Garmin GPS:Which is best for outdoors

Not for highway use per se, but in the canoe. Thanks.

Well I am partial to the
Garmin GPSmap 76CSx.

It gets good battery time, floats, has a color screen. Mine currently has the topo maps for the entire south eastern US with plenty of room for more. The interface for your computer is pretty straight forward and user friendly.

Cons? Well, it is pricey. But you get what you pay for.

Depends on you budget.
The little el cheapo Etrex is good for the outdoors and the Map 76 is good for the outdoors.

The Map 76 has a bunch more features than the Etrex, but costs about $150 more.

the learning curve on the Etrex is quicker since it has less features.

I have both, but don’t use the Etrex any more.



The Garmin etrex line is the best for the money. I have the Venture CX and think it is way better than I first expected it would be. I found the best price at

Garmin had a $50.00 rebate that expired Jan. 1st. But I am sure if you wait they will have some other promo in a short time.The Legand CX and Venture CX are the same unit. The Legand CX comes with a usb cable, mem card, and some software I believe. The Venture CX comes by itself.

Map 76

– Last Updated: Jan-07-07 9:16 PM EST –

If you have the $350 or so (plus mapping software) to spend, the Garmin Map 76CX or 76CSX are excellent choices for paddling. They are similar to the very popular 60CSX and 60CX, but are a bit larger and float.

If you are budget conscious, the Garmin Venture CX is a great choice.

Don't confuse the Map 76CX or Map 76CSX with the much older Map 76 or Map 76S. The latter two were OK units in their day but don't come close to the CX models.

Foretrex 101

– Last Updated: Jan-08-07 10:23 PM EST –

I got a Foretrex 101 a few months back. Works great, and cost under $100 online.

No on screen maps (besides a real basic dot line), but great for tracking where you went, giving you direction/speed/etc., using way points, etc.

Others on this list have commented about Garmin Units (or maybe it was just this one model) not really being waterproof, even though Garmin claims it is. I have had the unit underwater a few times, and haven't had any problems.

The 201 is basically the same, but comes with a rechargeable batter and the data cable. If you are taking any longer trips, the 101 (which uses AAAs) is more convenient (you can carry extra AAAs, where the rechargeable one needs to be plugged in to recharge).

My $0.02.

What I discovered
After alot of research and help from others, I decided to order a Garmin GPSMAP76Cx. I felt that the added $40 or so for the 76CSx (same as the 76Cx but has Electronic Compass and Altimeter) was not worth it. To my surprise, I received the 76CSx for the price of the 76Cx. .

I will share some of my discoveries and my opinions regarding some of the Garmin portable models that might help others in deciding which GPS to get. I am not a GPS expert. These are my opinions and what I have read only!!

The “x” in the model names (Ie GPSMAP76CSx) means that you can purchase and use additional memory. If you get a unit with “fixed” memory, you will need to load only particular areas from your PC at a time. With the expandable you could get multiple memory cards and swap them out as you needed to view other areas, or get one big one and load a whole bunch of areas. I did see some reports that if you get a large (1Gb) card and fill it up, that some of the searches and re-calculations can take a bit more time.

The “S” in the model name stands for sensors (Electronic Compass and Altimeter). The GPS without a Compass will tell you your heading only if you are moving. With the elect. compass you get a reading even while standing still. The use of the electronic compass apparently uses additional battery power. I believe hat the unit needs to be held flat (screen sky ward) for the E-Compass to work.Some units with the electronic compass allow you to turn it off to save battery life. The altimeter was not that important to me. I would assume that if you planned to hike mountains it would be a good tool.

Most of the Garmin units a waterproof to IPX7 specs. An IPX7 designation means the GPS case can withstand accidental immersion in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. In reading some of the forums, it appears that some people have had no issues without any other protection, but others stated that water eventually caused a malfunction with the screen. It’s a H2O proof bag for me.

In addition to the IPX7 spec, the GPSMAP76 series will float if droppe din the water.

I also read that some people were not happy with the durability of the “joystick” control on the Vista and the other “smaller models”. The GPSMAP60 and GPSMAP76 series use a rockerpad instead.

SiRF indicates high sensitivity receiver. This theoretically should be better than one without. The same goes for quad-helix receiving antenna. Some units come with an external antenna connector. The 76Csx has one, but the reception is great even in the car on the seat.

If you will need to view the GPS in direct sunlight (IE on the water) a color screen with a transflective TFT display is handy. A TFT display becomes more readable with direct sunlight. If you use the GPS in a H2O-proof bag (recommended) you will probably have some issues with glare from the plastic but you should be able to see the screen by angling it away from the sun.

If you want to use it while driving and without the help of a passenger, go for a unit with a larger screen (GPSMAP76Cx, 76CSx, 60Cx or 60CSx). I have the 76CSx and the screen is adequate (bigger would be better). I was looking for a combination of car and kayaking use, so I am will ing to live with it.

The builtin maps that come in the units are very basic. If you will be using the GPS for driving you will need to get additional software. I got City Navigator NT. The difference between NT and the non-NT versions is that some older models may not support the NT version. In addition, the NT version is more compressed. I read that you could fit all of North America on a 1Gb card where as the non-NT version would need 2GB. The NT version breaks the maps into entire States that you can choose to load whereas the Non-NT does smaller areas. The Non-NT version would be good for units that do not have expandable memory and low memory. The NT version makes it easier to prepare for a trip (just pick the states that you will be going through) The City Navigator also gives much much better details for waterways. It’s like going from a low resolution to high. The lo res shows large straight lines instead of the actual contour of the shoreline.

If you are going to use it in the car 2 additional items are essential 1) mounting bracket of some type 2) DC power adapter.

The GPSMAP60 and 76 series are basically the same units with the following differences. The buttons on the 60 are below the display, the 76 buttones are above the screen. The 76 floats and the 60 does not. It was recommended that you try the 2 series in person to see which button arrangement was best for you.

The smaller units (Vista, Etrex etc. ) some of the control buttons are on the sides so if you were holding it in the palm of your hand you could operate the unit. I am not too sure how easy it would be to operate if it was mounted or laying on your spray skirt. I think that these units would be ideal for hiking. They are smaller than the 60/76 series and I think that the one handed operation would be easier with the smaller units

The 60 and 76 series buttons are all on the front. I have found with the 76 that I can use my thumb when holding it in one hand. When it is mounted in the car the front buttons are very easy to use.

I agree with Peter CA in every way.

– Last Updated: Jan-13-07 7:28 PM EST –

Garmin Foretrex 101

Check out this price. Waterproof. No sales tax. Hard to beat.

Thanks IOUZilch
Appreciate your taking the time to share such great knowledge in detail.

Be careful to distinguish the two! The Forerunner is about $20 cheaper than the Foretrex. The Foretrex is worth it, because it picks up WAAS satellites. This makes it significantly (IMHO) more accurate than the Forerunner.

I second the motion of the 101 versus the 201. It’s good to be able to carry along extra batteries; the 201 must be plugged in for a recharge.

Neither of them has good maps—but for serious navigation, we always take charts and compasses anyway. You should NEVER totally rely on a GPS!

You should ALWAYS know where you are on a chart! Since we generally paddle in familiar waters, I get the most “kick” out of using the GPS as a speedometer, which can be set to fill the screen and is thus easily read, and a trip odometer, which also gives your average trip speed. Nice for after-work workouts!