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Need a new GPS--Suggestions

Discuss GPS Hardware, Technical Issues, etc. here.
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Death Wish Dave
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Need a new GPS--Suggestions

Post by Death Wish Dave »

My Garmin Oregon 450T is just about dead. Need to use a pen to turn it on and off. And, it's pretty old. Not tied to Garmin by any means. I'd like to have better maps than they seem to have. Suggestions on what to put on my Christmas list?
The geocacher formerly know as CacheSKing.
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Re: Need a new GPS--Suggestions

Post by lpaulriddle »

I am in the exact same situation. Mine is really beat up, and I have to use a pen to turn it on/off. It seems to "glitch" more often than it used to, also (problems indexing GPX files, lock-ups that require removing the batteries to cycle the power, etc).

I have been pretty happy with Garmin, though. The only real complaint I had with the 450 was that the display always seemed too dim. I think when the time comes, I am going to replace it with another Oregon. I have seen friends' 650s, and the screens look nicer and more readable than the 450's screen.

For maps, have you looked at They have free maps for Garmins based on OpenStreetMap. The maps include trails and also support turn-by-turn navigation, so in a pinch, you can even use the GPSr for car navigation.
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Re: Need a new GPS--Suggestions

Post by littleblkdog »

I have been very happy with the Garmin GPSMap series. First I had a 62s and then a 64s. The 66 model has been announced which means the 64 will only get cheaper, right now about ~200 for the 64s. I like it for its easy one handed operation. I am sure the 66 will be even "better" but the 64 is pretty much a sweet spot IMHO. It is tough too. And you can add a microSD card and load all the maps you want both free and paid. It is also routable like a car gps with turn by turn directions if you have the right maps loaded.
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Re: Need a new GPS--Suggestions

Post by AL's Guide »

Magellan used to be demonstrated to us at major events by Jeff and I think they made a big mistake when they abandoned him and decided to rely on word of mouth to sell their products. That being said, I think a Magellan 710 is the best hand held you can buy and it will easily handle 10,000 caches, and it easily transitions from vehicle navigation to get out and walk now (an actual screen question). When you load your PQ it puts all child waypoints on your screen map and lists them in waypoints which is two touches of the screen away. It has many automatic features that have saved my butt, like tracks are always on. So you do not need to turn tracks on to find your car in the dark. When you take a picture with the camera it puts a marker on your map so when you get home after a long caching trip you can figure out where that pretty butterfly was flitting. Placing caches is easy with the averaging function. I have never had to change a cache listed waypoint that I took with my 310 or my 710. My garmin's are fine units and I have spent over $700 to watch AL00 spin circles trying to calibrate a compass and not find the cache while my Magellan takes me to the prize. We own eight GPS units. Me, I get out and follow the trail to the cache, if I don't know how to get there I tap the screen and pick vehicle and do not have to look at the screen, unlike my NUVI. I get much more detailed verbal commands and much louder dings near the turn. There have been many times that I was riding in the back of a car and pointed out a cache then passed my 710 up so the driver could take us to the cache. Get one on e-bay for about $200. Mine came from Southern MD.
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Re: Need a new GPS--Suggestions

Post by bneeriemer »

I recommend the most ruggedized phone available. The screens are larger, and I love c:GEO.
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Re: Need a new GPS--Suggestions

Post by Hack1of2 »

I can speak for the Garmin GPS models from personal experience and research, but not for other brands. Most of the geocachers we have cached with have Garmin models. Most Garmin models wirelessly share geocache files with one another (handy when caching with others and they have a cache GPX file on theirs that you don’t). Not including phone apps, we have used six different Garmin GPS units for geocaching: Dakota20, GPSMAP62s, GPSMAP64s, Oregon 450, Oregon 550, and Oregon 650. More about those in a bit.

Two big questions:
1. Would you prefer a push button or touchscreen interface?
2. Do you want the most accurate model possible (for a reasonable price)?

Regarding push button versus touchscreen models. Touchscreen models are similar to what you would get on a smartphone; just touch the screen. An advantage is that you can type quickly via the onscreen keyboard. A disadvantage is you have to take your gloves off in winter to use it, and the touchscreens wear out seemingly faster. I think we’ve gone through six touchscreen units so far. But they got used a lot! Even when I was checking out the new models last year at Cabelas and the touchscreen model wasn’t working, the worker there told me the touchscreen floor models kept wearing out. Pushbutton models can wear out too, but ours have outlasted several touchscreens (the only issue with the pushbutton models for us was that the power button wore off on our GPSMAP62s after about 7,000 caches, but it still worked!). You don’t have to take off your gloves to use them, and depending on the model they can be slightly more accurate.

Regarding accuracy. Most models, Garmin or otherwise, are rectangular in shape with rounded corners. The Garmin GPSMAP series, however, has a bigger antenna that sticks out like a thumb. Because of that superior antenna, if you’re looking for pure accuracy without the use of an added additional external booster device, the GPSMAP series (64s, 64sc, 64st, 66s, & 66st) are in my opinion the very best you can get for accuracy (the GPSMAP 60 & 62 have been long discontinued and the 64 is being phased out but still available). I spoke with Garmin tech support about it a few years year ago, and they said that in reference to reception accuracy, there is virtually no difference between their mid to upper end models, but that the GPSMAP series would have a very slight edge because of the bigger sized antenna and it’s positioning & shape. Again, a slight advantage, but an advantage it is.

In terms of “bells and whistles” on a dedicated GPS receiver, there are some features that while optional, are highly recommended if you want a GPSr with a high degree of accuracy. I strongly encourage considering GPSr’s with a 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass. It costs a little bit more but worth it. About 60%-70% of the Garmin models have it. Without it, you have to move 5 to 10 feet or more (or 4 MPH) for the compass or the stated distance to move or change its readings. So you have to do the back and forth pacing thing to try to get an accurate reading by triangulating your position. With a tilt-compensated 3-axis electronic compass, the readings will change with each step, and the compass will rotate and point to the target even when standing still or tilting the GPSr at different angles or spinning around. Without that, it’s a deal breaker for me.

Another great feature that is relatively new is the ability to download cache information and satellite imagery via Wi-Fi directly to the GPS unit. Awesome. No more needing to hook up the GPSr to the computer to load caches. Garmin’s GPSMAP 66s, 64st, & 66sc and the Oregon 700, 750, & 750t models have this nifty feature. If I didn’t already have a GPSr I would get one of these.

Other features to consider is if the unit has a camera, camera flash/flashlight, American satellite reception as well as Russian GLONASS satellite reception, one battery system or two, maximum # of waypoints, and automobile on-street routing.

For pricing, here’s what I recall. The popular but lower end Garmin models are the eTrex 10x, 20x, & 30x. (Retail $109, $199, $299). They are less when on sale. They get the job done. Only the 30x has the electronic compass, but the others have a more attractive price. I don’t care for their single button interface. The mid-range models would include the eTrex 25 Touch & 35 Touch, both touchscreen models ($249 & $299). Also in the mid-range is the GPSMAP64s/sc (pushbutton, $299-$399 depending on whether you want the built-in camera/flashlight). My favorite.  On the premium end is the Oregon 750 or 750t (touchscreen, $499-$549) and Montana 610/680 (touchscreen models, $499-$599 w/wo camera). The premium units have some impressive features. I like the Oregon 750, a lot, but for a while I was hesitant to recommend it because the now-discontinued Oregon 650 was so horrible with accuracy. They claim to have fixed their accuracy issues (the Oregon 450 & 550 were great) with a redesigned antenna. The Montana is an excellent unit and has the biggest screen but it’s so heavy that we ruled that out for us, plus it doesn’t have that new nifty Wi-fi feature.

I’d suggest you play around with the various units at a store and see if you like buttons or a touch screen. Envision what you would like when it’s cold outside too. Like I said earlier, the GPSMAP series has the bigger antenna…

So the bottom line, at least for me, is a GPSr that has that 3-axis, tilt-compensated electric compass. If it has that then it has a bunch of other good stuff with it. That rules out the lower end units like the eTrex 10x & 20x, but pretty much all of the others have it.

My vote for the best overall GPSr is the Garmin GPSMAP66s (it’s a pushbutton model). If a touchscreen is preferred, I’d go with an Oregon 750 (if they have their accuracy problems fixed) or the Montana. Good luck with your research!
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Re: Need a new GPS--Suggestions

Post by Dradicus »

I love my garmin handhelds. I have the almighty 60csx, the Oregon 600 and now the Oregon 700. The 60csx is the oldest yet the most accurate. That helix antenna seems to make a big difference and all the newer models of the GPSmap units have that but they’re not touch screen. My Oregon 600 is great but I was having a lot of freezing up issues and I decided to get the Oregon 700. I absolutely love the 700. The new geocaching live thing is fantastic as long as you have good cell signal. I don’t upload PQs anymore unless it’s something like CAM or I know I won’t have service. Last weekend caching in DC, I had nothing loaded before leaving and when we got there, I turned it on and did a live download and had every cache within two miles right then. Get to the other side of town, do it again.same thing just yesterday at an event, I had no caches loaded but I was able to download them on the fly via the Bluetooth on my iPhone. If you have the setting turned on, when you hit the found button it will even upload your log to the GC website but unfortunately it comes up as “this user found this geocache using the garmin Oregon 700” or something like that. As far as I know, there is no way to change that but if you’re on a power trail, that would make things quick and painless. Last night I was looking at the new GPSmap 66 and that too has the live geocaching feature but it’s not a touch screen. It has the buttons and the helix antenna like the other GPSmap units. When you do those live downloads you also get the full cache page, hints and the most recent logs too. I was kinda skeptical about it before I bought it but it works very smoothly as long as you have service. I only ever use my phone if I don’t have a GPS with me. When I was looking for a new GPS back in 2015, I posted questions about the different models on the geocaching forum and someone local replied and offered to go caching with me for the day because he had both of the units I was looking at so I could take them both for a “test drive” in the woods.Thats the best advice I can give, find someone who has the unit you’re looking at and go caching with them for the day and try it out before you make your decision.
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Re: Need a new GPS--Suggestions

Post by Run&Hike »

After years of navigating to caches with a Nuvi 765T, we decided to get a GPSr with a larger display. We tried a Garmin DriveSmart 65 with Alexa, then sent that back and got a DriveSmart 65 & Traffic. After years of seeing distinct caching map symbols, we're not really happy with the green blobs with white hearts in the middle that the GPSr shows for caches and all other waypoints if I load via GSAK GPS Setup or Export GPX and drag and drop. There is a GSAK macro, Drive_Assist, which uses real cache symbols BUT loads them as POI's. With them loaded as POI's, you can't delete one after you find it, but can only bulk delete when you're home. We like being able to delete as we go. Is anyone using a large display car GPSr that has the older map symbols? I'm open to getting an older model with a large display that works like our Nuvi. We'd appreciate and information.
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