This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. Find out more about how to manage cookies, or dismiss this message and continue to use cookies.

GPS/2way radio advice for Hiking/fishing

BigDaddy 0 Points
edited November -1 in GPS Recommendations
Hi All,

I am going on a hiking / fishing trip with 5 other guys and they have told me they all use Garmin Rino 530s. They told me that I should consider a comparable unit or at the very least a handheld GPS so that I can avoid getting lost in case I wander off on my own. Cell signal is spotty and the terrain isn't the best, so they told me my plan to use my cell is an invitation to disaster. This trip will be in entirely unfamiliar terrain for me and well off the beaten path. It would be a good idea to have a GPS unit.

I have read a lot of negative press on the Rino 530s and I am leery of buying older models when there is a new model available at roughly the same price.

So I need some advice from some people that aren't attempting to sell me $1000 worth of GPS equipment to meet their quotas--or at least confirm that yes, I will need to spend that much to have the unit perform as expected. I am looking for the following:

1. GPS unit that will allow me to navigate to and from a 'base camp' with relative ease.

2. Record the routes I traveled so I can see how far I walked and share it with my friends when I get back home--overlay it on googlemaps or whatever.

3. Be useful on my normal weekend "day trips" so I can get a better idea of how far I walked and the actual route I took so that I can bring friends and family to share the experience.

4. (Optional) A Unit that will work with the companion tracking of the Rino 530s.

5. (Optional) Integrated 2 way radio capable of communicating with the Rino 530s.

6. (Optional) Something that will remember all my routes taken, the elevation changes and other fun 'stats' to share with my hiking friends back home.

I am willing to spend the money for a quality unit, but I don't want to spend $500 on a base unit, then spend another $500 on a battery pack, special ear piece, car charger, belt clip, etc etc etc. I have walked out of 3 stores now, convinced they are just trying to sell me stuff I don't need.

I am very good friends with 2 of the guys I'm going on this trip with so I could use the radio beyond this trip. Depending on how the trip goes, I may go with this group on more trips. They usually go on 'week long excursions' twice during the year, so this is also a future investment not just for this trip.

Right now I'm balking at the price difference between a GPS and a GPS with a 2way radio.

A bit about me: (if this even matters)

I'm a 'big guy' that was told by my doctor to be more active or be dead by 50. I have taken his advice to heart and every weekend, I'm out walking somewhere new. I always have a camera with me and I love taking pictures.

I am an average hiker, and I get distracted by anything that looks like it would make a good picture. (Oh! Butterfly!) I usually end up walking well off the beaten path and I've had several 'adventures' in retracing my steps. So far I've been lucky... I don't want to tempt fate.

I would like to have a better idea of how far I have walked and the paths I take as I frequently vehemently disagree with Google maps interpretation of where certain trails are actually located--especially when Google says I walked 2 miles round trip and my pedometer says I walked 3.5 miles round trip.

I love being able to rattle off stats like distance, time, elevation, but currently all of my 'stats' are guess-timations based on the internet, topographical maps, personal observation and cheap electronics that just give approximate "ballpark" numbers.

Thank you for reading this! I look forward to your advice!


  • Boyd 1999 Points
    Virtually any handheld GPS will handle numbers 1, 2, 3 and 6 on your list. For 4 and 5, I think you will need one of the Rino series. I have never used them myself, but I don't understand the need for any kind of "base station". AFAIK, the Rino is a standalone unit that will allow you to communicate with your friends and see their positions.

    I know that Garmin has added something called "Base Station" to their free Basecamp program. If you connect a Rino to your laptop running BaseCamp, you can see the position of other users in realtime. I wouldn't think that's something you need on a fishing trip though.

    Garmin has by far the lion's share of the handheld GPS market. They also have the largest variety of mapping products. But what really sets them apart is a constrantly growing library of free user-created maps (visit to see). Since I make my own maps, Garmin is the only game in town as there are no tools to make vector-based maps for other brands.

    If you are looking for something inexpensive, the Oregon 450 can be had for about $200 and is arguably the most popular model on the market. At about $150 the eTrex 20 also stands out as a lot of bang for the buck. These are very different and need to be seen in person to appreciate the differences however.

    But in your case, I'd think the Rino makes sense because it would keep you in contact with your pals.
  • Thanks for the reply!

    I talked to my friend about the base camp and apparently what he meant was that they set a waypoint marked "basecamp"... I feel kind of silly now.

    I was hoping perhaps there might be a handheld GPS that would work with the rino to show my position to my group and I could just use a radio that transmits on the same frequency, but I guess that was just wishful thinking.

    I'm currently trying to get some idea of the price difference between a rino 530 and a rino 650--perhaps I would be better off getting an older unit. Is there any compelling reason to get the newer unit? Also, does anyone know of the price range for the rino 530?
  • go with the 650t. compatible with 530's.(5 megapixel camera&topo maps).you won't look back.
  • privet01 228 Points

    I'm a cheapskate, and I don't like doing things just because everyone else in my group does. That way we get a lot of amusement arguing about such stuff.

    I think just about any handheld GPS made for the trail will be adequate.

    It's been ages since I did any deep woods trekking, which was well before GPS became common. But then as now, my main concern will be communicating with those that can rescue me and the group when we all do something really stupid. So I'd want one of these -->

    I don't have one, but a friend has a similar unit he keeps on his boat. I can see where in the Atlantic or anywhere else he could be just by logging on to a website. And if he gets in life or death trouble, he just has to push a button and a search and rescue mission gets initiated. Otherwise, me and several other friends that monitor it know his sailing habits well enough to tell when less serious things are going on.

    VHF is line of sight, so if y'all get separated by hills and valleys it isn't going to do you any good either.

    I'm not happy with my vhf handheld that has frs. I don't know if it's true anymore, but because of FRS, my handheld had to have a non-removable antenna. Antennas do get broken, as mine is now and I'll have to pay almost the cost of a new radio to get it fixed. I seldom used FRS frequencies so my next radio won't have that or any other band that might require the non-removable antenna.
  • Boyd 1999 Points
    I was hoping perhaps there might be a handheld GPS that would work with the rino to show my position to my group
    Nope, that also requires a radio. If you want to join in the fun with a group of Rino owners you are going to need one yourself. :)
  • Hey guys, thanks for all the replies!

    Wow! the 650t is wicked expensive on the garmin site. I looked and saw that there were a few retailers that have a sale on it right now, but ouch... my wife is giving me one of "those looks" when I mentioned the price. I also have to admit that a 5 megapixel camera is not all that impressive considering cell phones have 8, 10 and higher. I do like the 650/650t over the 610, but the price is balking me.

    I'm also impressed by that spot device. I was reading the website for that as well. Pretty cool. I'm wouldn't call myself a cheapskate, but I also don't like overpaying, so I guess I'm somewhere in the middle. I'm seriously considering buying the Oregon 450 (which was mentioned previously) and using a radio that will transmit to the rino, but I also don't want to miss out on all the fun with the tracking people.

    --On a sidenote, whats the difference between the Oregon 450 and the Oregon 550? I know the 't' means that it comes with the maps installed.

    I was talking with the guys last night and some of them recommended searching ebay for the 530s (apparently no store stocks them anymore with the 600 series out) and they also told me the 100 series should work with the 530s as well. I really am not a huge fan of ebay, but it seems like that is the only reasonable alternative to not buying a brand new unit from a store. I'm currently seeing if there is a some place selling the units for a better price point, but my hopes are falling.

    I watched a bunch of reviews on the 100 series and I have been becoem a bit skeptical of the unit. They seem too expensive for lack of features. Non-radio units have more features for the same price point or less. Still, they are less expensive than the other units and if I can get it for the right price, I don't think that I would be too upset if I decide to upgrade to a different unit later or just switch to a non-radio gps.

    The 520s and 530s I see on ebay are roughly the price (by the end of the auctions)as the 610, but the features the 530s have are more desirable than the 610. I feel like if I settle for the 610, I should just get the 120 instead.


    I really appreciate you guys helping me out with this. I never realized how powerful/ useful these handheld GPS units really are when you leave the pavement behind. I'm going to get my buddies together so I can see the 530s in action. Maybe that will be enough to overcome my hesitancy in purchasing the units.
  • Boyd 1999 Points
    The Oregon 450 and 550 are the same, but the 550 includes a camera. As you note, the "t" models include Garmin's older US Topo 100k map. Personally I would not pay anything extra for either the 550 or the "t" models when you can get the 450 for $200.

    These are all older models and Garmin now offers the Oregon 600 series that has a better screen, newer GPS chip and other advanced features. But they are quite a bit more expensive. :)
  • Thanks again!

    The camera doesn't interest me, but I am curious about the differences between the 450 and the 600 series. I'll take a look at the Garmin site.

    I have been messing around with the 530 that my buddy lent to me and it is... well... very interesting... to say the least. I guess I'm so used to using my cell phone the handheld GPS just seems ridiculously complicated, but not impossible. The software that it comes with doesn't even have my town or the towns around me. I live out in the sticks, but its still New Jersey--I can't be that far out where the towns aren't even recognized! The base maps seem terrible!

    I have to wonder if the handheld units are just as bad mapwise? Where does one get a free map?

    Getting the 530 to communicate with my computer was a waste of time too. Apparently Garmin doesn't support windows 7 64 bit? Really? What the heck kind of backwards compatibility is this?

    Clearly I need to read more about the actual devices and the procedures to upload maps, but at this point I'm rather disappointed with the rino 530.
  • Boyd 1999 Points
    Only the "t" models include a real map. All other Garmin handhelds only have a very rudimentary basemap containing a few highways, state lines and major water features. You must add your own maps to make the device useful.

    For New Jersey, you can use my free highly detailed topo map. :) Topo maps like this typically only show your position on the screen and cannot give you turn by turn directions - you would need a "routable" map for that.

    GPSFileDepot is arguably the prime source for free user-created Garmin maps. You'll see that I have some other maps of New Jersey there too.

    The Oregon 600 costs $400, quite a step up from the 450. :wink:
  • WOW!!

    Your maps are very impressive! Even if it isn't routable, it is at least more useful than a map that doesn't have large towns/roads on it! The Garmin base maps are terrible! I was thinking that I should just save my money and instead of buying a GPS, just get a better pedometer and download some $3 app for my phone. Your maps have changed my mind. I'm looking through the whole site now and it is really amazing. I am flabbergasted by the amount of maps there.

    I've seen a lot of videos and forum posts about maps and how to make them for your GPS device, but the work involved seemed really excessive so initially I was balking at the idea of having to create my own custom maps for going places. Honestly, I was hoping to have a device that would just tell me where I want to go and how to get there. I realize that idea is naive, silly and not at all realistic.

    I do a lot of hiking in NJ (cause hey, I live here!) and I think that it would be very awesome to get a more detailed idea of where I have been, what I have seen and how far I've actually traveled. I talked to my buddy and he said it was ok to load the map onto his 530.... I just have to read your instructions!

    Just out of curiosity, is the Garmin basecamp software and the other software you have listed free or do i have to buy it?
  • Boyd 1999 Points
    Glad you like the map. :) I am working on an update, but it will probably not come until next year.

    Garmin Basecamp and Mapsource are free. Mapsource is discontinued, but many people still prefer it. However, it cannot read all the data from the newer handhelds without jumping through some hoops.

    I would try Basecamp first, it will be compatible with all of the maps I have posted. You will find download links and tutorials at GPSFileDepot.
  • Thanks again for the help and advice!

    Basecamp worked just great. I was able to get it working in a couple of minutes and I must say that the map is definitely very cool. I'm already looking for more maps for when I go to different states and to see if there are any really detailed maps regarding some of the hiking trails that I am thinking about giving a try.

    It's difficult adjusting my POV from having the device plot out a route for me to plotting the route out myself and then telling the device. I guess that is just part of the problem with trying to go from a device that does for to one that requires a little bit of thinking ahead of time.

    I managed to even get the 530 talking to my computer! Granted I uninstalled everything and then installed Basecamp, but it worked right out of the gate. I am currently playing around with the track logs my buddy left on his rino and its rather interesting to watch the arrow move around on the screen.

    I also wanted to compliment you on the map again. I went back and looked at some of the trails that I've hiked and you definitely have them in there way more accurately than google maps. Do you plot some of the trails based on other maps or based on GPS data from hiking the trails? I am rather curious.
  • Boyd 1999 Points
    Thanks again. I use a variety of sources for data. Roads originally came from US Census Bureau TIGER files but have been hand-edited considerably based on personal experience and aerial imagery. Trails are from my own tracklogs in some cases or published data in others, such as state park maps.

    While my map cannot compute routes for you, it was designed to be used in conjunction with a routable map. So, if you purchase Garmin City Navigator for example, you can enable it at the same time as my map. You will then see my map on the screen but the hidden Garmin map will calculate your route.

    There are also free routable maps from I don't have a lot of personal experience with those however. You can download them here though:
Sign In or Register to comment.
↑ Top