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The cheapest GPS to perform 3 needs

RossK 0 Points
edited November -1 in GPS Recommendations
I've never used a GPS before, but I'm looking for the cheapest option that will serve 3 diverse functions (but it may be cheaper for me to get separate devices)
The things I've been looking at are:
1. Garmin Mapping handheld GPS like Montana, Oregen, Etrex
2. Garmin's Rino GPS with two-way radio.
3. Garmin's UK road satnav, and adding on U.S. 1:24,000 Topo maps
4. De Lorme Earthmate Pn60-W with inReach
5. Spot satellite GPS Messenger which I think is solely an emergency device.

What I want to be able to do is:
1. Hike specifically in fairly remote wilderness areas and canyons of Utah and Arizona without getting lost - but I will take with me a paper USGS map and compass
2. I also need a satnav to direct me while driving around the UK where I live if it's possible and cheaper to combine this on the same device.
3. And it would be nice in Utah/Arizona to have some device to alert people if I need help in an emergency.

Firstly, if I carry a detailed paper map when hiking, is either the Basemap or the North American Topo that comes with some of these enough, or do I still need to pay $129 for the detail of the USGS American SouthWest package of 7.5minute 1:24,000 maps. I presume with a GPS I put in my hiking destination and it tells me which direction to walk, so I don't need a really detailed map on it. Although that could be a problem if I'm not taking a direct route because of say a cliff/river, but then perhaps I could put waypoints into the GPS and it will point me to the next waypoint (but I'll need to know when I've reached it to change direction)? Or alternatively if the GPS constantly tells me my current exact position I will know where it is on my detailed paper map?

Would I be able to add on UK road sat nav with lifetime updates. Or if I bought the UK road sat nav could I add on the North American Topo Map or USGS SouthWest maps?

The other thing is summoning help in emergencies.
Garmin have these Rino two-way radios, but am I write you can only radio another Rino user within 20 miles, and you wouldn't be able to radio any emergency services.

This led me to the InReach with DeLorme's Earthmate GPS which comes with either Topo North America or the ability to get 1:24,000 topo maps.
It seems InReach allows you to send up to 10 emergency messages for $9.95pa.
But I don't think DeLorme would allow me to get any kind of UK road satnav.

The other possibility is to forget Garmin two-way radio or InReach (which seem to cost next to nothing for the ability to summon help), and get a Spot GPS messenger for $120, but then that has a $100 annual subscription to be able to send help messages. McMurdo have just brought out a new device for summoning help with no extra subscription charge, but it costs around $340.

Many thanks in advance for any advice Ross


  • Boyd 2002 Points
    If you want a GPS that works well in the car as well as the trail (#2), the Montana is really the only choice.

    Are you considering the Rino for #3 ? That is something I never would have thought of myself. The range of that kind of radio is very limited and I wouldn't think it likely that anyone near you would be listening for help calls. I could be wrong though...

    I think you would want something like the spot if you're really concerned about calling for help.

    With Garmin, if you like the USGS 1:24000 topo maps then just subscribe to Birdseye Topo which costs $30 for unlimited downloads of the whole US and Canada. They are the "real thing" - scans of the paper maps.

    DeLorme also makes these available on the PN series through their own download service. The Garmin SouthWest topo is a vector-based map and a completely different kind of thing. It is routable and can give you driving directions on the the road along with POI search for restaurants, gas stations, etc. Any trails it contains will also be routable. It also has DEM data that provides shaded terrain on the GPS and 3d views on your computer, as well as elevation data for trails and tracks.
  • RossK 0 Points
    Appreciate the help Boyd. Yes, I think I'll cross out the Rino as only wanted it for safety (plus NOAA weather radio), but chances of someone else within 20 miles listening on a Rino are slim - so Spot or DeLorme inreach.

    Re maps, which are better then for hiking, these Garmin topos or the DeLorme vector-based (I'm not worried about driving directions for US roads as rental firms paper maps are fine for paved and the GPS topo should show me Forest Service or Native American ungraded dirt roads)

    The Birdseye Topo $30 for a year's subscription I see lets you download as many raster and vector 24K maps for a year, but I also see on another page that it costs $99 for their Utah or Arizona Topo 24K, which doesn't make sense to me. During that year, can you not download many maps and then keep them for ever so you don't have to subscribe or pay again?

    It seems with DeLorme, cheaper GPS models just come with Topo North America, but more expensive models include any 1:24K map free of charge already on them too?

    Importantly, if I have a paper 1:24K map in my hand and a GPS, do I also need a map of 1:24K detail on my GPS to work out where I'm going or is 1:100K sufficient in Colorado Platuea territory.
    If I've worked out the co-ordinates of my next waypoint from the paper map and put them in my GPS, or my GPS tells me the co-ordinates of where I'm standing, does it then inform me which direction to walk? (I'm assuming they do this and sorry if that's a silly question - I'm planning to do a GPS day course as a complete newbie, but want to know which GPS to get for the course)
  • Boyd 2002 Points
    Birdseye topo only gives you scans of USGS 24k maps (raster imagery). It does not include any vector based maps, they are separate products which must be purchased individually. Not sure where you got the idea they were included with Birdseye. See:,FILTER_REGION_NORTHAMERICA

    There are also free user-contributed Garmin compatible maps here:

    A paper 24k map has about 16x the amount of details as a 100k map. For a vector based digital map, this might be a little different, but the principle is similar. You would have to be the judge of whether it is good enough for your purpose.

    Sorry, no experience at all with DeLorme.
  • RossK 0 Points
    My mistake maybe came from that Garmin BirdsEye link you sent - I probably misunderstood the 3rd sentence below to mean vector maps were free when they just mean you can do it (for a charge)

    Provides highly detailed 1:24,000* scale raster USGS maps and 1:50,000 scale raster NRC maps.
    Features an unlimited amount of downloadable raster maps for 1 year using BaseCamp software.
    Allows users to layer Garmin vector maps (such as TOPO 100K, TOPO 24K or City Navigator®) on their handheld devices for a real-life view of roads, buildings and terrain.

    Are Vector then much more useful than raster when driving dirt or 4x4 roads or hiking in remote territory that looks very similar all around?
  • Boyd 2002 Points
    Yes, what they have in mind is that if you have a vector based map then it can be enabled at the same time as the Birdseye raster map. The roads, elevation contours, rivers and other line/point objects will display on top of the raster image. More likely than not, you will get a mess. :wink:

    I think this feature is more useful with Birdseye satellite imagery (separate $30 subscription) than Birdseye topo.

    I can't really tell you which maps you will find more useful, that's something you need to decide for yourself. You can look at Garmin's 24k vector maps online for yourself here:

    You can view USGS 24k maps here:
  • sviking 141 Points

    The other thing is summoning help in emergencies.
    Garmin have these Rino two-way radios, but am I write you can only radio another Rino user within 20 miles, and you wouldn't be able to radio any emergency services.
    20 miles? Yeah, right! Maybe TWO miles in rugged terrain with these low power radios. Plus, how many channels? 20 or more? You won't know what channels other people (if there are any and there probably won't be) are monitoring on their Rhinos. So, you'll have to go 'round the horn transmitting in the blind and then monitoring/listening on every single channel. That will do wonders for your battery life...
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