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"ALL IN ONE" Does it exist?

raybeau 0 Points
edited July 2014 in GPS Recommendations
I am looking for a New GPS unit. I currently am using a Garmin EDGE 305 for MTB cycling and very BASIC navigation. We will be traveling to the east coast for a week and the cost of Navigation in a rental is more than a new purchase, so have decided to buy a new one. I am hoping someone can recommend a "All In One" unit, if there is such thing. That which will perform the following functions:

1. Portable and relatively light

2. Automobile navigation, with voice "turn by turn"?

3. Topo maps for hiking, cycling, and other off road navigation.

Thank you all in advance for any advice and insight you may be able to provide.



  • Tim 1500 Points
    The short answer is no. If you purchase a handheld GPS and then purchase extra street maps, you still don't get a big bright screen, you don't (often) get touch screen input, you don't get voice prompts, you don't get a car mount, you don't get a car power adapter.

    If you purchase a car GPS and add topo maps you don't get a device that is water-proof (not even water-resistant), you don't get a form factor that is easy to hold in your hand, you don't get a device that is rugged and resistant to drops. You also don't get many of the advanced off-road style navigation instructions, and don't get an easy way for supplemental battery power when the sealed internal battery gets low.

    There are some devices that try to be hybrids, such as the Garmin Nuvi 500 series, however it has many of the limitations outlined above. See these threads for more info.

    GPS Recommendation Advice - GPS Recommendations
    Need Helping Picking a GPS for Kayaking, Driving, & Hiki - GPS Recommendations
    Portable GPS system for Car and Hunting - GPS Recommendations
  • Boyd 2043 Points
    Nice summary Tim!
  • Tim 1500 Points
    I know you and I have hashed through that answer several times before... I think it is time for an extensive article to point people to.
  • Boyd 2043 Points
    Good idea. I know others may not agree with this, but for a use like Ray describes, a bottom of the line Nuvi might not be such a bad choice. Since he mentions the high cost of renting a GPS, you might consider this a "disposable" purchase. And if it survives, that's a bonus :D

    The Nuvi 205 is pretty much the same thing as the Nuvi 500 in terms of size and screen, but it isn't waterproof, doesn't have an interchangeable battery and doesn't have some of the 500's software features (like the compass or geocaching stuff). OTOH, it has a sliding screen lock which the 500 doesn't even have. :roll:

    Anyway, you can get one of these for around $120, maybe even less. Add free topo maps from GPSFileDepot and you have a little unit which will probably survive a vacation. I have played around with one on hikes and it works fine, tracking virtually the same as my Oregon. I got as much as 5 hours on the battery using the screen lock.

    Otherwise, the Nuvi 500 series is probably as close as you can come. But that will cost twice as much.
  • raybeau 0 Points
    Thank you guys for the quick response.

    With that all being said, lets say I go with the inexpensive NUVI and then get a second unit for hiking, backwoods type stuff, what is the recommended unit? I have gone into some retailers and my gosh, I get so many different opinions, etc. I have heard of some antennas do not do well in thick tree cover. I heard that some units won"t work in "NON MAPPED" areas. Is it safe to say that Garmin is the preferred mfg. and any recommendations on model?

    Thanks again.

  • Tim 1500 Points
    It probably depends on how much time you see yourself spending on the bike versus hiking or other off-road activities. If you're spending most of the time on your bike, then some of the newest Edge models might work fine. Otherwise, the Garmin Oregon 400t is a good device, but a bit expensive. Something like the eTrex Legend HCx would work well too.
  • raybeau 0 Points
    Thank you Tim for your feedback.

    I intend on keeping my EDGE 305 for MTB and training. Will likely get the NUVI for the auto and then need to decide on handheld. I heard the Oregon screen was somewhat difficult to view in different lighting but have not seen it myself.

    Thanks again,

  • Boyd 2043 Points
    I have an Oregon 400t. The screen is always readable, but doesn't look as good as I would prefer under bright, diffused light. Bright direct sun isn't really a problem as long as you can tip the unit at the correct angle to reflect the light. The new Oregon 500 series is *supposed* to have an improved screen, according to Garmin press releases. It isn't yet in the stores (AFAIK) and I haven't seen any reviews yet though. It adds a camera and better compass, but of course will cost more.

    You could also consider the Oregon 200 if on a budget, I have seen good deals on this. No internal memory, no compass and no pre-loaded maps, but a 4GB micro SD cards isn't too expensive. You could either buy one of Garmin's map products or download free user-created topo maps from
  • raybeau 0 Points
    Thank you Boyd for information. Do you have any other MFG. of GPS? I have the EDGE 305 for training so am a bit familiar with Garmin but are they the best choice for Handheld and/or auto GPS? I am not married to the brand so would consider something else if they were a better product.

    Thanks again.

  • Boyd 2043 Points
    I have tried many brands, but keep returning to Garmin...

    In the car currently use a Nuvi 5000. Previously used TomTom 930t, Mio c520, HP iPAQ 310, StreetPilot 2620, Nuvi 650, Nuvi 205. I liked the TomTom a lot, but the thing which bothered me was the lack of a map detail setting. This meant all the little roads disappeared from the map in 2d mode when you zoom out to about 1/3 mile. My Nuvi shows this little roads through the .8 mile zoom with map detail set to most.

    The Mio model is out of date now and I believe they have pulled out of the US market. The HP was pretty bad, but I used the hardware to run other custom software. I still have the Nuvi 205 and use it to test maps I make myself.

    I also have a Magellan Maestro 5310 but I only use it as a platform to run custom software (OziExplorer) with maps which I make myself. It's great for that, but the native Magellan software looks very ugly and I don't like the user interface.

    For handhelds, my first was a Magellan Meridian Gold which was a great unit in its day (perhaps 1996?). I them moved to a Garmin Legend C, which is basically the same as the current Legend Hc without a memory card slot, but it had a chipset which was older technology and not so good under tree cover. I still have a Garmin 60csx which is sort of a "gold standard" in the handheld world, but IMO is showing its age due to the very low resolution screen and slower chipset.

    I have an Oregon 400t which I like a lot. But I recently picked up a Magellan Triton 1500 which I again only use with the OziExplorer software and my own maps instead of the native Magellan software/maps. It is a nice piece of hardware, although a bit big and clunky. But the screen is nice and the unit feels very solid.

    Magellan gets poor marks for customer support unfortunately. They have some nice maps for the Triton series which are made by National Geographic and include real USGS quads and aerial photos. A bit expensive though - around $100 each which typically only cover 1 or 2 states. I have never tried any of these.

    The DeLorme PN-40 is an interesting model which I have not tried myself, but you can choose from lots of downloadable maps and imagery for a low yearly subscription. The screen seems rather low resolution for my taste though.

    The other series which looks interesting is the new Lowrance Endura line. It has not yet been released yet, so probably not an immediate option for you.

    One big advantage for Garmin is their map format, which has been reverse engineered (because they do not publish the specs themselves). This has resulted in some excellent and inexpensive software for making your own maps. Many people (including me) are now doing this and offering them as free downloads.

    The downside is that the "classic" garmin units can only used vector-based maps (basically lines which "connect the dots") and not raster imagery such as scanned paper maps or aerial photos. This is why I am using OziExplorer on my Magellan units. It works very well with raster imagery and is an impressive piece of software. It is not for the "average" user though, since you have to make your own maps and also must install and configure on unsupported hardware.
  • raybeau 0 Points
    Not versed in building maps myself and probably would not pursue that so if I understand you correctly a new version Garmin would be best option due to availability of map downloads. I may try and research the new Oregon model you mentioned earlier with new screen. I only need the auto unit for vacation and could probably wait a while for a new hand held.

    Thanks Boyd

  • I am wondering if a Garmin 255W will allow me to input some coordinates on my property to reference tile drainage.

    My husband have been looking for a GPS unit and like the features for use in an automobile.
  • Boyd 2043 Points
    You can find or save coordinates on the 255 by tapping Where To > Coordinates. A screen will show the coordinates of your current position. If you want to save them, tap Next > Save. If instead you want to find coordinates tap Where To > Coordinates then enter them in the boxes and tap Next > Map to show their position on the map.

    However, you will probably find that the accuracy of this unit - or any consumer grade GPS - are not good enough to plot the position of things on your property. The spec is 10 meter accuracy. Worst case, this means that a reading taken one day could be 20 meters (66 feet) different from a reading at the same spot on another day.

    In practice it's not usually that bad, but an error of 20 feet would be very common.
  • I know this sounds too simple, but why not just purchase a vehicle GPS and place it in a clear, thin, plastic bag when cycling? I have an older Garmin C340 and I'm amazed at how well it does in sunlight. Just my 3 cents. Thanks!
  • Boyd 2043 Points
    If that meets your needs, why not? There are some minuses though:

    Pretty short battery runtime on automotive units, especially in bright sun with full backlighting. I wouldn't count on more than 3 hours if even that. And you can't just replace them with a couple of AA's like you can with a handheld.

    Missing the advanced features and customization options of a handheld unit. Even the least expensive Garmin eTrex has a lot of features that none of the Nuvi's have.

    If you want to go this route however, the Nuvi 205 would fill the bill. I have taken mine on hikes just for fun and compared alongside with my Oregon 400t. The tracks looked nearly identical. I got around 4 hours on battery but had it in my pocket with the screen locked much of the time.
  • I am looking for a GPS for my motorcycle.
    I am planning a cross country trip and it will need to be waterproof.
    Need to know specific type and or brands
  • click sale check out our latest deals {in red box}
    Garmin Nuvi 500 only if you need watertight $ 150 then ram-mount for motorcycle hook-up
  • I am looking for a pair of GPS receivers for my wife and I to use. We live in Rwanda, and my wife goes into the bush frequently to assess orphans and their families. I would like for her to carry a GPS so that when she gets home we can keep a record of the dirt roads to each house. Also, if she has car trouble or gets lost, I could find her. She uses a 4WD, but most of the roads are off the beaten track. Any suggestions? It would be nice to have a map function or topo to work with since Rwanda is the land of 1000 hills (and swamps and small rivers). Are decent maps available?
    We tend to do quite a bit of traveling when we go on furlough in the US, and would probably start to use a GPS instead of the maps we have been using. If the same GPS receivers could be used to do this, it would be nice. Primarily though, the real need is in Africa.
  • Boyd 2043 Points
    Also, if she has car trouble or gets lost, I could find her.
    Maybe I am not following you here? The GPS might help your wife find her way if she gets lost, but how would it help you find her? GPS only receives signals from satellites and calculates your position. It doesn't transmit anything.

    There are applications that run on cell phones (iPhone, Android, etc) that can send your position, but they are dependent on having cell service. There are some other devices that can transmit your position to a satellite and provide your position, but they are rather specialized and aren't general purpose GPS'es that you'd use to navigate in your car.
  • Sorry, I meant that my wife could call me and tell me the coordinates of her car. Hopefully, with a map to look at I could find the right road and/or bridge that would let me get to her (not nearly enough bridges here to suit me).
  • I have read through this string and several other, but still remain with a similar question to the original one posted here. I too am looking for a gps that I can use in the field (hunting, hiking, and backpacking) but also has good functionality for walking and driving around large International and US Cities. I would prefer 1 unit to accomplish my needs. I find the Garmin Nuvi's perform poorly in the bright sunlight, don't have the battery life, waterproofness, and "off-road" precision I am looking for. While I find the Garmin Montanas have smaller screens with a lot of bulkiness for walking around urban environments all day and they don't have the same guidance capabilities. However, the Montana is as close as I have found to the hybrid once you buy and load something like City Navigator. I have always used Garmins (and my family has similarily), even though I have searched other main manufacturers, it doesn't seem that there is a unit that will function ideally for what I am trying to accomplish (likely a benefit for the manufacturer -- but I won't digress). I definitely need a unit with SD card accessibility but don't really care if it has a camera. Can anyone help me on this? :?
  • Boyd 2043 Points
    Have you actually used the Montana? I am using mine in the car and on foot and I love it. The screen is 4" vs 4.3" for the regular widescreen automotive units like the Nuvi. Not all that much of a difference.

    If you put City Navigator maps on the Montana you will have pretty much the same "guidance capabilities" as a Nuvi. The Montana has lane assist and speed limit display. It provides spoken directions through the auto cradle. It does not have Junction View and doesn't support traffic receivers though.

    I agree it's too bulky to walk around a city. Looking at your requirements though, I would say what you want definitely doesn't exist. You are not going to get a slim, lightweight device with long battery life that is also rugged enough for outdoor use.

    For walking around a city, I greatly prefer my iPhone with Google Maps. Since it can also use wifi and cell towers to locate your position, it has a big advantage over standalone GPS in the urban canyons of Manhattan.
  • Boyd thank you very much for posting your experience with the Montana. I appreciate your insight! I guess I want it all in a GPS rather than a smartphone because 1) I don't pay for the unlimited data plan, and 2) I am planning a couple of extended trips overseas in Europe and Asia {which brings about the whole issue of switching SIM cards to get a reasonable phone plan (with or without data coverage) or buying a disposable phone in the country}.

    Obviously that leads me down the path of buying either a Montana while dealing with the extra weight OR a "Nuvi" looking for the longest battery life and water-resistant cover options.

    Does your Montana get good coverage in your car even while in the intensely urbanized areas (tall bldgs, etc)? So could I hypothetically use it for the purposes of walking around Paris, Barcelona, Tokyo, ect (obviously with the appropriate maps)? I guess this would be no different than hiking (although I will be taking a PacSafe purse around the cities rather than a hiking pack).

    Or assuming that "Nuvi" models work well in cars in the highly urbanized environments (i.e., tall buildings). Are there any "Nuvi" models that have more than ~4 hours of battery life, from any company? Do they make any water-resistant cases for the units?

    Thanks again for all your insight!
  • Boyd 2043 Points
    Actually I have found my Montana gets better reception driving around downtown Manhattan than my nuvi's do. On the Nuvi it is common for the car position to wander over to the next street and I don't really see that on the Montana. I'm guessing that the antenna may be better.

    The Nuvi 3700 series is very slim and light with a high resolution glass multi-touch screen, like a smartphone. It would be my second choice for walking around a city, and it supports Garmin CityXplorer maps that can route via public transit. Battery life may be an issue, but it has an instant on/sleep feature so you can conserve battery when not actually using it. Amazon has the Nuvi 3750 for $120 which is quite a bargain IMO.
  • Thanks for the input on the Montana in the City. It is great to hear that it works so well. And also the tidbit about the Garmin CityXplorer route via public transportation would be great!!!! Is the CityXplorer just a cheaper option (because you can buy a chosen City) as compared to the City Navigator? Or is there more information and capabilities on the CityXplorer not on the City Navigator?
  • babj615 41 Points
    CityXplorer ADDS functionality to CityNavigator, including public transportation routes and schedules. My understanding is you must have the same version CityXplorer as CityNavigator for it to function properly.
  • Boyd 2043 Points
    I don't think so. CityXplorer is just a smaller number of tiles from City Navigator. It has the exact same data as City Navigator with the addition of public transit info. But the public transit part only works on newer members of the Nuvi series (starting with the 1200/1300/1400 series). You do not need City Navigator - in fact that's the whole idea. It's an alternative for City Navigator when you only need one city.

    On an unsupported device, you won't be able to use the public transit feature. To be clear, you would not get public transit routing on the Montana or any other handheld.
  • babj615 41 Points
    I don't think so.
    Ah, further research suggest two versions of CityXplorer are possible. A stand alone version and an add-on version that requires CityNav of same version is already installed.
  • Boyd 2043 Points
    Where did you see that? I only see one version of CityXplorer:,FILTER_REGION_EUROPE

    See these FAQ's...{154d61e0-b2c1-11e0-5f51-000000000000}

    Frequently Asked Questions

    A Garmin device does not need to have a full version of mapping in order to use cityXplorer maps. For example City Navigator North America is not required in order to download and use cityXplorer Las Vegas.

    If the Garmin device does have a full version of mapping, cityXplorer maps will run alongside the preload maps.
    And this{94b4c550-0a19-11e0-639d-000000000000}

    Frequently Asked Questions

    With cityXplorer maps the latest map detail and POIs are able to be downloaded for specific metropolitan areas. Also with cityXplorer maps, enhanced pedestrian navigation is available when loaded to specific GPS models. Once a cityXplorer map has been downloaded to the GPS unit or SD Card, different configurations between the unit and the preloaded City Navigator map will determine how the cityXplorer map will work with the preloaded City Navigator map.

    The following will occur when the cityXplorer map coverage is for a different location that is not covered by the preloaded City Navigator map (ex. cityXplorer Paris purchased with city Navigator North America preloaded):

    nuvi 1100, 1200, 1300, 1400, 1690, 2200, 2300, 2400, 2405, 2505, 3400, 3500, and 3700 series, dezl series, LIVE 1695, and LIVE 2300 series:

    cityXplorer map shows up as a separate item in Map Info
    cityXplorer map is able to be searched without disabling the preloaded map
    Routes on cityXplorer map according to selected navigation mode
    Pedestrian navigation can be used
    nuvi 30, 40, 50, 200, 205, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 705, 800, 805, 5000 series, and zumo 220, 400, 500, 660, and 665 series:

    cityXplorer map shows up as a separate item in Map Info
    cityXplorer map is able to be searched without disabling the preloaded map
    Routes on cityXplorer map according to selected navigation mode
    The following will occur when the cityXplorer map coverage is for a location that is covered by the preloaded City Navigator map )ex. cityXplorer Chicago purchased with city Navigator North America preloaded).

    nuvi 1100, 1200, 1300, 1400, 1690, 2200, 2300, 2400, 3700 series, dezl series, LIVE 1695, and LIVE 2300 series:

    If the cityXplorer map is the same version as the preloaded map:

    cityXplorer map shows up in Map Info as a sub-item to the City Navigator map
    cityXplorer map is able to be searched when in enhanced pedestrian mode
    Routes on cityXplorer map when in enhanced pedestrian mode
    If the cityXplorer map is a version that is either newer or older than the preloaded map:

    cityXplorer map shows up as separate item in Map Info
    cityXplorer map is able to be searched when in enhanced pedestrian mode or the preloaded map is disabled
    Routes on cityXplorer map when in enhanced pedestrian mode or the preloaded map is disabled
    nuvi 2405, 2505, 3400, and 3500 series:

    cityXplorer map shows up as a separate item in myMaps, even if it is the same version as the preloaded maps
    cityXplorer map is able to be searched when in enhanced pedestrain mode or the preloaded map is disabled
    Routes on cityXplorer map when in enhanced pedestrian mode or the preloaded map is disabled
    nuvi 30, 40, 50, 200, 205, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 705, 800, 805, 5000 series, and zumo 220, 400, 500, 660, and 665 series*

    If the cityXplorer map is the same or older version than the preloaded map:


    cityXplorer map does not show up in Map Info
    cityXplorer map is not able to be searched or used for routing
    If the cityXplorer map is a newer version than the preloaded map:

    cityXplorer map shows up as separate item in Map Info
    cityXplorer map is able to be searched without disabling the preloaded map
    cityXplorer map is displayed without disabling the preloaded map
    Routes on cityXplorer map when preloaded map has been disabled
    Once the proper configuration has been set on the GPS unit, the cityXplorer map will work with, or in some configurations independently, of the preloaded City Navigator map. The same configuration settings may be needed if maps have been loaded using MapSource or MapInstall.

    *cityXplorer maps where the coverage area is already part of the preloaded map coverage are not recommended for these devices.
  • babj615 41 Points
    That's what I get for using the first answer I found after a quick internet search before my coffee on a Monday morning....

    However, on the Garmin WEB, I am seeing the Montana listed as compatible with CityXplorer maps, and I was certain this is not the case.

    Pick a city and look for yourself:,FILTER_REGION_NORTHAMERICA

    Who's gonna spend $10 and find out?
  • Boyd 2043 Points
    Hey, that's cool - thanks. I'm not really inclined to spend the $10 to verify it. Of course, it's in Garmin's best interest to make more devices compatible, so that they will sell more maps. :)
  • Originally, I too saw that on the Garmin website that the Montana is compatible with the CityXplorer under the software link. Hence why I thought it would work. To me it is key that both the CityXplorer and City Navigator (particularly the public transit component) work on the new unit I am looking to purchase.
  • Stephen 0 Points
    Thought I might sneak my question in here. I am not looking for a handheld or even a particularly tough outdoor GPS. I would like a replacement for my Magellan Crossover. I posted the question in the Magellan forum but it might have had wider viewing here.

    I could accept a less rugged unit if it could switch between road navigation and topographical modes. Is this possible with some regular GPS units?

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