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View Full Version : GPS recommendations please


duckypaddler
01-16-2010, 09:27 PM
I want to finally buy a handheld gps for fishing, hiking, and kayaking. I want to buy a waterproof one that has maps I can download so that when I'm hiking in the Smokies I can see what side creeks I come up on etc. Also one of the new ones that still get signal in deep cover which was a real problem in the past, especially in dense cover. After looking on Amazon here are a few models I have seen that seem to fit the bill.

http://www.amazon.com/Garmin-eTrex-Vista-HCx-High-Sensitivity/dp/B000PDR1LS/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=gps&qid=1263691360&sr=1-2

http://www.amazon.com/Magellan-Triton-400-Handheld-Navigation/dp/B000V4TMWC/ref=sr_1_20?ie=UTF8&s=gps&qid=1263691360&sr=1-20

As I have never been a gps user before I want to make sure there aren't any other things I should be looking for, or if someone can recommend a good site that shows the good ones, or if you personally know of a good one I should buy. Also are there free maps, or do I need to purchase them separately? I think both above units have a SD card.

Thanks
James

Carolina Boy
01-16-2010, 11:16 PM
Sorry bud, I only have a GPS on my flats boat so I don't know about handhelds, but I will say that Garmin are sooo user friendly, I am a tech idiot and I can figure em out!

Barry Murphy

rgp759
01-17-2010, 09:30 AM
James,

I have the Garmin eTrex Vista HCx that you are looking at, and I would highly recommend it. I have had it for about 3 years now, and have used it for fishing, hunting and just general trip navigation. It is a very easy unit to use, once you get used to the menu structure. I carry with me on every trip, as it is quick and easy to mark a position on a stream where a particuarly nice run is, etc.

You will need an optional SD card to have adequate memory to store the maps and routes you will use. I have a 1GB card in mine, and have more than adequate memory space using it. Also, you do need to have the additional mapsource maps to have enough off road detail to make the unit really useful. I have the Topo map package loaded in my unit and have found the detail to be as good as any of the printed maps.

There is also an application you can download from Garmin to interface the unit with mapquest for on road navigation. Set up your route on mapquest, download it to the unit, tell it to navigate, and it will calculate and display turn by turn driving directions.

If you choose the Garmin, check out GPSNow.com. They had the best price on the web I could find when I got mine. I'd also recommend getting the case for the unit, as it will save on the normal bumps and bruises it is sure to get in use.

The unit also uses either alkaline or lithium batteries. Get the lithium ones for it, as they last much much longer than the standard alkaline. One set of lithium batteries lasted all of the past hunting season for me, where I'd generally use 2-3 sets of the standard alkaline ones.

Feel free to drop me an e-mail if you have any other specific questions on the unit. The address is rgp759 at bellsouth dot net.

Bob

duckypaddler
01-18-2010, 12:27 AM
I'm sure I will hit you up with some more questions, but off the back how much is the topo software you have (additional mapsource maps)?

I have purchased the national Parks Maps by TOPO which should have the Smokies. What will I need for N & S Cherokee coverage in TN as well as Joyce Kilmer, and other areas ouside the Park in NC.

Thanks again,
James

rgp759
01-18-2010, 08:56 AM
James,

There are a couple of current options for the additional maps you would need, as you can get the national topo map bundle that has every USGS topo map in it, or you can get a regional set of maps. The GPSNow website has a listing of the available options.

When I got my software, the topo map bundle was ~$100. Shoot me an e-mail and I can help you get a copy much cheaper.

Bob

Grannyknot
01-18-2010, 09:31 AM
I'm sure I will hit you up with some more questions, but off the back how much is the topo software you have (additional mapsource maps)?

I have purchased the national Parks Maps by TOPO which should have the Smokies. What will I need for N & S Cherokee coverage in TN as well as Joyce Kilmer, and other areas ouside the Park in NC.

Thanks again,
James

Is that "National parks maps by topo" compatible with the Garmin mapsource software? If not, you may have some trouble getting it to work on a Garmin handheld.

If you buy Garmin Mapsource National Parks East 24k https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?pID=999&pvID=2286 , it includes GSMNP, Cherokee NF, & Nantahala NF. To the best of my knowledge, Garmin doesn't offer very good coverage of Pisgah yet, except on the Topo East 100k software, which isn't very good in my opinion. They haven't made a Topo 24k Southeast version yet.

By the way, go ahead and spend a few bucks more and buy a 4 gig SD card. You can fit the entire United States 100k topo on it, all the national parks 24k, and most of the inland lakes.

duckypaddler
01-18-2010, 11:50 AM
I'm glad you chimed in as my searches for GPS answers on this and another fourm only led to one post from you about the Pisgah coverage issue.

I will def get a 4 or 8 gig card as they are dirt cheap these days.

Also what model do you have? It looks like I'll go with the Garmin. Is there any other model I should look at?

I checked out the links to map software, and not sure if mine will work. Says it works with Garmin in GARM mode, but software may be outdated as I purchased years ago when I got a cheapy GPS that plugged into the palm I was using at the time.

If I buy the whole US will that give me everything in National Parks East one?

Thanks for all your help,
James

MadisonBoats
01-18-2010, 12:46 PM
I have the Garmin (Oregon 400I) and the detail is absolutely insane. It is waterproof and touch screen. The newer versions have cameras...

Great GPS, is a battery hog.
-one full set of charged batteries runs for one day...

Scott Spencer
01-18-2010, 01:00 PM
Also what model do you have? It looks like I'll go with the Garmin. Is there any other model I should look at?James - Have you looked at any of the DeLorme GPS units? PN20 is about $150 (if you shop around) and a superb unit! Want more, go with the PN30 or PN40. The software is second to none as well.

I bought the PN20 and love it. Before that I had a Magellan I used for years but the DeLorme is light years better.

Grannyknot
01-18-2010, 04:32 PM
Also what model do you have? It looks like I'll go with the Garmin. Is there any other model I should look at?

I have the Rino 530hcx. I'd say the all have their upsides and downsides.

If I buy the whole US will that give me everything in National Parks East one?

As for Garmin: Currently, the entire US is only offered in 100k (they are still working on completing the 24k). You can get most of the US in 24k, but not the southeast. I would use the National Parks East 24k software, it has all the GSMNP backcountry campsites and points of interest pre-loaded as waypoints, as well as the surrounding national forests, minus most of pisgah.

ccmmcc
02-05-2010, 08:51 AM
I have to agree with the recommendation of the Garmin eTrex Vista HCx. I have had one for about 3 years and I am getting great satellite reception. I also have the Garmin Mapsource National Parks East and it is very detailed for the Smokies.

Stonefly
03-23-2010, 09:27 PM
I ordered the Garmin eTrex Summit HC today, as an anniversary gift from my company. Is it going to be useful for fishing in the park etc? Do any of the comments about the Vista apply to this model too?

Thanks.

sb

Grannyknot
03-24-2010, 08:21 AM
I ordered the Garmin eTrex Summit HC today, as an anniversary gift from my company. Is it going to be useful for fishing in the park etc? Do any of the comments about the Vista apply to this model too?

Thanks.

sb

Stonefly, I think the entire eTrex series are known to be very reliable units. The only downfall I can see in the Summit is that there seems to be no slot for an SD card, which just means you won't be able to load the enitre park on the unit, just a few selected quads.

Have fun with it, I learn something new about mine every time I use it.

MadisonBoats
03-24-2010, 10:59 AM
I purchased the Garmin - Oregon 400i last year and used it extensively on my fishing trips.

PROS:
-Excellent satellite accuracy and fast tracking
-Waterproof
-Designed for inland waterways
-Touchscreen

CONS:
-I ended up having to get it replaced about a month ago because it would no longer find satellites.
-Temp mode only works with a NEMA Cord (hardwired to a sensor)
-Loves the taste of rechargeable batteries (one charge=one day)
-Has picture mode; but, no camera (kind of worthless unless your tagging locations)
-No log mode (text-comments)

*I would probably skip this model on the next go around.

Stonefly
03-24-2010, 10:17 PM
Stonefly, I think the entire eTrex series are known to be very reliable units. The only downfall I can see in the Summit is that there seems to be no slot for an SD card, which just means you won't be able to load the enitre park on the unit, just a few selected quads.

Have fun with it, I learn something new about mine every time I use it.


I downloaded the manual,and I see you're right about the SD card. I thought this model had a slot for it, but now I see it has to be the Vista HC or the Legend HC.

My brother has a Magellan that he says has saved his bacon a few times.

I'll just have to see how it goes.

sb

Stonefly
03-26-2010, 06:42 AM
I think the internal memory of the Summit HC is 24mb.

I found the National Parks East 24K map available from various sellers at about $75-90, shows it is compatible with this unit, but naturally there's something I don't understand. The size of this particular map looks to be 309mb. So how does that "fit" on the GPS unit?

The ultimate question remains, will this unit with no SD card be sufficient to use for fishing in the park and NF areas?

sb

Grannyknot
03-26-2010, 08:43 AM
I think the internal memory of the Summit HC is 24mb.

I found the National Parks East 24K map available from various sellers at about $75-90, shows it is compatible with this unit, but naturally there's something I don't understand. The size of this particular map looks to be 309mb. So how does that "fit" on the GPS unit?


Stonefly, you are correct, the internal memory is 24mb. The national parks east is 309mb, which contains every national park in the eastern US and some national forests. The image below is from the Garmin mapsource software. I don't know if you can tell by the picture, but the park is divided up into quads, which you choose individually to load onto the unit. You should be able to load a good portion of the park.

http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh256/CodyEdrington/GSMNPMapsourceQuads.jpg

The ultimate question remains, will this unit with no SD card be sufficient to use for fishing in the park and NF areas? sb

For the park, yes, it will be helpful. It has very detailed coverage of the park, its points of interest, trails, campgrounds, and summits.

However Garmin is lacking, in my opinion, in its coverage of the national forests. Nantahala has pretty good coverage, Cherokee NF has ok coverage (spotty), and Pisgah has almost nothing (even on the 100k US topo).

Hope this helps. Feel free to email me with any questions you have.
Cody_Edrington at yahoo dot com.

Stonefly
03-27-2010, 11:21 AM
Granny - Thanks very much, gave me some better understanding.

Seems clear the Vista HC would be a better choice than the Summit, but that one wasn't available from the supplier my company uses for these awards/gifts.

sb

mcfly
03-28-2010, 01:05 AM
Go with the Garmin, carry extra batteries, and don't waste your money on a maps package. Buy a waterproof topo map and learn how to use the combination.

I picked up the unit you are looking at bundled with topo software, but have found the software impractical for actual navigating. So, from the advice from my military father, I carry a topo map along with the unit.

txbrown
03-28-2010, 10:24 AM
I have a Magellan Explorist 600 and the MapSend Topo software and love it The Explorist has the SD card with color display and I have very detailed maps loaded onto it. I use it to mark individual fishing spots, parking areas, etc. in the Park and Tellico area, then download to computer and print overview and very detailed maps with commentary. Several of my fishing buddies want copies of the Tellico maps. When you pair the maps with photos, it makes for a nice fishing journal.

duckypaddler
12-14-2010, 03:03 PM
I think the internal memory of the Summit HC is 24mb.

I found the National Parks East 24K map available from various sellers at about $75-90, shows it is compatible with this unit, but naturally there's something I don't understand. The size of this particular map looks to be 309mb. So how does that "fit" on the GPS unit?

The ultimate question remains, will this unit with no SD card be sufficient to use for fishing in the park and NF areas?

sb

It's a little late me seeing this post but if you never bought any maps, I will be happy to help you out. My buddy has your model (I bought the one with the SD card) and I saved exactly what would fit and was able to get the park in 20 ft contours (much better than topo 100k and even better than 24 K Nat Parks), all trails marks, and all of Tom Dunigan's waterfalls, arches, peaks, etc. I live in Knoxville, TN, but could maybe mail you a cd with the data if your far away:smile:

jeffnles1
12-15-2010, 11:48 PM
I have the Garmin Oregon 450 and have been quite happy with it. I got the South East 24K topo map (I think it's the one, has Tennessee, Kentucky and most of the areas I hike and fish) and I got the US City Navigator maps too so I can use it in my car as well as on the trail. Just swap the card when on the trail, and put city navigator back in when on the road.
fast pick up of the stas, accuracy seem reasonable, waterproof. Like Madison said, it does like batteries, but I keep a couple sets of rechargables in my bag and put a recharger in there as well. I can recharge batteries overnight if I'm in a hotel and keep a couple extra sets with me when not in a hotel.

Seems to work out just fine for me.

Jeff

old east tn boy
12-16-2010, 09:54 PM
I bit the bullet last month and got the Garmin GPSmap 62 st with the central Atlantic 1/24,000 topo on micro SD card. Since I plan to do more hunting and a lot more kayaking in the future I figured it would be worth the investment. It has already come in handy moving around the north Cumberland WMA. I really cannot compare it to any previous experiences since this is my first GPS unit but I love it. It does like to eat batteries though.

Grannyknot
12-17-2010, 10:33 AM
I have the Garmin Oregon 450 and have been quite happy with it. I got the South East 24K topo map (I think it's the one, has Tennessee, Kentucky and most of the areas I hike and fish).............Jeff

Jeff, how do you like the SE 24K maps? Are they detailed? Does is show GSMNP backcountry campsites? I have the National Parks East 24K, but have asked for the SE 24K dvd for christmas.

I am also curious about the coverage detail of Pisgah NF, if you've used it over there.

MadisonBoats
12-17-2010, 04:46 PM
I have the Garmin SE 24K Mapset. It has great detail when viewed on your PC in Mapsource. However; the translation to the GPS is not as good. It may be better in the newer #50 models...? You can use the POI loader and import geographic details that you want and put them on your Garmin. Mapsource is nice to clean up your waypoints and trips - Post trip. However; the map management system for Garmin is still screwy and my Garmin's firmware was not write protected like a thought it should be... So; had a nice learning lesson with my device back in the day.:rolleyes:

I was pretty upset with the Garmin Oregon 400 series and that Garmin rushed them to market without finishing their features. I will probably look at another brand going forward. One that I am excited about is the new:

DeLorme - Earthmate PN-60W GPS
http://www.delorme.com/
http://www.delorme.com/images/homepage/november10/hp_frames_111010x6.jpg

cardfly
12-23-2010, 09:59 PM
Shawn,

I am going to get the Delorme with spot. I do lots of fishing with a 5 and 9 year old and think it would be a good thing.

My wife likes the idea of me having one when I head out alone.

mattblick
01-31-2011, 04:12 PM
If any of you who are looking at hand held GPS units have a smartphone; there are now GPS applications available. Use your phone instead of a hand held GPS; unless you require it to be waterproof. (without a case)

I have AlpineQuest (http://alpinequest.psyberia.net/english/index) on my Droid. I generate my maps for free using a program called Mobile Atlas Creator (http://mobac.dnsalias.org/). Mobile Atlas Creator can use 60+ online map sources (Terraserver, Google, Microsoft, MyTopo, etc) to create the offline maps and store them on a Micro SDHC card in the phone. I was able to generate maps for GSMNP from multiple sources.

SPOT connect (http://www.findmespot.com/en/index.php?cid=116) is now available for Android; getting you better functionality than the PN-60W for a whole lot less cheddar.

I have picked up a clear waterproof case (http://www.otterbox.com/OtterBox-8000-Clear/OTR3-8000S-01,default,pd.html?dwvar_OTR3-8000S-01_color=01&start=3&cgid=otterbox-8000-cases) for my phone; so it will stay protected and visible except during input. I also ordered a solar charger that will hopefully be able to charge it in the back country.

MadisonBoats
02-01-2011, 10:08 AM
If any of you who are looking at hand held GPS units have a smartphone; there are now GPS applications available. Use your phone instead of a hand held GPS; unless you require it to be waterproof. (without a case)

I have AlpineQuest (http://alpinequest.psyberia.net/english/index) on my Droid. I generate my maps for free using a program called Mobile Atlas Creator (http://mobac.dnsalias.org/). Mobile Atlas Creator can use 60+ online map sources (Terraserver, Google, Microsoft, MyTopo, etc) to create the offline maps and store them on a Micro SDHC card in the phone. I was able to generate maps for GSMNP from multiple sources.

SPOT connect (http://www.findmespot.com/en/index.php?cid=116) is now available for Android; getting you better functionality than the PN-60W for a whole lot less cheddar.

I have picked up a clear waterproof case (http://www.otterbox.com/OtterBox-8000-Clear/OTR3-8000S-01,default,pd.html?dwvar_OTR3-8000S-01_color=01&start=3&cgid=otterbox-8000-cases) for my phone; so it will stay protected and visible except during input. I also ordered a solar charger that will hopefully be able to charge it in the back country.


Good tip and information!

jeffnles1
02-01-2011, 02:45 PM
Jeff, how do you like the SE 24K maps? Are they detailed? Does is show GSMNP backcountry campsites? I have the National Parks East 24K, but have asked for the SE 24K dvd for christmas.

I am also curious about the coverage detail of Pisgah NF, if you've used it over there.

Sorry about the late response.

Honestly, this is my first GPS where I could use the topo maps. My other one was for the car only (didn't have the topo map capability and was about 6 or so years old).

I have nothing to compare it to but the last time i was in the Smokeys, it worked fine, showed me where I was (looked like +/-20-30 feet) and had everything I needed.

I was wading Thunderhead Prong and it showed me about 3-4 feet on the shore given the width of the stream where I was, I'm guessig about 20 feet off.

Definately "close enough" that it would get me back where I came from, and get me to wherever I was going.

I marked several waypoints along the way (trees, rocks, turns in the trail, etc) and on the way back, I was able to locate each point marked quite easily.

So, having nothing to compare to, all I can say is it worked, got me there and back and seemed to be about as accurate as the one in my car.

Hope this helps.

Jeff