General Question

Rarebear's avatar

Any fluthery advice on handheld GPS devices for hiking, biking and geocaching?

Asked by Rarebear (25144points) May 6th, 2010

Function and battery life is more important to me than price. For example, I’d rather pay a little more for something that works a lot better.

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16 Answers

Kayak8's avatar

I love my Garmin 60CSx! I use it for search and rescue and geocaching. You can read about it here but I bought mine on Amazon for about 150 less than this site indicates.

Also recommend GSAK (geocaching swiss army knife) software I paid the $20 and use it on my computer to manage all my geocaching experiences. It works along with the Garmin and with Geocaching.com. It puts icons on your GPS that look like they do on Geocaching.com (treasure chests, etc) and it is really easy to mark finds and make notes and then come home and update everything in GSAK.

Rarebear's avatar

@Kayak8 Thanks for the advice, especially the software advice.

Kayak8's avatar

@rarebear I am an avid geocacher and love going on vacations and telling Geocaching.com the route I am taking and then downloading every geocache within 50 feet of my route. This way I can drive as needed and stop and poke around as I desire. I found all sorts of caches in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana this way—it was a hoot.

Where do you cache?

Rarebear's avatar

@Kayak8 I don’t, yet. I’m doing mostly to motivate my daughter into getting more interested in hiking and biking. She doesn’t like hiking for hiking’s sake, but if there’s a little treasure or something then she would be more interested.

Kayak8's avatar

If you want to use the GPS for driving, you will need to download various maps you can purchase from Garmin etc., but it is great for topo maps such as you might use for hiking and geocaching.

Kayak8's avatar

@Rarebear How old is your daughter?

Kayak8's avatar

@rarebear The one thing I really like about this GPS is the fact that it will beep when you are close to the cache and give directional arrows for how you need to proceed.

Rarebear's avatar

@Kayak8 I have a GPS for driving. I wanted one, though, for hiking with topo maps, and maybe to take backpacking. How long is the battery life? She’s 9.

Kayak8's avatar

The reason I asked her age is that some caches are specifically designed for kids and are easier hides with contents that kids will enjoy. As an adult, I really enjoy the caches that contain geocoins or travel bugs (all explained on geocaching.com).

As for battery life, that is one of the reasons I picked this GPS. When it is plugged in to the computer it doesn’t use the battery and this is also true if you have a car charger. So I use regular batteries and when I am in the car or at the computer it doesn’t use up any of the battery life. I can geocache fairly consistently for about a week (that is 5 or 6 forays of about 2–3 hours each) on one set of batteries.

The other benefit of this GPS unit is that you can get a memory card of any size you desire and keep records of available caches (I typically download about 500 caches at a time to my unit but I have a larger memory card with all my topo maps for search and rescue).

Rarebear's avatar

@Kayak8 Thanks again. I have a Garmin for my car and I like it fine. I’ll go to REI to see what they have over there and try them out. They may not have that exact model, but I’ll at least get a feel for them. Then I’ll buy online to save money.

The reason geocaching appeals to me for my daughter is that she never saw a point to hiking or biking—it was just a forced march as far as she was concerned. But like I said if there’s a neat thing to look for, she’ll forget about the fact that she’s bored.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I have the Garmin GPS map 60CSx too – and love it.
Battery life is virtually infinite. Why infinite? Because I never put new batteries in it. The unit works down to such a low voltage (1.1 volt) I can run it on used AA alkaline batteries rejected by my digital camera, head sets , TV remote etc. It will run 6 hours continuous on supposedly dead batteries that will not operate my Canon.. I always carry an extra pair of “dead” batteries in my bag when I go Geocaching. It is a great unit.
(I also feel like I am sort of recycling by using the batteries until they are truly empty.- saves money, too)

rooeytoo's avatar

I have a Garmin Geko 201. The battery life is terrible, the specs say 12 hours but in mine I am lucky if I get 4 hours.

It is a pretty basic model, I do a lot of bush running and I was always afraid I would get lost and never find my way out. The Geko solves that problem easily. It does not show streets but I have used it in strange cities and I simply retrace my footsteps to find my way home.I am going to look at the models you all have named, maybe it is time to upgrade. GQ

andrew's avatar

I have a Garmin Trex (is that right?), and I was really disappointed with it. I’ve geocached with my car garmin, but the most success I’ve had has been using the Geocaching app for my iPhone—even with its crappy GPS.

Kayak8's avatar

@andrew Probably eTrex I had one of those and it gobbled up the batteries. This was the first GPS I was using on searches and carrying boxes of extra batteries in my pack was not helpful (what with the dog’s water, my water, first aid kit, etc).

EmpressPixie's avatar

I have almost nothing to add to what @andrew said. I have the Garmin eTrex and it’s not great—but it really did add to the adventure of it all in a way that using the iPhone doesn’t. The Geocaching app for the iPhone is fantastic, but it literally walks me directly to the cache—there is very little of the search and discover that I used to enjoy. On the upside, it makes determining where, exactly, the cache will be easier for city-caching so I can spend more time figuring out how, exactly, to remove a cache in a crowd of a million people and not have anyone notice.

Rarebear's avatar

@Everybody. Thank! This is a good place to start.

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