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Old 01-12-2014, 12:48 AM   #1
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Selecting a GPS for Utah Wheeling

Howdy fellow Jeepers!

My buddy and I will be heading out to Utah in a couple months to hit up all five national parks. We will be rolling solo in my 2014 JKUR, which makes solid navigation a critical requirement.

I have already brushed up on paper maps, but I am guessing once we get out there, everything is going to start to look the same at some point, so we decided to pick up a nice GPS unit, and toss the iOS app navigation to the side.

I was poking around Garvin's website (they seem to have the most support from satisfied offroaders). I has having a hell of a time figuring out which devices had what we need, and some additional features we don't know would be nice.

One thing that is key is the ability to record our tracks. I would eventually like to export our entire trip, and view it as a KMZ file on Google Earth.

Looking for your opinions on standalone GPS devices. Please, no phone application recommendations, even if they don't require a data connection and operate on loaded maps. I already have a phone app for GPS around town. Thanks!

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Old 01-12-2014, 08:54 AM   #2
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Garmin's Monterra, Montana or Oregon series will do everything you need. The ability to view satellite imagery is invaluable. Many of the trails you will travel are available as .gpx files on various websites. Simply drag them into the GPX folder on the GPS. Personally, I like the larger screens of the Monterra and Montana, especially when viewing satellite imagery.

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Old 01-12-2014, 11:39 PM   #3
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I was afraid you'd say that. Anywhere I can get that little gem for, say, half price? Haha.
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Old 01-13-2014, 09:57 AM   #4
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If you are ok with a smaller screen, look for the Oregon 450. Garmin controls pricing on their GPSs, but those controls were recently released on the 450 since it has been discontinued. You should be able to find it for about half price online...around $190. My Search and Rescue group just got a great price on 35 of them through GPSCity. I'm currently in the process of loading satellite imagery, USGS topo maps, and 87 local trails onto each unit before we issue them to our members.

Since the Monterra is basically the replacement for the Montana, price controls may be released on the Montana in the near future...but don't hold your breath. I've had my Montana 600 for over a year, and it is still my dream GPS. I'm tempted to try the Monterra...but I'm not sure how the new screen technology will work with gloves. The Oregon 600 series has the same new screen technology...similar to cell phones and tablets.
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Old 01-14-2014, 10:47 PM   #5
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take a look at this site
GPS Data Cards : GPS Data Card Moab, UT 4WD Trails
all you need is a simple garmin GPS unit and the SD cards. I would also recommend buying the guide books that go with the SD card.
I'm heading that way in June from Florida and I already have these packed up.
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Old 01-21-2014, 08:35 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wayne d View Post
take a look at this site GPS Data Cards : GPS Data Card Moab, UT 4WD Trails all you need is a simple garmin GPS unit and the SD cards. I would also recommend buying the guide books that go with the SD card. I'm heading that way in June from Florida and I already have these packed up.
I was thinking about doing something more along these lines... Thanks Wayne!

Do you know if the simple Garmins can track your path and export it to google earth?
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Old 01-22-2014, 03:16 PM   #7
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I was thinking about doing something more along these lines... Thanks Wayne!

Do you know if the simple Garmins can track your path and export it to google earth?

I'm not sure on that one. Maybe a call to Garmin.
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Old 01-22-2014, 08:01 PM   #8
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I'm leaning more toward the Montana 600t in camo now. It appears to do almost everything and looks super slick in camo.

On a related note: 100k vs. 24k? Thoughts?
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Old 01-23-2014, 08:49 AM   #9
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100K maps are useless for off-roading. Even Garmin's 24K maps leave a LOT to be desired. The genuine USGS 24K maps available through Birdseye are, by far, the best way to go. If using Birdseye, the draw order thing is very mysterious. No one seems to know much about it other than a higher draw order makes the image sit on top of lower layers. I have set the draw order on satellite imagery to 55, and the USGS maps to 51. That makes the sat image show up until the image is zoomed out beyond where the indicator reads 500 ft...then it automatically switches to the USGS map. I also have Garmin's 24K maps installed at the default draw order of 30, I think. That makes some of the labels from those maps show through on the sat image, which is a good thing. I recently set some of the sat imagery to 60, which makes it stay on the screen at wider zoom levels. I don't know how all of this would interact with the data cards from the Wells book. I emailed them over a week ago to see if their track files could be loaded to another card with additional tracks and different maps. No answer.
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Old 01-24-2014, 12:54 AM   #10
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What GPS unit are you using, Moabite? Good info. I'm really disappointed at how certain functions are executed poorly on dedicated GPS units, yet their smartphone and tablet counterparts do incredibly well.

On another note, the $499.99 price tag, plus another $100 for 24k maps and $29.99 for bird's eye maps (only for a year) has got me leaning towards this alternative:

iPad mini with retina display and cellular data.

Reasoning: the iPad's GPS receiver also uses GLONASS, which for that functionality you're in the $600 price range with Garmin.

GPSX is an incredible map that tracks your path and can export, allows you to select a map area, map type, and zoom level and DOWNLOAD IT TO THE IPAD FOR FREE. Plus, it does all the other amazing functions an iPad can do. GPSX can also open GPX files!

Hmm........
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:41 AM   #11
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I use the Montana 600 and Oregon 850. You do not need to renew Birdseye every year to continue using the maps and satellite images. You need to renew only if you want to do additional downloads.
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Old 01-27-2014, 09:38 AM   #12
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The only problem that I experience with GPS is the level of detail. The higher map resolution you use the slower the unit seems to be and renders it useless. The switching between the details is frustrating. (100K map and 24k maps / overlays )

I find a variety of using paper maps the best solution. I usually take pictures of them and store in my ipad and usually plan the route before hitting the trails, etc..

Navigating the back-country of Utah by gps can be deceiving depending on the terrain and might get you into trouble if you don't know the road conditions or type of roads/ trails if any.

A good atlas goes a long way - Boulder Map Gallery

..just my .02
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Old 01-28-2014, 09:01 AM   #13
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The only problem that I experience with GPS is the level of detail. The higher map resolution you use the slower the unit seems to be and renders it useless. The switching between the details is frustrating. (100K map and 24k maps / overlays )

I find a variety of using paper maps the best solution. I usually take pictures of them and store in my ipad and usually plan the route before hitting the trails, etc..
There's something wrong with your GPS if you are having such a problem. The map detail, resolution, or magnification should have almost NO effect on the speed with which the unit operates or redraws...unless your GPS operates differently than any Garmin that I've ever used...and I've used a lot. The amount of imagery and maps on the unit WILL have an effect on how long the unit takes to initially boot up, but once booted, you should notice NO difference in performance. I have 8-10 Gb of maps and satellite imagery on 16-32Gb Class 10 cards in my GPSs and switching between maps or changing resolution has zero effect on the speed of operation. Initial boot times went from about 10 seconds to one minute with all of the data loaded.

The Birdseye USGS maps are actual photos of the genuine printed USGS maps...the standard by which all other maps are judged. With the satellite imagery, I can zoom in to see clearly see individual trees, rocks, etc., and everything redraws almost instantly.

Satellite imagery is almost always going to be more up to date than any printed map.
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Old 01-28-2014, 01:45 PM   #14
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There are excellent FREE topo maps available for Utah (and all of the US) here

There are many that are better USGS.

They even have Moab trails.

I use these maps at this site on my Garmin 600, previosly owned many garmin models.
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Old 02-25-2014, 06:11 AM   #15
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..... My Search and Rescue group just got a great price on 35 of them through GPSCity.... .

Thanks for posting about GPSCity. I am just starting to look into getting a GPS unit so I went to their website and not only do I see they are here in Las Vegas but they are about 7 miles away from my house and I never knew it. I get to drive down there later today to get educated on what will fit my needs.
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Old 02-26-2014, 11:48 AM   #16
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My solution:
Forget about the dedicated units, since I don't need a lot of the options they come with, and would really prefer a larger screen.

I picked up an LG G2 on Verizon and downloaded the backcountry GPS app. This app is totally killer for $10 and $19.99/yr for the Accuterra single layer 24k topo. You can download maps directly to the phone storage, and the G2 has 32Gb onboard.

The GPS in the G2 also uses GLONASS, and the screen is very big and bright. I'm pretty stoked.
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Old 03-28-2014, 01:39 PM   #17
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Don't mean to hijack this thread, but thought I would post my question here instead of opening a new thread.

I am looking for a hand-held GPS unit as a navigation aid, and hoping to spend less than $300.00.

Any thoughts or recommendations on any of the following choices:

- Garmin eTrex 20;
- Garmin eTrex 30;
- Garmin Oregon 450; or,
- any other unit in my budget.

The tablet/phone option discussed above is intriguing. Other than confirming that the Kindle fire hd i recently bought does not have an enabled GPS, I have not really considered this approach.

Are a contract and data plan required?

If so, then long term cost would seem to be greater than the up front cost of a dedicated unit (at least within my budget). I suppose the counter argument is that the tablet/phone of course provides an additional full suite of other services. Certainly something to consider.

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