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  1. #1
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    whats the garmin eTrex good for?

    I was thinking about getting a cheap handheld GPS thing and found the Garmin eTrex.
    It says in the description that it does not have street or terrain maps. I m new to this, but
    wouldn't you want something with maps. I dont know. Does anyone have any experience with this?
    Thanks in advance. PLEASE HELP
    Last edited by bikeperson; 11-20-2007 at 12:22 PM.
    you only get experience after you needed it

  2. #2
    Cars Are Evil
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    Don't need a map to follow your track back home
    Don't need a map to find a geocache
    Don't need a map to record speed, distance, etc
    and lots more

  3. #3
    GeoMan
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    Get the HCx (i.e. Vista HCx) model or you may regret it.
    GeoMan
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    www.geomangear.com

  4. #4
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    Not having a compass in the eTrex can be kind of annoying, since you have to be moving to get a heading. My next will definately have a compass!

  5. #5
    Prez NMBA
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    the etrex does not come with the maps on them, but you can buy the maps from mapsource to download onto the units, so consider that cost when you are priceing things out. only the mapsource maps are donwloadable to the units but you can use the "tracks" from the gps with most any maping program on your computer to see where you've been

  6. #6
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    thanks considering something more expensive. whats a geocache?
    thanks again!
    you only get experience after you needed it

  7. #7
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    You need a map when you've cycled 4 hrs into the jungle , its getting dark and you are trying to bash through to a known road.
    You need a map when you are exploring.
    the Etrex Hxxx series has a compas I believe.
    Mapsource is your bare minimum software purchase, then you can build your own (oziexplorer/mapedit) or download other peoples map onto Mapsource via M3 (freeware)

  8. #8
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    I see what you mean about maps. as anyone ever tried getting gps on your mobile?
    thanks for all the help!
    you only get experience after you needed it

  9. #9
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    Vermont29er is right. Personally, I like the ability to display a map. I use the eTrex Legend, and I think they've just lowered the price again (for the original B&W version.)

    What you can do with any old eTrex-

    Use it as a rather bulky cycle computer (I think the basic model has speed, average speed, distance, etc. Check the Garmin site before you buy.)

    Go back to where you came from- they all have track-back

    Transfer routes and tracks to your computer (basic models only have serial? ports, the newer models all have USB)- computer software required

    Transfer routes to your eTrex and follow the pointer along that route, even if you can't see a map- computer software required

    It will also get you addicted to using a GPS, and you'll start planning on upgrading about 3 days after you get it, no mater which model you buy
    To the troll mobile, away...

  10. #10
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    thanks for the help! Anyone know any good stores to get them from, I've just been looking on Amazon...
    Thanks again!
    you only get experience after you needed it

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeperson
    thanks for the help! Anyone know any good stores to get them from, I've just been looking on Amazon...
    Thanks again!
    I bought mine at gpsdiscount.com and think I got a pretty good price. A lot people swear by Geoman, who's a regular contributor here on MTBR. I'm not sure if only carries the higher end stuff, or the complete line. I think he has a web site. If it's not geoman.com I'm sure somebody else will come up with it.
    To the troll mobile, away...

  12. #12
    GeoMan
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    Quote Originally Posted by California L33
    I bought mine at gpsdiscount.com and think I got a pretty good price. A lot people swear by Geoman, who's a regular contributor here on MTBR. I'm not sure if only carries the higher end stuff, or the complete line. I think he has a web site. If it's not geoman.com I'm sure somebody else will come up with it.
    Thanks for the mention!

    We handle items we know and use, primarily, so we can provide great customer service when folks have questions or issues. That being said, we sell anything Garmin.

    Our website is: www.geomangear.com

    GeoMan
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  13. #13
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    I have an old etrex venture from back in the day.

    The green casing with the black and white lcd screen.

    It comes in handy in a pinch. I paid a lot of money for it because back then GPS was not so well known, but I still use mine and keep it in my pack on trips.

    It's good for way points (I always set my vehicle as a way point on a hike especially in unfamiliar terrain in case I need to get out in a hurry for an emergency if need be without back tracking on a trail.)

    I will be buying a newer GPS soon though because without having maps a GPS is not that useful. I mean I'd be happy to have my old etrex venture if I was out in the middle of nowhere. I am an eagle scout though so most places I travel while hiking I carry a good compass, and a topo map book so I can find my way out if need be.

    I think technology is great, but what if your GPS takes a dump on you in the wild? Do you have a compass, map, etc. to get yourself back if your technology dies? Can most people even use a compass and topo maps anymore?

  14. #14
    Vaginatarian
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    I have an older etrex summit, it does have a compass & altimeter, you cant download maps to it, it does bread crumb trails, very useful for hiking, biking , etc, you can upload trails to maps on the PC & print them. battery life is fair, maybe 6 hrs on 2 AAs. the antenna is old school so accuracy is good, not great. very simple to use I would recommend it if thats all you will be using it for.
    I also have a garmin 60csx
    this is a real gps, does it all, you can download maps,trails, routes, pretty much anything. I also got the car kit which includes a dashboard holder, charger, and cities & streets of N. America (includes Canada & Mexico) for like $100
    while it does work OK in the car, I ended up buying a dedicated car Gps. the problem with the car kit is you need to upload the areas where you will be driving, I found that you can only load so much data into it so there was allot of shuffling in & out different maps and half the time I didn't have the city I needed loaded
    the 60csx is color, battery life is excellent and it has the sirf antenna which is about as good as it gets.
    negatives are price, pretty complicated (lots of features) bigger than etrex (not by much)
    I don't really like to put it on the handle bars because its easily knocked off but it works well in the camel back phone pocket.
    I found that using a gps on a bike is a mixed bag, its great to get in & out of unexplored places, not really good to use while riding (as a map) you need to stop allot to save way points and type in names. Mostly I use it to map out new areas I'm not familiar with, then I upload the trails to a map and print it. But once you've mapped out an area , you're familiar with it and don't need a map. It does do speed & altitude, but the edge is probably better for training.

  15. #15
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    There are TONS of places that sell GPS receivers. You can almost buy them anywhere these days. Be wary of online stores with little to no reputation. I bought my first GPS from a hunt/fish store and my second one came from Garmin directly.

    At any rate, don't buy a GPS that doesn't have a removable memory chip. That's a standard feature on any semi recent model. Without it, you MIGHT be able to load maps, but you'll constantly be loading new maps to cover a new area you plan on visiting. I have topos covering the eastern half of the country loaded onto a 1gig memory chip. I'd be able to fit more, but Garmin limits maps by segments rather than by space available in memory. Maybe one day that limitation will be history.

  16. #16
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    gps on mobile

    Quote Originally Posted by bikeperson
    I see what you mean about maps. as anyone ever tried getting gps on your mobile?
    thanks for all the help!
    2 problems, one small screen and buttons set up for a phone, two only works in cell phone coverage, alot of biking or when you need it is outside of phone coverage.

  17. #17
    GeoMan
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    Quote Originally Posted by socalenduro
    2 problems, one small screen and buttons set up for a phone, two only works in cell phone coverage, alot of biking or when you need it is outside of phone coverage.
    Good points.
    GeoMan
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by socalenduro
    2 problems, one small screen and buttons set up for a phone, two only works in cell phone coverage, alot of biking or when you need it is outside of phone coverage.
    I use my Treo 700wx with a separate standalone bluetooth GPS unit (iBlue 737). I've been looking for a good mobile solution for a while, and recently found the program Tracky at http://trackthisout.com is pretty useful. What it does that I haven't found a good replacement for is that it caches Google maps (satellite/road/hybrid) when I have data service, then when cell service drops, maps load and display from the cache. Thus I scroll down a trail I plan to ride while I have data service, and it is then available later while riding that same area. When the presented maps are supplied from the cache, I can still zoom in/out and the program does its best to interpolate the stored data to the desired zoom level. It also allows the addition of your own maps-- I clean up topo maps from here:
    http://archive.casil.ucdavis.edu/cas...trimmed/38122/
    in Photoshop, then upload and calibrate them to work with Tracky on my phone. Once calibrated, these topo maps show on top of of the live/cached google maps which can be deactivated. As of now I've set this up for several local areas and it's pretty useful. When mtb'ing, I turn off the phone transceiver to save batteries. When leaving Tracky running in this state, each 1800 mAh battery lasts about 5 hours when 'recording' my track as a .gpx file.

    All in all, this is a pretty good solution. I'm comparing my current functionality to others' comments here, and I feel the GPS performance I'm getting is on par with the latest Garmin units, save the limited battery life with my phone. Also, having a touchscreen cellphone makes map browsing/zooming easy while riding.

    The major limitation I currently suffer is probably one of ruggedization. I keep my setup in my pocket, and only remove it when I'd like to check coordinates. After seeing various Garmin models mounted to bars, I'm thinking to get a Vista HCx to play with bar-mounting options myself. I wonder, how much vibration can those units take-- I wouldn't try it on a downhill course, but do riders run these things on their bars while riding more moderate trails, such as along Bolinas ridge? I can imagine one could ride for several years with a Garmin unit on the bars of a road bike, but are those products capable of sustaining MTB abuse (save a direct impact of course) such as vibrating for hours on end on a real trail?

    -b

  19. #19
    Cars Are Evil
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    Quote Originally Posted by ca_rider
    are those products capable of sustaining MTB abuse (save a direct impact of course) such as vibrating for hours on end on a real trail?
    -b
    My old yellow eTrex has been beat on pretty good, the screen is scratched up after all the years, but it still works like new. Lots of time on the bars of my MTBs. It's been dropped, bounced, dragged, dunked, muddied, used at such cold temps the screen was slow. They are very rugged.

    My GF got me a Garmin Rino 530HCX for Christmas. It locks onto the satellites a lot better than the eTrex. The eTrex liked to be in the top pocket of my pack for best reception, the 530HCX doesn't really care. It even gets reception indoors.

  20. #20
    GeoMan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vermont29er
    My old yellow eTrex has been beat on pretty good, the screen is scratched up after all the years, but it still works like new. Lots of time on the bars of my MTBs. It's been dropped, bounced, dragged, dunked, muddied, used at such cold temps the screen was slow. They are very rugged.

    My GF got me a Garmin Rino 530HCX for Christmas. It locks onto the satellites a lot better than the eTrex. The eTrex liked to be in the top pocket of my pack for best reception, the 530HCX doesn't really care. It even gets reception indoors.
    Therein lies the difference in the new chipsets...

    Good feedback, thanks!
    GeoMan
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vermont29er
    My old yellow eTrex has been beat on pretty good, the screen is scratched up after all the years, but it still works like new. Lots of time on the bars of my MTBs. It's been dropped, bounced, dragged, dunked, muddied, used at such cold temps the screen was slow. They are very rugged.

    My GF got me a Garmin Rino 530HCX for Christmas. It locks onto the satellites a lot better than the eTrex. The eTrex liked to be in the top pocket of my pack for best reception, the 530HCX doesn't really care. It even gets reception indoors.
    Great, I'll stick one on my bars and see how long it lasts... The Rino looks good for surf/snow also, thx for pointing it out before I picked up a Vista HCx

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