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Advice Please; GPS for off-road vehicle use in Africa

jackbw29 0 Points
edited May 2014 in GPS Recommendations
Hi all,

I'm after a bit of advice and I'm sure somebody on here can help me out, it will be much appreciated.
I'm after a new GPS device to be used primarily for long distance, sometimes off-road, driving in Africa. Maps themselves are not a problem as I have found a very good source (Tracks4Africa). The unit would have to be able to be able to follow routes I create in Basecamp and then give turn by turn directions (where possible).

Initially I was looking at a few Nuvi models ( I had one before, 255W, for use in the UK, but that does not support routes from Basecamp). I then discovered no newer Nuvi will allow routes to be imported from Basecamp without re-calculating them. This sort makes basecamp a bit pointless in my mind - whats the point of spending time in BC making a route you wish to follow, then have it altered on your device?
Most of my trips will be planned in basecamp and involve major highways down to small dirt tracks and then to places where there is nothing shown on the map at all. I can do this in BC but then would really like the route/track to appear on my device 'un-molested' with turn by turn directions (where applicable).
I would also like to 'map' these areas using logs for subsequent visits.

I almost went and bought a Garmin Montana - it seemed to tick all my boxes and could double up nicely as hand-held for when I'm on the water. Not my primary use, but i do often take an inflatable rubber dingy and outboard with me if I'm going to the coast and a GPS for that would be nice. With the Montana I could load a marine chart and just take it with me, it has sun and moon data as-well as tide tables and is water resistant enough if I'm careful.

Then I found the Monterra. Being a newer model I thought it possibly a better long-term investment despite the higher purchase price. I like the idea of Android OS even though it may take some getting used to. However I found some Montana features removed, such as tide tables and sun & moon data! Is this correct? Is it not even possible to get an app with this data? Does the Monterra allow for 'un-molested' route importing like the Montanna?

So, does anybody have an opinion on what would be better for my needs laid out above?

The other options are getting a Android tablet, possibly with an external GPS antenna, and some software (what though?). I'm open to another brand of GPS, but slightly reserved about that due to using Basecamp and Tracks4Africa maps compatibility.

Either-way any suggestions and/or information would be much appreciated.



  • Boyd 2028 Points
    I have a Montana 600 and really like it. From what you said, I think it would be a very good choice. Personally, I wouldn't touch the Monterra. There have been many, many problems with this device and it doesn't seem like Garmin has addressed them very well. User reports I've seen say that it is slower (less responsive) than the Montana and the battery life is poor.

    Garmin claims that the newer Nuvi models can now import a route without calculating if the exact same map was used to create the route in Basecamp. But none of the Nuvis really use "routes" anymore. When you send a route to the Nuvi, it is converted to a "trip". Aside from that NO nuvi model will let you import a TRACK. So if you want to use tracks you have found on the internet, the Nuvi cannot do that.
  • jackbw29 0 Points
    Thanks for the quick reply Boyd.

    Interesting information. I initially leant towards the nuvi for the larger screen and general vehicle set-up but really don't think with the 4inch screen on the Montana this will be an issue. I also like the powered mount set up of the Montana, esp if I can hard-wire it. Not being able to use tracks pretty much cancels out the nuvi for me though, even if it doesn't recalculate 'routes', but that is also good to know.

    I'm still relatively new to Basecamp, and haven't fully understood the definitions of 'trip' route' and 'track' yet. However I'm pretty sure to use a 'log' previously made (say down a road not on my map) as a 'route' for a subsequent trip it needs to be loaded as a track. As of yet I haven't downloaded any tracks from the internet - not sure there would be any where I am! But its an interesting idea - I'll have a look.

    Also interesting to learn problems with the Monterra and that you like the Montana, I'm sure that counts for a lot! In addition to the un-designed problems do you know anything about deliberate functionality loss with the Monterra? From garmins compare feature on the website I just don't get why tide tables (as an example) is not listed as a feature on the Monterra - surely it could be if Garmin wanted.

    Finally, is the difference between the Montana 600 and 650 just the camera? For my use I see no need at all for a camera, but is there anything else?

    Thanks again,
  • Boyd 2028 Points
    Tracks are breadcrumb trails of where you (or someone) have been and can contain up to 10,000 points. Routes are a series of points that are connected. Depending on how they are interpreted, if used with a map that supports routing then a route will direct you along roads/trails. Off-road, you would need to insert a point for each bend in the road since the points will be connected with straight lines.

    Tracks are probably best for off-road because they can contain 10,000 points but routes are much more limited. It depends on the device, but I don't think you will find support for routes with more than 200 points. Some of the new devices support route "shaping points". That may help a bit, but I don't have any experience with this feature.

    Nobody around here will be able to explain why Garmin does what it does WRT leaving features out of certain models. This has bewildered consumers for years. 😊

    The Montana 600 and 650 are the same except for the camera AFAIK, but I have never used a 650 personally.
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