Which is a Better GPS: the Garmin Montana or a Smartphone?

Discussion in 'Mapping & Navigation' started by Emmbeedee, Sep 21, 2017.

  1. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

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    Late to this thread, may have missed it, but the biggest reason I've stopped using my Garmin standalone gps and use my iPhone only is that google's maps are 10 times better than anything else out there. And the routing information used in google maps is far superior to Garmin's. With a smartphone I can use a gps app for following/creating tracks and when routes are needed I use google.

    The last time I was desperate to find an mc shop for mid-trip repairs, Garmin's routing was a joke.

    Coupled with downloadable google maps, the map-space solution on a smartphone is vastly better than what garmin offers.
    #81
  2. CavReconSGT

    CavReconSGT Just the right amount of evil.

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    Again, this depends on what you are doing. I download topo maps that are route-able. Needing to get to a gas station bu interstate is not that same as needing to know if the route on this dirt trail is likely so steep that I can't make it on the bike. And the POI function in the Garmin and the use of it has been very good for me. I have a POI table of items on my trips sometimes into very remote areas and my ability to map them and make a route to them works very well for me. I also cannot think of a time when I had trouble adding a via to get to a gas station that didn't work for me.

    KR
    #82
  3. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

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    I too have a full set of routable garmin topo maps...that have been useless to me as a means of getting turn by turn instructions from point a to point b. More power to you! For me, following tracks--yes; following a turn-by-turn route--no, has been nothing but pain!

    For the last few trips I kept both iPhone and Garmin on the handlebars...and by the 3rd or 4th time realized I'd stopped even bothering to look at the Garmin. Disclaimer: I'm not using a Montana--have one of the cheaper non-touch screen models--so you can ignore everything I just posted. :photog
    #83
  4. CavReconSGT

    CavReconSGT Just the right amount of evil.

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    Just curious. Do you download the route or do you have the GPS make the route? And actually, I am interested in how everyone does this. I keep hearing people make a route and send it to the unit. I never do that. I set way-points in my POI file and upload it or assign them on the Montana maps real time and then have the GPS route to them.

    KR
    #84
  5. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

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    Well, when I first began using the Garmin for trip planning I tried making routes in BaseCamp--easy peasy, this part. You could see precisely where the route was going, tweak, make changes, etc. Then download to the unit, and invariably the route would be recalculated in unknown and unpredictable ways and times. Quickly stopped doing that; my go-to procedure for many years was to create a route in BaseCamp, then convert it to a track which gets downloaded to the Garmin. Foolproof.

    Now, I still make routes in BaseCamp, convert to track, and download to my iPhone for use in the gps app, along with any and all Waypoints of interest. Then, download google maps for the area I will be traveling as a second and useful source of map info.

    I can see the advantage for using waypoints to create the route on the gps only, but my experience with real-time routing using Garmin's routing algorithms was frustrating--I found myself going in circles more than once. It's a science and an art and google has become much much better at it than anyone else in my experience.

    Maybe it's just because I'm used to it this way, but I'd much rather follow a track than a route when I'm riding trails.
    #85
  6. scfrank

    scfrank Old farts riding club.

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    That happens because of placement, not enough waypoints, differences in preference settings, etc. I’ve had the same issues.
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  7. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

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    Without getting bogged down in the techniques of how to use gps/tracks/routes etc., my intent for posting here was that having access to google maps on a smartphone is IMO, a huge advantage for using a smartphone as a GPS over a Garmin unit. The amount of detail, and the up to date accuracy, is kind of amazing, just leaves Garmin's maps in the dust. And I've tried to avoid google maps--ask my son :dirtdog.
    #87
  8. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

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    What maps and aspects of the Garmin maps do you think are inferior to Google maps?

    My limited experience with Google maps is that the streets and roads, especially minor dirt roads, shown in City Navigator are at least as good if not better than Google. But I can believe that the CN POIs are inferior. And of course you don't get any real time traffic updates on a Garmin (at least not any I have owned).
    #88
  9. CavReconSGT

    CavReconSGT Just the right amount of evil.

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    I have a couple of Garmins. Many of them over the years starting with a GPS45. One that I use in the truck is a Nuvi and it has traffic warnings which I typically find not particularly useful. The traffic warnings operates on vlf and doesn't really work in NH. I use Waze which I find to be much more accurate and timely.

    When on the motorcycle I us the Montana and use additional POI's that I put in based upon coordinates that I get from Basecamp or google earth if the routes are complicated. I have little to no use for traffic warnings because typically there are no traffic jams where I drive on my motorcycle trips. I route from the GPS itself using more than one POI I have uploaded if needed to get the route I want using vias. I get others may not have as good an experience but for me it works great. I learned/taught land navigation in the army as a scout/recon Sargent so as with any navigation I plot, whether on foot or motorcycle or truck. The first thing I do is a sanity check to make sure its not heading me 180 degrees away from the direction I should be heading. For me it works very well and have been very happy with it. YMMV

    Short of that, I keep looking at some of the android apps and have used them but I still, so far, keep returning to the Montana for my motorcycle.

    KR
    #89
  10. SRTie4k

    SRTie4k Northeast Explorer

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    Locus is all I use.

    I can have the entire US and Canada vector maps for offline use, full US and Canada offline navigation via either Graphhopper or BRouter (my current preference being Graphhopper), can keep hundreds of tracks and POIs stored and accessible in 2 touches, can visually follow tracks or navigate them, and I get free Locus updates until EOL as well as free map updates for life (so long as they continue to support openstreetmap vector exports). All of that will fit on a $250 phone, which I also use for my podcasts, music, calls while on the bike.

    Then of course there's the minor pluses of using Locus, such as being able to correct maps on openstreetmap and having those changes reflected in the next vector map download, the Locus route planner, the dashboard feature (which displays realtime data like altitude and speed overlays).

    There are not many things a Garmin can do that Locus and a smartphone can't do, while there are TONS of things Locus and a smartphone can do that a Garmin cannot.
    #90
  11. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    the reason routes become a problem is how garmin devices handle routes. it will reroute according to the CURRENT MAP IN USE, and if that varies from the map USED TO CREATE the route, things go weird fast. this isn't a problem for other, non-garmin devices. a route is a track is a route, and you can just ride it with or without recalculation, with or without nogo points, with or without turn by turn prompts.

    basecamp / gpxvisualizer / harley road planner / etc don't effect how you use the GPX they export. you just display it, follow it, or allow it to navigate for you. no biggie.

    again, this is a garmin software (basecamp) vs garmin hardware AND software (the gps) issue. the rest of the world, doesn't care. :-)


    send me a gpx that was problematic for you, (attach it here to the forum post) and i'll show it displayed in locus. super easy. super reliable. no biggie.
    #91
  12. markbvt

    markbvt Long timer

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    Agreed. Google Maps is certainly the go-to for quick reference when searching for nearby gas stations or restaurants and cellular data service is available. But for my purposes Google Maps is utterly useless as a GPS because much of the time, I'm in areas that have no cell coverage at all, let alone decent data service. I need good offline maps (and no, Google's map caching is not good enough).

    For what it's worth, the workaround for this is to create the routes in Basecamp using whatever via points are necessary to shape the route, then set it to direct routing instead of car/motorcycle routing. This releases it from the map, and once uploaded to your Montana, you can edit the route, share it with others, etc, without having to worry about which map is being used. Whatever device it's on will simply recalculate it based on its own map (this is why it's important to shape it with via points).

    --mark
    #92
  13. scfrank

    scfrank Old farts riding club.

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    I’ll do that. Haven’t been on any trips lately.
    #93
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  14. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

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    Not caching. You can download a google mapset that will stay on your phone (within parameters you can set) and then be used just like the "live" google maps when you have no cell or data coverage. It saved our bacon a few months ago when our escape route was blocked by downed trees and washouts. Google's downloaded maps on my son's iPhone was far more useful--easier to read and follow--to find an alternate route out of the maze of dirt trails and roads we were stuck in, then my Garmin topo mapset.
    #94
  15. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    a llllllot of folks don't unfortunately.
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  16. Albie

    Albie Kool Aid poisoner

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    I don't even bother with Google maps. I use Here We Go. Has great POI database. The beauty is it's a free app and the whole US map database is free also. You can DL state by state, or the whole country, then search and navigate offline. You can't DL routes/tracks, but it's my go to for POI searches, and point to point auto routing. Did I mention it's all free? :lol3
    #96
  17. RayAlazzurra

    RayAlazzurra Stuck in the Eighties

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    I looked at Wal Mart's web site today and it seems that the Hydro Air, and Hydro Shore are no longer available? Does anyone have a current recommendation for a cheap, water resistant Android?
    #97
  18. jonz

    jonz Miles are my mantra

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    @Desert Dave thought you might be interested in the above :deal
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  19. 919nick

    919nick Been here awhile

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    #99
  20. RayAlazzurra

    RayAlazzurra Stuck in the Eighties

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    Thanks Nick. The phone in your link appears to be locked to Cricket and I use AT&T. This would be no problem for those who use the phone as GPS only--no SIM, but I need to swap my SIMM and use the phone on AT&T. Ideally I would like to find a local store to do this for my since my current phone, which is sick and I fear near death, has a full sized SIMM. All I need is the ability to make phone calls, and use Osmand. My current phone has no other Apps installed. I wonder if Walmart is switching from the Hydro Shore to another model? Perhaps the Hydro Static?