I had mentioned to my wife that I was probably going to get a portable GPS unit for when I go hunting. I was going to look at the various models that Cabela's offers.
Well, she surprised me for Christmas with a Garmin Foretrex 201. It is small and actually goes on your wrist with a strap. It seemed to work ok. However, yesterday I went out scouting where I hunt and the unit had a very weak signal.
I usually research a product before I buy it, and I feel bad because my wife bought it for me as a gift. She told me to bring it back if it will serve me no purpose in the woods that I hunt.
Can anyone recommend a good portable GPS unit for hunting? Something hand held would probably receive a better signal than a wrist watch size unit. I also would like to stay under $200 if possible.
If you dont need to have topo maps loaded on it, I would recommend any of the Garmin eTrex series GPS's. As long as you have a GPS with 12 parallel channels, you should be able to receive satellites even through tree cover once aquired. IMO, Garmin is the best in the business. I've been using GPS's for over 10 yrs. The one below is the same one my wife uses and she always finds her way home. :rolleyes:
Cabela's -- Garmin® etrex H GPS Unit
All the GPS units listen to the same signals from the same satellites. It is fairly line-of-sight to the sky to receive the signal so heavy trees tend to block the signal. That being said, some units have better antennas and electronics.
I have had good luck with the Garmin etrex units, but the user interface is not extremely simple. My Tomtom is really easy GPS to use, but is not suitable for outdoors use.
What makes the tomtom not as good outdoors? Ive been also looking for a GPS for hunting. Just can't really find one that's very affordable
Just bought a Garmin Etrex Vista HCx new on amazon. It was about $250 shipped. It has an electronic compass and baralt, and is also compatible with topographic maps. The detailed topos for WA and OR are another $99 so I'll get them when I move back. Need to find a free map for iraq!
Garmins are best
I have the Foretrex 101 wrist unit, it has no maps, you just set waypoints. for me, this is OK for backcountry hiking with a decent topo map. one thing you have to be sure to have new batteries, I tried using rechargable batteries, and they crapped out fairly badly. So throwaway batteries seem to be necessary. :santaclaus:
Tomtom makes GPS for driving directions. It functions perfectly fine outdoors (and I frequently travel with it), but it is not waterproof, will likely break if dropped, and the battery only lasts for 30 min without being plugged in (it comes with a car charger). It is just not intended to be thrown around like the Garmin units. That being said, it is very intuitive and easy to use and understand.
Originally Posted by C9H13NO3
Amazon.com: TomTom ONE Portable GPS Vehicle Navigator: Electronics
One should take note, electronic devices can fail and a map, compass, and common sense should always accompany you when you are out...
Thanks for the replys, guys. The etrex looks like it is worth a look. I have a tom tom also. It is great for driving, but as stated the battery life is short. I need something that will last at least 12 hours.
I should be going to Cabela's in Pa when the hunting expo starts in Feb. I'll check out some of their models.
I have the Lowrance HUNT C and love it. It's got everything you could want and then some. A buddy of mine actually has coyote calls loaded on his, so with the adapter kit and speaker he can use his as an electronic call as well. Its pretty pricey but in my opinion its worth the extra money.
My buddies and I use Etrex units that take the abuse and work well. For example we have used these units during hunting, winter camp trips (tents or tarp shelter only), winter kayaking , hiking , geocahing ect.
I did notice unless you update them online once or twice a year , the accuracy may degrade .
Generally speaking, a larger antenna receives better than a smaller one. The smaller the unit the less effective it is in heavy cover. The GPS receivers made by Garmin that work the best are the 60 series and the newer pricey ones such as the Colorado and Oregon series. The 60 series are way better on battery consumption than the Colorado or Oregon, which are real power hogs. My recommendation is for the 60 series. They are larger and work better in trees than do the Etrex, Edge, or Forerunner models. The old Magellan Meridian series were pretty good as well, but they aren't being made any more.
Or make do with what you've got. If you can't get a fix where you are then all you have to do is move around a bit to a more open location. If you waypoint your car or base camp you will always be able to find your way back.
Heavy cover and atmospheric conditions will affect GPS receivers. I had a Garmin Legend until it was stolen. It had maps and I used it for hunting. The accuracy wasn't the greatest but it was around $100. I now have a Magellan Maestro for driving but I don't think it would work hunting.
Best GPS for Hunting
The Garmin Rino line up makes the best GPS for hunting. It is a great GPS and also comes with a 2-way radio built in. They have a model to fit most budgets. The Rino 530 HCx is the best model and still affordable, but all will get the job done.
Here is a site that can point you in the right direction:
Best GPS for Hunting | Best For Hunting
One important point. These gadgets are great, but please please please use another traditional method for keeping track of where you are finding your way in and out. When you are completely dependent on electronics, batteries, and a tiny dumb computer chip, you can get in a bad way pretty quick.
A friend of mine told me of a kayak trip on a very large lake and how the GPS really led them wrong.
I've no experience with these models for hikers and campers, but I sure have been led astray by auto-GPS. There just is no substitute for traditional navigation methods and caution.
Hop - good point. A topo and good ole mag compass will work under almost any circumstance. Not sure if the compass will survive a electromagnetic burst attack, but your handheld GPS certainly will not.
Originally Posted by Hopyard
I'll give another recommendation for the Etrex, I've had two of them. One I left home when we started traveling and when I got back the following year someone had claimed it as their own(I had some friends staying at my house the first year we were on the road). When we first got out in AZ I was a little concerned with the lack of what I would call traditional navigational markers. In other words there aren't trees;) I'm from a heavily wooded area, used to navigating in those type of environments and very used to extremely cold temps and heavy snow. That said I have a hard time with heat, and I'm not comfortable with desert critters or landscape, it's probably just that I'm not used to it. I feel fairly confident in the woods that it would be a really bad day to not be able to survive and make my way out. Out here it's just plain different and makes me a little uneasy. So when we started hiking and going out in the washes out here I went out to Ebay and picked up another older Etrex for $50 basically a clone of my other one that went missing. Works well, interface is pretty terrible compared to "modern" car type of GPS, it's not nearly as intuitive but it's much much more durable. I really wouldn't use a normal GPS, TOM TOM etc out in the woods like was mentioned above they just aren't built for it. If you could get enough battery out of it, you likely won't get enough durability. A good cheap etrex does the job and you can be pretty dang sure it's going to keep working. Generally when I'm out running around in the woods on the four wheeler, or buggy I tend to bring that little one along with an extra couple sets of batteries. Like you guys said it's not an excuse to not carry a normal compass or map, but generally it's quick and easy to know where you are and which direction you have to go. Especially good when in medium cover, where you can get signal but it's just too dense to get a good bearing direction.