Garmin GPS 12 reviews

I am new to the GPS technology. My friend has a Garmin GPS12 unit for $50. Does anyone use this GPS unit? can you give me a review/ recomendation. I know its a couple of years old, but for $50 I think its worth it. Thanks in advance.

Did not see that model, but did buy the Garmin Etrex for $89. Think it’s great & does all I want it to do on a kayak. Came with a video also.

I’d say it’s worth $50.
It’s not as compact and fashionable as the Etrex models my friends have, but it has done me well for something like eight years now. The only things I wish it had are an audible alarm (for approaching intersections/destinations and course corrections) and street software. Basically, if I were looking for one today, I’d look hard at the Map76C and the Etrex LegendC. That said, it would be hard for me to pass up a Garmin12 for $50.


good basic gps
I have been using a GPS 12 for four years or so. It seems to get signals under tree canopy better then other units. Part of the reason the unit is larger is that it uses 4 AA batteries. Battery life is wonderful compared to the very compact etrex models. If you are going to be leaving your unit on for extended periods, to monitor speed for instance, this will serve you well. Has no map features that coastal paddlers like so much.

I’d say $50 is fine for this unit. Give you a chance to learn about GPS with out a big investment.

I’ve had one for years. Solid, reliable, easy to use. If you can live without a map it should work just fine.

Check to see what version the software is. The last version released for the Garmin 12 was 4.60

It does take a special cable to connect the unit to a PC. Ask if your friend has the cable, or if he knows someone who does.

garmin GPS12
Thanks for the replies. Does the GPS 12 mark a good fishing spot when I stumble onto one. Is this what they call a waypoint?

Right. You mark a spot by telling the unit to create a waypoint, and then giving it a name. From then on you can select that name from the waypoint list, and it’ll give you the direction and distance to that spot.

A waypoint is -
any location you want to record and find again.

You are on the right track.

Check out These guys turned using GPS devices into a game.


Thanks for the great replies. If I bought the cable, would I be able to download maps? If not, I think you can input waypoints from maps. What maps have the longitude and latitude listed on them. Particularly interested in Fishing Hot spots maps. Do they have it?

No maps
The 12 can’t display maps. You don’t need the cable to enter waypoints – you can do it with the buttons. Slow, but it works.

Another Garmin 12 user
Ive had a GPS 12 for around 6 years. Not sure about the newer 12s but the older ones have an averaging feature that was designed to defeat Selective Availability. Selective Availability was done away with back in 2000 (I think) but the GPS still averages. It actually seems to be more accurate than my new Etrex which is WAAS capable. In comparison to most of the newer style GPSrs, the 12 is heavy and boxy, but it also seems more durable and, like mentioned earlier, has four batteries instead of two, so they last longer. I happen to like the controls better on the 12 than on my Etrex, but thats 100% personal preference.

The 12 doesn’t have mapping capabilities though. Other than no mapping, it is full functioning.

If the 12 you are looking at works and is not beatup and you dont need a map function, $50 is a good deal.

downloading locations
As stated, the 12 will not dispay maps and you can not download maps. You will need a map that has lat and long or grids to pin point a location to enter into the GPS. If you were to purchase mapping software, you should be able to pin point a location and download that location into the GPS. I dont know, I havent tried that with my 12. I’ll have to give that a shot.

downloading waypoints
I have had the Garmin 12 for 5-6 years, and it has been a solid GPS. It is a little large and heavy compared to newer GPSs, but it is sturdy. While it is labelled as waterproof, I found I have to dry the battery compartment if it is in my PFD pocket while rolling.

I have a bracket on my salmon fishing boat, and switch between carrying the GPS kayaking and using it on the fishing boat to mark loacations. Since selective availability has been turned off the 12 reports positions within 20 feet.

If you get the cable to hook it to a PC, there is free software available on the web to download data to it. I use USAPhotomaps, which displays topos or aerial photos from which you can pick waypoints or map routes that can be directly loaded to the Garmin. You can also upload to your PC a track that you have just paddled and display it on a map.

gps 12
Thanks for the great input. I was also looking at the Etrex Legend C for approx $200. I like the color screen, but the difference is still $150. I could buy a new fly fishing rod and still have a great GPS unit. I can read a hard copy map and then input the waypoints (Fishing spots)I need for the lakes I am on. I alraedy have most of those maps. Thanks again for all the input. Did someone say that the GPS 12 will direct you to +/- 20 feet of your destination?

GPS 12
I use an old GPS12, has everything you want in a basic reliable GPS. I do some GEOCACHING and it is faster to indicate and more accurate than a lot of others.

Sounds like a deal!

I use mine with Maptech software and a data cable, last Sept. solo trip to BWCA I uploaded 70 waypoints with description/identifiers. Just mark em on the map and transfer marks/waypoints to the GPS.


GPS 12
Thanks for the input. I will upload the waypoints from the Map and get er goin.

Etrex Legend
The Legend is a fine GPS also. Ive got a Legend as well as the 12, my Legend isnt color though. I prefer the operation of the 12 compared to the Legend but its really just what you’re used to. The Legend does’nt seem as rugged as the 12 but it has held up fine. The only reason I got it was for the mapping capabilities, otherwise, I would just be using the 12.

Your accuracy will vary alot depending on many, many factors. Generally the 12 does seem to pick up coverage better than the Etrex but both have had us within “13 ft” on good days. Then on other days, they would both be all over the place. We use our GPSrs for Geocaching so its nice to get good strong coverage.

Either will be great at finding that fishing spot though, it really just comes down to how much money you want to spend on gadgets.

It’ll vary a bit depending on how many satellites are “visible” to the GPS unit. It’s usually not a problem out on the water.

Thanks for your comments. I purchased the unit from a friend for $50.00. It came with a video that really explains it all. Can’t wait to get it outside and start marking some hot fishing spots. Again, thanks for your help.