etrex 30, etrex legend, gpsmap 76cs

Sorry to ask again–have reviewed previous threads–but am still unclear about which is best option. The etrex 30 and legend aren’t marine specific, but it seems that one can load topo and bluechart maps on either one no problem. The gpsmap has some sort of marine baseman, but it looks like one needs to purchase and load blue chart maps separately? Also, the 76 series is quite a bit heavier. Recommendations? Likely use will be poking around along NC coast, east coast expeditions some with long crossings, looking for take out/camping sites in advance and emergency “let’s get off the water” settings. Thanks in advance.

Here is a simple answer, Get a Gamin GPS that have the features you like. DO NOT WORRY ABOUT THE MAPS FOR NOW. Decide if you want touch screen or buttons, you probably want to record tracks and create waypoints. Pick out the hardware you like.

Now once you have your Garmin GPS picked out and it does not have the maps that you want on it, now go to

From there you can download any type of maps and overlays you want. They also have the mapsource software that interfaces between your PC/MAC and your GPS.

The GPS I use the most is a Garmin 296, which is a aviation GPS, yes I’m a pilot as well. I have downloaded topo maps and street maps on this GPS, all for free from the web site above.


Get the 76Cx with the mini card(s)
Jack L

Yup. That’s What I Did.
A little big and heavy for hiking but great on the water with the JackL deck mount.

and don’t lose the card
I searched for ten minutes after I dropped the western half of Canada on the floor.

Those micro cards are easy to lose.

gpsmap 78sc
I use a gpsmap78sc as my primary and an old gpsmap 76 as my backup.

Although you can get the gpsmap 76 pretty cheap right now (since it’s no longer the “top dog”), if you don’t want to worry about maps, the new gpsmap 78sc is pre-loaded with BlueChart g2 U.S./Bahamas coastal charts.

The gpsmap 78sc is pricey, but if you like to have the “latest and greatest” it’s the one to have. In addition to the built-in blue charts, you still might want to buy a TOPO CD. In some cases the TOPO maps are better for kayakers than the marine charts.

In addition to other details, the 78sc acquires signal must faster than the 76 and even has a fitness mode for heart rate (you will need an ANT chest strap).

Greg Stamer

Waterproof is Good
The feature I most value is waterproof. I copied Jack’s deck mount idea and don’t have to try using it through a bag. Let me know if you can do some paddling soon and I’ll let you try mine.