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Newbie..seeking Advice About Several Gps Units


team5150
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Howdy from Wyoming everyone! I am new to this adventure and looking at several GPS units and was hoping that some of you might be able to share your opinion on this comparison of units that I am considering...I am a single father raising 3 kids, so I am definitely seeking the most bang for my buck! The kids and I do a lot of backcountry traveling in Wyoming and South Dakota, and are going to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks this summer. I was just recently introduced to geocaching and I can see that this will be a great addition to our usual outtings!! Anyway here is my list...

 

1..Garmin Vista w/ Topo software and 12v plug in

 

2..Garmin Legend C w/ Topo software

 

3..Garmin Legend Cx (no maps )

 

4..Magellan Explorist 400 w/ Topo maps

 

all of these units are around the same price, about $300

 

OR

 

Should I save up for a couple more weeks and spring for the Garmin GPSMAP 60 CSx for around $500? I don't mind the extra cost if it is worth it.....I hate it when my stuff gets outdated before I even learn to use it!!! Anyway, thanks in advance to any and all who will share of their knowledge and experience with me!!

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Should I save up for a couple more weeks and spring for the Garmin GPSMAP 60 CSx for around $500? I don't mind the extra cost if it is worth it.....I hate it when my stuff gets outdated before I even learn to use it!!! Anyway, thanks in advance to any and all who will share of their knowledge and experience with me!!

 

There are two schools of thought here.

 

1. Start with a cheap unit. You can always upgrade later

2. Start with as good a unit as you can afford... you won't be sorry.

 

Three years into this addiction... I still don't know which school I subscribe to. (I currently own three units and really want a 4th but can't justify it).

 

The Garmin 60csx is probably one of the best you can get at this time. Remember however that the price of the unit itself does not include the Maps, which will run you about $100 more.

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I consider the Legend C's the best value among Garmin's handheld units. The color screens,24mb of memory, and relatively fast processors make them an affordable and value-packed deal.

 

However, if you hike alot with your sons and this activity continues, I encourage you to consider the Rino handhelds. When you can afford a unit for your son(s), you'll be able to communicate with each other on the built-in FRS radio, and view each others relative positions on your GPS screens.

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The Explorsit will give you the option to store Both Maps and Waypoints onto the SD card. You can also store your waypoints on the SD card broken down into Cache types, Dificulty rating or Terrain rating. You can even load them into files that are broken down into geographic area. these are all functions that Garmin does not offer.

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If you are using your units for backcountry travel (By that, I assume you mean backpacking) I think you might want to stay away from the eXplorist. It uses a specialized rechargable battery, rather than standard AAs. I'm a backpacker and that alone elimininates it from consideration for me. I'd hate to be 8 hours from my car and have the unit conk out.

 

Of the units you listed, the Legend C is probably the best deal. As a backacker, you will appreciate its compact size and long battery life (28 hours I think). And if the batteries do die and you have no fresh replacements, you can always pull the AAs out of your digital camera, or extra flashlight and use them. Not an option with the eXplorist.

 

The Legend C's chief limitation is the 24 megs of fixed memory. I looked at Mapsource Topo and that would allow you to cover about 3/4 of Wyoming, or nearly all of South Dakota, but not both. Of course, with the fast USB connections it only takes a minute or two to load new maps before venturing out.

 

As far as the regular Vista, $300 for maps, software and 12V isn't that great of a deal. I recently saw the unit on clearance at LL Bean for $139. Also, its 12 hour battery life could be an issue in the backcountry. Finally, the Vista has a serial connection, meaning uploading of maps can take a long time. That is if your PC has a serial port. Most newer ones don't and you would have to buy an adapter.

 

The Legend CX will allow you to fit topo maps of your entire region as well as City Select maps. Of course those are an extra expense, but it will allow you to have both topo maps of your destination and City Select maps to get you there. You have to decide if the extra mapping capability is worth the extra money. Personally I think it is. I find City Select to be an indcredibly useful software package and I rarely leave home without my GPS now, even if I'm not geocaching or hiking.

 

I don't think the 60CSX is worth the extra money for your intended use. First off its larger and clunkier than the eTrex units. Thats an issue for many backpackers. Its chief advantage over the Legend CX is that it has a super sensitive antenna, but (I could be wrong) but I don't think you have the heavy leaf canopy in SD and WY that we deal with in other regions. Even if you do, the Legend C and CX have enough sensitivity to be usable in the trees.

 

Hope that helps!

Edited by briansnat
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after briansnat, who else need comment.........?

 

I like my Vista, but I'm not in wild country. Added extra maps and they work fine, though some are better for maps. I really like the elec. compass. Used an old Garmin 12 when I started without the compass, and this is much nicer. but it's probably the difference in battery life, too.

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All will work for geocaching, you do NOT need the most expensive GPSr to find a cache a Etrax Yellow will work fine. What you need to do is figure out what else you want to do with your GPSr beside find tupperware in the woods. The autorouting is nice as it can help you while driving to a cache but then you have to remember to switch to pedestreian mode when your close to the cache. Maps well I have them but dont use them much so it is up to you.

cheers

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I will another post. The battery issue of the exporist 400 is not a real issue for an experianced back packer. An exerianced backpaker should be able to navigate with a map and compass. If a person cannot navigate in the back country with a map and compass they should not be in the back country. An experianced backer would only need a GPS to find in the back country when they are just a short distance from the cache.

You can also buy the Batteries for the explorist 400/500 and 600 on e-bay for about $3.00, they use a motorola cell phone battery, as I recall the battery is a T-120 extended life.

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Well, I noticed you want bang for you buck, and no one has mentioned Lowrance.

 

First I will say that Lowrance handhelds do not have autorouting (automatic trip planning feature) like the Garmins and Magellan's do.

 

If this is not a concern, the Lowrance units may fit your bill. They have excellent antennas for reception, can hold 1,000 waypoints (i.e. geocaches, your house position, your cars location...) and has tons of features. If you get the TOPO mapping it is very accurate and some say better than the other brands.

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I will another post. The battery issue of the exporist 400 is not a real issue for an experianced back packer. An exerianced backpaker should be able to navigate with a map and compass. If a person cannot navigate in the back country with a map and compass they should not be in the back country

 

You can then argue why bring a GPS at all.

 

An experianced backer would only need a GPS to find in the back country when they are just a short distance from the cache.

 

When backpacking, I keep my GPS on whenever I'm walking. Its nice to know how far I've been walking and how long it will take to get to my destination at my pace. I also like the way it records my top speed, average speed, and how much time I spent moving and stopped.

 

I also keep my unit on so I have a track of my travels so I can export them to topo map and create a trail map of the area.

 

If it wasn't for these features I doubt I'd even bother bringing a GPS along, so having to keep it turned off would be pointless to me.

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Well, I noticed you want bang for you buck, and no one has mentioned Lowrance.

 

First I will say that Lowrance handhelds do not have autorouting (automatic trip planning feature) like the Garmins and Magellan's do.

 

If this is not a concern, the Lowrance units may fit your bill. They have excellent antennas for reception, can hold 1,000 waypoints (i.e. geocaches, your house position, your cars location...) and has tons of features. If you get the TOPO mapping it is very accurate and some say better than the other brands.

 

I didn't even think of this. The Lowrance iFinder H20 is a very good choice. If you get the Plus package its a tad over $200 and that includes the topo mapping software. It gets excellent reception and the topo mapping program is better than Garmin's and Magellan's. The user interface isn't the greatest and it doesn't do autorouting, but for the money the H2o Plus might be the best GPS around. The negatives for backpackers are its size (its almost as large as a Magellan Meridian) and relatively short battery life (about 15 hours).

 

I'm going to slide this thread into the GPS Units and Software forum

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You can also buy the Batteries for the explorist 400/500 and 600 on e-bay for about $3.00, they use a motorola cell phone battery, as I recall the battery is a T-120 extended life.

I'm going to correct JV about the cell phone model. It's the Motorola t720. He is right about the extended life battery - the "regular" battery is physically too small. See this topic for battery number and more details. Maybe Johnny was thinking of the T-120 VCR tapes.
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