[Cdt-l] Today's Best gps

Rod rbelshee at hotmail.com
Thu Mar 27 20:26:17 CDT 2008

I used the Garmin Vista CX in '07.

The electronic compass is useless. It sucks batteries dry, takes longer to power up than my regular compass and is less accurate.

The barometer?. While I saw the pressure go up and down a bunch, it didn't always correlate to the incoming weather. So I tended to ignore it anyway. Maybe I'm just not smart enough. The altimeter function was handy for navigating on a map, if I could make out the tiny brown numbers on Ley's maps.

I popped in a 1GB flash card, so had all the topo maps for the western US, and room for water source waypoints, etc. That was very handy.

Chip sensitivity? I have the older standard chip and rarely couldn't get a signal. But, yeah go the best available now.

Screen size is good; weight is bad; your call.

I opted for a unit with standard AA batteries so they would be easy to resupply. It turned out that I was quite frugal in using the GPS and two and a half sets of lithium batteries covered the whole five months. Alkalines or rechargeables have lower amp-hour ratings, so your mileage may vary.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: Jim Eagleton 
To: cdt-l at backcountry.net 
Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2008 11:40 AM
Subject: [Cdt-l] Today's Best gps

With the way electronics change we should probably schedule this topic every 6 to 12 months.  Maybe with the Garmin problems every 6 to 12 weeks.  
The way I read the rei reviews, Garmin has captured the category, and now, brought out the 2 latest units with major bugs.  Specifically, the eTrex Vista HCx, and the Colorado 400t seem to have partially overlapping problems.
I'm specifically interested interested in features that go beyond taking bearings to Ley's waypoints.  For example,  the new high sensitivity chip set is very valuable for holding a fix under tree cover and some steep valleys.  I'm not saying price is not a factor, but I'll make that decision.  

1)  Compass:  Are the electronic compasses as accurate as a standard magnetic compass?  Do you turn on the gps enough or could you without waiting too long for it to start up) that you could leave your compass at home (or in your pack)? 
2)  Detailed maps:  Did anyone download 24:000 maps to their gps?  
3a)  Large scale maps:  Did anyone find the 100,000:1 Topo maps useful for locating themselves on Ley's maps (more accurately or faster than the compass bud).  
3b)  Large scale maps:  Did anyone find the 100,000:1 Topo maps useful for identifying alternate routes, so that emergency BLM/road maps were less necessary.  
4)  Any issue with screen size:  The Colorado has a much larger screen than the eTrex.
5)  I built a battery box recharger for my Foreunner 305 gps.  I think this has thought me 2AA are the only way to go?
6)  Other useful features...Barometer, extra memory, etc.  
7)  The latest info on Garmin's bugs.
A Battery question:  I don't think I will pick a gps on battery size, but can I change my other equipment to AA?  I have a 6V Ion headlamp, 3AAA EOS headlamp, CR123 Steripen, bounced charger for camera, bouncing the whole cell phone ...  
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