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Discussion Starter #1
I am considering a new GPS unit for use off-road in a Ranger. I've used a Garmin Street Pilot for many years for navigating roads and love it. I was wondering what the experiences of others have been using them off road. Is a handheld or dash mounted unit best? Is a larger screen worth the extra money? What units take the abuse and vibration of off road use the best? What units have the best maps? Is the terrain illustrating feature helpful? Any favorites of those more experienced would be helpful. Thanks for any help.
 

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I have a Garmin 72c which is less than 100.00 and I bought a marine mount and mounted it directly to the dash of my Ranger. It has a large black and white screen and is waterproof. I also bought a power cord and wired it to my ignition switch. It works great in the woods.
 

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I have the Garmin Map 60 CS, and I love it. The newer version is the 60 CSX. Same thing only the CSX has a removable SD card. I also purchased the TOPO software and loaded all the maps for the areas I ride.

I can then take my tracks and import them into Google Earth Plus and see where I have been.
 

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I've been using the Garmin c580 with out of the box success, This trip was 122 miles of mountain roads and that garmin showed every logging road out there, very surprising and happy it did.

http://w212.photobucket.com/pbwidget.swf?pbwurl=http://w212.photobucket.com/albums/cc155/Codeblue911/2e79fb08.pbw
 

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I use a Garmin ExTrex Legend......got a dash mount for it......I don't have the topo/road maps loaded into it, but I use it to 'log' my trips and it works well, although it has the small screen...............a larger screen is a plus!!

Mine has logged countless miles on my Kawa 4 wheeler, and has held up well, to the vibration and other harsh conditions!!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for all of the recomendations. I certainly appreciate having the list narrowed down. From the suggestions received, it'd seem that my old brand, Garmin remains a tough brand to beat. Thanks.
 

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1st said:
I use a Garmin ExTrex Legend......got a dash mount for it......I don't have the topo/road maps loaded into it, but I use it to 'log' my trips and it works well, although it has the small screen...............a larger screen is a plus!!

Mine has logged countless miles on my Kawa 4 wheeler, and has held up well, to the vibration and other harsh conditions!!
I have the Garmin ExTrex also. I have the Topo Maps loaded and it shows everything. Like old mines, logging roads, etc. It also finds satellites quickly.

Josh
 

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This is a subject near and dear to my heart!

I have a Garmin Rino 120 and the Garmin TOPO Map Source program for my computer and hand held unit.

Being an old fart, I need glasses to read but can see just fine any other time.

This is a major disadvantage for me with the tiny screen on the hand held units.

As for navigating with the Rino, I love it and the Map Source program allows me to do all sorts of stuff in just about any US area.

The Rino units have a fabulous feature any Off Roader should love. It is an FRS and GMRS Walki Talki radio and when two users set them up, the position of each is displayed on your GPS screen when you communicate between each other. I can easily navigate to my buddy even if he can't tell me exactly where he is because I can see where he is on my screen.

I do wish they made a large screen I could dash mount that showed all the same stuff like a satellite monitor but for now I just need to put these darn glasses on so I can see it.

A buddy team or husband and wife team could set off in different directions and always know exactly where the other is just by talking on the radios.

If I take a trip to say, Alabama, I can dump out my NY memory and replace it with the maps for where I am going to.

Keep in mind when ever you buy GPS units there are some that are designed specifically for road use and they will not display Topo info such as what we need when in the woods and trails. Most of the units that will do the Topo stuff will easily do the road maps if you have both programs or that unit has the road maps stored and also enough free memory to accept some of the topo maps.

A Garmin Nuvi 200 is great for the highways but not for the woods and trails. You need one that is Topo ready to do it all and that usually doubles the initial cost but is well worth it for us off roaders. On my Topo programs, I can probably show you your house on the road you live on.

Gary
 

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Gary although mine showed all the trails, I would rather it show them as Topo, I have plenty of room so how do I get topo maps to drop on a card.
 

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First you need to find out from GArmin if your unit can do Topos. Some can and others can't and from my understanding there is a big difference and Topos take way more space.

I have a couple of different Topo programs and the one I like the best won't work with my Garmin.

Garmin Topos are called Map Source and they are fine but the one I really love is Maptech Terrain Navigator.

You can call Garmin on the phone and they are great to talk with and can guide you thru just about any installs or problems.

Gary
 

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I am looking at the Garmin Legend HCx. Anybody have any pro or con comments? All I know is I don't want to get lost on these old timber trails all over this county where I live. Some dead end and if I hit one that dead ends I want to be able to get back out of there. I would also like to be able to save the "trip" in case I want to go back there. Also, do the Nuvi models not work on unmarked trails? I wondered if there was a Garmin that I could use in the mountains and on the highway as well.
 

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I'm not up to speed on the Legend model.

My limited understanding is that GPS units designed for sports easily run TOPO Maps. Most sports units can also run Street maps. Those such as the NUVI 200 are specifically designed to run street maps and some can and others cannot run Topo maps.

Many of the features are quite different between the two types.

A street map unit gets you from point A to point B by entering in a street name or address that it has in it's street map program.

A sport model gets you from point to point by entering in actual Lat & Long numbers or stored WayPoints that you assign. Sport models have track back features so it is simple to just reverse your path to get back to where you were.

I do know there are models by Garmin that can do both streets and Topo and even Nauticle navigation.
Part of the programing for Topo includes an additional satellite signal needed for elevation readings.

I'm also pretty sure that just about any GPS you take with you should be able to show you the way back but some can do it easier and more understandably then others because they have the correct mapping information.

Most of our trails here are either old Stagecoach paths or logging roads and many show up on the USGS Topo maps. I'm pretty sure the trails you ride are also quite old and will show up.

Another very big consideration is how the unit connects to your computer and what it can do when it is connected.
With my Rino unit I can directly connect to my computer and remove the area maps stored in it for here in NY.
I can then install the area maps for your area in WV and even chart trails and trips that I want to take while there.

Most TOPO map programs show roads so I can chart a path on my Rino from NY to WV as well but the Topos don't have all the road type info such as exit numbers and details of that nature while the street map version will.
Likewise, street map versions probably won't show stuff like trails and rail road tracks or elevations.

As with all of these things, the more you spend the more you get and the more complicated they become when they can do it all. Like these rediculous cell phone that can take pictures, videos, text Msgs, emails, call waiting, voice mail and you name it. You need to be a freaking computer programmer to understand all the features and how they work and you are still constantly saying, "Can you hear me now" because they suck at making phone calls! ;D

Gary
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Many thanks for all of the responses to this issue. It seems that Garmin is "the" brand to get and my long time favorite as well. Just pick your model after that. But, as I grow from teenager to adult, (in the last 40 years or so) the idea of a bigger screen seems pretty nice. Does anyone have any experience or knowledge of the Lowrance with the larger 5" screen. I wonder how good their databases are, how well they show topo features, roads, trails and their reliability?
And geez, as long as we're talking gadgets, does anyone use an intercom to talk to your right seater? (some of my "older" friends suffer from hearing loss) And then what's a good way to interface your intercom to a radio so you can talk to other rigs in your group? Thanks for any and all ideas.
 

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Thanks for all that info, Grazor. I would be surprised if these trails I ride were on a topo map (whatever that is) or any other map. I suppose being able to back track is my main objective, so I will probably stick with an off road friendly Garmin. Thanks again.
 

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I run the Garmin Mapsource TOPO maps in my 60 CS, and I was surprised that a majority of the trails out in the BigHorn Mountains of Wyoming show up on my GPS.
 

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Larger screen sounds like just what I need! ;)

Cathead, send me a PM with some details about the area you are riding in. Just a couple of road intersections will do. I think you are in McDowell County, WV. but I need some road names close to these trails to zero in.
I will bring up the TOPO ( Topographical Maps) made by the USGS (US GEOLOGICAL SURVEY) and surprise the stuff out of you with what trails are actually shown in very great detail.

Now for the bad part, I am pretty computer illiterate so I may or may not be able to send the map to you.

Gary
 

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Here is a link to the DeLorme Atlas and Gazatteer for all the states.

This is just like your standard Rand McNally road map atlas except it is the Topo version and covers your entire state.

They show all the Lat/Long grids and can be a big help with or without a GPS.

http://shop.delorme.com/OA_HTML/DELibeCCtpSctDspRte.jsp?section=10096

Gary
 

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Well there is alot to consider in a GPS. There's if you want it to be portable or stationary on your ride, do you want a color display, what functions on this GPS do you want, and the big factor is how much are you willing to spend????

Well I myself have the Garmin 60Csx with the Garmin mapsource Topo software. I have had it for a year now and I really use it alot. My main use is when I go hunting and I load all my waypoints in my computer. I also use it for my trailriding. It has a memory card that is upgradable for the amount of area that you are covering. For the most part my Gps is portable. I also thought about the Lowrance GPS System but I don't hunt from my ranger. My cousin has it in his rhino and he loves it but his is a fixed unit... He also has a memory card in it for waypoints and trails. They are also pricey. It all depends on your purpose!!!! :-\ :-\ :-\ :-\ Hope this helps!!!
 

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Excellent points Jimmy! Garmin appears to be dropping the ball on us here.

So far to the best of my knowledge, the biggest screen for the sports models is around 1.5" X 3".

Garmin does not think the new auto pilot ones like the Nuvi 200W are strong enough for ATV use and therefore they won't make them compatible with the Topo maps.

I don't really understand the problem because we can buy some very large units for boating that are very solid and water proof and would work great for us old geezers who need some size to be able to see them.

I think the problem comes down to hand held and portable or hard mounted and wired.

I want one that is semi portable, has a large screen and can be moved from vehicle to vehicle or to my computer and do both streets and trails. My Rino is perfect except it does not have a large screen. I drive with no eye glasses but need them to read and see my GPS screen and function buttons. That sucks!

Gary
 
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