Is the Garmin 76 CSx one of the best products out there for a GPS novice? Your help and advice is appreciated.

“The bride” and I both have
Garmin Map 76’s and love them.

We started with the little yellow Etrex’s many moons ago, but then went to the better ones.

When we are going off shore, we don’t leave home without them.

The map portion shows all the bouys in the various channels and their numbers.

Most day trips in a new territory she will down load our trip on the night before from the lap top and then use that to navigate the trip.

If your are paddling a place like Florida’s 10,000 Islands you can’t beat them for getting you back the same when you went out, (way points, etc)

We also use them for our race training, (current speed- average speed- max speed-distance- and total distance)

They also have a good large read out for us over the hill folks, and split screens so you can have a bunch of info at one time.

Usually get two full days on a set of batteries, so if you are like us, (out all the time), you might want to buy stock in a battery company.



I never touched a GPS before the 76csx
… and I found it very easy to use from the start.

One of the best

– Last Updated: Nov-15-07 9:51 AM EST –

It's one of the best units available today.

As far as being best for a novice, that depends on your technical savvy. Some people figure it out easily and some struggle.

Using the quick start guide, you can probably figure out the basics and eventually learn the more advanced features.

It's unlikely however that you will pick it up and go without reading the manual.

As far as good units for novices, the Garmin Geko 201 is the easiest unit to use that I know of. Depending on your planned uses though, you might outgrow it quickly. It's unlikely you would outgrow the 76CSX for a long time.

You also need to consider what mapping software you want.

City Navigator will give you turn by turn driving directions as well as a database of
millions of services and businesses. If you need to find the nearest restaurant, marina, park, hotel, campground, post office, shopping mall, etc... City Navigator will tell you where it is and how to get there. On the downside, City Navigator does a poor job of showing bodies of water. It shows major ones and that's it.

Topo shows terrain features and does a much better job with bodies of water, showing most streams, ponds, lakes and rivers. It doesn't do turn by turn driving directions though or have the database of services and businesses.

Bluechart is more for coastal waterways.

Inland Lakes has pretty good coverage of inland waterways as does Recreational Lakes and Fishing Hotspots.

The nice thing about the Map76CSX is that you choose one or more of these software packages and run them concurrently on your unit, switching between them as needed. You can use City Navigator to drive to the put in, then switch to Topo, Bluechart or the others when on the water.


– Last Updated: Nov-15-07 11:07 AM EST –

GPSs, GPS's ... (sigh)

These days the general concensus seems to be that the eTrex Legend and Vista HCx models are the "best" ones out there. This is mostly due to their brighter display and longer battery life in comparison to the comparable GPSMAP 60/76 series units.

Some people stil prefer the GPSMAP 60/76 units because they have the buttons on the front (as opposed to the side as on the eTrex unit) and they are clearly labeled. For a beginner, and the more occasional user, I would think the labels would really help.

I myself have a GPSMAP 60 and LOVE IT!

The GPSMAP 60 & 76 units are essentially the same inside. The only difference is that the 76's case is slightly larger which makes it float (more air - or maybe foam - inside), the 76's buttons are above the display (some prefer that, some don't), and the 76 does not have an external antenna connector (the 60 does).

Definitely buy a GPS with the high sensitivity receiver. They can lock onto satellites soooo much better than the older models.

Many will tell you that having an electronic compass is not needed/useful, but I find it soooo nice to be able to stand still and know where north is without pulling out a magnetic compass. More importantly, when you have selected to "goto" a waypoint, the compass' pointer points to the waypoint even while you're standing still. This is a huge advantage to me. I own two GPS's without the electronic compass, but after owning one I'll never buy another without it. Living in the flatland of the midwest I don't use the altimeter, but those in hillier areas find them useful.

The software in GPS's these days is so user friendly that I don't think you'll have any problem learning how to use them. Here is a link to some real nice FREE manuals from Garmin:

You might also want to learn how to use UTM grids to transfer your current location from the GPS to a paper topographic map and vise vera. This site has a fantastic tutorial and sells the UTM grid tools:

Regardless of what you get, to purchase a cable to connect your GPS to your PC in order to upload/download waypoints, routes, and tracks. You can obtain a free application for doing that called EasyGPS at This also helps you maintain waypoint/routes/tracks in different files so they don't all have to be loaded on the GPS at once. For example, I have a file for Glacier National Park, another for Tetons/Yellowstone, another for Home, and others for goign out geocaching. EasyGPS has "bigger brother" programs called ExpertGPS and Geobuddy that are not free, not that expensive, AND provide on-line USGS topo maps and aerial photos of the U.S. Very nice software!!

Also, do buy a clear display protector. The best one I've found is the InvisibleSHIELD from Zagg Inc at . All you do is spray a liquid solution onto the protector, apply it, align & then rub out the bubbles. Very easy compared to others I used over the years.

For the 60 I prefer the simple nylon case from Garmin. I tried the more fitted case, but don't like it as much.

(Sorry about the length of the post. I start to ramble and am a very fast typer)

Matter of Opinion
What’s good for one person may not be good for another. Me? Perrsonally I prefer Magellan GPS. Could that’s 'cause what I started with and comfortable with.

Any day on the water is a great day,



– Last Updated: Nov-15-07 11:52 AM EST –

Yup. I've only had Garmins and only know them, so I can't speak to other brands.

I've read about some problems with customer service on non-Garmin units, but on the other hand I've never had a unit break so I've never needed customer service.

Get a GPS with the features you want - regardless of brand - and you'll be happy. Of course you need to research first to know what features you do want. It would be best if you could play with them hands-on to see what interfaces you feel comfortable with.

I almost bought the Magellan Crossover but got the GPSMAP 60CSx instead. Glad I did. The Crossover doesn't sound like its panning out as well.

The funny part is that I bought the 60CSx last spring, and many are already talking as if it is old technology (with the "duller" screen and shorter battery life). It does what I want it to do.

Garmin Etrex Vista HCX
I bought my vista hcx two months ago and really like it. With the 2G chip it holds all of North America on City Navigator and Mapsource Blue Chart for half of the great lakes. I paddle with it around my neck and tucked into my pfd. Great screen, incredible battery life, and tons of data. I download each paddle into my computer, but you can store it on the device if you want. I like to look at the trip on the bigger screen of my computer and send the trip to my friends. Very small, waterproof to Kayaking depths, good options, good accuracy, I can’t fault it yet.

Then you are a
helluva lot smarter than I am…but I never doubted it.

When you and the Bride
start a GPS training class…sign me up.

it’s not smarts
… just a willingness to push buttons and see what happens.

I use one of these

most days. We manufacturer sell and support these types of GPS units. I love Garmin’s products and the Magellan’s are OK. I just never liked their menu structure or the way the company ownership has bounced around. The secret to any high tech gadget is— can you use it easily? I still use an old Garmin V. Great little box and tough as a pine knot.

Next year down at the Hooch race
I’ll have her give you some quick tutoring.

I learn by osmosis, while she learns by reading, so she is the better teacher.

Then if her lesson becomes too complicated, I’ll give you the quick, simple and easy method.



Magellan vs. Garmin
I’ve owned 2 Magellans and 7 Garmins and used 2 Lowrances extensively. I currently have 2 Magellans and 4 Garmins.

I like the Lowrance units for bang for the buck, but Garmin units are the best hands down.

A few years ago Magellan had the edge in sensitivity under trees, but Garmin closed that gap and they always had Magellan beat as far as display resolution, features, user interface and customer service.

Even if all things were equal the customer service factor is a big one. Magellan’s rep ranges from poor to abysmal, while Garmin consistently gets very high marks for customer service.

My wife has a garmin street pilot.
She loves it and it talks to her. I’ve never paddled fast enough to need one.

eTrex Vista
I think mine is just great.

Vista HCX
The Vista HCX is a very good unit. When compared to the 76CSX and 60CSX it is smaller, lighter and has a better display.

One disadvantage for certain applications (e.g. driving, biking and even paddling if you have it mounted) is that the buttons are on the side and meant to be operated while held in the hand. The 76 and 60 models have the buttons on the front and are easily operated while the unit is mounted on the dash or handlebars.

The 76 models also have the advantage of floating. The Vista HCX (and all eTrex untis) sink like a rock.

The 60 models have nearly neutral buoyancy, but generally will sink slowly unless you are using lithium batteries (which are much lighter than alkaline).

Also, if interested in the Vista HCX, be aware that Garmin also sells a Vista. They are totally different animals. The Vista HCX is a new unit with a high sensitivty receiver, color display, USB commection and expandible map memory. THe Visa is an old unit that was good in its day, but

has been far surpassed by newer models.

Garmin also sold the Vista CX and Vista C (which the HCX replaced). Both are good units, far better than the Vista, but they don’t have the HCX’s high sensitivity receiver for great reception under trees.


good morning friend,

I thank you for your advice regarding the GPSMAP 76 CSx Most likely I am going to buy this unit for my solo trip to Alaska.


Good morning friend

Thanks for your advice regarding the GPsMAP 76 CSx Most likely I will buy this unit for my solo trip to Alaska next July.


Congratulations on being so technically competent. I have to turn and look back and hope. It is how dinos navigate