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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've seen lots of threads about which one to get, what features, color screens, street maps, etc.....

Bottom line you need at least a bottom line GPS, if you ski, drive off trail, hike,hunt,fish, etc....it is extremely easy to get lost, maybe not life threatining lost, but at a minimum several hours lost. Every FJ should have at least a cheap unit. All base units are equally capable, and none of the high feature units are any more accurate. Do yourself a big favor and buy one, they are easy to find under $100.

And once you have it....use it!
 

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I have the garmin Etrex Vista C. Had it for year or so. It is a very tough water resistant peice of equipment. I Used the "world map" software upgrade while I was away from the US. Stateside I purchased the topogrphic software. I never leave home with out it. I use it doing everything from backpacking, to driving in the city.
The only problem is the screen is a little small for urban navigation.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I like my Garmin so much I'm thinking about getting a handheld unit also. Maybe the Etrek CX(?).
I've seen good units from Garmin, Magellon....with WASS...for much less than $100.....Don't be foolded by the high end units, you can DL topo maps into one of the Garmin units, total cost now <$200. If nothing but the bottom line unit, you can at least track yourself into where you go, and track yourself back out. I do know some FJ owners are hunters/fisherman/hikers.....personally ,no off road vehcile can possibly take me to my final destination...except a helicopter. I drive to the get out point, put my pack on, and start hoofin' it.
 

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I forgot to add........there is no substitute for a map and knowing how to read it. Technology Fails!!! Just rember murphy's law.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I forgot to add........there is no substitute for a map and knowing how to read it. Technology Fails!!! Just rember murphy's law.
You are absolutely right....technology does fail....batteries go out, you can break the GPS unit, and I agree you should ALWAYS carry a topo map of where you venture into the wild. But, actually being able to locate yourself on a map is an acquired skill reserverd to primarily to military folks, geologists, cartographers and those with the skill to properly use a compass. Most folks have no idea how to know where they are on a map. That is why the cheap GPS can save your Bacon......save a waypoint at the beginning of the trail, take a new waypoint at each split in the trail, etc....easy to follow back out. In reality GPS units are very reliable and rugged, at least for the mass produced units, and all provide accuracy within a few meters. You won't be sorry you bought it. Plus, you can use it as a toy by finding your way home from work, measuring your speed on the highway and in airplanes....EVERYONE on the FORUM NEEDS at LEAST a bottom line GPS unit.
 

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I forgot to add........there is no substitute for a map and knowing how to read it. Technology Fails!!! Just rember murphy's law.
I'm with you on this; a GPS is a convenience. I would not go out into the back country (mountain bike / hike) without the appropriate topo map and compass. I actually don’t use a GPS now and, when I do get one, will be more for the convenience of city driving or finding the appropriate trail head.
 

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I get lost, even around Portland and I've lived here most of my life. Out in the woods, map or no map, I'd be a goner. Some people are just bred to be the backwoods type I guess and some are not. I got lost Elk hunting outside of Enterprize Oregon and was lucky to finally find a road after a full day and night.

One thing I ran across lately are these people that 'Geo-Cashe'(?). I laughed at first because it sounded like a modern version of what Poindexter would be doing in Revenge of the Nerds, Nerds in Paradise! :). It does look mildly entertaining though. Too many rules ...
 

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Please keep in mind that even WITH a GPS you should always carry a compass. A GPS can not help you determine North, South, etc. unless you are moving fast enough for it to plot your movement. This normally means at least 3-4 mph.

This is isn't always attainable and if you are deep in a forest, you still may have issues. Don't forget to take backup batteries as well. Many of the handheld units won't run more than 8 hours or so. Don't forget that the GPS needs a decent view of the sky even with the latest SiRF chipsets. I work in Minneapolis from time to time and the tall buildings act like canyon walls and can wreak havoc on me getting a fix except for satellites directly overhead or "along" my "canyon". Practice with it BEFORE you actually need it.
 

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I have been a GPS user for almost a decade. I have used it professionally (big rig, farming, survey) and for fun (fishing, hiking, camping) and it is a constant aid when driving far from home. They become indespensable, and yes, you always carry and know how to use the paper backup.

Currently I own a Garmin GPS Map 76C and all I can say is WOW. It is a bit higher end, but then when I started, I had a baseline unit. You do grow into them and I do use most of the features on this GPS. The mapping is awesome, abitlity to track where you have been and superimpose this over Google Earth or any mapping program, abilty to intergrate it into CADD software, make maps... The possiblities are endless. Even with my current unit it is good enough for baseline topographic work. With this unit, I also get 30 hrs of continous use (no backlight) on 2 AA batteries, and it floats! I have dropped it, dropped it in chicken soup, kicked it and it has been my constant companion.

I would suggest everyone get a Garmin (I am biased towards Garmin, they are the best IMO and easiest to use), the best one you can afford and learn how to use it. There are many excellent reference works out there to learn from and even some schools offer a course in basic GPS use.
 

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I have been using maps for over35 years. I even give out location by township grid, need to jumble around to give gps cords, townsip is just way to fast and the BLM and Forestry service can put a chopper on a Township grid faster than anything else.
I am now toying with the idea of a gps, I see now that you can get directional info for streets and stuff in your phone, that over 90 percent of the gps market just got one upped and that the prices are soon going to tumble. face it, why would you need a gps if your phone can speak out loud street corner by street corner directions, unless it was for offroad or marine use. So I figure by next year one of those nice 8 inch screen units will be around 150 dead presidents. I saw a 8 inch screen portable dvd player on sale for 79 dollars this morning, so the screens are cheap, it is just for them to realise their market just went south now.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Topo maps and a good compass are great for locating youself....as long as you have topo features to triangulate. I'm a teaching assistant of 2 field methods classes at the local Univ....I learned the triangulation method when I was coming up, and was encouraged to ignone GPS because of selactive availability. Nowdays, we don't teach triangulation-selective availability is history.. just GPS location. Many other Univ are following....I've given batteries to kids from other schools sharing a popular summer field camp area. Still, I agree..make sure you have topo maps and a good compass as backup---and know how to use them...but take advantage of modern technology (paid for by YOUR tax dollars) and buy at least a cheap handheld unit.

HIGHBEAMS....don't know about phones with integrated gps...does the gps work with no phone reception? As I'm sure you know, most backcounty locations are 10's of miles away from phone reception.With all the high dollar mods people discuss on this forum, a <$100 gps unit is functional and fun. And garman makes cheap units in yellow <$100 (SF) <$200 blue (VB), and silver <$200 ((Ti)-with more features than base model)) for those who care about such things as this.












(Ti).
 
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