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#176631 - 07/16/09 06:50 PM Re: Handheld GPS? [Re: falcon5000]
utspoolup Offline

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 26
Also recommend the 60 or etrek, own 3 Garmins. Started with a legend "C" about 2-3 years ago. Got it thru work for $70 when they accidentally ordered the wrong thing for a contact. They sold them to employees at a hell of a price to recoup cost, 70 is high now but back then they were going for 230. Then got a Vista HCx, just picked up a 60CSx after wanting one for a while. Amazon had them for 259, now up to 286 which is still cheaper then anywhere else I have found. Gamin maps cost a bit and depending on the type of map they are HUGH (city navigator for example) average map size is @10M, so if you get a non "X" model handheld, and have say 24M memory, they you can load 2 maps..... I use 3rd party topo maps that cost nil, but I donate to the site for support. The maps are smaller, but you can encompass your entire AO for less memory, but you will lose the "where the hell is Walmart or McDonalds" feature, that city navigator has. But for the price ($0) why complain. I recommend what ever way you go with Garmin, get the high sensitivity receiver (has a H or S) in the model number, and get a color screen (has a C in the model number), nothing like going to a road only to find a dam stream. Get the X if you want big map programs.

Also FYI some GPS will shut off if the lithium battery voltage is over 1.5V. Yes they will last longer, but if you decide to carry lithiums, get a device that can draw them down a few minutes before going into the GPS.... I use a flashlight my daughter uses for camping, but if going this route, you MUST keep the batteries PAIRED UP. IE dont swap them around between different charges/ uses ect.

#176632 - 07/16/09 07:00 PM Re: Handheld GPS? [Re: Doug_Ritter]
Blast Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 3561
Loc: Spring, Texas
It appears that the SEARCH capability on ETS is broken as it won't find any threads using GPS as a search term. That's clearly wrong as GPS is a very popular topic.

Here's a recent thread I remember participating in:

If I remember correctly, your search word needs at least four letters otherwise it won't function.


Edited by Blast (07/16/09 07:01 PM)
Edit Reason: added quoted part for clarity
Blogging the Borderlands
Wild Edibles Blog
I miss OBG.

#176637 - 07/16/09 07:26 PM Re: Handheld GPS? [Re: Blast]
SARbound Offline

Registered: 06/08/05
Posts: 503
Loc: Quebec City, Canada
I've been in Search and rescue for several years, and I recommend the Garmin Legend HCX. I use a 2 GB microSD card in it, I have City Navigator NT 2010 on the card along with topo maps.

"The only easy day was yesterday."

#176638 - 07/16/09 07:36 PM Re: Handheld GPS? [Re: Blast]
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 2107
Loc: NE Wisconsin
I've always owned and had great success with Garmin GPS's. My Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx has been rock solid and a great performer. From reading the GPS gear geocaching forum, the "preferred" most reliable GPS seems to be the 60CSx (I didn't know that before I got my - just lucky I guess).

Some people have reports some problems with Etrex and state-named models, but most are only minor. The Delorme GPS units are getting more and more good comments too. I've heard mixed stories about Lowrance and Magellan units, but zero personal experience with them.

What ever you get, PLEASE make sure it has one of the new high sensitivity chips. They make a WORLD of difference. I myself wouldn't accept any other kind of GPS.

Also, not sure what kind of coordinates SAR teams use, but if using a GPS you might do well to learn about UTM coordinate. Here is a good place to learn:


Also, ALWAYS make sure that the GPS datum matches that of any paper maps you're using.


#176640 - 07/16/09 07:38 PM Re: Handheld GPS? [Re: Blast]
unimogbert Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/10/06
Posts: 860
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By: Blast

If I remember correctly, your search word needs at least four letters otherwise it won't function.


Quite correct. GPS* as search string found lots of stuff.

Maybe a suggestion or reminder of 4 characters should be returned on the "no results" page? (I tend to think that no results = no results. But I'm not really a fan of software)

Anyway, GPS* search away guys!

Edited by unimogbert (07/16/09 07:39 PM)

#176642 - 07/16/09 07:50 PM Re: Handheld GPS? [Re: unimogbert]
Tarzan Offline

Registered: 02/02/08
Posts: 146
Loc: Washington
I vote for the 60CSx as well. My only complaint is you need to make sure you bring spare batteries if you are out for a long period. And it is somewhat waterproof. A big plus where I live

#176661 - 07/16/09 11:23 PM Re: Handheld GPS? [Re: Tarzan]
GoatRider Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/28/04
Posts: 834
Loc: Maple Grove, MN
I've had quite a few Garmins, including a Vista, Vista HCx, and now recently the Oregon 400t. Each was leaps and bounds above the previous, and I can strongly recommend the 400t. It comes preloaded with topo maps, and has enough memory to also load street maps. It will do road routing on the street maps.
- Benton

#176666 - 07/17/09 12:37 AM Re: Handheld GPS? [Re: JohnE]
Alan_Romania Offline


Registered: 06/29/05
Posts: 631
Loc: Arizona
Whatever you purchase, purchase a Garmin. Figure out what features you will use and go from there.

That being said, you can't go wrong with a Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx. I have been using one literally from the first day they were available for everything from SAR & Wildland firefighting to highway travel and it has worked better then any other handheld GPS I have used before or since. The unit gets exceptional reception and is easy to use.

I do have the TOPO software in my GPS, but in reality I find that I typically just end up using it with a paper map for most land navigation. The new Garmin TOPO software on a 60CSx (and many of the eTrex "x" series) is routable, making it useful for over the road navigation.

You can find packages that have TOPO included with just about any Garmin GPS that takes maps, however the only Garmin GPS handheld units that come pre-installed with map software are the newer Colorado and Oregon (specifically the units whose model name ends in a "t" like Oregon 400t), although I haven't been as impressed with the cost vs. usability of these new units (except the Dakota series). The Oregon series are significantly better then the eTrex series, but imho not worth upgrading to if you already have a 60CSx (unless you will be using it more in a vehicle than on foot).

Edited by Alan_Romania (07/17/09 12:39 AM)
"Trust in God --and press-check. You cannot ignore danger and call it faith." -Duke

#176677 - 07/17/09 03:26 AM Re: Handheld GPS? [Re: Alan_Romania]
JohnE Offline

Registered: 06/10/08
Posts: 601
Loc: Southern Cal
Thanks everyone for all of the insights. I've owned a couple of Garmin auto GPS units and I have an old broken Etrex, which is what I'm replacing with whichever new one I end up with.

I really appreciate the comments.


"and all the lousy little poets
comin round
tryin' to sound like Charlie Manson"

The Future/Leonard Cohen

#176746 - 07/18/09 02:04 AM Re: Handheld GPS? [Re: JohnE]
Grahund Offline

Registered: 11/01/08
Posts: 18
Loc: San Francisco, CA, USA
The folks in our wilderness SAR group use the Garmin 60CSx almost exclusively. A couple of team members have purchased Colorados and Oregons and returned them. (Yeah, REI!) The physical buttons make the 60CSx easier to use without looking. Also the 60CSx screen is more readable in a wider range of conditions.

When the 60CSx first came out it beat all other units hands down. It locked onto satellites faster and held lock better than any other unit. The difference was huge. At the time Garmin advertised that this was due to the SiRF Star III chip. It was unique in the industry and a huge leap forward. Now several other manufacturers make equivalent "massively parallel correlators." Garmin doesn't advertise the SiRF Star III any more and the rumor is that they don't use it exclusively in the 60CSx. We've seen no difference between early and late production units, so it doesn't matter. What does matter is that whatever unit you buy has a "massively parallel correlator", whatever that is. I don't know what the words mean in terms of technology, but it makes a huge difference in the ability of the GPS to figure out where you are.

By the way, for those of you who need California topos on your Garmin, check this link. A woman in our SAR group created these from USGS data.


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