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Since me and my buddies do some exploring, It was decided to look into handheld GPS units. I understand weatherproof is a must and that it has to be able to "plot". Meaning lock on a specific location(like camp) then semi- guide us back in all weather. There is a lot of add. software that is available. Please give any input and suggestions. Your opinion really matters for this. Looks like $250-400 + the add. software if needed. If you know of a good retailer please post. Don't need the "best" but rather the most usable on a normal basis.
I appreciate all feedback.

Eric
:idea:
 

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Handheld GPS

Eric,
I have been using GPS frequently for about two years.

There are two basic types. Those that can display your position on a moving map and those that display your position only as dots on an empty screen. Belive it or not the low cost units with only dots are actually useful. However, those with a map are the ultimate. Of course, such mapping GPS units cost much more.

A basic "dot" type GPS costs about $130. A mapping GPS, plus map software, plus Flash memory card (for storing the map software within the GPS) adds up to about $450 to $500.

I've been on several trips with a group of guys, all of whom brought GPS units. I quickly observed great differences. The Magellan Platinum that I have is dramatically more sensitive than many other units. I can use this in a car or truck by just setting it on the seat. However, my freind's Garmin units rarely worked in a vehicle. They had to be placed against the window to recieve signals. Also, the Magellan optional Map software is much more detailed when you get out in the middle of nowhere. I frequently find that obscure fire roads and such are on the optional maps that I download into my Magellan Platinum. I highly recommend the Magellan Platinum unit for general use. It is large, but it is extremely sensitive. Sensitivity really matters when riding in a vehicle or under a dense forest canopy. However, this unit is too large for convenient use on a motorcycle. I do use it on my bicycle. But motorcycles have very little open room on the handlebars compared to a bicycle.

For motorcycle use I have a Garmin Foretrex. This unit is small enough to wear on your wrist! However, it will not report speed correctly while running. It gets confused by the back and forth motion of your hands while you run. For running Garmin makes another unit that looks the same, but has different software that apparently corrects for your hand motion. I don't recall the name of the unit for runners (something like Forerunners?). In any case the Garmin Foretrex has worked very well on my dirt bikes and street bikes. But like I mentioned above, this Garmin unit has inferior sensitivity to my Magellan Platinum. For example my Platinum can always receive signals as I walk around in my house. However, my Garmin Foretrex rarely, if ever can lock onto the satelite signals while in my house. However, the Foretrex is small and has worked well while outside, mounted on my bike's handlebars. This past weekend I rode a Hare Scramble with the Foretrex on the handle bars. Crashed three or four times. No problem. Now I have a readout of my max speed, average speed, distance, and a pattern of dots that represent my track as I rode the Hare Scramble course.

I did a lot of searching before I settled onto these two units. Each has it's strong points. I recommend each one, depending on your needs.

If you get a mapping GPS and map software, and begin to use it in your car, you will start to wonder how you ever got along without one. GPS is an incredible aid when you are in a hurry and must quickly cover a lot of distance while traveling through an unfamiliar area. You can quickly see where you are, where you have to go, and the straightest path to get there. I use mine often when blasting off to dirt bike riding events in unfamiliar areas. Before I leave home I place a marker or "waypoint" on my destination. Then I can see a constantly updated straight line between my present location and my destination. The remaining distance and ETA at my current speed are also displayed. Its great living in the 2000's!!!

Good luck-
Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Mark. Yeah, I am looking for probably the more expensive/larger models you mentioned. Reason being is, we park our trailers @ location A, then ride 3 hrs in mountainous terrain coming across open areas. All the while being miles from the point A location of trailers. Weather proof is a must as we sometimes get caught in rain. We do probably 20 miles of trail riding away from where we parked vehicles. When low on gas, it gets nerve racking...... Come to a W intersection U were on 2 hrs ago... which way back to cars/fuel. Not to mention, we ride out in the middle of nowhere and God forbid a medivac is needed. Thanks for the different brands. I will check them all out. 8)

Eric
 

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I use my Dell Axim X5 PDA, 256MB SD Card, and a Pharos Compact Flash GPS with Ostia Map software tucked inside my tank bag's map holder (which is only accessible from the inside of the tank bag). It's water resistent, but not water proof during a downpour. Luckily, I check out the weather radar before I go on trips. :lol:
 
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