SFR: What are the current good options for a hiking/fishing GPS?

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Josh, Jul 9, 2013.

  1. Josh

    Josh dead in the water

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    I keep thinking I want a GPS and then thinking I don't need one. But every year around this time when I start bushwacking and exploring for the small cascade feeder creeks, I start to wish I had one again.

    Anyone have any advice on what the current quality options are for a handheld GPS? Only going to be used hiking/fishing and not in the car or seattle or whatever.
     
  2. Nicolas Eckhardt

    Nicolas Eckhardt Member

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    I have a Garmin Etrex Legend HCx, which I use on occasion. I like it and it seems to work well. At work I use a Delorme PN40 which is also a decent unit but I have had issues with them. There are much more up to date version in the PN60 series which are better. Magellan makes good units as well. One thing you should look for is which unit/brand comes pre-installed with good base maps. Most brands have a limited detailed basemap and then force you to buy a better version if you want good topographic detail such as for hiking. Garmin does this as well as Delorme. Delorme does have the benefit that you can subscribe to their data library and download aerial imagery as well as NOAA charts and other imagery. Can be useful if you feel you need it. For the most part you probably want a unit that has a sensitive GPS chip that is capable of being used in mountainous terrain and tree cover with decent accuracy. No recreation commercial grade unit will give you accuracy down to the foot level but it will get you to within 30ft or so. If you need more accuracy than that you are looking at spending a lot more money.
     
  3. Chris Selvar

    Chris Selvar Member

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    Garmin 62 series... lots of choices range in price from $250 on sale for the base model to $600 not on sale for the really fancy one. I have one model up from the base model, it tells me where I am, has a compass, altimeter, and a timing/ ttacking function. I have uploaded a few maps on to it and it works great! especially for hiking into apline lakes where the trail is in very poor condition or non-existant. The maps at least show the general area where the trail should be.
     
  4. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

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    iPhone running Trimble Outdoors Navigator
     
  5. Josh

    Josh dead in the water

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    Do you find the compass/alt useful? I couldn't tell if I cared enough to pay the extra.
     
  6. Josh

    Josh dead in the water

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    I've got Gaia GPS on my iphone. But for some reason I don't use it as a GPS when fishing. I think both because I've heard that they don't have as good of reception in remote areas as purpose built GPS units and because it simply isn't waterproof. That having been said, I typically have my iphone with me. Though packed into a waterproof case or bag or pocket in whatever bag I'm carrying that day.

    How have you found the iphone GPS reception to be for fishing?
     
  7. Chris Selvar

    Chris Selvar Member

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    I like the compass for when im in the woods hunting at its not so easy to tell your direction, I like the altimeter because it allows you to log your changes, so at the end of a hike it tells you the elevation gain and loss you travel. It also has helps (or makes your realize you have a long ways to go) if you know the elevation of your destination you can check your progress.
     
  8. Nicolas Eckhardt

    Nicolas Eckhardt Member

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    Most smart phone GPS chips are pretty good and may even be somewhat comparable to recreation grade GPS units. GPS reception all depends on the surrounding terrain and it will affect all types of GPS unit whether they are cheap recreation ones or expensive survey grade units. I've had issue with both types in mountainous terrain. Having a compass is great but I have also found that if there is poor reception that sometimes the compass is not that accurate as a real compass.
     
  9. Kcahill

    Kcahill Active Member

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    I have a Garmin eTrex that I drag all over the country with me as a back up in case the aircraft GPS goes bad (which only happened once....). For something in the 200 dollar range the thing is incredibly accurate and I really like having the multi axis with altitude readings and compass. My only complaint is the computer software is kind of clunky and loading the topo maps (if you so desire) can be a hassle if you are going to be visiting a lot of the country in a short time.

    If you want certain maps try and find a bundle that includes you want and wait for a sale, they let the unit itself go pretty cheap but maps will eat you alive. Also be careful if you want a turn by turn unit for driving, a lot of the lower end ones can not do that.
     
  10. Josh

    Josh dead in the water

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    Nope, mostly just the cascades. Maybe lower BC. And no turn by turn. The iphone does that well enough for my needs.
     
  11. Kcahill

    Kcahill Active Member

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    Should be fine then, if you google some choice words for GPX files or Garmin files of the area you are looking for you can find "free" versions of a lot of the trails in the cascades.
     
  12. Josh

    Josh dead in the water

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    Etrex 20 looks like ~$165 on amazon and etrex 30 $250. Not bad. Especially the 20, if you don't need a compass/alt.
     
  13. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

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    What in the hell did all of you do before all these little toys for boys came about. If you know where you are going, a map should work. I can find just about anyplace that's on a map. And yes I've been lost a time or two in the woods, but I always find my way out.
     
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  14. Nicolas Eckhardt

    Nicolas Eckhardt Member

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    Looks like a good deal regarding the Etrex models. Regarding GPX file you can convert them to a KML file which then is opened by Google Earth. This gives you a simple way to view your point locations in 3D as you can pan around and change the angle you view at. It gives you a different perspective about the location. To convert GPX files KML use GPS Babel http://www.gpsbabel.org/. Simple piece of software which allows you convert many different files from one format to another.
     
  15. Billy McFly

    Billy McFly Active Member

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    I just ordered one of these...

    http://www.meetearl.com/

    I found the smaller screens on your standard REI type GPS units to small. I have not received my Earl yet but from everything I've read I think it will be great. I'll let you know later this summer when I go for a cross country through the North Cascades.

    I always take a map and compass. If your not confidant in you compass navigation skills REI offers a course.
     
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  16. Nicolas Eckhardt

    Nicolas Eckhardt Member

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    That looks pretty awesome. Thanks for sharing. I really like that it is solar powered so you are never without an energy source. Looks like a good gadget. I would be interested to know how it performs for you.
     
  17. Kcahill

    Kcahill Active Member

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    That is actually pretty cool,it is amazing with the price coming down in GPS chipsets and touchscreens what creative people can do. I would be curious about the weather sensors and see how that works out for him, once you get yours you should post some reviews.
     
  18. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    To me, a GPX is a tool that can quite literally save your life. Unlike a map and compass, a GPS works in the dark or when heavy clouds or snowfall prevent line of sight dead reckoning. Set your route on the way in and then retrace it on your way back out. Batteries run down so bring an extra set as a precaution.

    Yes, there are all sorts of cheap, less-accurate implementations. Remember the ex-Army Ranger, highway patrolman who got lost hiking across the Cascades a couple of winters ago? He had an iPhone with a backpacking map app that he was relying on. It's one thing to use an iPhone to find a store a couple blocks away in downtown San Francisco. It's another to use it to find your way through a wilderness where the margin of error could cost your life. I was at a presentation he gave a couple months later. He said one of the dumbest things he did was to reply on his iPhone which simply didn't work under heavy tree cover.

    Just as many of here us recommend to someone looking for a fly rod, buy the best one available and get the crying over early.

    This is the model the SAR guys who found the lost highway patrolman used: http://www.rei.com/product/825494/garmin-gpsmap-62stc-gps There's simply no way a $9 app running on a smartphone is even in the same time zone.

    K
     
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  19. Billy McFly

    Billy McFly Active Member

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    I agree but always carry a map and compass as a backup. Electronic gadgets break...or get dropped in a creek.... I would never go out in the woods without a backup unless your on a well marked trail that you dont go off of.
     
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  20. Gary Thayer

    Gary Thayer Member

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    Regarding smartphone GPS verses a dedicated unit such as a Garmin or a Magellan, I believe the big difference has to do with the signal: Smartphones signals coming from cell towers, dedicated GPS coming from satellites. In the outback the satellite units have advantage, metro areas favor cell units. Have read of developments in Russia and the UK of work to combine both technologies into one unit.

    G
     
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