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Built in compass needed or not


tquad
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I'm a newbie considering to purchase either a Garmin eTrex Venture HC or a Garmin eTrex Vista H.

The units appear to be essentially identical with the exceptions that the Vista includes a built in altimeter and a compass. Inasmuch as I only plan to use the unit for geocaching, I don't think that I'll ever need an altimeter, but what about the need for the built in compass? Thanks, Ron

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We had the Garmin Legend which doesn't have an electronic compass and now have an Oregon which does. We're much happier with the compass. For one thing, with the Legend (which is still a very fine instrument) you would lose your bearing as soon as you stopped moving. Although the pointer still indicated the direction of the cache on the compass face, it wouldn't point at it unless you maintained a minimum speed. The Oregon, with its built electronic compass, points at GZ whether you're moving or not. We really like that. Alternatively, you could carry a real compass and maintain your bearing with that.

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I have an Oregon 450 with a built in compass and I am not sure it makes much of a difference most of the time. Most of the time I walk to ground zero and when I get there put the unit away. About the only scenario where I find it can help is when I get fouled in brambles and want to be sure that when I resume moving I do so in the correct direction.

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Why the Vista H? For only $20 more you can get the Vista HCX which gives you expandable memory, turn by turn driving directions (with the appropriate software) and nearly unlimited waypoint capacity (as POIs).

 

The Vista H only has 24 megs of mapping memory and that gives you pretty limited coverage. You can use up to a 2 gig card in the Vista HCX giving you extensive map coverage.

 

And if you aren't planning on adding maps, then why buy a mapping unit at all?

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I'm curious, if you don't have a compass how do you get to ground zero in the first place, do you use the map icon? The compass pointing to GZ would be the first thing I would want in a GPS. The icon on the mapping page will get you close to ground zero but the compass is much easier to use in my opinion.

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I'm curious, if you don't have a compass how do you get to ground zero in the first place, do you use the map icon? The compass pointing to GZ would be the first thing I would want in a GPS. The icon on the mapping page will get you close to ground zero but the compass is much easier to use in my opinion.

 

I've hardly ever used the compass on mine. I didn't even realize it had one until recently. It's not too hard to see which way you move on the map and adjust accordingly to walk towards the cache. I won't say it's just as easy as with a compass, but it's far from necessary to have one.

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I'm curious, if you don't have a compass how do you get to ground zero in the first place, do you use the map icon? The compass pointing to GZ would be the first thing I would want in a GPS. The icon on the mapping page will get you close to ground zero but the compass is much easier to use in my opinion.

it's not about the "compass screen" on the GPSr, it's about the integrated electronic/magnetic compass. the GPSr will have a compass screen even without electronic compass, but in this case it will have to rely on the direction of movement (derived from GPS data) to rotate the compass rose, which means it won't rotate when you're standing still.

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I had a etrex h and now a pn60. I am a newbie as well and so far haven't gone deep offroad with either. I use mine strictly for geocaching too. I haven't really used the electronic compass on th '60. The directional arrow only points to the cache if you are moving though. That really isn't a problem and you get used to it. With my very limited experience, I haven't really used the electronic compass much. If its a matter of a few extra bucks though, you might add it as a feature.

 

TerryV6

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I'm a newbie considering to purchase either a Garmin eTrex Venture HC or a Garmin eTrex Vista H.

The units appear to be essentially identical with the exceptions that the Vista includes a built in altimeter and a compass. Inasmuch as I only plan to use the unit for geocaching, I don't think that I'll ever need an altimeter, but what about the need for the built in compass? Thanks, Ron

There is no real need for a GPS with a compass. I have found lots of caches without using a GPS with a compass. As a matter of fact I have used a GPS with a compass for less than 100 finds. If you do want a GPS with a compass get one that has a triaxial compass. Without a triaxial compass unless the GPS is held perfectly flat teh compass will not be accurate. A triaxial compass will be more accurate.

In my experiance the extra money spent for a Magnetic compass would be better spent on a few pairs of good hiking sox or toward the purchase of a good pair of hiking boots.

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In my experiance the extra money spent for a Magnetic compass would be better spent on a few pairs of good hiking sox or toward the purchase of a good pair of hiking boots.

while in my experience, the compass was one of the main reasons why i upgraded to a GPSr that has one. :anibad:

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I just purchased a Garmin 62s (which does have a compass) but I have found for the most part, it's probably not really needed in locating most caches. That being said, before I got this unit, I was using a regular car type GPS, and wouldn't you know it, I went to a multi-stage cache where once you reached the first stage point.. the next clue was "Walk 350 feet Southwest to locate the cache" (and I was like.. okay.. so which way is "Southwest" of where I am standing) - LOL... other than that one time, I haven't really needed the compass.

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In my experiance the extra money spent for a Magnetic compass would be better spent on a few pairs of good hiking sox or toward the purchase of a good pair of hiking boots.

while in my experience, the compass was one of the main reasons why i upgraded to a GPSr that has one. :rolleyes:

 

I also rarely use the compass on my GPSr. I have a 76Cx, which is essentially the same as a 60Csx but without the electronic compass. I have a set of Topo maps on it and primarily use the map screen when navigating to a cache. It'll show me my current location and destination as icons on the map, a line between them and the distances between the two waypoints. A compass won't show a stream or elevation differences between my current location and the destination. Sometimes that can be really helpful when trying to find the best way to get to GZ. I suppose an electronic compass would help in wooded areas once one was near GZ but I've never felts I needed one enough to justify buying a new GPS.

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I also rarely use the compass on my GPSr. I have a 76Cx, which is essentially the same as a 60Csx but without the electronic compass. I have a set of Topo maps on it and primarily use the map screen when navigating to a cache. It'll show me my current location and destination as icons on the map, a line between them and the distances between the two waypoints.

well, it's still not about the compass screen. a built-in electronic compass is beneficial even if you don't use the compass screen but instead use the map screen for navigation. you don't have to use the compass screen to use the electronic compass.

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