Advice on Best GPS

Please provide your advice on the best GPS unit for touring / backpacking. I want to buy one unit to use in both applications.

let me know
I’m lookin into an affordable marine gps as well, something that won’t set me back too bad.

Here’s a good thread from the past

I’m looking for a GPS for Alaskan floating and fishing trips this summer, and probably also for backpacking and kayaking on into the future.

The expensive ones look tasty, but I think I’m most attracted to the Garmin eTrex because it’s so light and small. The newer color version gets 36 hours from two AA batteries, which makes it even lighter in the field.

Has anyone used the eTrex with the sort of free, downloadable maps discussed in a Sea Kayaker magazine article this month? Garmin offers map packages but I’m not sure I need them.

That depends on the kind of kayaking and backpacking your doing. Most backpackers really don’t need a GPS. The same is true with kayakers. I’d only suggest a GPS if you plan on doing some hard core stuff. Day and weekend trips you’l most likely never need one.

Garmins are good but the screen is a little small for middleaged eyes.

I have used a GPS since 1997 for many applications including hiking/paddling/driving/other. Go here for everything that a beginner needs to get started using GPS -

Looked at the GPS website. There was nothing there to help someone decide whether they need a GPS or not. All GPS map programs lack the kind of detail needed for backpackers. All GPS screens are too small to handle the detail needed for backpackers. I would use one in my trail work to keep me on the trail when the trail would vanish from lack of use. I still would carry maps though. My contract required me to clear the trail even when it couldn’t be seen. Having a mapping GPS helped when talking to FS people. Map reading skills are far more important than having a GPS. If you don’t know how to read a map your GPS isn’t much help.

I posted this a while ago…
… I posted this same question a while ago in the “Advice” section of this messge board. I had an overwhelming number of people tell me to look at the Garmin, “e-Trex” Legend. I bought one and am very inpressed, for only $164.95. It has road and marine maps built into it, it is easy to create waypoints, and the screens can be changed to display the things you want to see. Plus you can download maps into it from your computer, and the Garmin Web page. Try an archive search in the “Advise” section, and you will probably find a lot of info on this.

… From my past bad experiences, I say to stay away from Magellan. I have a Magellan aviation GPS I bought a while ago, and several years ago Magellan stopped supporting ALL aviation GPS units in every way. I now have an expensive unit I can’t get any updates or anything for. If they have no regrets to do this to thousands of aviation customers, I am sure they will do it to the lesser cost small units. I’ll never buy another Magellen GPS for sure!

GPS… my experience
I don’t know what “the best” is… I got a Garmin e-trex Vista about 3 yrs ago, and love it. It is easy to use, accurate. Some functions are fun.

I do some swamp tripping, and wouldn’t go on some of my extended trips without it.

e-Trex GPS
One thing you should know about e-trex units is that they are not very water proof and e-Trex won’t do much for you if you have problems. After a bad experience with e-trex, I bought a Magellan, no problems so far.

Garmin makes so many good ones…
…it is hard to choose. You have to look at how you will use it and decide. I have a Rino 130 and really love it. I paddled on Lake Powell last September and its features were nice to have along: integrated radio (in case we needed to call for help), weather radio (we were in the desert southwest where flash floods could be a concern…some of the spots could have been dangerous if there were flash flood threats). The mapping features aren’t so good, but I prefer to take a good map along with me anyway. I really like that I can download my tracks so I know where and how far I went, most, if not all, GPS units have that capability.

problems solved
when I noticed the very slight cracks in my sporttrak pro case, and I had accidentally gotten some overspray from my mosquito repellent on the screen and it etched dots into it(wonder what its doing to me?) I contacted them and they had me send it back and fixed it and got it right back to me I would say all within 2 weeks- and over Christmas when the mail was so backlogged. So they still have my vote of confidence. I’ve also been able to put a newcomer behind it and teach them in no time how to use it. I take it kayaking, and hiking all the time and yesterday had dropped something and ended up an hour later following the breadcrumbs back and finding what I had dropped! This makes it golden in my eyes!

RINO 130
I have one of these also. It also has a locator built into it for anyone else using this devise and will also send text. It is a little pricey, but has a lot of features that could be handy in the right place if they were needed.

both Garmin and Magellan
are good. I got the sportrack pro because it’s waterproof and floats. Magellan has not come out with Fishing Hotspots like they promised me in email. They are coming out with it now but you need one of their GPS’s that takes a data card, mine does not. My sportrak has worked well. My friend’s Garmin may start up a little quicker. GPS’s do not do great under heavy overgrowth of trees.

My personal experience with e-Trex

– Last Updated: Mar-08-05 11:45 AM EST –

My e-Trex legend has run many whitewater rivers with me, and it has swam some of those rivers with me. Last November, it swam Upper and Lower Madison Falls in the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande where it was completely submerged for quite a long time.

Upon getting my boat righted and climbing back inside I found my e-trex still tracking and mapping my course after my two-mile ride in the water through Madison.

There is no such thing as "waterproof". The Garmin units clearly state that they are water resistant, and limitations are declared. My Garmin experience has been nothing short of positive in every way.