The best GPS is the one you already have ?

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by counter shaft, Nov 25, 2019.

  1. counter shaft

    counter shaft Adventurer

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    I've been riding off-road for 10 or so years, trails and enduro, and have been using GPS on the bike for probably the past 5 years. In that time I've come to the conclusion that all the GPSs have a learning curve, they all have their own advantages and limitations, and the GPS you already have is probably the best one for you to use.

    I've used various apps on iphone and android, as well as Garmin car satnavs and handheld GPS.

    The best app I've used is probably 'oruxmaps' on android. It supports offline maps, topo / mapnik / marine etc. Can multi layer maps at various transparencies. It doesn't navigate (routes) well, but can view and follow GPX tracks, and can record your tracks. I has a few handy features that require a mobile/cell signal like SOS (if you stop moving for more than * minutes it sends a pre-programmed text/email to chosen contacts with a link to your location on google maps) and live tracking (your buddies can grant permissions for a set time, 1hr/2hrs etc to your oruxmaps account, and you can view their location live on your map). It's a fairly feature packed app, but it does take time to figure it out.
    I've used oruxmaps on old phones in an X clamp (which is great) but I tend to damage phones, either by water or impact so while it's great for trail riding in a dry location, it's not great for harder / enduro style terrain. Plus, phones in ziplok bags aren't easy to see or use.

    Here's oruxmaps in an old phone, in a ziplok bag, in an x clamp. It works, but it's not ideal:



    For tougher terrain I've been using a garmin etrex 10. Waterproof (tested), impact resistant (very tested) and replaceable AA batteries so easy to recharge (replace batteries) on the trail. I like the black and white screen, it can be very easily hacked to take fenix maps, and it doesn't have a finniky touchscreen.
    I have a few gripes about the etrex, but nothing too bad. When offroad riding at night, the screen backlight turns off too quickly and then you've to press a button to turn it on again, but that first button press does an action . . so if it's the 'back' button you pressed, get the backlight on again, but you lose the map, or if you press the 'action' button it might move the cursor and while you still have the map, it's no longer a moving map etc. I don't mind the lack or storage, fenix maps are small and all my tracks are preloaded so it's not a big deal. One thing to bear in mind is that as long as the etrex is on, it's recording a track, so if you've but maps and tracks onto it, you need to leave space for the 'current track' and delete old tracks as you go.

    Neither GPS gives turn by turn instructions, but most of the maps I use are non-routable so I don't think any GPS would give turn instructions.

    Anyway the point of my post is, is it really worth dropping €100s on a new GPS, when it's going to suffer from a lot of the same limitations. If a GPSMAP64x would give me accurate turn by turn instructions, via a 3.5mm headphone jack, while following made-in-basecamp offroad track GPXs, on non-routable maps then ok, I'd probably buy that. But for now, I'll stick with my entry level devices and not be too stressed if I do finally push them past their limits and break them.

    Here's the etrex being used:
    #1
    bozmotodual16 likes this.
  2. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

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    I disagree. Many years ago I upgraded from a Garmin III+ to a 60cx. The extra features were worth the extra money and some more learning.

    Then about 7 years ago I upgraded from the 60 to a Montana. Again the extra features were worth it to me.

    Especially the virtually unlimited number of tracks, a screen I could see under almost any condition, much larger storage for maps, custom maps, multiple profiles, etc.

    But the Montana pretty much meets all my needs now and I don't intend to upgrade again any time soon.
    #2
  3. webmonstro

    webmonstro A Aventura Continua....

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    I also use oruxmaps.
    and then when on road use anothe app for routing (A to B) navigation (ususaly to find gas or food)
    I'm using a cheap waterproof phone with chargin via a magnetic round usb and a flexmount
    phone 15€(ebay casio comando)
    holder 1€
    power adpator (2-3€)
    magnetic cord (2-3€)
    #3
  4. deserteagle56

    deserteagle56 deserteagle56

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    Same here. My big thing is NOT having to worry about batteries and charging them and having a big screen at full brightness all the time. So having my Montana in the Rugged Mount running off 12 volts with the screen at full brightness suits me just fine. I've not found the touchscreen to be "finicky"; I prefer it because I create a lot of waypoints and tracks as I'm exploring the outback and the touchscreen makes it so much easier and quicker to give them a unique name.

    As far as audible turn-by-turn instructions...if I wanted someone nagging at me I'd get married. I look at my Montana and follow the track I created.
    #4
  5. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    man, you're so close. the sandwich bag and xgrip are huge failure points. the etrex is sooo close to be a usable gps, but the lack of touchscreen and the single button for all operations... is not great.

    update to a rugged smartphone ($50 kyocera pro) with FLEXIBLE SILICON MOUNT ($11 on amazon) instead of the crapy overpriced xgrip (that needs a rubber band to hold phones in place reliably) and enjoy a much better gps experience.

    here is a youtube sample of what kyocera pro/ kyocera xd normally see on my bars:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJhqmpHH_i4


    normally i'll turn the screen off until i need to reference it. it prevents loosing my already limited night vision, and helps with battery life also
    Screen Shot 2019-11-26 at 6.10.37 AM.png
    #5
  6. counter shaft

    counter shaft Adventurer

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    all valid points.. A phone in a suitable mount, running a suitable app, might be better. so might the Montana..

    I suppose it's horses for courses. What works for me doesn't necessarily work for everyone.

    For long liaison segments I'd like to run a GPS, for gnarly single track I like keeping my eyes up, following the enduro arrows. Obviously the arrows are only there during the enduro, and I don't need directions at all on known terrain. But the higher the speed, and the gnarlier the terrain, the more important it is to keep eyes up on the track.

    Still reckon the device you already have, is prob the best device for most guys, but that's based on my own experiences. If you know how to use it, its advantages and limits, you can usually work around any shortcomings.
    #6
  7. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    the problem with "the thing you're already using" is that the trails/conditions/requirements change. trying to follow a slow moving map on the 276cx , waiting for "satellite lock" (what a hilarious dumbing down!) on a 395, or attempting to plot a route around an obstacle on a non touch screen device , all turn into real headaches, real quick. if the compass/map were what a person already had, but they were about to embark on a multi state multi terrain trip... it would suck.
    #7