Jump to content

New To Geocahing... What Gps To Get?


jotajota
Followers 1

Recommended Posts

Hi,

 

Well I stumbled across the geocaching website from a link from another website I was browsing. I am new hooked on this idea of geocaching. The only problem is I have no idea what GPS device to get. I am looking for something in the 100-200 dollar range. The main things I care about are accuracy, ability to hold signal, and durability. I am so excited because it seems that there are many caches near my location and I can't wait to start looking (I might have to try to find some without my GPS device because I think I can figure out the locations of some of the nearby ones just from the descriptions). Anyway, my Dad has an old GPS device he used for boating. I don't think it is quite "handheld" as it was a dash mounted device. It is probably 4-5 years old, but it has a color screen (I think it might even require to be plugged in all the time, not battery operated which would be a problem). Might make for a temporary solution until I can get an actual portable device. I have done research on GPS devices but I can't find any real definite answers on which is the best device for my purposes. I was hoping some of the more experienced users could give me some insight into this. Thanks in advance!

Link to comment
Hi,

 

Well I stumbled across the geocaching website from a link from another website I was browsing.  I am new hooked on this idea of geocaching.  The only problem is I have no idea what GPS device to get.  I am looking for something in the 100-200 dollar range.  The main things I care about are accuracy, ability to hold signal, and durability.

Well in that price range you can get a sportrak map. Another newbie just scored one on ebay for $125 although the usual online retailer price is $170-200.

 

It is a very solid performer in the field, allows for data transfer from PC to GPS (something most units in this price range don't do), and allows for limited map uploads (something else most units in this price range don't do).

 

In your price range your options really boil down to the newer, low end, feature starved units like the explorist 100-300 or the gekos. Alternately you can go with older units that have more features like the etrex or sportrak map.

 

It is your choice, but I think the sportrak map for $125 on ebay is the best deal. Alternately the yellow etrex regularly sells for under $100 and is also a great unit. I would stay away from the low end explorists and the geko as these lack a PC data cable and this seriously sucks for caching. For caching you want to load up hundreds of caches and then wherever you are you can find the nearest cache. Without a PC data cable you are seriously limited.

 

If you are OK with spending closer to the full 200 on a unit (really around 160-180 plus shipping) then the etrex legend is a good bargain.

Link to comment
At 200-250 Look for a GPS V.  It's the best bang for the buck going.  It also comes with City Select software which gives you city maps on your GPS and lets you Autoroute from whever you are to wherever you are going.

That's actually a really great suggestion if you can afford the extra. If not, get something like a Garmin Legend and you're set.

 

This question you've asked will give you more different answers over time but you'll probably get a lot of "Sportrak Map" and "Garmin Legend". :unsure:

 

But like RK said, "bang for buck" is a Garmin GPS V.

 

(edit to add "Garmin" in front of GPS V in case you didn't know who makes it)

Edited by robert
Link to comment

Welcome to the sport/hobby I hope you enjoy it! :unsure:

 

For a GPS system that is in your price range check out the Lowrance iFinder Plus package it is a nice & powerful unit and for approx $200 it includes with it the MapCreate software you can install onto your PC for highly detailed customizabile mapping capability. The iFinder supports memory card use and provides one with the "plus" package, so it has virtually limitless memory capacity.

 

It also allows you to start off in "easy mode" then move to advanced mode once you become comfortable with the technology. Have fun shopping! :blink:

Link to comment

About the iFinder Plus: I noticed the iFinder Portable is 80 dollars cheaper than the "Plus" package. It does not come with the memory card or the mapping software. Is everything else the same though (in terms of hardware capability)? I think as a beginner I might want to start out without all the fancy extras and then be able to add them later if I really get into geocaching. By the way, thanks for all the great responses!

 

Edit: I noticed the link has a description of the iFinder and it says it only supports up to 128 megs of expandable memory. I know you can buy much bigger quantities of such memory. Can the unit actually not support larger amounts of memory or is it just that 128 meg was the max available at the time of the description being written?

Edited by jotajota
Link to comment

Yes the "iFinder Portable" is the same identical GPSr that is part of the "iFinder Plus package", they're just tossing in the PC software, memory card, and card reader together as a bundle. If you like, you can get just the GPS now and add the rest later no problem.

 

Regarding memory card size limits, many people are using much larger chips in their GPSr's no problem (512mb, even 1Gb!). I think when Lowrance wrote the documentation, a 128mb chip was the largest available so they said that was the capacity lol. However if you try a larger chip and have some sort of problem, they might not officially require to provide assistance.. kinda a catch 22 lol

 

If you're interested in the iFinder basic, be sure to try the iFinder product emulator! This software installs onto your PC and pops up a fully working model of the iFinder for you to try! Of course the demo won't aquire a satellite signal lol, but it will run a simulation, and you can play with the buttons & menues.

 

Download the Owners Manual and read it before buying too!

Link to comment

Just curious, are there any color GPS devices in my price range that are actually any good? For a color display I might be willing to bump up my budget a little bit also. I just think it would be so much nicer to look at if it was in color (might just be my newbish want for a color/aesthicatally pleasing unit).

Link to comment

I really like the GPS 60C. This is more than you wish to spend since it is around $350 and you will need to add the City Select software for another $80 for auto routing and all the roads.

 

If you want to spend less and dont mind a used GPS. I have a Magellan SporTrak Pro which has 23 meg of RAM for maps and is very accurate. I also have the TOPO maps program for downloading to your GPS plus the cable (including a USB to Serial adaptor if you have a new computer with USB only) It also includes a car mount and a protective case. I am selling the whole set up for $150. SporTrak Pros are still going for around $250 in sporting goods stores. If you are interested send me an Email

 

:D

Link to comment

Purchasing the 60CS, or the 60C, is only part of it. You also need to purchase the City Select software, and to use it safely for driving, you need to buy the auto-mounting kit. . . .

 

That is going to run you about another $145.00 . . .

 

You can find Geocaches just fine with the $130.00 Garmin eTrex Legend.

Link to comment

Thanks idiosyncratic for pointing out those additional expenses. I am (I think lol) going to buy the eTrex Legend for 169 after tax at my local best buy. The cheapest I found it on Amazon was about 140 (not counting shipping and tax). I'd rather be able to return it to a real store if there is a problem with it then have the hassle of trying to make an online return.

Link to comment

Just ordered the Legend for 150 from Best Buy. After adding shipping (so I didn't have to wait a week or so) it came to about 140ish. I prefer having the ability to return to a real store if my item is defective (however unlikely). Also my dad didn't want to register for an Amazon visa card. Thanks for all the advice. Can't wait to start geo-caching!

Link to comment

Good luck with your purchase jotajota! If you've never used a GPS before then you're probably going to be pretty surprised at the capabilities of these units. Pretty soon you'll have your home, office, friends homes, etc, marked as waypoints & be telling them EXACTLY how far away one is from the other ;)

 

One thing you might try to to do early though.. after learning how to operate the Legend, go to an area that has a lot of tree cover and see if it is able to maintain a signal lock. Most caches around here are hidden in that sort of area, and the Legend has been known to have difficulty functioning in that environment. At least some do.. so check yours soon after purchase, and if it has that problem you can try exchanging it for another Legend. It appears not all etrexes have been created equal.

Link to comment
Just ordered the Legend for 150 from Best Buy.  After adding shipping (so I didn't have to wait a week or so) it came to about 140ish.  I prefer having the ability to return to a real store if my item is defective (however unlikely).  Also my dad didn't want to register for an Amazon visa card.  Thanks for all the advice.  Can't wait to start geo-caching!

Good choice on the GPS. Can you guess which unit I have?

 

Before you go caching, take a few hours to become familiar with the Legend. Remember the direction arrow only works when you are moving, it is not a real compass. Read the manual and figure out how to mark a waypoint, then go outside and mark some easily identifiable spot. Call up the waypoint and hit "GOTO". Using ONLY the GPS see how close you get beck to your original spot from a couple hundred feet away. A little practice might prevent some frustration on your first finds.

 

Also, it may take a while to develop the "Geocacher's Sense" as to how caches are usually placed and found. I usually use the "I am at the waypoint, now where would I hide a cache?" method. It works for me.

Link to comment

Well, I found my first cache. The eTrex unit seems to have some problems keeping reception. Could be just my unit or just the problem all Legend users experience. The place I bought it from allows returns so if I wanted to get one with better reception what would be a good choice?

Link to comment

A British perspective here. Had my legend for a month and absolutely love it. Keep it facing up in the palm of your hand and reception is fine except in cities and heavy woods. I've bagged 11 caches, my mate 2, my #2 son (McD1) 8 and #1 son 2 with it so far.

 

Legend is, for us, an ideal choice - hope it is for you too. Have fun in your new pastime.

 

p.s. Plenty of guff on Legend across in the GPS Units and Software forums.

Link to comment
Well, I found my first cache.  The eTrex unit seems to have some problems keeping reception.  Could be just my unit or just the problem all Legend users experience.  The place I bought it from allows returns so if I wanted to get one with better reception what would be a good choice?

Well you can try exchanging it for another Legend. Surprisingly it's been discovered that differents units of the same brand/model can perform quite differently. However the early etrexes are building a reputation for being troublesome under trees.

 

I know it might be difficult for you to tell if your GPS is working optimally or not especially if it's the first GPS you have ever used, you have no benchmark to compare it against. Years ago when I bought my first GPS (Magellan 4000XL) I thought it was working as good as is possible even when it did leave me stranded in the middle of a forest. But then I upgraded to a Magellan 315 & it worked SO MUCH better. Now I'm using an iFinder, and this thing has never let go of signal lock on me so far.. either when crawling thru bush so thick it's nearly impassable, or even sitting on my sofa in the middle of my livingroom the thing always seems to do it's job.

 

Be sure you are holding the Legend level and in front of you while using it. If you are doing that and it still loses lock, then try swapping it for another one. Life's too short to tolerate a finiky GPSr ;)

Link to comment

No question in my mind. I recently upgraded from a Garmin Venture, and after looking at Magellan options, I went with a Garmin Legend. Fits easily in your hand, easy to operate, you cannot break it, it will survive being underwater (from personal experience), and the price is great -- I found it online for $132. Amazing! That is less than I paid for the Venture two years ago. You can get a super case at WalMart called a NITE IZE case, made to fit the GPS. It has a belt clip that will not come loose, and a place for spare AA batteries. Welcome to Geocaching!

Link to comment
Well, I found my first cache. The eTrex unit seems to have some problems keeping reception. Could be just my unit or just the problem all Legend users experience. The place I bought it from allows returns so if I wanted to get one with better reception what would be a good choice?

No GPS will hold its reception in all conditions. Just be patient and seek out a clear spot. Get your bearing and head to the cache if it is in a heavly wooded location.

Link to comment

I think I might get that case, because when I was biking to the cache it seemed to swing alot and I didn't want to damage the screen (I was wearing it around my neck and holding it level to check bearings occasionally). I don't understand why GPS signals can't penetrate leaves ;) It would be really nice if they could!

Link to comment
Well, I found my first cache. The eTrex unit seems to have some problems keeping reception. Could be just my unit or just the problem all Legend users experience. The place I bought it from allows returns so if I wanted to get one with better reception what would be a good choice?

The Legend works fine as long as you hold it flat, face up to the sky. If you clip it to your belt, hang it around your neck, put it in your pocket or carry it in your hand, dangling at your side, you will have reception problems under some conditions. Hold it like a waiter holding a tray of beer and your reception will be fine.

 

There are units with slightly better reception, but there are tradeoffs in size, price and ease of use.

 

The eTrex line has probably found more caches than all other GPS units combined for good reason. They offer a good combination of price, reception, size and ease of use.

Link to comment
(I was wearing it around my neck and holding it level to check bearings occasionally).

 

There's your problem. If you're biking, get the handlebar mount. If you're hiking long distances, get the neoprene case and clip the unit to the top of your pack's shoulder strap, face up to the sky.

Link to comment

Is there anything wrong with holding it flat for a little bit, getting your bearings and then putting it back down? Like every few minutes check to make sure you are going in the right direction? Will this reduce the accuracy of the gps or does it not matter if it has a continuous lock?

Link to comment
Is there anything wrong with holding it flat for a little bit, getting your bearings and then putting it back down?  Like every few minutes check to make sure you are going in the right direction?  Will this reduce the accuracy of the gps or does it not matter if it has a continuous lock?

That should be fine. After all, if you're going to be out half the day Geocaching you certainly don't expect to have to hold the GPSr "level and in front of you" the entire time, you arm would fall off from fatigue :o

 

You should leave the GPSr "on" the whole time though. On most models the batteries should be good for a good day of caching provided you don't use the backlight much. Once you arrive at a rest point, hold the unit level and wait. Flip to the satellite status display and watch for it to hook up to at least 4 satellites (the MORE the merrier!). If it's working properly and has fresh batteries, it should aquire a position fix within a minute, maybe 2 if the terrain is extra challenging. Get your fix, and move to your next checkpoint :D

Link to comment

Did Best Buy charge a restocking fee when you returned it? I was going to "demo" a Legend C, but when I asked about returns, they told me 15%.. Apparently the guy says a lot of people buy them for short vacations and such and return them. (Or us geocacher's trying out a new unit).

Edited by sdevine
Link to comment
Update: I got the GPS V Deluxe for $150ish and returned the eTrex Legend because I decided I really wanted the mapping capability.

Actually both the Legend and GPS V have mapping. The GPS V has more memory and comes with the software however. You have to buy it for the Legend. The V also does autorouting, while the Legened doesn't.

Link to comment

yeah, definitely a good idea to do that soon because I think they are gonna stop carrying them at best buy. how cool would it be to buy it at best buy for 150 and then return it to staples for 500 dollars? for some reason staples has both the 60CS and the GPS V for about 500 dollars. Wish I had thought of that before I opened my GPS V. They prolly check the serial numbers or something though.

Link to comment

Bump up to $250 if you can, and get the Vista. It'll be a good investment since it has all the options (barring the color screen) they have for Magellans and it's a terrific GPS for it's price. If you need to stay below $200, go eTrex Legend, we own one and I rely on that to get me out of the woods many times (geocaching or not) and it's NEVER let me down.

 

Garmin's are the only GPS's I've been exposed to, but I'd never buy any other for how good the ones we own are for me. (Knock on wood.)

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Followers 1
×
×
  • Create New...