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Newbie thread: Which Garmin handheld GPS to buy?

Posted: 27 September 07 12:57 pm
by Cached
OK, you've made your decision to buy a Garmin - but which one do you choose from the vast array available?

This thread, a sticky, so please keep on track, is for discussing this issue and asking questions.



Posted: 27 September 07 9:22 pm
by spikeyjen
Is someone gonna answer this so I get some good advice?

Posted: 27 September 07 9:26 pm
by GeoScrubers
spikeyjen wrote:Is someone gonna answer this so I get some good advice?
I've been very happy with my Garmin etrex legend <br>- relatively inexpensive, can load some maps onto it, data cable for easy downloading of waypoints.

Posted: 27 September 07 10:01 pm
by penguin
spikeyjen wrote:Is someone gonna answer this so I get some good advice?
Can't guarantee that this is good advice, but I am really happy with my Garmin Vista HCx.


I upgraded from an old Garmin GPS2, and the difference is amazing. Personally, I like the in-build electronic compass which saves me from having to shoot bearings using my trusty old Silva compass. That being said, I doubt that I will ever part with the old-school methods of map and compass when it comes to bushwalking.

The only downside that I have noticed is with the Trip & Waypoint Manager software. I'm not sure if it is because I haven't quite learnt how to use it properly, but a mate of mine has a new Magellan, and I reckon that the Magellan software is superior to the Garmin. The downside is that his Magellan is about 83 times the size of my tiny HCx.

I do however like the fact that that I can get GPS reception while sitting in on the couch in my lounge room (single story colourbond steel roof). I like the fact that I have no trouble with reception in rainforest. I like the fact that it is small, and that 2 AA Ni-MH rechargeables have lasted quite a while in it. I also like the fact that it will survive a dunk in water, and is pretty mud resistant. And yes, I am a klutz. Isn't that a stupid word.

Also the 2GB microSD card that I also ordered can hold a fair bit of data. :D

Anyway, that's my two cents worth.

Posted: 27 September 07 10:43 pm
by mtrax
so the memory card is for extra map storage or can that increase the # of Waypoints..?

Posted: 27 September 07 10:55 pm
by crew 153
I have been using a Garmin GPS72 for the last 3 years with no problems.

It is a basic unit with no mapping facilities.

It is rather large but this helps in finding it when you put it in your backpack, back seat of the car or all those other places that phones, cameras and other things seem to hide in.

It is simple to use and with the (optional extra) external cable can be powered from the cig lighter socket. This cable is also used to download from the PC.

Mine has bounced off the road after falling off the roof of the car, bounced down a few rocks and survived numerous drops.

I also have a Garmin Quest which I use in-car for turn by turn voice messaging to get me to the general area. I have also used this unit off-road to get to the cache but it is not easy to hold so I tend to carry it in a belt pouch while using the 72 to find the cache.

Posted: 28 September 07 9:54 am
by Pesky!
So far no one has asked what is the crucial question when buying any brand of GPS... How much do you want to pay?

all the garmin's from the Gecko to the top of range CSX's will point you to the location entered as a waypoint ( basic gps navigation)

Its all then a matter of what functions features you want /can afford over and above the basics.

My minimum recommendation is get a device that has a computer interface and cable to save your time and fingers punching in co-ords. everything else is icing on the cake.
Don't bother with Barometers and altimeters unless you have needs for them, and mapping is handy but not realy nessesary ( says he now he owns a 60csx with all themaps, bells and whistles inclidng a barometer,and flux electronic compass) I survived with other methods,and a yellow garmin etrex for 4 years of geocaching.

So my choice would be a Garmin Etrex yellow fella, and a good set of paper maps.

Posted: 28 September 07 12:26 pm
by Geodes
I've used an Etrex Legend for 2.5 yrs and still reckon it's the best value-for-money entry level GPSr. Johnny Appleseed is currently selling the Etrex Yellow for $199 and the Legend for $269 - but the Legend includes a PC cable, which he sells for $35, and which is pretty much a necessity for geocaching use. The click-stick on the Legend makes data entry much easier too. I managed to download a good Melbourne street map early on (which only uses 2Mb) and have been using it ever since.
While it's generally true that a mapping GPSr is not essential, it certainly comes in handy sometimes for those multis with a fair distance between wps (in the absence of a car navigation unit, anyway) and for a measly $35 extra you can at least have the option to try it.
The Legend also has a higher resolution screen and twice the wp memory.

Posted: 28 September 07 1:42 pm
by Pesky!
mtrax wrote:so the memory card is for extra map storage or can that increase the # of Waypoints..?
I think the memory card holds maps and data, I can do the same on the 60csx, but have not found out if i can transfer Waypoint info from the card to the gps, As I cannot look on the memory card from the GPS on screen interface. but with shonkymaps i can get the whole of eastern austria in 128Mb.

please if anyone knows better, PM me and ill start a new thread.

Posted: 28 September 07 3:50 pm
by Bewilderbeest
SuperJaz and I used a Garmin eTrex for our first year of caching, and I'd recommend it as a good 'starting' unit.

It's a good, solid reliable unit, but doesn't cost. It does the job finding caches, and we use Google Maps/Google Earth and the good old street directory to get us in the right spot.

The only thing we didn't get for it that I'd recommend is a cable so you can download the waypoints.

We've recently upgraded to a GPSMap 60CSx, which has colour maps, cable for downloading etc. It's quite good, and seems to be a bit more accurate than the eTrex. The internal compass doesn't seem very reliable though, which I find very frustrating. I don't know if this is a feature of this model, or if we just got a lemon...

Posted: 28 September 07 6:41 pm
by spikeyjen
thanks guys (and gals) this is excellent. I think I will settle for an eTrex yellow fella, and use google maps and such to see if I can master this sport.
Then when I am rich and famous (or hopelessly addicted - whichever comes first) I can splurge on something with a few more dials that go "Ping".

Posted: 29 September 07 6:12 pm
by Ranger1
We use a Garmin GPS60 basic model which has mapsource software, USB upload, we also have a DC power cable for trips & windshield mount. which has a dedicated geocaching mode but is cheaper than the 60csx but does not have maping software. But still an excellent entry level GPSr.

Posted: 30 September 07 9:46 pm
by Udderchaos
I started on an etrex & tried pda's as well

We now run a 60cs/mapsource and a tomtomOneXL

if i where on a budget i would skip the mapping gps's and the etrex and go for the gps60 (B/W, usb, geocache mode & really easy to use)

and for mapping i would run a tomtom.

lets face it. soon as you park the car and head towards a cache the maps are not much use anyway.

Now what some one needs to do is develop a "Cachemate/gpx sonar" type program for the tomtom then i will be set ;)

Posted: 01 October 07 5:42 pm
by Alansee
I got a basic Garmin Etrex about 7 years ago for bushwalking and it has been just fine for geocaching. I wholeheartedly agree with Bewilderbeast about having a cable connection - it makes life a lot easier once you sort out even just the basics of downloading. Using the compass can be a real problem too, especially in thick trees, but I always use a magnetic compass then.

I also find maps extremely useful to get one to near gz, and use either a street directory or topographic map as much as possible. However I do want to move to a GPS with on-board maps and so some of the comments here are very useful, thanks guys. :D

Posted: 30 November 07 9:05 pm
by Smelly Boot
We have a Garmin IQUE5 PDA GPS - It has all the mod-cons and is pretty much a pocket PC with Windows XP and all the programs - Word, Excel etc. We are not real whizz bang on the tech stuff though and have been entering all the co-ords in by hand and also carrying the paper for clues, previous logs etc. Mr Router has however, enlightened me on the ease of downloading waypoints and this has helped alot.
It runs a map program called QueMap that came with the unit. We use this to route us to the cache location and then use the co-ord's to get us right to GZ. We have found it OK for geocaching, it is a bit tempermental under cloud and tree cover (more than the usual GPS) but recently Mr Router installed BeeLine on it for better co-ord's at GZ.
When we first started geocaching we didn't own a GPS and borrowed my parents (the one above) - and so far we've found over 500 so it's not too bad.
I also bought my parents a replacement - an IQUE4 PDA GPS - which is very similar to the IQUE5 but a little more colourful. I have recently got OziExplorer CE put on an SD card so I can interchange between the two.
As far as a GPS goes this is pretty good as it means you don't need to carry a map book with you and you can backup all your waypoints to the SD card so if by chance the thing goes flat you just recharge and upload from the SD card.