best handheld gps for a kayaker? - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 03-11-2004   #1
 
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Laramie, Wyoming
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best handheld gps for a kayaker?

Just like the title sez, I'm looking for a decent handheld GPS that won't break the bank. I've been leaning toward a Magellan Sportrak but undecided which model ($$$) I should get. Do I need a topo version or will a more basic version do (ie still do the altitude as well as coordinates). With the topo version it seems like your just paying for more memory and the pre-installed topo maps. So what's the word m-buzzers?

-Brian

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Old 03-12-2004   #2
 
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Hola Bro

In regards to gps units I have some suggestions since navigation is a hobby of mine.

It really depends on what you want to do with the unit. All units have the ability to give you a rough altitude (even the most expensive units fall short in this catagory due to the science behind gps but they will usually read close within 20-200 feet). You are right about the expensive Topo models, when you suspect that all you are paying for is memory, that almost no one can put to good use anyway. The topo software that they all use is really lame in comparison to actual maps not to mention that with such a small screen on the unit it renders any integral topos absolutely useless IMO. Almost all units these days have the cabability to access at least 8 satelites, if not twelve, but you only need 3 to get a reading between 5-30ft and if you can't find your locale within 30 ft you need more help than just a gps.

If you are looking to use the gps for basic functions i.e. coords, altitude, and "point me in the way of here" type stuff a Garmin Extrex at -$100 will suit you just fine and has more waypoint memory than you will realistically ever need (500 points). It is also fairly waterproof. If you require an internal electronic compass (which by the way are also semi flawed in all units) move up one more notch to the Vista @ $150-175. I don' know anything specifically about the Magellan sporttrak but if the price is right for your wallet then it will be just fine.

Important: If you intend to use the unit for nautical navigation (sea kayaking etc)make sure to buy one that is designed for this purpose b/c most are not equipped with the proper software.

Let me put it this way, I do a ton of navigation out in the woods and I use a compass and a good map, no gps is an adequate substitute for these tools, but I carry a super basic gps just for giggles.

My best advice, when you buy one don't be swayed by a bunch of useless bells and whistles.

I hope this helps

Repa
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Old 03-12-2004   #3
 
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Laramie, Wyoming
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Mostly I wanted it as a cool toy, I really don't bushwack to the extent that I need it for that. The marginal justification is to document mileage and gradient of the lesser known creeks that aren't in CRCII and put that info into the AW river guide. However, if there is a 20 to 200 ft variance in elevation readings that pretty much blows the marginal justification out of the water!!! Would a quality cd-rom topo map be a much better purchase for the intended use?

-Brian

PS - Repa, I'll be in your neck of the woods soon...
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Old 03-12-2004   #4
 
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Ok if that is what you want to do with it here you go...

Buy a basic gps and the NAtional Geographic Topo cds for your computer. Take the gps with you on the trip and save waypoints into the unit. When you get home plot the wayoints into your Topo software and voila you've got a kick ass map with all the gradient info that you could possibly need, in fact there is a feature on the NG software that tracks gradient in a cool legible scale. The NG software is also good b/c it uses the actual USGS 7.5' maps that are seemless.

See ya soon

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Old 03-12-2004   #5
 
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I've been using the Garmin RINO 120 (~$250). I really like it. Waterproof, very durable, has all the basic features you describe, plus has a FMRS radio with tracking (your buddy can see you on another unit). The RINO 110 has less memory, go with the RINO 120 for a little more $ to get the extra memory for downloading the TOPO maps.

I bought it as a gizmo, but now refer to it almost every trip in the backcountry. It is helpful for quickly reassuring your visual guesses on whether your direction and ETA is on track. Nothing replaces good map and compass skills.

I use it mostly for reference info like you described above, elevation, milage, time out, avg speed, moving time, idle time, names of geographic features. It's good enough to give you basic feedback on what you can cover in a day, whether on the lake, trail, or river. They don't work very well stashed in your stern though, you have to have it above the waterline. So...yet another item lashed to your PFD. The 120 is slightly bulky compared to other models out there.

I've even been keeping track of how long it REALLY takes to drive to my favorite places. If you're intererested in geo-caches, they are fun too.

Warning: Batteries die OFTEN, and when your really need it! Buy rechargebles and a car charger adapter (~$25-30 ea).
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Old 03-12-2004   #6
 
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Sweet, thanks for the responses!

-Brian
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Old 03-12-2004   #7
 
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brian,

the boc has some cool gps/2way radios. maps already installed. i think they have some used ones.

nick
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Old 03-28-2004   #8
 
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Update - I ended up getting a Magellan Sportrack. It was clearly advertised as waterproof. So I was heading down to do the Lower Taos Box, I thought it would be a good test. I put it in the front pocket of my lifejacket. I checked it at mile one, and it was doing fine. I checked it again about a mile later and the screen was blank and the icon was an hourglass(thinking). So I cursed it and turned it off. The next morning there was water condensation under the screen. I kept it off until the condensation was gone and turned it on. Then the route lines were all messed up, looked like someone was playing tic-tac-toe on the screen. So the magellan is getting sent back for a full refund. My foray into GPS is finished for now...

-Brian
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Old 03-28-2004   #9
 
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I've taken my Garmin Etrex paddling and it works fine. It gets very wet and keeps on ticking.

I've noticed that having my GPS in my pocket greatly reduces it's reception. I wonder if putting it in your life vest hurt reception. I attach the GPS to the middle of my paddle. You can also attach it to the loop of your spray skirt.

The GPS is a gimic, but it's useful knowing how far you are from the takeout. I also enter in the key rapids so I know when to be on my toes and/or get out and scout.
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Old 03-29-2004   #10
 
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Gps units Waterproof ho-ho-ho

Here some experience, re GPS units and "Waterproof". There is a 1 meter for 30 minutes standard for waterproofness, but I have had marine VHF units and GPS units fail when dunked, and finaly had to keep the units in good aquapac cases, http://www.aquapac.net/ which do not affect the use of unit. These cases have a good clamping device-much better than a roll seal, or a slide-on clamp. Most manufacturers expect the units to be used on the decks of boats where dunking is unlikely, as opposed to splashing. Sometimes the unit may be somewhat waterproof, but the battery compartment may leak. If you want to dunk it repeatedly, make sure you can take it back to where you got it for replacement. Also cases made by West Marine will split and leak-no good. It's not so bad if you are on a day WW trip, but on a long sea kayak trip, you dont want the thing to crap out with 500 miles left to travel. Also when they, die you usually lose waypoints that were not downloaded and saved.
Cheers,
Jay
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