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Getting back into caching/hiking/exploring, used to have a 60 series Garmin. What to get now?


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Hello everyone,

 

Years ago I used to cache a lot. I had a 60 series Garmin with a color screen. I lent it to a friend and got destroyed! Oops. Oh well. Reparations were made in the form of concert tickets at the time lol. My typical adventure would mean finding an interesting spot on Google Maps/Earth, mark the coordinates, upload them to the GPS along with any caches, and go exploring. I use GSAK at the time, and I remember doing something with KML files but don't recall what now lol. It's been a decade and I'd like to get back into caching/hiking/exploring. 

 

I live in the PNW near Olympic National Forest, and will be spending time in among the forests of trees, and the old 2003 Garmin Etrex just doesn't cut it! Assuming I want to spend $200-300, what's a good GPS these days? I see the Garmin GPSMAP 64x on Amazon for just over $200, and the Garmin GPSMAP 64 for $280. There's also the etrex series, but I rather liked having real buttons to push. So, I'm at a loss. There's so many options out there, and I don't know how to interpret all the new options. 

 

I'll appreciate any recommendations. Thanks, and as we say in the ham radio community, 73 :)

Edited by geocrasher
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Do you have a modern cellphone?  Look into caching apps, recommendably Locus Map for Android, Cachly for iOS.

 

If you're worried about taking a delicate cellphone in the bush, rugged Androids are surprisingly cheap and you can skip the monthly expense of a phone plan if you're just using it for caching; the apps I mentioned work quite well fully offline..

 

PS, since you're a hiker, I've gotta throw in a screenshot of Locus (notice the caches):

e98c843e-4af7-48a2-9e33-d37260ffe05a_l.j

Edited by Viajero Perdido
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Hi Viajero,

 

Thanks for the response. I'm not stuck on any particular solution. I have a new Pixel 4a that'll be delivered today,. I have never tried a *good* phone in the trees before. I've always had the cheapest prepaid phones and they have terrible low signal GPS performance. Perhaps I'll have to give this a try before spending money on a dedicated GPSr.

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1 hour ago, geocrasher said:

Hello eveyrone,

 

CQ, CQ, CQ!

 

1 hour ago, geocrasher said:

Years ago I used to cache a lot. I had a 60 series Garmin with a color screen.

 

My typical adventure would mean finding an interesting spot on Google Maps/Earth, mark the coordinates, uploads them to the GPS along with any caches, and go exploring. I use GSAK at the time, and I remember doing something with KML files but don't recall what now lol. It's been a decade and I'd like to get back into caching/hiking/exploring. 

 

I live in the PNW near Olympic National Forest, and will be spending time in among the forests of trees, and the old 2003 Garmin Etrex just doesn't cut it! Assuming I want to spend $200-300, what's a good GPS these days? I see the Garmin GPSMAP 64x on Amazon for just over $200, and the Garmin GPSMAP 64 for $280. There's also the etrex series, but I rather liked having real buttons to push. So, I'm at a loss. There's so many options out there, and I don't know how to interpret all the new options. 

 

I'll appreciate any recommendations.

 

There are many options available for you to consider. Since you last used a GPSMAP 60, Garmin have absorbed and/or put just about every other GPS manufacturer out of business, so we will concentrate on Garmin devices, as those are what you already have experience with. DO keep in mind, however, that they have evolved with technology and "are not your fathers Oldsmobile." (oh boy, I just dated myself there)

 

You state that you like buttons to press, so we can rule out any touchscreen models.

 

You also state that you will be spending a lot of time in the forests of trees near Olympic National Forest, which always presents additional difficulties for most GPS devices. Recently, Garmin have introduces two new models with 'Multi-Band' technology, something no other consumer handhelds have ever offered. These devices can use and compare multiple signals from each satellite on different frequencies, allowing them to perform real-time signal corrections and provide unequaled positional accuracy while operated in less than optimum terrain, such as in thick and heavy forests.

 

Currently, only the GPSMAP 65/65s and GPSMAP 66sr series have these capabilities.

 

The GPSMAP 65/65s is essentially a GPSMAP 64 with Multi-Band added. As always, the "s" indicates the presence of ABC sensors (Altimeter, Barometer, Compass).

 

The GPSMAP 66sr is the current 'Flagship' Garmin push button handheld, with many bells and whistles never even imagined for your GPSMAP 60 series. And while some will initially suggest 'they do not need any bells and whistles', many tend to change their tune once they have used many of those new features and never want to be without them again.

 

The GPSMAP 65s will require you to preload geocaches using a computer, much like your GPSMAP 60 series did, while the GPSMAP 66sr has direct access to load geocaches in real-time from anywhere your phone has an active signal. There are many additional advanced features found in the 66sr that the 65 will not have.

 

If the price of the GPSMAP 66sr is just too much, you can still enjoy all of the advanced geocaching features without the new 'Multi-Band' GPS chipset via the GPSMAP 66s/st, which can be found within the price range you mentioned.

 

You can read and compare detailed information about the GPSMAP 65s, GPSMAP 66sr and GPSMAP 66st devices at GPSrChive.com. They also provide links to purchases the devices and popular accessories through amazon.com to help support the website, should you choose to go that route.

 

73!

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Atlas Cached,

 

Thank you so much for the detailed explanation of the current devices that are available. One can read spec sheets, but interpretation is half the battle. I had read through these models as they are compared in a grid at GPSrChive.com but didn't understand what the Multi-Band was about. I think I owe it to myself to just see how good/bad the phone is for my intended use, and then fork out the cash for a GPSr if the phone won't be enough. I will go for a 65 series so I get the multi-band.

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The 65 and 66sr both have 'Multi-Band', just want to be sure you are ware of that.

 

And Multi-Band is explained in some detail when you select 'Multi-Band' from the specification pages at GPSrChive.

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3 hours ago, geocrasher said:

Hi Viajero,

 

Thanks for the response. I'm not stuck on any particular solution. I have a new Pixel 4a that'll be delivered today,. I have never tried a *good* phone in the trees before. I've always had the cheapest prepaid phones and they have terrible low signal GPS performance. Perhaps I'll have to give this a try before spending money on a dedicated GPSr.

I also have a Pixel 4a (non-5G version), and it works rather well. In fact, this past week I used it almost exclusively, something I don't normally do. 

I still like my dedicated GPSr for hiking and geocaching in remote areas, but phones these days are more than capable even for power cachers.

Since you like buttons, I would recommend the gpsMap 65s as it will have the latest sensors and antennas with multiband. The 66s is nice, but more expensive. But you do get a larger and higher resolution screen. The 66sr will get you the multiband antennas as well as the nicer screen, but it comes at a hefty price tag if you're on a budget. The 66s/r will also connect directly to the internet via wifi or bluetooth tethering. Either way, both will be a welcome upgrade from your 60cs(x).

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Now that I have had time to think more, based on these suggestions, I think I am going to use the Pixel 4a for the time being. If I have issues, I found that the 60cx/csx can be had for around $100 used, which would give me the best of both worlds... I think?

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25 minutes ago, geocrasher said:

Now that I have had time to think more, based on these suggestions, I think I am going to use the Pixel 4a for the time being. If I have issues, I found that the 60cx/csx can be had for around $100 used, which would give me the best of both worlds... I think?

 

Yep.  I'm still using a 60csx, and have loaded it manually since starting.  Just a small notepad for hints n such, and good to go.  :)

I have spares too, but if I wanted to upgrade,  like Mineral2 says, the 65s would work well for me, and IIRC, still takes AA batteries.

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9 minutes ago, geocrasher said:

You're bringing back memories! I used to get my PQ's, use GSAK to upload them and then print them. I read that GSAK is out of active development though, which is too bad.

I think there's some community support for GSAK, but it still works for now, pending any major API changes from Groundspeak.

The thing is, you haven't needed to carry paper with you since 2008. I know there are folks like Cerberus1 that cling to their 60csx, but honestly the newer devices (2008 and onward) are better in that they don't require special software to use. They connect over a standard USB protocol that allows for mass storage mode meaning you can just drag and drop files between the device and your computer. And the latest devices can communicate to cloud and web services without requiring a cord. And that's not to mention faster processors and modern storage capacity. 

The 60csx still works, and it works well enough for backcountry navigation. But for Geocaching, a 60csx or older model is like still using your dot matrix printer in 2021. At least the csx doesn't require a special cable.

Edited by Mineral2
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You really can't go wrong with any of the newer handhelds from Garmin, although I would avoid the ones with non-replaceable rechargeable batteries like the plague (66sr being one of them). 

 

The 64sx looks like it will fit your price range, and is entirely button operated.

 

Another alternative is to pick up a used or legacy model off of Ebay. I have purchased a number of my devices over the years this way and have been very happy. The great thing about GPSrs is that they don't really become obsolete paperweights like a lot of other electronics, so the used ones can often be a great value!

 

 

Edited by Tahoe Skier5000
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16 hours ago, cerberus1 said:

 

Yep.  I'm still using a 60csx, and have loaded it manually since starting.  Just a small notepad for hints n such, and good to go.  :)

I have spares too, but if I wanted to upgrade,  like Mineral2 says, the 65s would work well for me, and IIRC, still takes AA batteries.

 

Yep, I still do most of my hiking/caching with a PN-40 from 2008. I've purchased a number of modern Garmins over the years, the 64st being my most recent one, and have found that I still prefer the legacy devices. 

 

The PN-40 is my all around favorite though. It's a shame they don't make them anymore. I would have recommended it to the OP except that it is next to impossible to find replacement data cables for it.

Edited by Tahoe Skier5000
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18 hours ago, Mineral2 said:

I know there are folks like Cerberus1 that cling to their 60csx, but honestly the newer devices (2008 and onward) are better in that they don't require special software to use. They connect over a standard USB protocol that allows for mass storage mode meaning you can just drag and drop files between the device and your computer. And the latest devices can communicate to cloud and web services without requiring a cord. And that's not to mention faster processors and modern storage capacity. 

The 60csx still works, and it works well enough for backcountry navigation.

But for Geocaching, a 60csx or older model is like still using your dot matrix printer in 2021. At least the csx doesn't require a special cable.

 

Funny, all the bells n whistles, odd that there's still no difference in "accuracy".  How does that hinder my geocaching again?

Luckily I look for green areas on the map, and 2+ in terrain, or apparently my GPSr would be toast.    :laughing:

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Tbh I mostly use my phone (with the official app) purely because its always on me and works well enough for most caches. I only use my GPS for hiding caches and if a cache is deep in the wilderness. I'm pretty sure Garmin has geocache live GPS's so if i would get a new one i would probably get that... idk I've not looked that much into it.

Edited by Smory
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4 minutes ago, Smory said:

Tbh I mostly use my phone (with the official app) purely because its always on me and works well enough for most caches.

I only use my GPS for hiding caches and if a cache is deep in the wilderness. 

 

Yep, the other 2/3rds used an app and her phone for caching well-before it was a thing here.  She just prefers it. 

 - She too still uses a GPSr when in the woods.  Smashing the glass on a two-week old phone hitting rock (local gorge) cured her of that.  :)

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Yesterday my phone came, and I got it activated. This thing is fancy. My old phone was junk! I installed Locus Map Pro and the geocaching addon for it, and am going to have a *blast*. For placing caches though, it sounds like a phone won't be enough- is that correct? If that's the case then I'll buy a 60csx on ebay for $100 or so, and call it good. Does that sound reasonable? 

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2 minutes ago, geocrasher said:

Yesterday my phone came, and I got it activated. This thing is fancy. My old phone was junk! I installed Locus Map Pro and the geocaching addon for it, and am going to have a *blast*. For placing caches though, it sounds like a phone won't be enough- is that correct? If that's the case then I'll buy a 60csx on ebay for $100 or so, and call it good. Does that sound reasonable? 

Yeah most/all phones just don't have accurate enough GPS's to take reliable coordinates for hiding caches.

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42 minutes ago, geocrasher said:

Yesterday my phone came, and I got it activated. This thing is fancy. My old phone was junk! I installed Locus Map Pro and the geocaching addon for it, and am going to have a *blast*. For placing caches though, it sounds like a phone won't be enough- is that correct? If that's the case then I'll buy a 60csx on ebay for $100 or so, and call it good. Does that sound reasonable? 

 

Sure thing.

 

Just remember, as others have already experienced and shared, when you accidentally drop your phone on something hard enough to damage the screen, your geocaching fun will be over, and your only life line to the outside world will also now be useless. Or when you run the battery on the phone down to zero. Or accidentally drop it off the side of a mountain or cliff. Or into a large body of water. Or.....

 

In the city, this is not as big an issue, but when out hiking in the wilderness, that is a whole different story.

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24 minutes ago, Atlas Cached said:

Just remember, as others have already experienced and shared, when you accidentally drop your phone on something hard enough to damage the screen, your geocaching fun will be over, and your only life line to the outside world will also now be useless. Or when you run the battery on the phone down to zero. Or accidentally drop it off the side of a mountain or cliff. Or into a large body of water. Or.....

 

In the city, this is not as big an issue, but when out hiking in the wilderness, that is a whole different story.

 

Yes I was thinking about using my phone in the pouring rain or out in the wild. That is what got me thinking about the 60csx for wilderness caching/navigation. That way I could leave the phone in the truck especially when there's no signal but still have it as a reference, but using the 60 series when the more rugged device is needed. Not rugged enough to withstand being ran over, unfortunately, or I'd still have my old one. My friend went caching with it and left it on the roof of his car as he drove off to the next cache. It rolled off, fell into traffic, and he watched it get ran over as he was trying to retrieve it lol.

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1 hour ago, geocrasher said:

Yesterday my phone came, and I got it activated. This thing is fancy. My old phone was junk! I installed Locus Map Pro and the geocaching addon for it, and am going to have a *blast*.

 

Also, while your new phone will look amazing while viewing the display inside, just wait until you are out on the trail under direct sunlight. Will not be so amazing then. No phone display is, regardless of backlight settings. They all suffer under natural light. Garmin GPSr displays are engineered differently, and they look fantastic under direct sunlight with zero backlighting necessary.

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2 minutes ago, geocrasher said:

My friend went caching with it and left it on the roof of his car as he drove off to the next cache. It rolled off, fell into traffic, and he watched it get ran over as he was trying to retrieve it lol.

That is not an uncommon story, unfortunately.

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1 hour ago, cerberus1 said:

 

Yep, the other 2/3rds used an app and her phone for caching well-before it was a thing here.  She just prefers it. 

 - She too still uses a GPSr when in the woods.  Smashing the glass on a two-week old phone hitting rock (local gorge) cured her of that.  :)

 

I tried the phone thing a few times and just could not get into it. It saps all of the excitement out of caching and hiking for me. There's just nothing quite as satisfying as using a handheld IMHO. It improves the whole experience.

Edited by Tahoe Skier5000
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Yep, I'm on the prowl for a 60csx. I love my new phone, and I really like the Locus app for it ($11 well spent!) but I am also concerned about use out on hikes. So, a handheld it will be. Just like old times :)

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Just now, geocrasher said:

Yep, I'm on the prowl for a 60csx. I love my new phone, and I really like the Locus app for it ($11 well spent!) but I am also concerned about use out on hikes. So, a handheld it will be. Just like old times :)

I often use my phone on hills/mountains as I always have it with me anyway and I'm not that likely to drop it. But signal becomes a problem if you don't have premium to download the caches in remote areas.

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4 hours ago, cerberus1 said:

Funny, all the bells n whistles, odd that there's still no difference in "accuracy".  How does that hinder my geocaching again?

It doesn't. The "newer" devices just make it easier to load geocaches (esp. in bulk) and eliminate the need to print out information from the cache page to bring with you. 
Quite frankly, the main difference between your 60csx and my Oregon 450 (or a 62s) is full USB support with mass storage mode, direct GPX file support, paperless caching, and maybe a screen capable of better color rendering for maps. But in 2021, I might be ok referring folks to the 62 or 64 series, but I will steer people away from buying a new to them 60 series model because I don't think it's worth the hassle of getting it to work when modern ones just work without any additional special software or hardware to transfer data back and forth.

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1 hour ago, geocrasher said:

Yep, I'm on the prowl for a 60csx. I love my new phone, and I really like the Locus app for it ($11 well spent!) but I am also concerned about use out on hikes. So, a handheld it will be. Just like old times

And that's great. I also like to bring my handheld along on hikes. But I would discourage you from seeking out a new (to you) 60csx and instead look for a 62s, 64s, 64sx, or one of the current models (65s, or 66s/r). The 60csx will work, but the 62 and newer will play nicer with modern computer hardware and software.

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2 hours ago, geocrasher said:

Yep, I'm on the prowl for a 60csx. I love my new phone, and I really like the Locus app for it ($11 well spent!) but I am also concerned about use out on hikes. So, a handheld it will be. Just like old times :)

I retired my 60csx ages ago. I loved using it but, as stated, printing additional info and downloading GPX files to it was becoming a pain. And trying to see the screen on my phone wasn't much better. I went with the GPSMAP 66s. An all around excellent receiver that has so much to offer, without the hassle. If you look around, you'll find it on sale somewhere and probably less money than what someone will want for a 60csx. Costco here in Ontario, Canada has the 66s on for $369.99. Now, let me see, I think I have a buggy whip around here somewhere.....

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Well, I did find that Costco has the 64x for $199 which is a great price. Most of the 60csx's are going for $130-150 on ebay, so I may as well spend a little more and get a new one! 

 

I did use my new phone and Locus to find a cache today, and it was one I'd looked for twice before, so I was happy to finally find it. The Pixel 4a 5G works well even in the trees. My old phone, a Samsung Galaxy J7 Crown (a cheap straight talk version) did not, and I had been pretty far off before.

 

Thanks again everyone for all the discussion and assistance. My daughter and I are looking forward to doing more caching this year and I think we're already off to a good start.

 

Oh, and one of the goals this year: dispersed camping in the Olympic National Forest. And wouldn't you know, several spots are marked in Locus, I'm guessing by others users. Very cool, and worth the cost of entry by itself!

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Dispersed camping*, I love it! (We call it random.) Credit likely goes to your local OpenStreetMap mapper, and note, you can get OSM for Garmin. OSM has become the king of trail maps, and comes in many renditions. 

 

Early cellphones were terrible for placing caches. That's history, If GpsTest shows you've got a capable unit, and you've got a way to average coords (there are apps), you will get compliments on the coords. 

 

PS, Locus also eats PQs, so you can cache offline. G4L is the online option. 

 

*

7a03db42-8761-4212-b1d2-dbe197a5922e.jpg

 

733fc45d-ad3a-47f8-875b-e735ec1074d7.jpg

 

Edited by Viajero Perdido
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4 hours ago, Viajero Perdido said:

Dispersed camping, I love it! (We call it random.)


I know in Canada there is a lot of Crown land that can be camped on. I watch Steve Wallis on YouTube. He's in Edmonton, and he does a bunch of silly/stupid/questionable camping trips for our viewing pleasure. You might enjoy it.

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