 60 that has a lot of the same functions as the 60CSx, but it is not color and it good for getting you back to where you started. It has no room for internal stuff like basemaps but it reliable as an off the beaten path unit. As long as you mark your starting point, it works good either getting you back, or getting you point to point if you program specific waypoints that you want to get to. I've used the 60 for when I want to measure distance travelled or as a backup unit to my 60csx. The 60 will last a bit longer on batteries since it is just a simple unit. I get 18 hours give or take with the 60 CSx with no backlight active. With backlight active, you can drain the batteries a lot faster.

Top

Shout Box

Highest Quality Lightweight Down Sleeping Bags
 
Western Mountaineering Sleeping Bags
 
Lite Gear Talk - Featured Topics
Need advice on the Osprey Exos 58 Pack.
by Motley
Yesterday at 10:55 AM
What Trekking Poles Should I Get?
by Johannes
02/02/16 04:37 PM
Under Review: Katabatic Gear Helios 55 Backpack
by HikingGeek
02/02/16 03:29 PM
Backcountry Discussion - Featured Topics
New Member!
by HappyFamily
02/10/16 11:28 AM
new technology pulls water out of the air
by toddfw2003
01/30/16 09:18 AM
Apps for hikers
by Alx
01/18/16 05:12 AM
Make Your Own Gear - Featured Topics
Hammock question
by PaHiker
02/05/16 10:51 PM
Any Suggestions on Softshell Pants To Modify
by Horia
02/03/16 05:27 PM
Backpack Design Questions
by 4evrplan
01/22/16 07:54 AM
Featured Photos
Breakneck Ridge, New York
May 2012 Eclipse, Lassen Park
New Years Eve 2011
Trip Report with Photos
Oat Hill Mine Trail 2012
Dark Canyon - Utah
Welcome to the Trip Report with Photos Forum
Who's Online
2 registered (), 22 Guests and 0 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Newest Members
ChiefBilly, Rino, DizzyHikes, HappyFamily, Rosko
11815 Registered Users
Forum Links
Disclaimer
Policies
Site Links
HOME
Backpacking.net
Family Hiking
Lightweight Gear Store
Backpacking Book Store
Lightweight Zone
Hiking Essentials

Outdoor Gear Daily Deals
Outlets, Sales, Bargains

Our long-time Sponsor, BackcountryGear.com - The leading source for ultralite/lightweight outdoor gear:

Backcountry Forum
 
 

Since 1996 - the Original Backcountry Forum
Copyright © The Lightweight Backpacker & BackcountryForum.com