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.

Cheap, barebones hiking GPS... Do I have to go used?

I'd like to be able to park on the side of the road in random locations and go deep into the woods without fear of what happens should my smartphone fail. I need a backup GPS. I'd like the ability to set waypoints and have fairly precise coordinates which update frequently enough to be useful (who wouldn't?). I don't need a map display and I think, given the smallish scale of hikes I intend to take, a map wouldn't tell me that much anyway. A responsive compass function would be nice, but I hear analog compasses are still quite adequate. ;)

After looking all evening, I'm quite surprised that nothing new seems to fit these simple requirements. I was certain I'd find something which fits my very basic demands for ~$50. Now I'm thinking I need to spend that or a bit more on an ancient unit to meet these basic needs.

Is there a modern unit I'm just overlooking? If not, do you have any recommendations for older units, either new old stock or used? I'm reluctant to spend much on a mere backup for my (also rather old) smartphone, but I'm comfortable with up to $80. All the older units I can get for around that which I've researched thus far have horrendous review aggregates, but perhaps they're tainted by common user error? I don't know as I've never been in this market before.

There must be something that will fit my meager requirements... Any ideas?

Comments

  • alanb 375 Points
    edited March 11
    Any modern Garmin handheld will do what you describe (set waypoints, record your track so you can backtrack to the starting point), so I am unclear why you think it won't. Maybe I don't fully understand what you are trying to do. That said, if all you want is a second device as a backup to do the same thing you are doing with your smartphone, why not just buy another cheap outdated smartphone? No cell plan, data plan or sim is required. Just use the wifi to install any apps or maps you want and use the GPS function for recording your hike.
  • Boyd 1794 Points
    edited March 11
    The cheap phone isn't a bad idea. But if you want to buy a used GPS, you could look for one of the old eTrex H series

    https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/8701
    https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/8703

    The Vista has a compass and altimeter, the Legend does not. Both use the so-called high sensitivity gps chips (as compared to the regular eTrex Vista and Legend that had the older chipset).

    Have not looked at pricing, but these are probably the cheapest models with decent chipsets. Of course, it's hard to say what to expect from an old model unit like this, it would be ideal to see it in person but that probably won't be possible. There were various things that broke on these old devices, such as rubber gaskets and switches.

    Perhaps you will find good pricing on used Magellan units, they don't get much love. ;) I have a Magellan Triton 1500 that I never use anymore. It has the same SiRFStar chipset as the Garmin GPSMap 60csx which is still very popular (and ridiculously over priced in the used market), I also have one of those.

    If you want something more modern, the eTrex 10 has the latest technology chips with GLONASS so you will receive more satellites. It has a monochrome screen and cannot load maps. Looks like Cabellas has it for $80. Perhaps you can find a factory refurb for less (Garmin refurbs have the same warranty as new).

    https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/87768
  • privet01 145 Points
    edited March 12
    ralphonzo said:

    There must be something that will fit my meager requirements... Any ideas?

    Let friends and other acquaintances know that you are looking for one. One might just give it to you. You never know.

    Probably quite a few of them have older gps's that they don't use any more because they wanted the latest and greatest.

    Otherwise I think you will be in the $100 US range plus or minus $20. Even on ebay you can't get a good deal. People bid used cycling gps's up to almost retail price. I know, I've been trying to nab one for my Son.

  • privet01 145 Points
    edited March 12
    I found this while looking for options for my Son.... https://amazon.com/Garmin-V%C3%ADvoactive-Smart-Watch-Regular/dp/B01MYVEZ0N/ref=cm_cd_al_qh_dp_t

    Over your budget, but if sign up for the credit card, they'll give you 50.00 off bringing it down to 100. However statistically, they know they'll get much more out of you in the future through interest and fees you'll rack up if you are not a disciplined credit user. Assuming you are in the USA... don't know if this deal is global.
  • Boyd 1794 Points
    Seems like the $80 eTrex 10 from Cabella's would fit his criteria pretty well:

    "I'm comfortable with up to $80"
    "I don't need a map display"
  • privet01 145 Points
    Might if he wants to lug two cell phone size things around while walking. That's my only hold back on getting a etrex 10 to use while walking.
  • ralphonzo 0 Points
    Thanks to all who have responded so far. I considered the used cellphone route a while ago but wasn't sure about how dependent cellphones are on data... I guess not at all as long as map data is loaded up on wifi and 100% cached offline. A small, old smartphone is probably the most practical solution, but I wouldn't mind a standalone unit like the eTrex. A refurb Triton 1500 is also very appealing. In fact, I think I'm leaning toward it at the moment.

    Something I should have emphasized more: do all of these units offer exact coordinates? I can't find a shot of the eTrex series' UI which shows current coordinates. It's so basic but I'm just not seeing it--same goes for many other cheap GPSs.
  • sussamb 664 Points
    All devices offer exact coordinates. You'll need to check they have the format you want though ... Most normal ones are available so it's only if you want something out of the ordinary.
  • Boyd 1794 Points
    I don't like the buttons on my Triton 1500. They are really stiff and hard to press, with poor tactile feedback. The user interface is strange too, somewhere between pushbutton and touchscreen. It has a lttle toothpick type stylus that tucks into a slot. It's based on the Windows CE operating system which Magellan used on many of their devices in the past. Not one of Microsoft's best efforts IMO. ;)

    And Magellan's desktop software was always terrible with no Mac support. Might be problematic on newer versions of Windows. However, some people seem to like these devices in spite of everything. The only reason I got mine was to hack it so I could run OziExplorer, and I got tired of that pretty quickly. ;)
  • privet01 145 Points
    ralphonzo said:

    do all of these units offer exact coordinates?.

    Yes they display exact coordinates in various formats that you can choose in the setup. However if you mean "exact" as in accuracy..... well it could be anywhere from 4 feet to 30 feet under normal conditions. That's still pretty exact though, but not for survey purposes.

  • Boyd 1794 Points
    ralphonzo said:

    I guess not at all as long as map data is loaded up on wifi and 100% cached offline.

    Earlier you said you didn't want a map. There are plenty of iOS and Android apps that will just display your coordinates. But if you want a map, tracking and lots of advanced features, OruxMaps is free and very impressive (Android only). There are a variety of ways to store the map on the phone so that no data connection is needed.
  • ralphonzo 0 Points
    Great, so they'll all offer coordinates. That's good enough for me. I said I didn't need a map, but if I'm going to have the bulk of a second typically sized smartphone, I'd probably go ahead and use it. Haven't tried OruxMaps, I'll have to check it out on my current phone. Maybe if I fall in love I'll just end up getting a small Android phone.
  • Boyd 1794 Points
    I've read that people are using these with no SIM card or data connection as a replacement for a dedicated GPS, specs are impressive and street price a little over $100. No personal experience with them though.

    http://www.blackview.hk/blackview-78/
  • fredrickcarter 0 Points
    edited March 29
    For $50, you may not find a good device. If you’re willing to stretch your budget the Garmin eTrex 30x is great value for money. You’ll get features that are usually found in much more expensive handheld GPS devices. The resolution is fantastic and it has a sunlight readable screen. It can locate your position quickly and tracks you, even in heavy cover or deep canyons. It has 3.7 GB for maps. And, for the problem you discussed, the eTrex 30x can be connected to other GPS or sensors for sharing waypoints and routes with hiking partners.
Sign In or Register to comment.
↑ Top