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Closest thing to the old Garmin etrex Vista HCx? Is it the etrex 20?

In the Garmin handheld forum I've got a topic going on my etrex Vista HCx that appears to be no longer able to read the microSD card where my maps are. In the situation that the unit will never read a microSD card again, I correct that etrex 20 is the least expensive handheld that will display a downloaded topo map? I don't need or want many features. I just want it to be able to show me where I am on the topo for hiking and biking. I have the CD version of United States Topo 100K and would want to be able to load map area for Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and maybe some upstate NY. If I ever go canoe camping again I'll probably also want to load sections of Quebec from Topo Canada which I also have on CD.

Is the etrex 20 probably a good choice if I need a new unit?


  • sussamb 827 Points
    I replaced my Etrex Legend with an Etrex 20 over 5 years ago now. It's a great GPS and will do what you want.
  • Boyd 1997 Points
    Do you have a smartphone? If so, you could "test drive" a few apps and see if they might be a viable alternative. There are so many on both iOS an Android, just spend some time comparing features and available maps. Plenty of them allow you to install the map on the phone so that no cell service is required to use them. Most have free trials and the purchase price is far less than a dedicated unit. Since you have budget issues, it's worth a try at least. I really don't have any recommendations, my own priorities are different from most people.

    Regardless. that old US Topo map is terrible, I had three different versions of it over the years. It was based on the roads from the US Census Bureau and they were wildly inaccurate. Anything you get with a smartphone app will be better than that. Or if you decide to stick with Garmin, have a look at the free user-contributed maps at gpsfiledepot, they should be a big improvement.
  • sussamb 827 Points
    I also have an app on my phone, but it's a backup to my Etrex, although never had it fail on me yet.
  • I've used my smartphone a couple times to spot check how far to the top of the mountain when I had forgotten the GPS and once when I forgot to check the batteries and it died on me. Of course in situations like that I needed a signal to get the map on the phone in the first place.

    But generally I don't like to use up battery for non-phone uses on the phone and I prefer to have a dedicated GPS especially for bike rides and have it displaying all the time. I just need to remember to have a spare set of AA's which I'm getting better doing.

    I understand that my old USA Topo is old. However it's been good enough for my purposes. The roads are not the main requirement for this purpose. It's the mountain tops and the trails and carriage roads where I mainly use the device, Acadia National Park, the trails are pretty good and of course the mountain contours don't change.

    I am mainly concerned whether Basecamp is even compatible with my old USA Topo on CD. Or can I still use Mapsource to load the map segments I want onto the etrex 20 should I decide to get it?

    I can always get better maps in the future if I need to but for the moment the old map has been good enough.

  • sussamb 827 Points
    MapSource will still work although it doesn't enable you to do as much as BaseCamp, although I suspect for your limited needs MapSource will be sufficient.
  • Thanks! My needs are very limited. I'd use it to put the maps onto the GPS, copy over my existing waypoints, and then probably less than once a year, if I made any changes, backup my waypoints file. I don't think that I've added more than 5 waypoints to the Vista since I added the old ones when I got the unit. Most of my waypoints are trail-heads, parking areas and mountain tops.
  • Boyd 1997 Points
    I don't see why Basecamp wouldn't work with that map. But really, if you think it is OK then you have not looked at recent maps. The hills may not have changed, but the data used to create those contours was very low resolution.

    Anyway, we all have our own standards, so use whatever works best for you.

  • I just thought that I'd note that my immediate need to consider a new hand held GPS for hiking and biking as gone away. Strangely, the Vista is now happy with a new microSD card that I put into it. What it no longer liked about the old card I have no idea. My Windows 10 computer had no issues with the old card when I got the map data off of it for safe keeping and to put onto the new card.
  • alanb 555 Points
    edited September 2017
    It would be interesting to see if the old card will work if you reformat it and copy the files back to it. Reformatting might also tell you if it finds errors on the card. I have had cards go bad, but in my case, the computer wouldn't read them either.
  • Boyd 1997 Points
    Also worth taking a closer look at the contact fingers inside the eTrex and the contacts on the card. Maybe something is corroded?
  • I probably should look at the connectors inside the unit but right now I'm almost afraid to muck with it now that it's working again. The contacts on the old card are perfect. I'm guessing if there is corrosion in the unit that would also show up on the connectors on the card. But perhaps a small rock or pine needle is in there.
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