hand held GPS

I am looking for a small GPS unit with the easiest to read screen for speed, distance, and compass. Anyone have any recommendations?

Garmin eTrex series has worked great for me. I have an eTrex Venture simple because I wanted a city basemap; if it weren’t for that, I’d have just bought the basic yellow one.

Note that you need to be moving in order for the compass to work (it is not a built-in magnetic compass; it determines direction based off of how the satellites see you moving). That wasn’t a big deal for me, but I figured it might be worth mention.

I have an old e-trex, and my main complaint is the side-mounted buttons being hard to use. I bought a Rhino after seeing one at Jocassee last year, and am impressed with how easy it is to use (joystick) and I really like the multi-function display.


Garmin Etrix
They are $99 in the new LL Bean catalog.

I don’t leave home without mine.

“The Navigator” has the Garmin Map-76 which she doesn’t leave home without, but they are several hundred dollars more.



like my etrex too.

own Magellan 315 - lust over Rhino 130
I own the Magellan 315 and I’m not unhappy with it. I have to say though, that I’m lusting over the new Rhino 130 (Garmin).


I also got the Garmin Venture and I’m not too happy about it.

Trouble is that it’s close to impossible to operate the clickstick through an Aquapac case.

I say get anything but a clickstick model(Venture, Legend).

Land or water?
For on water continuous use don’t skimp. Get a GPSMAP76 (or even 76s). Big screen - easy large front buttons. Mount it and still read/operate it easily with one hand. Keep mine on deck - exposed - in saltwater. No problems.

In same use - for me - an eTrex would be a pain , a Gecko even worse (fine otherwise I’m sure). By the time you get a model with decent features they’re not so cheap anymore anyway.

Do I use all the functions? No. I could probably live without mapping too - but why? Worth the extra $ if you want a good unit.

For ocassional checks, and hiking and such where it really is in your hand or pocket - the smaller cheaper ones should be fine.

For speedometer/odometer/course use - get bigger and better. The extras will be there if you ever want to do more.

garmin gps 72
I just got a garmin gps72 from rei for $170. I was looking for a basic gps that could be operated with one hand. This is pretty basic but will give you high and low tide data from the nearest station plus sunrise and sunset times. I figured that info was worth $70 over the basic etrex.


The $100 dollar etrex

– Last Updated: Apr-05-04 11:55 PM EST –

works just fine for on water uses and is a very good value. Why pay for features you never use?

I've used mine mostly on the ocean for insurance on crossings and findin way home in fog. It can be used with one hand in rough water. A good practice is to look at maps before hand and enter way points, safe landings, harbors etc. It's very easy to do manually. I also use it extensively for peak bagging and hiking in the southwest and UK. The etrex is easy to read and has no joystick.

Garmin GPSV
I use this thing for my boat, my car and for geocaching. It has been a rugged performer and it has 18mb of storage for maps/charts and it will run twenty five hours on a set of AA. The display is unique landscape or portait and it has a great nav screen. just my two bits.

one of the wrist-mount units from Garmin. I recently purchased the Forerunner 201 and intend to use it for running, cycling and paddling. It is capable of all that I require (and more). Its ease of operation, light weight and easy accessibility helped me decide. Garmin has a similar unit that geared more towards mariners and hikers. Check it out.

“NEW” Garmin 60c
I just upgraded from the Garmin Legend to the new 60c, the legend was ok, my biggest complaint was the serial connection, and the way it connected to the gps unit, i had nothing but trouble, always having to wiggle it on the unit to get it to connect. The new 60c is USB connection, much better, more waterproof connection thingie, alot faster to transfer data to and from, great Color screen that’s way easier to see, more than twice the battery life, 56 meg of memory, plenty of room for both topo maps and blue charts, and tons of other features. Of course all the features do not come cheap…$375.00 from gpsnow.com http://www.gpsnow.com/gmmap60c.htm Great unit that won’t leave you wanting more.

Why settle for the eTrex’s
tiny screen and tiny joystick thingy?

I covered the advantages already - and pointed out they may not be beneficial to everybody. GPSMAP76 is a lot easier to use on water (water for me includes ocean and inland waterways with multiple and often large wakes - boat with spray skirt or wash deck SOT/SKI- and all gear secured).

If you sit/drift/lillydip more than actually paddle - it won’t matter. If you stick to quiet waters - and don’t mind stopping to fiddle with it - it won’t matter. If you normally have stuff lose in your boat you always seem to be rummaging around in - it won’t matter. If you paddling involves beer (not just after) - it won’t matter…

But if those thing fit - you probably don’t need a GPS. If not, and visability and ease of operation underway were important, you’d have understood my first post.

Garmin 76
If you want the best, get the garmin 76 map.

Legend -> 60C

I made the same upgrade. I was looking at it all through Jan and I got it the first week it was available. What a great unit! All the things you said…

I did buy a Magellan Sportrak Color that I was VERY disappointed in. It is probably a decent unit but since I started with Garmin it was hard to like the way Magellan delivers the information. The color screen sucked in daylight also. NO COMPARISON to the GPSMap 60C.

Love my 60C!


Thank you
Thanks to all for your suggestions and help. I am sure I can make a better decision now. My main concern was visibility while mounted on the deck. I without physically having one out on the water, it is difficult to compare though.


Garmin 72
I have to agree with sanfost. The not only does it have tide tables but also marine nav aids in its data base.

and put it in a dry bag
I like front mounted buttons that can be used while the unit stays in a dry bag.

I had an E trex. The battery compartment is not waterproof and if the batteries get wet esp with salt water the corrosion will be immediate. Mine corroded despite not getting damp; the Florida salt air ate the contacts.

After two estimates its in the wastebasket.

On my Etrex, you can select LARGE readout. Its great for me. I built a holder for it that is secured under the bungies on the foredeck and tilts it back so its easy to see.