Have a garmin etrex vista hcx, looking to get some maps for Christmas. Want one for rivers more than lakes, any suggestions? Thx

i don’t trust them
A mapping GPS is only as good as the maps that you buy, many of which, especially on water, are absolete before you upload them.

We did a multi-day trip on the Colorado and the mapping GPS one guy brought NEVER matched the river!

I use a GPS, i just don;t trust them and prefer my map & compass and the knowledge that the map is wrong!

But even a wrong map gives me a general idea of whare I am. And i can work withthat.

PLUS, my GPS ALWAYS runsd out of batteries when I need it the most.

Eventhen, I carry two, an older Magellin and a newer Garmin and they are always giving me different readings!

For non-navigable rivers, a topo is generally better than something like Garmin’s BlueCharts.

US Topos, being produced by the Government, are free for use. Garmin wil sell you the package of installation of them (they aren’t selling you the data), but you can often get them for free for places like

I’ve never had a problem
I have used a Garmin gps with us and canadian topos and never once had a problem. Its a great tool mostly for putting yourself on the map at the end of the day and calculating progress on a trip. Also nice on foggy lakes. Real time saver in my experience.

Learn UTM
Turn GPS on , get coordinates, turn off.

Use the UTM skillset, dead on exact positioning.

Also lets batteries last for weeks, not a day or two.

maps for where?

– Last Updated: Nov-05-11 1:27 AM EST –

I sometimes use this and its free

I figure you do not want advice on whether or not to depend on a GPS.

UTM is Great - I agree
UTM in my opinion is the way to go at least for inland navigation. I find it much faster and easier to understand. Make sure your maps have the UTM grid.

The only issue is that if you need to give a pilot your coordinates they need lat lon but it is a simple matter to pull your lat lon position off an operating gps unit.

Thanks, I do like the physical map, but wife bought me one so thought it would b a good idea to use it . thanks

Learning curve
There is a learning curve. But it is worth it. I did a fair amount of bed time reading in how to books.

be aware
the Vista series is NOT as waterproof as they advertise; keep it in a drycase when not actively in use.

GPS topo maps
I also have an Etrex Vista HCX, I use the Garmin US and Canada topo maps. They are not perfect and do not replace a real maps. What I do, I add all pertinent info on the maps using the Garmin software MapSource. Information I add is ; mile markers, rapid class, camp sites, falls and other info worth noting. I also track the journey and info such as portage length and distance traveled every day. If you are a data junky you can have a lot of fun with it. I only use lithium batteries they usually last 3 days about 18 hrs. If you paddle canyon type rivers you will lose the signal at times or the maps will have no definitions but that happens only in deep gorges (San Juan River UT for example). The gps also got nuts when I paddle RIO Grande last spring when we were over on the Mexican side there was no maps to be seen. All in all i love my GPS it is mounted on the thwart right up front of me.