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MisterE250

Best GPS for geocaching?

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What's your opinion on what the best GPS is for geocaching? I've been using my smartphone, but it's not always the most reliable, especially when there's little to no data coverage available.

 

I'm not exactly new to geocaching, however I don't have a proper GPS yet.

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For my needs and limitations: the Garmin Montana

You didn't mention your needs, constraints, desires, attitudes about money, etc - so for each of the companies that did their market research right you might end up getting every model mentioned in this thread.

Edited by Hynr

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Just upgraded to a Garmin 62s from a Magellan GC. Still learning the ins and outs of it, but I am already impressed with the better battery life and bigger screen.

If there is an event or "meet and greet" near you, definitely worth going along and chatting with other cachers about their GPS units. Maybe you could even cache together and try their unit?

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Of the newer units we originally bought a 450 for our first paperless unit and liked it fine. I then bought a 62S....we liked the 62S so much we got a second one and now only use the 450 for backup......both are good units but I like the 62S better.

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I was ready to purchase the Garmin Oregon 450, until I read your post on the garmin 62sc. Does the 62sc really have that much better of an antenna? I am really only getting a standalone GPS unit to use in the forest and heavy tree cover, instead of my smartphone.

 

Do you prefer the buttons over the touchscreen?

 

I'm pretty happy with my Garmin Oregon 450

 

And me.

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I'm absolutely happy with my Etrex20. I didn't want a touch screen and the Etrex20 does not have it and it covers all my needs. If I had to buy a new device I would by this one again...

 

... and combined with GSAK it's absolutely all I need for paperless caching (ok, without pictures!)

Edited by stone-cacher

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Unless the Oregon touch screens have gotten much better, I've always had problems reading them in direct sunlight. For that reason I'd stick with a unit without a touch screen.

 

I'm a fan of the DeLorme units. The PN60 is a very good geocaching unit. Best of all DeLorme comes with all of the mapping software free.

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Nobody can tell you what is best because there are so many variables - do you like buttons or touch screens, how large a display is best, will you be using it for routing? The list could go on forever. Most units will get you where you need to go. I would go to a store where you can at least get a feel for the models, or ask around at an event. I have been satisfied with garmin models (including the 60csx, 62, and Montana) and like the various mapping options. But I rarely use a handheld these days since geosphere on my IPhone 5 does everything so well.

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geodarts is right on.

 

Also, what "smartphone" are you currently using? That at least lets us gauge what standard you're looking for, how high that 'bar' is. I mean, if the latest, greatest smartphone isn't good enough, you may need a high end expensive handheld. If it's an 8 year old flip phone or a phone with cell tower triangulation only, masked as "gps", then, well, I think an upgrade to your 'smart' phone is in order :)

 

Any other details you can offer?

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I have a decent GPS (handheld) and it works pretty good. The GPS however is nowhere near as easy to use and does not update or track as fast as my smartphone and I own a cheap one.

 

My GPS will get me 15-20 feet from GZ..the smartphone 1-5 feet always.

Edited by Bassbully

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I'm going to put in a vote for the Magellan eXplorist GC - which is designed just for geocaching if that is all you are interested in doing. Hardy unit, great battery life (we always get at least 12 hours out of it) and super simple to use. Our ten-year-old uses it all the time with no problems whatsoever!

 

Oh, and did I mention they sell for less than $150? That's a nice perk too :)

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THe reason you might be seeing a difference in accuracy between your GPS and your smart phone is due to how each unit receives location signals. The smartphone uses cell tower triangulation while the GPS uses satellite triangulation. If you do a lot of city caching, your accuracy will likely be better with your smartphone because GPS signals tend to bounce off buildings and send you in circles. But, if you are caching in the deep woods, you can lose cell signal altogether - not to mention risking dropping your phone in a creek or off a cliff :lol:

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The smartphone uses cell tower triangulation while the GPS uses satellite triangulation.
Actually, no. The smartphone can use cell tower triangulation (and wifi network locations) in addition to using real GPS satellite triangulation. Unless you've turned off the GPS antenna, which some people do to conserve battery life.

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The smartphone uses cell tower triangulation while the GPS uses satellite triangulation.
Actually, no. The smartphone can use cell tower triangulation (and wifi network locations) in addition to using real GPS satellite triangulation. Unless you've turned off the GPS antenna, which some people do to conserve battery life.

 

Whatever the smartphones uses it tracks better and is much more accurate than my GPS. I use it in urban areas and for short searches in the woods. I also bring it with me when I use the GPS only and have search issues to see how close I really am to the cache. Many (most) times the GPS is off sometimes... way off.

 

The other day I had a park and grab on a guardrail. The were no hints and and really no discription. I jumped out of my truck when my GPS showed me I was at GZ.

This was a long gaurdrail mind you (couple hundred feet) and I searched but no cache. After a little while I'm like... really?

So I used my cell phone app and found I was 35-40-30 feet away from where the tiny micro tube with magnet was tucked away.

 

I like the GPS better since its rugged long battery life and its waterproof but its not as easy to use and is off track most times. I will continue to use both and hope to get my skills with a GPS better.

Edited by Bassbully

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I was ready to purchase the Garmin Oregon 450, until I read your post on the garmin 62sc. Does the 62sc really have that much better of an antenna? I am really only getting a standalone GPS unit to use in the forest and heavy tree cover, instead of my smartphone.

 

Do you prefer the buttons over the touchscreen?

 

I'm pretty happy with my Garmin Oregon 450

 

And me.

 

With all things being equal I've always preferred units with the quad ant especially under heavy tree cover....the 62S has a quad. The screen is brighter on the 62S and I like the buttons which are like the 60 Series and the Magellan Meridian series...I've never cared for the joystick arrangement of the Etrex line.

I used the 450 last week for the first time in many months and got so frustrated I almost threw it out the window. Multiple touches were often required and panning the map screen is a nightmare as well as selecting a cache on the map screen....I tried an iPhone rubber tipped pointer which worked well.

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The smartphone uses cell tower triangulation while the GPS uses satellite triangulation.
Actually, no. The smartphone can use cell tower triangulation (and wifi network locations) in addition to using real GPS satellite triangulation. Unless you've turned off the GPS antenna, which some people do to conserve battery life.

With iPhones especially, a trick conserve power while still caching with gps is not airplane mode. That turns off GPS as well. Unfortunately there's no way to automatically switch to gps only. The trick is to manually turn off all data and cell connectivity. The GPS will remain active. Just make sure you've cached maps and downloaded everything you want before you turn data off :) This is how you can still use your phone as a gps in areas with zero cell reception, without wasting batteries trying to locate a signal.

 

Then of course you can turn off gps location services for individual apps or globally if you want.

 

I'm not actually sure if turning off all cell features and leaving GPS will leave the "A" of A-GPS still active (if the phone will still get its boost from cell tower triangulation) or if the phone really does become a GPS-receiver-only.

 

But yes, iPhone 3GS and up have real GPS satellite reception, boosted by cell tower triangulation.

(I can't speak for other high-end smartphones though; but I wouldn't be surprised if there were more friendly settings to allow the same flexibility in gps use)

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Whatever the smartphones uses it tracks better and is much more accurate than my GPS. I use it in urban areas and for short searches in the woods. I also bring it with me when I use the GPS only and have search issues to see how close I really am to the cache. Many (most) times the GPS is off sometimes... way off.

 

The other day I had a park and grab on a guardrail. The were no hints and and really no discription. I jumped out of my truck when my GPS showed me I was at GZ.

This was a long gaurdrail mind you (couple hundred feet) and I searched but no cache. After a little while I'm like... really?

So I used my cell phone app and found I was 35-40-30 feet away from where the tiny micro tube with magnet was tucked away.

 

I like the GPS better since its rugged long battery life and its waterproof but its not as easy to use and is off track most times. I will continue to use both and hope to get my skills with a GPS better.

 

On rare occasions, my Samsung Galaxy S3 has been more accurate than my GPS/GLONASS/WAAS enabled eTrex 30. Just like you mentioned above. Very rare, though. Most of the time the the Garmin is more accurate. Although in clear signal areas and putting them side by side, I have rarely seen more than .001 difference between them after settling. That's something like a max of 6 feet, I think. In really heavy tree cover it can take the Galaxy a lot longer to acquire signal. I've never had it fail to do so, but the eTrex grabs and holds on to the signal much faster. I have heard that some of the newest smartphones have GLONASS support now. Wikipedia claims there are quite a few.

 

I use my smartphone for backup, getting an alternate location confirmation when I can't find a cache, Live searching, and every once in a while when something new shows up in a Live search that isn't in the Garmin, I use an OTG cable to export info downloaded on the phone and send it to the eTrex while I'm in the field. Plus I can log field notes or publish logs directly from the field. I lost a paper notebook once, with all my clues and coordinates for a series. Never again. That goes directly into cache notes or Evernote while I'm in the field.

 

I always use both for anything other than urban caching.

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I just got a Garmin Etrex 20, and I've been very happy with it so far. The screen is easy to read, even in sunlight, it's pretty accurate (I've seen it showing accuracy of 8'), relatively inexpensive, and seems to have good battery life. I've had it about a week, found 30-some caches, and haven't changed batteries. I use it together with GSAK, and it's working quite well. It's nothing really fancy, but if you want a good, inexpensive unit, I'd recommend it.

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I have a Samsung Galaxy S2 smartphone. I'm not looking to spend an arm and a leg on a GPS. It doesn't matter if it's touch screen or has analog buttons. Accuracy is my main goal. Thanks for the responses, everyone.

 

geodarts is right on.

 

Also, what "smartphone" are you currently using? That at least lets us gauge what standard you're looking for, how high that 'bar' is. I mean, if the latest, greatest smartphone isn't good enough, you may need a high end expensive handheld. If it's an 8 year old flip phone or a phone with cell tower triangulation only, masked as "gps", then, well, I think an upgrade to your 'smart' phone is in order :)

 

Any other details you can offer?

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I have an Etrex that is 4 years old -- it has proved to be very accurate -- however I would like to update to a paperless -- the reviews I have read as far as accuracy for paperless units are not as good as my Etrex

 

any good suggestions?

 

I read the reviews of the explorist - and wasn't thrilled even though it is a dedicated geocache unit

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I have an Etrex that is 4 years old -- it has proved to be very accurate -- however I would like to update to a paperless -- the reviews I have read as far as accuracy for paperless units are not as good as my Etrex

 

any good suggestions?

 

I read the reviews of the explorist - and wasn't thrilled even though it is a dedicated geocache unit

I question the reviews that you read... especially if your eTrex is the yellow (no name suffix) one. If there is no "H" designation in the name, then it does not have the better antenna that most all current generation GPSr units use today.

 

Regarding the eXplorist, you are probably speaking of the GC unit (Magellan eXplorist is a "family" of GPSr units). Being a entry-level unit, the GC is lacking in some aspects. From the eXplorist 510 and up, expanded memory is available; from the eXplorist 610 and up, an electronic compass is used.

That said, many own and use the eXplorist GC and love it.

 

As far as recommendations go -- the Garmin eTrex 20 is in wide use and well liked.

Delorme (PN-60) does it all short of buttering your toast for you.

 

Most all new units require map upgrading (if you desire better than base mapping), and is available for purchase or download (sometimes free).

The Delorme comes with a mapping program that is second to none (U.S., Canada and Mexico).

Edited by Gitchee-Gummee

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thanks for the reply --

 

yes I have just the yellow Etrex with no other designation -- but it has been quite accurate in finding caches -- so I have no complaints -- other than I would like to go paperless -- but I might solve that if I get a Samsung tablet

 

the reviews I read are for specific units -- either from amazon or other sites -- even the reviews given from geocache --I wish there were more on the site to read -- and I tend to read all with a grain of salt --

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thanks for the reply --

 

yes I have just the yellow Etrex with no other designation -- but it has been quite accurate in finding caches -- so I have no complaints -- other than I would like to go paperless -- but I might solve that if I get a Samsung tablet

 

the reviews I read are for specific units -- either from amazon or other sites -- even the reviews given from geocache --I wish there were more on the site to read -- and I tend to read all with a grain of salt --

Such is good, but keep in mind that many of these "reviews" are made by first-time users of a particular unit. Each (and every) change in units or types of units has a learning curve that accompanies it. Switching from a Garmin to a Magellan requires practice because they operate differently. Likewise a smart phone to a GPSr and vice-versa, Garmin to Delorme and so-on.

 

So... the grain of salt is necessary :)

My other half uses a smart phone (approved geocaching.com app). Personally, I'd like to throw it into Lake Superior because its use seems "clunky" to me (a Delorme user). I have read posts from folks who solidly lean in the other direction. They both work fine, it's just a matter of user preference.

We also have a Garmin Venture H, and a brick-like GPS12. They are good units, but are solely back-up units at this point (besides, nobody would want the GPS12 -- it would cost more to ship it than it is worth).

 

FWIW -- a tablet would do the job, but I wouldn't want to 1] carry it; 2] drop it; 3] have it rained upon or 4] kill the battery and try to replace it (I believe they are not user serviceable).

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I am also looking at getting a GPS for areas that I don't have a signal with my iPhone... which is usually great with the app. I was looking at the Magellan GC because all I want it for is geocaching. Does anyone know how it works with a mac set up? Is is easy to use/ figure out? I don't know much about all the different brands and which ones work better with MAC vs PC. Everything I have is MAC. This would be my first GPS. Thanks!

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I'm really happy with my garmin etrex 30. I have that and my son has my iphone. Usually I find that my garmin is more accurate than the iphone.

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I'm really happy with my garmin etrex 30. I have that and my son has my iphone. Usually I find that my garmin is more accurate than the iphone.

What's "accurate"? And which "iphone"? ;)

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I picked up a extrex 20 and am pretty happy with it for a starter gps. It does what it needs to do, the battery life is fantastic and it always seems to get a good lock even on cloudy days (which is a good thing considering I live in the Netherlands) and tree cover. I haven't had too much issue with mine in urban settings either.

 

The only thing that annoys me a bit is the fact that it doesn't have a magnetic compass and I have to walk around like a loony for a few seconds until the compass picks up my location and sends me off in the right direction. If I had to do it again, I'd get the 30.

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I am also looking at getting a GPS for areas that I don't have a signal with my iPhone... which is usually great with the app. I was looking at the Magellan GC because all I want it for is geocaching. Does anyone know how it works with a mac set up? Is is easy to use/ figure out? I don't know much about all the different brands and which ones work better with MAC vs PC. Everything I have is MAC. This would be my first GPS. Thanks!

 

The Magellan GC is an excellent unit. Make sure that it is using the latest firmware. It's simple, although it can take a couple minutes, to install the latest firmware.

 

Magellan does have a software package called Communicator that makes it simple to transfer caches to the Magellan GC and there is a Mac version. However the unit when attached to any computer (Windows, Mac, Linux, etc.) acts as an external hard drive. So the Communicator software isn't necessary unless you want the Sent To GPS feature at geocaching.com to work. But since you are a premium member I wouldn't bother with that. Just generate PQs, download them to your Mac, then copy and paste them to the Geocache directory on the Magellan GC. Logging them is even simpler. The Magellan GC will create a field notes file. All you have to do is upload the field notes file to the geocaching.com website to log your caches!

 

There are plenty of Magellan GC owners who read these forums so if you have any trouble figuring something out, all you have to do is ask.

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We use a smartphone, PN60 and oregon 550. Hard GPS units better battery life for trails. PN60 definitely best maps and good gps feature. For the money best choice. Use the phone most of the time when caching locally and doing a few quickies. Do not need to worry about loading it if there is signal. In the end it is individual choice and best deal you can get. Our PN60 was on sale when we bought it and the same with the Oregon.

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I am brand new to the FORUM. I have been reading a lot for the past few weeks. I ended up buying a 450t last night after I compared prices and reviews.

 

I found this really hard to beat since I was trying to stay under $200.

 

$169 + free shipping was a great deal for me. I am really looking forward to geocaching with the kids.

 

http://www.cabelas.com/product/Garmin174-Oregon-450T-Refurb/1266116.uts?Ntk=AllProducts&searchPath=%2Fcatalog%2Fsearch.cmd%3Fform_state%3DsearchForm%26N%3D0%26fsch%3Dtrue%26Ntk%3DAllProducts%26Ntt%3Dgarmin%2Brefurb%26x%3D0%26y%3D0%26WTz_l%3DHeader%253BSearch-All%2BProducts&Ntt=garmin+refurb&WTz_l=Header%3BSearch-All+Products

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I am also looking at getting a GPS for areas that I don't have a signal with my iPhone... which is usually great with the app. I was looking at the Magellan GC because all I want it for is geocaching. Does anyone know how it works with a mac set up? Is is easy to use/ figure out? I don't know much about all the different brands and which ones work better with MAC vs PC. Everything I have is MAC. This would be my first GPS. Thanks!

 

The Magellan GC is an excellent unit. Make sure that it is using the latest firmware. It's simple, although it can take a couple minutes, to install the latest firmware.

 

Magellan does have a software package called Communicator that makes it simple to transfer caches to the Magellan GC and there is a Mac version. However the unit when attached to any computer (Windows, Mac, Linux, etc.) acts as an external hard drive. So the Communicator software isn't necessary unless you want the Sent To GPS feature at geocaching.com to work. But since you are a premium member I wouldn't bother with that. Just generate PQs, download them to your Mac, then copy and paste them to the Geocache directory on the Magellan GC. Logging them is even simpler. The Magellan GC will create a field notes file. All you have to do is upload the field notes file to the geocaching.com website to log your caches!

 

There are plenty of Magellan GC owners who read these forums so if you have any trouble figuring something out, all you have to do is ask.

 

THANKS! I appreciate your feedback!

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My wife, kids and I are new to Geocaching. We are currently using our Nuvi for caching. I want to buy her a new GPS for her Birthday. I want it to give driving directions if needed like her Nuvi, but I also want it for caching..such as entering Long/Lat coordinates and able to access geocaching.com for paperless geocaching. I was looking at the Garmin eTrex 20......Good/Bad???? Thank you..also, does it have voice directions for driving?

Edited by KGlassner

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If you also buy the Garmin 24k Topo map for your region, the eTrex will give you turn by turn routing. But no voice or spoken street names. It will only 'ding' on upcoming turns. I have a Nuvi and eTrex 30 and after playing with the novelty of having the eTrex do street routing, I prefer the Nuvi to get me to the parking area and the eTrex to take over when I get out of the car.

 

I believe that some of the more expensive Garmin handhelds like Oregon might actually have voice navigation. I still think you'd be better off with separate devices, though.

Edited by JohnCNA

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For me durability is always near the top of the list. It's nice to not have to worry too much about damaging the unit from everday use. granted, you dont want to use any of them as a golf tee....but some durability is a big plus!

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I'm not sure if the newer Oregon line (650) does spoken directions....my 550 does automotive routing but you only get a ding when your turn is coming up. Definitely not as slick as a automotive unit but it gets me there.

 

How much were you looking to spend? That's a good starting point.

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I had a etrex 30 and was pretty happy with it. I think it was better than my Iphone. However I lost it, and wondered how the map on a Oregon 450 was to read compared to the etrex 30? Note: I didn't mind the etrex joystick but you certainly had to be careful when you wanted to press enter.

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My 60CSX recently bit the bucket at last so now its time to upgrade to a system which has logs, information, hints, etc, so basically anything above a 60. I tried an Oregon 450T but the darn thing kept crashing on occasion and then losing all the cache information. I even got carsick from it as it was so many buttons to swap routing on, even as a passenger.

 

I now have a 62ST and I find it way better than the 450T. My opinion. Will keep my Oregon 450T for the odd Wherigo that it will still work with which is not always.

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I picked up a extrex 20 and am pretty happy with it for a starter gps. It does what it needs to do, the battery life is fantastic and it always seems to get a good lock even on cloudy days (which is a good thing considering I live in the Netherlands) and tree cover. I haven't had too much issue with mine in urban settings either.

 

The only thing that annoys me a bit is the fact that it doesn't have a magnetic compass and I have to walk around like a loony for a few seconds until the compass picks up my location and sends me off in the right direction. If I had to do it again, I'd get the 30.

 

Very happy with the eTrex 30! (Though a software upgrade did affect the magnetic compass.) It can freeze if you don't follow the step by step instructions exactly for navigating to a cache. But we use the nüvi for that.

We love it!

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Also quite happy with the eTrex 30. I don't think I would want a unit that did not have a compass built in. Without a compass, the arrow would jump around a lot when you are stopped or moving slowly.

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I don't think I would want a unit that did not have a compass built in. Without a compass, the arrow would jump around a lot when you are stopped or moving slowly.

 

I don't see why an electronic compass is necessary. If the arrow is spinning around then you are close enough to see the cache or at least see the location that it is hiding. Make sure that you have the map screen set to NORTH UP. Then ignore the direction that the arrow is pointing. Instead focus on distance of the arrow icon from the cache icon. Move so this distance decreases. Most models of GPS allow you display a DISTANCE TO CACHE or DISTANCE TO END or something similar on the map screen. That gauge is also very helpful in knowing where the cache is located.

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I don't think I would want a unit that did not have a compass built in. Without a compass, the arrow would jump around a lot when you are stopped or moving slowly.

 

I don't see why an electronic compass is necessary. If the arrow is spinning around then you are close enough to see the cache or at least see the location that it is hiding. Make sure that you have the map screen set to NORTH UP. Then ignore the direction that the arrow is pointing. Instead focus on distance of the arrow icon from the cache icon. Move so this distance decreases. Most models of GPS allow you display a DISTANCE TO CACHE or DISTANCE TO END or something similar on the map screen. That gauge is also very helpful in knowing where the cache is located.

 

While not really wanting to get the " electronic compass debate " started at least let me say it depends a lot on where you'll be caching. We cache in many areas where it is hard to walk at all much less 3 miles/hr...briars, brambles, and bushes make for VERY slow going and out west if you're climbing in rocks also it is great to have your pointer always aiming at the cache no matter what.

If you've ever cached for awhile with a unit with a GOOD 3-axis "pointer" ( Magellan Platinum, 62S, Oregon 450 ) you would never want to be without one. I vastly preferred the 60 CSx with somewhat quirky 2-axis compass to units that had none.

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I don't see why an electronic compass is necessary. If the arrow is spinning around then you are close enough to see the cache or at least see the location that it is hiding. Make sure that you have the map screen set to NORTH UP. Then ignore the direction that the arrow is pointing. Instead focus on distance of the arrow icon from the cache icon. Move so this distance decreases. Most models of GPS allow you display a DISTANCE TO CACHE or DISTANCE TO END or something similar on the map screen. That gauge is also very helpful in knowing where the cache is located.

 

While not really wanting to get the " electronic compass debate " started at least let me say it depends a lot on where you'll be caching. We cache in many areas where it is hard to walk at all much less 3 miles/hr...briars, brambles, and bushes make for VERY slow going and out west if you're climbing in rocks also it is great to have your pointer always aiming at the cache no matter what.

If you've ever cached for awhile with a unit with a GOOD 3-axis "pointer" ( Magellan Platinum, 62S, Oregon 450 ) you would never want to be without one. I vastly preferred the 60 CSx with somewhat quirky 2-axis compass to units that had none.

 

My home area is mountainous and has lots of yummy and pointy blackberry bushes lining many of the trails. Of the GPSes you mentioned I've used all of them and I currently own one of those. I don't feel like I could never be without my Oregon 450. In fact my current preference is for a lower end model without an electronic compass. Having an electronic compass does make reading the map easier when set to course up but it is very far from a show stopper. It's all about how you set up the GPS. North Up and make the pointer icon, no matter what direction it points, gets closer to the cache icon. In fact I've used the north up and make the pointer icon and cache icon touch method the few times that my compass calibration continuously failed or I was under power lines and the electronic compass was acting up.

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I don't see why an electronic compass is necessary.

Didn't say it was necessary. Just said I would not buy one without it. ;-) I like having the pointer hold steady when I stand and look, or slowly make my way across - or through - difficult terrain. I can give the pointer and distance a quick glance and then concentrate on the terrain and start looking for likely spots near where the arrow was pointing instead of watching the distance count down. I prefer to have the map display match what's in front of me. I bought my GPS to assist me, not be part of the challenge. The more tools it has, the better.

 

You can certainly do with less. My first geocaching experience was with a unit without a compass. Yes, North up was pretty much the best way to use that unit. I like my newer unit with compass much better.

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I am a newbie and am currently using my Samsung Galaxy S3 with the c:geo app and my daughter has a Geomate Jr. I have been looking at some of the GPS sold on this site and was wondering if purely looking at accuracy if it is worth it to upgrade to a regular GPS unit (accuracy in open fields as well as in woods).

 

Also, I have an old Magellan Meridian Color, how would the accuracy be on that dinosaur compared to my S3 and the Geomate Jr? (I just found it in a drawer tonight, I had forgotten I even had it). I will attempt to answer that question myself next time I get a chance to go out hunting, but I figured there are enough GPS experts on here someone might be able to keep me from wasting my time with it if it is ancient technology compared to the phone app.

 

I have noticed the last few cache's we have found both the phone and the jr. have said we were between 10-40 feet of the cache when we found it (some 5-10 feet into the woods, some 1-2 feet into the woods). Is that the best accuracy I can hope for with these units and if I spend say $150-$350 on a GPS unit what could I expect that number to get down to? Is 0-1 feet accuracy most of the time something that can be obtained with current technology?

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I have noticed the last few cache's we have found both the phone and the jr. have said we were between 10-40 feet of the cache when we found it (some 5-10 feet into the woods, some 1-2 feet into the woods). Is that the best accuracy I can hope for with these units and if I spend say $150-$350 on a GPS unit what could I expect that number to get down to? Is 0-1 feet accuracy most of the time something that can be obtained with current technology?

 

There are more factors to accuracy than just your GPS. To name a few there is the accuracy of cache owners GPS when the cache was placed. The geometry of the GPS constellation when the cache was placed verses when you are looking for the cache. Even the current geomagnetic state of the atmosphere will have an effect on accuracy. For a recreational GPS the consensus is 30 foot accuracy is average.

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Purely looking at accuracy, I don't think you'll get much better than the results you're describing. Smartphones used to be notoriously inaccurate and couldn't touch a real GPS receiver, but that was when they were using cell tower triangulation for location and didn't have an actual GPS chip on board. They are far better now and on average are just as accurate as a GPS, at least as far as the casual user can tell. They are a little less effective under tree cover and such because although the GPS receiver is adequate the antenna is usually not as good as the one on the GPS.

 

Still, 10-15 feet is the best you should expect, and 20-30 feet is considered acceptable. Get out of the newbie habit of trying to get the device to read "0" and expecting the cache to be RIGHT THERE. The device isn't going to find the cache for you, it's only going to bring you to a set of coordinates that someone else (a fallible human) SAYS is the right spot. Depending on how meticulous (or lazy) the hider was about getting his coordinates, you might be spot on or you may be off by 30 feet or more.

 

Once you get to GZ (ground zero), the device has done all it's going to do. Investing in a stand alone GPS won't improve that much over what you're getting. You may find down the road that you want to buy one for other reasons (waterproofness, ruggedness, battery life) but you won't get a dramatic improvement in accuracy.

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I started using the Oregon 450 that I bought and compared to my smartphone. For me, the electronic compass is exactly what I need. It ate through my smartphones battery pretty quickly.

 

The cache's I went to retrieve were in a wooded park. There is A LOT of poison ivy, Virginia creeper, fire ant piles, etc....that I had to walk around. With the smartphone I was 0/3 but with the 450 I was 3/3. I took the advice of when you hear it "beep", turn on the compass and follow the arrow. That made it MUCH easier and my 2 boys and more fun this time finding the caches :)

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