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Need Helping Picking a GPS for Kayaking, Driving, & Hiki

whoster69 0 Points
edited November -1 in GPS Recommendations
My wife and I love to kayak and hike. We are looking for a GPS that will do these things, but also can be used in the car once in awhile. I'm particularly interested in larger displays if possible (I'm not worried about the size of the device). I'm kind of a gadget nut and like lots of options and the ability to configure things to my liking. I'm not really interested in geocaching games, but would like the ability to use the device on the water so I can track where we went kayaking and the route we took and then be able to upload it to a website so people can view it on a map.

I haven't owned a GPS unit before and have no preference for a particular manufacturer.

Does anyone know of a device that will do all of this?

Thank you.


  • Boyd 2028 Points
    It is really hard to find one unit for what you describe. Garmin and Magellan are the only companies which offer both topo and road maps. Garmin has nautical maps and I think Magellan has some too. There are also tools to make your own maps for both of these brands (grassroots though, and not supported by the manufacturers).

    In the Garmin Nuvi line only the 500 series is waterproof. The Zumo series is also waterproof, but pricey and really intended for motocycles. For the most part, any Garmin GPS can use topo and road maps. The nautical maps can be a little more specialized.

    There really aren't any handheld units with big bright screens. I suppose the Garmin Oregon comes the closest but no voice guidance. If you want the best unit for each task, you should buy separate ones. This isn't necessarily more expensive either. A Nuvi 200 or 205 should cost between $100-$140. But buying the road maps to add to a dedicated handheld, plus a car mount and power cord will cost just about that much also and it won't be as suitable to auto use.

    For handhelds, consider the DeLorme PN-40, Garmin Oregon series and maybe the Magellan Triton 1500 or 2000. They each have their strengths. The Delorme gives you all kinds of satellite imagery and real USGS quads via download for a low annual subscription. The Triton 1500/2000 have touchscreens and also offer these kinds of maps and images via the National Geographic state series on DVD, although it gets expensive if you need a lot of coverage. The Garmin Oregon has the nicest user-interface with a touch screen. One model has full US lakes maps, another full US 100k topo maps pre-installed. There are a lot of nice Garmin map products, but that can get expensive. But there are more free user-created maps for Garmin appearing everyday too and some are quite nice. See and

    Finally, there's the Garmin GPSMap 60csx which is a highly respected standard. It can use the free maps mentioned above too. It's main drawback is a very low resolution screen, but it is very easy to read without backlighting on a bright day and that saves batteries. The Oregon series has been criticized for a difficult to read screen. I have one, and I wish the screen were better but I don't really find it to be much of a problem.
  • whoster69 0 Points
    Great info Boyd. I'm not opposed to getting two units. I didn't realize that it might cost the same for two instead of one.

    You've given me a lot of info to look into. I'll spend some time looking it up and ask more questions as they arise. Thanks!

    Also, how do most GPS units allow you to upload your data to the web? Are there some that would allow me to use Google Maps or something like that so I could plot the course I took and then send it to friends?

    Thanks again!
  • Boyd 2028 Points
    I'm kind of a gadget nut and like lots of options and the ability to configure things to my liking.
    Do you also like to tinker with software? If so, consider the non-traditional approach of running OziExplorer CE on your GPS'es. This gives you the ultimate in customization. It has a companion screen designer program which lets you create your own user interface.

    It is cheap, and will run in Demo mode for free. All you need is a Windows CE based handheld or automotive unit with a touchscreen. I have used it on a number of systems but have settled on a Magellan Maestro 5310 in the car and Magellan Triton 1500 for handheld use. It will not run on any Garmin hardware. You will need to make your own maps though. This can be done with USGS topo's from terraserver, aerial imagery from Google, and lots of other sources - even maps you scan yourself.

    It is certainly not for everyone, but if you are willing to take the time you can have exactly what you want for both maps and user interface. Here is a little more info:
  • Boyd 2028 Points
    I think just about every GPS will generate a track file which you can exchange and display on Google Earth or other software. Garmin has made this easy by creating tracks as .gpx files which are pretty universally understood.
  • whoster69 0 Points
    Yeah I do like to tinker with software. Thanks for the ideas Boyd!
  • bbofvta 0 Points
    When you recommend a Magellan product, you should also add in that their customer support, and warranty service is not good at all! Their products may be fair, but they will not cover the screen on their units under warranty.

    I bought one of their Crossover GPS units, just because it would do trails, waterways, and roads. Within a few months, the screen cracked into a spiderweb. Magellan would only replace it for $100, even though the unit was less than a year old, and the fact that I had an extended warranty to cover the product.

    I am looking for another unit that can do all three types of maps, but would never buy another Magellan product.

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