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  1. #1
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    Do I need to buy Garmin GPS map? (newbee question)

    On a family vacation last weekend, I went riding alone and got lost for three hours in Sierra mountain. My wife was very frustrated because I messed up the group hiking schedule and baby sitting duty.

    I am getting a basic model GPS now (Garmin Legend CX) mainly for safty and a peace of mind. But I heard that the topo map will cost another $100, isn't there any free map I can down load with quality as good as the retail version? I only need California map at this point, or do I really need to budget in the $100 map cost?

    I came across some websites that have many free map posted, but other source states those maps would not comply with Garmin Etrex units, can anyone out there educates me on this? thanks!

  2. #2
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    If you learn how to use the GPS it can save you from being lost even without maps. Maps are nice for sure but not required. I have a mapping GPS but the maps for my location were more like having none. So I learned how to mark waypoints and save tracks for backtracking and navigating. Takes practice but if you do that (practice lots) before you get lost it will pay big dividends when you do get lost providing you have your GPS and extra fresh batteries with you. P.S. a good mapping GPS with the best of maps is not worth diddly (technical term) if your batteries are dead so carry spares. I wouldn't bike without my GPS and spare batteries where I am.

  3. #3
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    Big Bull,

    No you don't need a map. If you are using your GPS just to make sure you can get back to base camp all you need to think about is marking waypoints and using the standard features of the GPS to get you to and from them.

    That said, check out REI. They have a bundle with the Garmin Legend and the topo maps right now.

    I have the Vista HCx and I love it. I use it for geocaching and I also purchased City Nav so I have driving directions. You can't go wrong with either the Vista or the Legend !
    It's only weird because it's not normal.

    PROJECT | ONE

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBull
    On a family vacation last weekend, I went riding alone and got lost for three hours in Sierra mountain. My wife was very frustrated because I messed up the group hiking schedule and baby sitting duty.

    I am getting a basic model GPS now (Garmin Legend CX) mainly for safty and a peace of mind. But I heard that the topo map will cost another $100, isn't there any free map I can down load with quality as good as the retail version? I only need California map at this point, or do I really need to budget in the $100 map cost?

    I came across some websites that have many free map posted, but other source states those maps would not comply with Garmin Etrex units, can anyone out there educates me on this? thanks!
    First, once you start using the GPS, you'll very much wish you had spent the little extra to get something far superior like the eTrex Vista HCx, sold on Amazon.com for $229. The 'H' means high sensitivity, so you'll get much better reception without drop outs in canyons and deep foilage. The Vista versus Legend also has a magnetic compass (useful for direction when standing still) and a barometric altimeter. The barometric altimeter will help you accurately determine climb data for your rides. Also, in CA with steep hills, a good altimeter is as good at locating your postion on a map as a compass. The Vista HCx is a compact full featured unit, as good a the top of the line Garmins, with expandable memory (the 'x' suffix) via SD cards. This extra memory can be used for maps, waypoints, tracks, etc..

    A mapping GPS can help in navigation, but so can any GPS used right by making routes and waypoints, as long as they have a map screen such as the Edge 305. The way I use a GPS to not get lost is by first starting at home and making waypoints at trail intersections, and then connecting those dozen or so waypoints via a Route. On the trail, I just roughly follow the Route line from waypoint to waypoint. Others, in less charted areas can follow along someone's previous detailed trail Track, which was recorded during their ride, after you download it to your GPS. In theory, you can just follow your position along the straight route lines of a Route, or guide along a Track that follows the trail, and you don't need a map on the GPS. But you'll find a topo map as a reference makes the trail much more understandable. And in emergency situations, you can see if a trail diversion will take you through a lake or over a mountain. For maps, you'll need a mapping GPS and a map to download.


    Garmin's topo maps for the entire USA are $80 at most stores, but there's ways to get them free. Garmin's format is proprietary, but you can do some work and make your own custom map for the eTrex GPS that may even be better than Garmin's maps. (See this and this link.) The disadvantage is that also having the topo maps with Garmin's MapSource software on your PC is very useful in planning and reviewing rides, to make new Waypoints and Routes, or edit and combine other's Tracks from their trail rides. Incidentally, the older Garmin Topo has pretty much the same detail as the new 2008 version, but isn't limited by a key to just one GPS or PC. You may be able to get a copy from someone.

    A paper map is a good backup, but not every place has signs telling you what trail is which. Indeed a GPS is a useful tool, especially when riding in new areas.
    It's not slow, it's doing more MTB time.

  5. #5
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    I just bought city nav, and for most use, I would say if you're going to buy one map, city nav is the best. Topo is most useful in the backcountry, but less so in urban/suburban parks.

  6. #6
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    great info guys, thanks for the reply. I will sure check it out!
    Have a good weekend

  7. #7
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    Go to this link for gps trail data and information about using the gps for biking

    http://www.gpstrailhead.com/

  8. #8
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    I found this Free California 24k topo map, sounds like a better solution than the Garmin 10k topo map? Are those home brew maps function as well as (or better than) the Mapsource toto map? thanks for the feedback.

    www.vr6.com/gps/map-dl.htm

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