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Discussion Starter #1
We've had a Garmin 60CSx for about 3 years. It's so non-intuitive to use that I set down and ignore it for months. Actually for a year or more. Very frustrated with damn thing. Are any of the other GPSs any better?
 

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I have the Garmin Oregon 550T, been using it for 4 years now. It is touch screen which is nice, not nearly as sensitive as a smartphone. The functionality is pretty easy once you get a feel for it. It does suck down the batteries if you leave the maps up. I carry it typically on my pfd. It has been in and out of the water many times with no issues and survived the grand canyon.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the info. We have the extra maps for out West for the current Garmin. It would nice to not have to buy new ones.
 

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I always recommended the Garmin etrex line to people as the most bang for your buck handheld GPS (they are now alot more expensive with the new model names!). I think it is simple and intuitive.

I have never used the one you mentioned, so i don't know how they compare functionally/ergonomically...but my profession and hobbies has me using numerous GPSs of various models/brands and I've always kept an etrex legend (model names diff now) as my personal one....even though I have several $5k-$10k ones I could use.
 

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Does the GPS still work when you are out of cell range? Can you preload the maps? I would love to use my iPhone as my GPS, but when I get to remote locations the GPS is spotty at best.
My smartphone works fine out of cell range. I download maps before leaving cell/wifi range and they work fine. I think dedicated gps units are a thing of the past.
 

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My smartphone works fine out of cell range. I download maps before leaving cell/wifi range and they work fine. I think dedicated gps units are a thing of the past.
Really, wow?! I never even thought to check this, as the battery drains so darn fast when out of phone range I just put it in airplane. Even then the battery drains in a week so you'd need an external battery pack to charge it.

I have a 60CSX too and hate it. But it is bomber and I keep it 'biner'd to my boat so it is handy at all times. I wouldn't do that with my phone. Every time I need to add a new river it is a major hassle but I just relearn and figure it out. gpsdepot.com helps a lot and has tons of maps.
 

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I never thought this would work- till my brother marked all our dive sites on a Bahamas liveaboard trip. We were a long way from the nearest cell tower.....worked just fine.

Sent from my SM-N900V using Mountain Buzz mobile app
 

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The term "GPS" has, to the laymen, degenerated to the lowest level functioning of a navigation system, which is likely fine for many (if not most) people, especially those staying close to home or within cell range.

But at the moment a smartphone does not provide the same functionality, although many don't use their GPS to the fullest extent.

The most obvious reasons I don't use my phone as a GPS is the battery life, map caching, risk of damage/loss by frequently getting out in adverse conditions and the fact that any incoming message/call (or even the idea of getting a message/call) completely ruins my feeling of solitude. I prefer to just turn it off and forget about it. Seriously, hearing a phone ring on the river sends a chill through me (even on silent just getting one sucks).

There are a hundred more reasons a GPS is a better option that I won't get into as many are technical and really benefit me as a "power user" (i hated typing that btw). Admittedly those reasons looked alot better when I could still buy an etrex legend for $100.

Hope I don't end up losing this one I have...
 

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1) Download Backcountry Navigator Pro app (~$11)
2) Check Accuterra maps(10 day free trial, ~$20). Free maps/imagery is also available
3) Buy a waterproof smartphone case (~$12 Amazon)

Download whatever maps you need before your trip. Use airplane mode to conserve battery life.

Always bring map/compass and know how to use it if you really have to “navigate”.
 

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An android phone with "autonomous gps" does in fact use GPS in airplane mode. Beware for smartphones that only have "assisted GPS". Assisted GPS relies on cell phone towers for some GPS information normally retrieved directly from the GPS satellites and will only work when in communication with a cell phone tower. You can in fact download almost any map layers you want for free in advance of heading into the backcountry. I use backcountry navigator app for this, there are other options such as gaia gps and accuterra. There are waterproof cases for nearly any phone, I prefer the drybag type, you can use the touchscreen thru the bag with no problems. GPS does use a lot of battery power, fortunately there are many android smartphones with user replaceable batteries. The batteries cost $5-$15 each, I recommend an external charger to charge the batteries outside the phone. I have 7 batteries for my phone (they were $8 each) and use my phone as GPS/music player/ereader etc on every backcountry trip I take.

Iphone is useless for backcountry GPS navigation since the battery is not user replaceable and expensive, and it does not have autonomous gps.

If you're worried about losing your expensive phone get an older cheaper used android phone to use as dedicated GPS. You can download apps/maps/etc using a wifi connection. Also any US phone can call 911 without a service contract so its a good safety device.
 

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There is no need to pay for GPS maps. You can download very good free topos maps here. GPSFileDepot - Free Custom Garmin Maps, Ximage hosting, tutorials, articles and more for your GPSr They list maps by States to make it easy to find maps that cover your area. I get the NW Topos which covers my area. They update it a couple times a year and found it to be very accurate. I think its a nicer product than the maps my buddy spent waaaay to much on from Garmin.

I also have the 60csx and it can be a pain. The learning curve is more of a constant uphill. I was going to upgrade to an Oregon touch screen but figured by the time I got my slimy wet sunscreen fingers all over it, I wouldn't be able to see the screen anymore so I stick with my oldschool buttons.
 

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Osseous, I just read that Iphone cannot use GPS when in airplane mode. If in fact it has autonomous GPS it is somewhat irrelevant if you can't use it in airplane mode (ie with cell radio off). Not sure why they would do this as assisted-gps gets a satellite fix much faster than autonomous gps.
 

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An android phone with "autonomous gps" does in fact use GPS in airplane mode. Beware for smartphones that only have "assisted GPS". Assisted GPS relies on cell phone towers for some GPS information normally retrieved directly from the GPS satellites and will only work when in communication with a cell phone tower. You can in fact download almost any map layers you want for free in advance of heading into the backcountry. I use backcountry navigator app for this, there are other options such as gaia gps and accuterra. There are waterproof cases for nearly any phone, I prefer the drybag type, you can use the touchscreen thru the bag with no problems. GPS does use a lot of battery power, fortunately there are many android smartphones with user replaceable batteries. The batteries cost $5-$15 each, I recommend an external charger to charge the batteries outside the phone. I have 7 batteries for my phone (they were $8 each) and use my phone as GPS/music player/ereader etc on every backcountry trip I take.

Iphone is useless for backcountry GPS navigation since the battery is not user replaceable and expensive, and it does not have autonomous gps.

If you're worried about losing your expensive phone get an older cheaper used android phone to use as dedicated GPS. You can download apps/maps/etc using a wifi connection. Also any US phone can call 911 without a service contract so its a good safety device.
Well I'll be darned. Since my phone is my business life, ai won't risk it on the river. Looks like I'll be looking into ansecond phone as gps only. can it be used without a contract?

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Yes you can use any android smartphone without a contract. You would just keep in airplane mode and use wifi to download maps/apps/etc and use GPS in the backcountry, its just like a small tablet. I do this with an older android phone.
 

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Osseous, I just read that Iphone cannot use GPS when in airplane mode. If in fact it has autonomous GPS it is somewhat irrelevant if you can't use it in airplane mode (ie with cell radio off). Not sure why they would do this as assisted-gps gets a satellite fix much faster than autonomous gps.
Iphone cannot use GPS in airplone mode. However, it CAN use GPS well outside of cell coverage, but it has to be in normal searching for service mode, which uses a lot of battery. It would be awesome if they could change this feature in a new model or software update.

But, the iphone GPS accuracy even out in the wilderness is pretty darn accurate. Its just that it must be in normal mode to find and sync with the GPS satellites.

This site has a lot of good info:
How to use the iPhone 4 as a GPS mapping device for backpacking
 
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