Which GPS for doing the TAT and beyond?

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by Skippii, Jun 12, 2014.

  1. Skippii

    Skippii Milkshakes, my lad.

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    I've read through so many of these threads and still feel no closer to an answer so I figured I'd just ask.
    In a couple weeks I will be heading out, riding the TAT with lots of detours. The detours will take me on both main highways as well as a bunch of singletrack routes and tracks I've been downloading. I will have my notebook computer with Google Earth, Mapsource, and Basecamp on it, and I want to be able to easily load this routes and tracks on to my GPS and ride with little to no drama. After reading a ride report where a guy was using his phone and submerged it during one of his first water crossings, I've decided I don't want to use my phone (I also can't read my phone's display in bright sunlight), and I want my GPS to be waterproof as I will probably be riding regardless of thunderstorms or rain.
    I don't care about bluetooth or being able to hear the directions as long as I can see the screen easily in bright sun and dusty conditions.
    I don't want to spend a lot of money, but it seems I'm probably going to have to.
    I currently have a pair of Garmin Nuvis (one for my bike, one for my car) and it seems that the USB-mini jack becomes extremely fickle after riding bumpy offroad sections. I opened up one of them and hardwired my own power supply directly to the battery, but I'd prefer not to have to do that again.
    I also ride up to 16 hours a day, so I do not want to be changing batteries.

    Please suggest what model I should get - and also why you suggest that.

    Many thanks.
    #1
  2. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

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    I use a Garmin Montana 600 for this type of riding. It gets the job done for me. I didn't want to pay for the camera of the 650.

    I really like the nearly unlimited storage available for tracks and the good visibility in nearly all lighting conditions.

    I have my ups and downs about the touch screen. You can do a lot of stuff intuitively. But it is hard to get exactly on the zoom in/out button areas without creating a waypoint. And you can cause some real havoc trying to wipe the dust off.

    You will probably need a new copy of City Navigator mapset. Others use free Open Source Maps, but I don't know much about them.

    I think wiring the GPS directly to the battery (ie unswitched) is the way to go for power.

    I guess the lower budget way to go is the 78, but I don't have any personal experience with this model.
    #2
  3. BigDogAdventures

    BigDogAdventures Fart Letter Supporter

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    Buying a gps for the TAT is no different than any other ride--you need the same requirements for any long distance offroad ride.

    There is nothing different about the TAT.

    BigDog
    #3
  4. Skippii

    Skippii Milkshakes, my lad.

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    I know, but I wanted to be as specific as possible about my use.

    The Montana is really at the upper end of my budget, and although I am considering it, I was hoping to find something a little less.

    I really like the idea of the StreetPilot 2720. Since I have the laptop with me, loading tracks into the Active Log each day doesn't sound like too much of a hassle, but it's hard to say without having done it. Anyone have opinions on using a 2720 in this manner?
    #4
  5. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    I used a Garmin 2610 when I rode much of the TAT (including my own detours) a few years ago - I loved that GPS, unbreakable and very easy/intuitive to use - I presume the 2720 is similar.

    I was able to preload all the individual 'day' routes into the memory and just select them as required (using City Navigator maps - there is a surprising amount of dirt road information in there if you zoom in and use the maximum level of detail - best of all, in City Navigator mode, you can route along them too of course!)

    The only downside was it doesn't have a battery (hardwire only), so you were limited to using it either in the cradle on the bike, or with an 110v adapter in a hotel room.

    If you can get one cheap, I'd recommend it...

    Otherwise, I've subsequently used a Montana, and while it is 'better' in many ways (not least it's own battery, plus the ability to use AA cells if your battery dies), personally I don't find the menu - especially the search and rerouting - software so straightforward or intuitive to use as the older generation devices... the only thing you might find is that the 2600/2700 series won't run the latest version of the Garmin maps properly?

    Jx
    #5
  6. Skippii

    Skippii Milkshakes, my lad.

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    I'm definitely leaning towards the Streetpilot, but the lack of battery and no support for tracks discourages me.

    Would the Oregon or Dakota work for my purposes? I realize the lack of a power cable is annoying, but I'm pretty sure I could deal with that if they worked well reading tracks. As long as I don't have to buy additional maps or anything with them... I'm not seeing a whole lot of info on them.
    #6
  7. Countdown

    Countdown Long timer

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    I promote Dual Sport rides in District 37 which has about 1,000 riders a year. 80% of these riders use a hand held 60, 76, or 78. Montana is getting mpre popular but still way less than 10%.
    #7
  8. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

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    I think having a unit that supports tracks is a mandatory requirement. IMHO if you try to do the TAT with routes, you are in for some really bad days.
    #8
  9. Skippii

    Skippii Milkshakes, my lad.

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    Why is that? Just because it calculates it differently, or because it makes you navigate it instead of just look at it, or something else?

    I think I understand correctly that the 2720 support one track at a time as the active log. Since I'll have my computer with me uploading each day's track doesn't sound difficult, but I won't really know until I try.

    I'm placing bids on montanas on ebay but they go over my budget.
    #9
  10. Skippii

    Skippii Milkshakes, my lad.

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    That's interesting. I will look at those again. I was initially turned off by the tiny screens and something else that I can't remember now.
    #10
  11. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

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    I have found the biggest problem with routes is that the unit DOES try to calculate it. And when it does it wrong, you can be pretty screwed.

    I suspect that some of the really primitive roads on TAT in the west are not on any routable map.

    I have never found screen size to be much of an issue. You can usually zoom in and out to see what you want.

    A big problem with some of the older units, eg the 60, was that it was nearly impossible to see the screen if the sun was in front of you.

    With a track you are in charge. The GPS just shows it and it is up to you to navigate it.

    But this is just my and several other peoples' opinion and preference. There are some guys who seem to be able to navigate obscure back roads using routing.
    #11
  12. PineyMountainRacing

    PineyMountainRacing Oops....

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    I have the 60cx which I bought used off of FleaBay, I like everything about it but the screen is small. if my eyes were younger it probably wouldn't be a big deal. The main thing that frustrates me is if I try to scroll around on the map to see what's up ahead, and I try to go too far at a time, the screen goes blank and it seems like it takes forever to redraw. Maybe it's just my unit, and not a problem with all of them. Otherwise, the size and ruggedness of it rock.
    #12
  13. Countdown

    Countdown Long timer

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    Yes hand helds are almost useless for zooming out and looking around but by far the best for just plain following the tracks (which Sam gives you).

    If I were doing the TAT, I would have a handheld (78 to hold all high resolution tracks) and a backup Nuvi in back pack just for looking up services, etc in areas (states) which I hae never been.
    #13
  14. 250senuf

    250senuf Long timer

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    #14
  15. ShoelessJoe

    ShoelessJoe DefromisSedSupendium

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    My vote is for the garmin 78s.

    -sturdy
    -waterproof
    -has the old 4 pin power connection, which the 62 doesn't.
    -buttons instead of a touch screen
    -usually you can find them for under $200

    Sold a 60 to get one and I'm much happier. The biggest problem is that the screen is pretty small. I just can't justify spending $500-$700 on a gps. When the 78 dies, I'll probably go with some kind of android device.
    #15
  16. Skippii

    Skippii Milkshakes, my lad.

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    Thanks for the advice.

    I keep reading about "Unlock" codes for the streetpilots. What do they unlock? Is it just for Garmin's maps - and if so, can you just use OSM maps if you get a used one without the code? Or do you need the code to upload routes and change the activelog track?
    #16
  17. ChrisP11

    ChrisP11 Adventurer

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    I recently bought the 62s, and have been trying to figure out the best way to navigate with in, in preparation for a large multi-day trip.

    I understand the comments about routes vs tracks, but here is what I run into, maybe somebody can help? Once a set up a track, I am never prompted to make a turn. I am constantly having to touch a button to make the GPS come "on" so I can see if I'm still on my track. With the number of turns on the TAT, I can imagine this could get very aggravating, and cause some serious backtracking due to missed turns.

    Any thoughts or suggestions?
    #17
  18. 250senuf

    250senuf Long timer

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    There are no prompts when following a track. Change the setting for "battery saver" so the screen doesn't go blank. Carry some spare batteries. Keep the backlight to a minimum.
    A good set NiMH rechargeables will usually last a couple of days in my 78s (a 62s in a different container)
    #18
  19. Countdown

    Countdown Long timer

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    If you are doing something as involved and expensive as TAT I would buy a 78and hard wire it to bike as primary GPS. Then take the fully loaded (POS) 62 and a box of batteries as back up in case 78 fails or you damage it. I would never start such a trip with one GPS. If you didn't already have the 62 an e-trex would be fine.
    #19
  20. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

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    Having two GPS units for a trip as long as the TAT is good advice.

    You also might try navigating with routes if you want prompts.

    But be sure to have the tracks as a backup if (and in my case when) routing falls apart.
    #20