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

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

  1. I cast another vote for the Garmin 62 series, and NOT Delorme, etrex, and absolutely not a cellphone. Reasons I like the 62? a) strong reception even in canyons and some overstory - the antenna is unmatched, b) buttons (just say NO to touchscreen for GPS, c) very water resistant (at least mine is). The 62 series models vary only slightly in features, mainly the preloaded/downloaded maps that go with it and some other things (compass; camera); I got mine because it was on sale at REI, a year ago, and was again last week - not sure about this moment. There are lots of free digital maps (topos, streets, etc.) available that you can load into memory cards besides the pay versions that Garmin (and other vendors) sell, and they work fine, with less bells and whistles than the pay versions. I played around with the loading of aerial photo/satellite imagery, and haven't got much use from it due to the resolution. I wouldn't want a larger screen than what Garmin has now. Also, I've had good technical support from Garmin on learning the functions, and the BaseCamp program that Garmin provides for computer interfacing is convenient for looking at things on big screens and typing on keyboards if you are into that.

    The digital compass/altimeter feature is nice, but it does have to be regularly calibrated. I use the longer-lasting lithium batteries, and keep the unit on pretty much all the time when I am moving.
    Kent Lufkin likes this.
  2. All true. (You may have seen the news that a launch-pad explosion of a Russian rocket took out 3 or 4 new GPS satellites the Ruskies were hoping deploy to move that technology along.)

    But to the OP's question about what to use when bushwhacking, not only does that argue for a satellite-acquisition device but also to one with a substantial antenna for both acquiring and locking on to those signals. Even my Garmin 60CSx's big-time antenna gets confused under heavy tree cover or in canyons resulting in the occasion 'gap' in a route.

  3. I have never used it for fishing but I have for certain photography adventures. I have stored coords for shots using my iPhone and later entered them into the pic's metadata using Lightroom. I'm to cheap to purchase a gps unit for my camera. Besides I don't use one enough to spend actual money on it.
  4. I'm A fan of the map & compass , There are no batteries to fail & when the nuclear holocaust comes & and the sateillites fall from the sky ... I'll still be able to get my ass home!!!
  5. Played with some at REI this evening. Gotta say, the touchscreen of the garmin Oregon series was pretty nice.
  6. Touchscreen is no bueno when you're wearing gloves, your hands are wet, or when very cold. Buttons are the prefered method on backcountry GPS's. See b) in Snarlacs post..
    Kent Lufkin likes this.
  7. They're nice to have, but you're right OMJ - the dependency on the tech (this coming from a senior software engineer may sound odd) can bite ya in the ass.

    While exploring Sky tribs a couple weekends ago we had a kid and mom ask us for directions because they're GPS wasn't getting a signal in that location.

    I pulled out a giant paper map of the Sky basin, put it on the hood of the truck, and showed em where they needed to go.

    +1 for paper and knowing where the hell ya are the old school way.

    Sorry to semi-hijack, Josh, I realize you seem like the type o' dude that knows how to get around in the sticks without getting lost. Personally, I've been looking at full color gps / sonar / fish finders for my boat lately, and I have a little hand held Magellan GPS unit (old one) with a black and white screen that I put in my stuff in case I get in a pinch - helped me a lot when I got fogged in on the South Sound in my boat.
  8. Once you leave the cellphone corridor, the GPS in your smartphone is worthless and you might as well throw your phone in the creek or use it as handy map paperweight. Get a decent GPS unit and you'll be fine.
    Kent Lufkin likes this.
  9. And the accuracy of every GPS unit is not that good with trees overhead unless you have enough birds flying directly over which is hardly the case since they are constantly moving. Certain hours of the day give you better results depending on the number of satellites that occupy the area at that time.
  10. Josh, if you'd like you can borrow my Garmin 62S for a weekend if your near by. I understand that playing with a GPS in the store doesnt quite cut it when trying to make a decision. I did alot of reserach before I bought mine, based off of online reviews, friends experience, and cost to features I really believe the 62 series is the best GPS out there right now under $500
    Kent Lufkin likes this.
  11. I still have the notes from a fascinating presentation on GPS technology dating from right after the military de-scrambled GPS satellite signals for public use.

    GPS satellites are in so-called geosynchronous orbits - their position about 24,000 miles above us is stationary relative to the earth. There are 24 US GPS satellites, one for each time zone. So on flat, unobstructed land, at least several are in 'view' at any given time. Mountains and trees can block receivers from getting the signals sent by satellites, especially from those further towards the horizon in either direction. Most receivers require signals from at least 3 satellites in order to triangulate position. Fewer than 3 sets of signals means no triangulation, thus the receiver isn't able to indicate its position.

    That's why receivers with more-sensitive and powerful antennas are more accurate. Some receivers like the Garmin 60 and 62 series actually have jacks that allow separate antennas to be attached, vastly improving their accuracy.

    BTW, GPS-calculated distances can be pretty accurate in X and Y axes (down to as fine as 2-3 meters). But the Z axis or elevation, is much less accurate which is why most units still rely on a barometer to calculate altitude.

    My notes don't indicate how flocks of birds might influence signal accuracy!

  12. I see a new twist added to the remake of The Birds which is due out within the next couple of years.
  13. If you want to have accurate Z elevations you need to use a differential GPS unit which is either connected to a real-time GNSS network, such as Washington State Reference Network (WSRN), or you post process the collected GPS information using the same reference system through data files. In many cases, depending on how and when the data was collected, you can elevation down to about +/- 6 in to 1 ft and XY to less than that. Then again you would need to have a GPS unit such as the Trimble XH coupled with an external antenna or some kind of Real-Time Kinetics (RTK) unit. Neither of which are cheap.
    Richard Torres and Kent Lufkin like this.
  14. I bought a Garmin GPS76 a few years ago, and have uploaded topography for most of the state (all except some of the desert regions). It is a very handy tool and has the compass and altimeter. I expect there are better units out there now. But, I am a map and compass guy first, so the GPS generally stays in the pack, as backup I suppose. I have it so I bring it (& extra batts).
    Nicolas, I can tell you're in the survey business too. I still think the handheld GPS altimeter is a good tool. Even 20 or 50 feet of elevation accuracy is helpful when you're finding your position on a map. I've used the compass in my Garmin enough to appreciate my Silva Ranger. I've used the Silva to locate our position in a whiteout (observing the bearing of a shear wall) and then plotted our route to the summit of Mt Olympus. I'll never hike without it. I've also used it (& hipchain) to survey creek routes (between two knowns, fun to see how well you close), and for preliminary timber inventory on projects. The GPS could do much of that (& no doubt better) but I'm old school. Old something anyway.
  15. Excellent advice from everyone.

    It should be noted that this is more of a "fishing hole tracker" for me than a "how do I not get lost" tool. But all the comments about not relying solely on GPS are spot on for anyone who finds this thread via google.

    In that vein, I'm not sure that touchscreen is a killer for me. The amount of times that I would want to use it and wouldn't be able to take off gloves or dry my hands are almost zero. Still, a point worth noting.
  16. I am actually a GIS Analyst but part of my duties include doing topographic surveys using a total station, most of the time along creek routes, and I have used differential GPS unit to obtain positional data. I agree with you on the GPS altimeter. For hiking and fishing purposes +/- 20 - 50 feet overall is pretty good and enough information. Sometimes we expected more from these units than it is possible to obtain. The Silva Ranger is a good compass and definitely good to have as a backup for the GPS compass. I have one as well. It is amazing how accurate those old timber surveys and PLSS surveys are given the type of equipment used. Nothing wrong with the old school way.
    Richard Torres likes this.
  17. Oh no. A GIS analyst? (The dark side!) We have issues.;) The world is flat.
    Kcahill and Richard Torres like this.
  18. Haha. Good one. Someone has to make sense of all the data collected on the flat world. ;)
    Richard Torres likes this.
  19. LOL!

    I guess I should have been more descriptive. That's what I say when talking about satellites at our office.
    Nicolas Eckhardt likes this.
  20. You are right Nicolas. Or we just run a level traverse between known USGS benchmarks within the area we are working with conventional equipment.

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