I checked the archive back a year and couldn’t find any info, so I’ll post my questions here. I primarily paddle the back bays and creeks behind the South Jersey barrier islands (Sea Isle to Cape May), and am considering purchasing a basic GPS so as not to lose my way in the maze of look-alike creeks and mud flats that characterize the area. I am almost completely GPS illiterate, however, and in need of opinions. Which units ($100 - $150 price range) would be most suitable? I’ve been looking at the Garmin GPS 72 and the Lowrance ifinder H2O, for example, but cannot tell if they are detailed enough without buying additional software to do what I would want them to do. Any thoughts would be appreciated.



Any GPS will work for what you want
Look at the inexpensive garmin models for less than $100.

You can set a bread crumb trail and follow it back home with most GPS units.


– Last Updated: Apr-06-07 9:59 PM EST –

Type in GPS in search, select subject line, and six months, and you will see about two dozen subjects, each with on average about 15 replies to your question.

Seems as though every week there are two or three GPS questions. Do re-try the Archives, they have the answers you seek, young Jedi.

I got a great deal ($150) on a Magellan Explorist 210 at

A true Jedi…
would have had the sense to search “subject” rather than “message”, and youth is a long distance off in the rear view mirror, but I did locate and read the threads you referred to. will deliver the Fortrex 101 (apparently well-suited for my purposes) to my door for $75, so I’ll probably get that. Thanks for help, sorry about thread redundancy.


$139.99 now
Why do you like this unit?

Looks like this is a good choice…
Did some research and the Garmin is popular if you have $$$$.

Here is a good pnet thread

What I discovered

Posted by: IouZilch on Jan-13-07 5:19 PM (EST)

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 like it because of ease of handling and the fact it has to capability to switch from Marine to Land and back - thus am able to use street routing for everyday use. And it fits in the very small breast pocket of my paddling jacket.