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Need a $200-$400 GPS that can accept up to 50 UTM or L/L coord's transfered from physical map..

Hi All - I'm new here so I apologize if my question has been covered many times in the past and my ears are still too wet on this site to have found those previous threads...

I recently retired from the US Army. My unit consisted on small teams that generally deployed far from the beaten path. We had excellent GPS kit and used it every day in the field, but that kit is not available online or at REI. Some guys carried personal GPS receivers as back-up. Most of us didn't for lots of reasons not relevant here.

I need a $200-$400 GPS that I can manually transfer up to 50 UTM or L/L coordinates from a physical map. I plan my cross-county routes by plotting waypoints on a good topo map using a grid ruler, compass and protractor (i.e., old school...). I want to transfer the coordinate data I create to the receiver before I head out and adjust in the field as reality dictates. I'm perfectly comfortable navigating cross country using maps and compass, stars, my watch and sticks and shadows if need be, but a decent GPS comes in handy for all the reasons you know all about.

I will be using this thing often in desert and arctic geographies, so being able to navigate the receiver's screens with gloves and a rocker is important. Uploading 1:24k maps would be nice, but not a deal breaker. I've seen several posts referencing refresh 'stickiness'. I want to avoid that. Long battery life is a must. Accuracy within 5 meters is fine these days.

I've read over a hundred posts while searching for recommendations, so I know that this community is rich in experienced professionals. I'd be honored to get a few recs from some of you guys. Thank you.
G. Shaw


  • Boyd 1997 Points
    edited February 2017
    First, thanks for your service. :) Your requirements sounds very modest and could probably be met for less than $200 if you're happy with a basic unit (for example, modern devices can pretty much all accept 500 to 1000 waypoints, maybe more).

    But I think you need to determine your preference for screen type and size before making a decision. Seeing the device in person really helps, pictures on the internet don't convey a very good impression of size and feel. Is there an REI, Dick's Sporting Goods or Bass Pro nearby where you could see some devices in person?

    IMO, Garmin basically owns the outdoor handheld GPS market (which is rapidly shrinking due to smartphones). Magellan has a few models but I have not kept up with them recently. But a big argument for Garmin is the availability of high quality, free, user-contributed maps such as those at

    One of Garmin's new eTrex models might suit you well, very small and light with excellent battery life. There are a variety of different models, the ones with triaxial magnetic compasses and barometers are more expensive but arguably worth the cost. Screens are rather small.

    From what you've said, it sounds like you want a pushbutton interface as opposed to a touchscreen. The eTrex series offers the choice of either. If you prefer a larger device, the GPSMap64 series is button based and well regarded.

    You should also consider Garmin Factory Refurbished models, they have the same warranty as new (be sure to purchase from an authorized Garmin dealer). You can save perhaps 25% with a refurb, and also have access to some discontinued models (such as the GPSMap 62 series) that would be even cheaper.

    I have not priced any of these models recently, but my guess is that you can find something you like in the $150 to $300 range. That would leave money to purchase some of Garmin's maps, but I'd suggest starting out with free maps from, you might find they're all you need.

    One other thought: unfortunately Garmin has a track record for introducing new devices with a lot of software bugs, making early adopters feel like beta testers. As a new user, I suggest sticking to a model that has been on the market for at least a year. This gives them time to work out most of the bad bugs.

    Have fun shopping!
  • Thank you. You're very kind, and obviously very knowledgable. I especially appreciate your advice RE: new release bugs. I'm not one that need's the season's newest "thing" I'm blessed that these days I'm only betting my own life on the analysis a simple consumer receiver does on data I input, but my wife and teenage son still seem to think there's some residual value in this ol' man's decisions, so thank you. I will keep your professional considerations in mind.
    Kind regards,
    G. Shaw
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