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A compass and map are lighter, cheaper and reliable. A GPS unit can be very handy, but not something you should rely on like a map and compass. I have owned and used marine, professional and consumer units, and find I need nothing more than my basic eTrex model for sports and general convenience.Dangeruss said:My wife and I did some great rides in NW Arkansas over the 4th o' July weekend and ended up confronted with many an unmarked trail. We never got inexorably lost, but a 3 hour ride accidentally turned in to a 8 hour death march under a baking sun on skinny (!)bench cut trails built apparantly from marbles. Kinda fun for me, but not so much for the missus.
We're headed to So. Utah this fall and to avoid further marital discord and getting really stupidly lost, I think a GPS gizmo might be the ticket. While it won't solve all the problems, at least we can breadcrumb trace our way out, or have a bearing to indicate which fork in the trail would lead towards our intended destination. If the worst happens, we'll have lat/long coords for the helicopter or rescue/medics.
So after a bit of research, I've done a pretty good job of confusing myself. It seems damned easy to overbuy the thing. I think I want the Garmin eTrex Vista Cx. It seems to have what I need and not much that I don't. The price ($350-ish) is about what I'd like to pay. I don't see myself printing out maps or altitude graphs, getting all giddy about geocaching, or needing anything with a HRM built in.
So my question is what brand / model would you recommend, or is there any reason to avoid the Vista Cx?
I tried that one a couple of times. Didn't work for s**t. Trail I used was such a spagetti mess that the compass was useless. Can't afford a GPS just yet, but when we head to new trails, it would add a boost of confidence.bitflogger said:A compass and map are lighter, cheaper and reliable.
I agree the new receiver is much better. But the older ones weren't bad. I've been using the Vista for 3 years just fine with rarely a reception issue. It's more like the new ones are simply much better.GEOMAN said:The new SiRF chipset used on the latest Garmins is a terrific improvement. The Edge, Forerunner, 76CSx, and 60CSx are some examples that use this new technology.
I use both the Edge and 60CSx on my mountain bike at various times. It's common to be locked on satellites before I ride out of my garage. The sensitivity of these models is incredible and certainly worth consideration.
I was involved with search and rescue for years and found the old GPS's (10 years or so ago) not worth the trouble when compared to a topo and compass. My whole opinion changed with the new receivers.
I have a Garmin Etex legend($130) and it works fine for me. I've had several GPS and they could all use varous grid systems. For land navigation I would use the UTM grid system. That being said I've spend the last 30 years working on the ocean and Lat/Long is the standard there. There are plenty sources of topo maps on the internet, Google earth is one, also look up USphotomap I use this alot. The usphotomap has UTM while Google earth does not. With USphotomap you can also switch between photos and topo maps. I print a map of the area I'm going to ride in. Then dip it in Thomsons water seal and let it dry. Then into a flexible plastic map case. As your ride take way points and plot them on the map as you go with a Smartie pen. Keep it simple just call them 1,2,3,etc. You can name them later on your computer at home. The next time you ride you will have the way point already set up. After a few rides you can chose the way points you want for the ride your doing. I carry the GPS on the shoulder strap of my camelback. I use a soft case rivited to the strap. In dense NE cover I will some times lose track, but I can always wait a minute and get a position.Spine Shank said:Go with the Vista Cx. It does almost everything a mountain biker needs. The color maps and downloading "MapSource" data is really helpful. I got the 305 Edge as a gift from my wife. It came right out of the box and on to her bars. I guess she learned from the best about gift buying. But not being able to NAV on the 305 is its biggest downfall. The heart rate monitor / cadence monitor / training program is about the only thing the Vista Cx will lack. It has everything else. Including a handlebar mount if you buy from a reptuable dealer! Good luck.
ps If you should choose another GPS, make sure it has the grid reference system that you desire / are use to using. Some only can use Lat / Longs while maps are often in something different (MGRS etc.) Unless you know the math formula, you won't pinpoint yourself with two different grid systems. The Vista Cx is compatiable with many different grids...primarily Lat / Longs and MGRS. A nice system that works.
I agree, I use a Garmin Rino , actually the 110, (Lowest level) I do like it becuase it also gives me a Radio in the same unit, and I ride alone quite a bit. I have been mapping the local trails using the tracks feature, then sucking them in to TOPO, as well as Google Earth, here are a couple samples... The maps I am posting to our website, for folks wanting routes, and have thought about going a next step and posting the gps file there for folks wanting to load a route into their gps online before coming to the area...hugh088 said:I have a Garmin Etex legend($130) and it works fine for me. . The compass function on many GPS only work when your are moving. Someone expecting your return and having a map of your expected track can be a lifesaver.
What you describe is an excellent method for presentation of tracks after the ride. I've also been quite impressed by Garmin's Motion Based web program. After uploading your track from the Edge, Vista, Forerunner, or whatever, it plots elevation profiles, 3D topos, up to 5 different background types. It's super.hugh088 said:With USphotomap you can also switch between photos and topo maps.
National Geographic sells "Adventure Paper" that makes a good water resistant map using a normal color printer. It costs a few cents more per page, but you don't have to wait for the water seal to dry. I usually just fold and put the map in large flat zip lock freezer bag if I'm riding in the rain or plan on doing an endo in a deep stream, which happens all too often.hugh088 said:I print a map of the area I'm going to ride in. Then dip it in Thomsons water seal and let it dry. Then into a flexible plastic map case.
Good idea. But if you have your GPS with you, then you can do the same by just hitting the mark button (or enter on the joystick), and it will take the point for you with a temporary label. Then there's no games later trying to place the paper point on your computer.hugh088 said:As you ride take way points and plot them on the map as you go with a Smartie pen. Keep it simple just call them 1,2,3,etc. You can name them later on your computer at home. ...
You can get GPS with a built in magnetic compass and barometric (air pressure) altimeter, usually for only another $40, depending on the model. The 'sensors' come with the eTrex Vista and the 60CSx (versus the 60Cx). The 'S' stands for sensors. The internal magnetic compass allows you to see direction when stopped. The barometric altimeter improves altitude precision from around !00 feet (with GPS triangulation) to perhaps 10 feet, with calibration at the start of the ride.hugh088 said:.....A magnetic compass always works. The compass function on many GPS only work when your are moving.
Agreed, Geocaching is a fun way to get my kids off the couch. It's also why I have a Vista and a 60CSx. With two of the GPS in different kid's hands, they have a mini-competition trying to find the next little treasure. The Vista Cx and GPSMap 60CSx have special Geocaching screens to show the search hints downloaded from the web, and mark off geocaches found.hugh088 said:The trick to using this stuff is practice. It's worthwhile to even try some Geocache to learn how to use the thing, Google search for Geocache will get you started. Find a Geocache for you town, print a map for that area and get started. Get way points, plot them on the map and in general lean to use the equipment.....A magnetic compass always works. The compass function on many GPS only work when your are moving.