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Old 06-30-2013   #1
Winter Park, Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 48
What GPS system for rivers?

On one of the Smith River forums, I read about using a GPS. Wondering how a GPS is helpful for floating and fishing rivers. What kind is recommended? Thanks

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Old 06-30-2013   #2
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,408
I used a Garmin GPSmap CSx76 on a recent Smith river trip. Worked great.
I find my Garmin works great on rivers like the San Juan or others that do not have well marked camp sites. On the Smith, every campsite is assigned with a easy to see Sign - well done by the state of MT. My Garmin is several years old and might be found used at a discount.

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Old 06-30-2013   #3
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David Miller's Avatar
Gypsum, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 458
I've had good luck with my Garmin too. The real heart of the system is National Geo TOPO! map software. For some reason the whole line has been discontinued but I still have it loaded on my computer and it still works great. Also compatible with Magellan.
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Old 06-30-2013   #4
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 265
I have a PN-40 and love it. I originally bought it for ensuring trails, but took it on a multiday a couple years ago and loved it. Helps keep you on time and also has the fish tables.
Only thing I don't like is that the software won't allow you to draw a route down the river--you have to do that manually...minor though.
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Old 07-01-2013   #5
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,408
I am not a expert on GPS, so take this for what it is worth.

I under stand GPS measures distance in a straight line from point to point.

That is the reason it is great to have either river mile marker waypoints or river features.

While the GPS will still measure distance in straight lines, the more way points the better the actual distance measurements.

Hope some of you GPS experts will jump in here.

I understand after running a river some GPS units save a track of the actual trip. I do not know how or if this track can be converted to waypoints, maybe someone out there can explain this.
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Old 07-01-2013   #6
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Eastern Slope, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 2,406
I use the cheapest black and white option that has an odometer and calculates speed. It also shows a simple black line for your path. You can find them on eBay for $50. This, in a clear Pelican, on top of my map, which is also in a rigged waterproof case, is everything you need and more in my opinion. I recommend a unit that takes AA batteries too.

You're bringing a guidebook or map anyway.
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Old 07-01-2013   #7
San Francisco, California
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 105
I use Garmin Oregon 450 and it has been invaluable tool for camping, fishing, exploring. The unit is waterproof and built like a tank. You can pick these up from REI once or twice a year for around $250.
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Old 07-01-2013   #8
Carnation, Washington
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 64
gramin 76cs and montana

Owned both, the 76 have used for 5 years very water proof and durable unit. the Montana is has a larger screen only used for this year.

Finding campspots on the river it is great use. Not always easy to identify the camps from guide books. The major runs have many waypoints for camps, rapids and places of intrest. Biggest thing dont get too dependent on the GPS if it was to get lost or breakdown (its really easy to rely on it to much),
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Old 07-01-2013   #9
La Grande, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 77

I have a garmin eTrex. I have the Washington/Oregon map on mini SD and the Idaho/Montana/Wyoming on another. They are Great. It not only shows exactly where you are, it names all creeks, most rapids. With a little work you can pre-program in camp sites, by looking them up in advance on USGS web site, getting coordinates, and adding them in as way points. We have used it on the Middle Fork, Main and Lower Salmon. Only problem I have is it only shows one side of river on Snake, depending on which SD card I have in. Great for hunting also.
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Old 07-01-2013   #10
SLC, Utah
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 111
I use the Garmin 60csx. Most all newer ones though will accept GPX files wich you can download from a variety of river beta sites. I usually load the map for the multi-day area I'll be floating and then upload the gpx file to it and have all my camps, rapids, access points and POI's laid out on top of the topo maps.

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