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Hiking the Sierra Nevadas

Was looking to purchase a handheld GPS device for my spring and summer adventures. The only problem I have is that I know absolutely nothing about these devices and what to look for.

I've budgeted myself about $300 dollars for my purchase. Some of the qualities I'm looking for are:

1. Above average reception (if that's even relevant)
2. Ease of use
3. Color screen

Thanks for any input.


  • sussamb 829 Points
    Can you at least tell us what you expect/want a GPS to do for you?
  • JimmyJam 0 Points
    Well, I want to make sure that I'm tracked and mapped so I can easily return to my camp. Also, if its even possible, I need this device to guide me along the way so I don't get lost. I was looking at the Garmin GPSMAP® 64. The color screen and topography that some units seem to have are also interesting.
  • JimmyJam 0 Points
    For instance, can I input a certain back country lake and have the device keep track of my trek and alert me if I'm off course?
  • sussamb 829 Points
    edited March 2015
    Pretty much every GPS will do that, so it really comes down to whether you prefer buttons or a touchscreen, and what size screen you'd be happy with. If you have no experience in this area I really suggest you try to visit a shop where you can see and play with various devices.
  • JimmyJam 0 Points
    Touchscreen is preferable. I'll stop by REI this week and check out the devices they have. Thanks for the input!
  • Boyd 1999 Points
    The most bang for the buck is arguably the Oregon 450. This model is discontinued but very popular and is available as a Garmin factory refurb with the same warranty as new. GPSCity has it for $185.

    The Oregon 600 is a nice upgrade with a glass multi-touch screen instead of the resistive screen on the 450. It also receives GLONASS which makes additional satellites available for quicker fixes and better reception in difficult conditions. Also many advanced features not available on the 450. Sometimes they are available as refurbs but I don't see one now, new price is ~$350.

    I have a Montana 600 that I really like. It is much larger, with a bigger higher resolution screen and many advanced features. I rarely see refurbs of these, new price is ~$400.

    So there's kind of a gap between $185 and $350, not sure if there are any other touchscreen models I'd consider.

    Garmin sells all kinds of maps. You might want to purchase Birdseye satellite, it gives you unlimited downloads of imagery at $30 for a year. But you can keep the imagery forever even after the subscription exprires. They also have Birdseye topo which is scans of the paper USGS 1:24000 topo maps, also $30 subscription.

    You could also visit where you'll find many free user-created maps.

    Garmin really owns the outdoor GPS market. Magellan makes a few touchscreen models but they are not very popular and map options are limited. A big plus for Garmin is all the free user-contributed maps.
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