Garmin high sensitivity, and more

I’m looking at getting my first gps. I’ll use it primarily in the BWCA/Quetico, Ontario rivers, etc. Something of a toy, something of a tool. I’m not looking to spend much money ($100-$150), so I’m looking to limit unnecessary features. How much difference does the “high sensitivity” feature make? I’ll mostly be on the water, but will use it occasionally under in the woods.

I’ve somewhat narrowed my search to the GPSMAP76, GPSMAP60, and the Venture HC. The 76 floats, the 60 has substantially longer battery life, and the Venture is smaller with high sensitivity reception. The 60 and the Venture also have 24Mb memory, as opposed to 8 Mb with the 76. I don’t see myself buying many maps, other than a topo or two, so I don’t know that I’ll need much memory. Any thoughts and advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

price range

– Last Updated: Mar-19-09 11:27 AM EST –

The only unit you listed that comes close to your price range is the Venture unit. 60 and 76 are both about double what you listed. All 3 units come with the SIRF chipset, so have the high sensitivity receiver.

I have 2 units - 1 with high sensitivity and 1 without. On the water, they both do fine. In heavy trees, and especially, in canyons, the one without loses signal.

More memory is good
I have the Garmin GPSmap76CSx and find it a very good piece of equipment. A lot more than you want to spend though. I started with a lesser unit and found that I wanted/needed more features to make it worth bringing along. Having the ability to add more memory is a real plus although not absolutely necessary. I use mine to record a track as I paddle and tend to save them in the unit along with landmarks. Doing so will start using up your memory especially if on an extended trip. Use the Energizer Lithium batteries and you will get very long life out of them. I like the high sensitivity as it seems to be quicker and does read better in clutter. Floating GPS is good.


I’ve used a lot of gps recievers
I find the Garmin 76 series easier to use with gloves on than any of the other Garmins. Also have experienced the rubber seals over the buttons (particularly the “click stick”) on the other units wearing through with a lot of gloved use.

The sirf chip models (with “x” suffix) do work better under tree cover and in canyons - but unless you spend a lot of time there it isn’t entirely necessary. I would prefer an older (non-sirf) model with maps than a sirf receiver without, if I had to limit spending. Remember - the detailed maps will cost extra. Base maps included on the unit will place you on the globe, but have little detail. 8mb won’t hold a lot of maps, but the 128mb 76c will hold more than you’re likely to need on one trip. The color screens are far easier to read and, for some reason, easier on batteries.

Buying used or refurbished can save you a lot of money, and I’ve had good luck with that. As long as the unit shows no physical signs of abuse, it should serve you well. All the Garmin hendhelds I’ve bought used worked just as if they were new. They are very rugged.

Actually, I was looking at the
GPSMAP 60 and 76 w/o sirf or expandable memory. I’ve found both new, refurbished, w/ warranty for $115. I’ve also found the Venture HC and Venture CX for a little less than that. I appreciate your insight on the high sensitivity. While I’ll generally be out on the water, I can imagine being annoyed if unable to find a signal in the woods.

Venture HC
I just saw it new on Amazon for $130… I love it!

It has enough memory to hold maps, should you later decide to buy map software. The built-in map will get you by. Since that is not a priority, you don’t need to spend any extra money for a unit with expandable memory. I like the fact that it is so small and pocketable. Take it anywhere.

Go for your main use
If you will mostly paddle and a little bit in the woods, look for something more waterproof and easier to use, if you’re spending alot of time in the woods and some paddling, go for the high sensitivity. As far as accuracy goes the high sens doesn’t really improve it much, just increases your chances of getting a signal. In all truth though, unless you’re nder HEAVY cover with no open spots, so can usually find an open enough spot to get a signal. I have used a few different garmin models in all kinds of woods/brush and have never had problems getting a signal, canyons might be a little more difficult though.

x is Expandable

– Last Updated: Mar-24-09 10:43 AM EST –

The x stands for expandable which means it takes microSD memory cards. Has nothing to do with the chipset. I have a Garmin 60CSx C = Color S = sirfStar III x = expandable memory slot. It's more than you want to spend but, a great rugged unit and very accurate in all conditions.

Correction noted!
Thanks for that. “S” is for sirf. Got it.