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Unread 04-28-2011, 11:28 AM   #1
duncan-d
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Looking For the Best GPS Road/Offroad

I am looking for one GPS to do the job off road and on road. Which one would be the best for this dual task? I cannot seem to find one that jumps out at me.

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Unread 04-28-2011, 11:43 AM   #2
J33Ptj
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I have switched over to my Droid Inspire for all navigation use. For off-road, I am using an app called Backcountry Navigator (~$10) which allows me to import gpx files very easily and also download maps (both satellite and topo) to use when I don't have any sort of data connection. Cheap and very reliable solution if you have a smart phone and an Otter Box to prevent any sort of dust from getting in the phone.
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Unread 04-28-2011, 11:45 AM   #3
Unlimited04
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i use a Garmin 76Csx...i like it
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Unread 04-28-2011, 11:46 AM   #4
IslandTJ
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The old standby that our search and rescue volunteers use here in the Pacific Northwest is the Garmin 60csx. I own one and it's a pretty good unit, although it does take getting used to for on road navigation (if you're used to the common style of street GPS units). Note: for adequate on road navigation, you'll need to purchase and install Garmin's Mapsource City Navigator map software.
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1998 TJ Moss [COLOR=darkgreen][B][SIZE=3]Green[/SIZE][/B][/COLOR] Sahara w/ numerous scratches & dents whose playground is on a tropical island that's 33 miles long and 4-12 miles wide, in year-round 82 degree weather.

[Edit] "Now jeepin in Oregon" [/Edit]
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Unread 04-28-2011, 12:01 PM   #5
Noxian
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I use a iPhone with a mix of tom tom, google maps, and motion x GPS.
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Unread 04-28-2011, 01:51 PM   #6
thriller954
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I've got a Garmin Zumo 660 and like it a lot. It's dirt and water proof plus vibration resistant (it's designed for dual purpose motorcycles). I loaded mine up with the city and topo maps. Works great.
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Unread 04-28-2011, 02:21 PM   #7
badtux
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For onroad use I usually use my iPhone 4 with Navigon GPS software. For offroad use I do the same but preload the topo maps for the area in question using a piece of software I bought that's called "Topo Maps" (gosh what a descriptive name!). *AND* if I'm going to be doing serious offroad navigating, I use my iPad 3g (1st gen), which has a GPS built in, and that same software that's on my iPhone, and a RAM mount with a u-bolt on the other end that clamps to my grab handle on the passenger side of my Jeep, this makes a big very navigable GPS, albeit a bit expensive (but you should be able to pick up 1st gen iPad 3g's and the corresponding RAM mount for a bit off now that the 2nd gen has arrived).

Since the Lowrance line of big-screen GPS's has been discontinued there isn't any dedicated GPS that has a screen the size of an iPad, and it's *really* handy to have that screen real estate available when you're bouncing around offroad...
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Unread 04-28-2011, 05:16 PM   #8
Jerry Bransford
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Whatever GPS you get, make sure it can save trails you create as you drive. Many don't have that ability, including my Android/Google GPS system. I've been using the Garmin GPS60 series for years, you would have a tough time beating that for its offroad feature-oriented software. You can easily create routes, save waypoints, create "breadcrumb" trails you can either save as a trail or to follow back to your camp. The GPS60Cx and GPS 60CSx are superb, with the 60CSx adding a 'Sensor' for true barometric pressure altitude information, as well as a true magnetic compasses that works standing still like a compass does. I had the 60CSx but it was in my last Jeep that was stolen. I now have the 60Cx which is less expensive and I don't miss its barometric altimeter or compass, both of which can still be generated by the GPS signals.

Plus the 60CSx and 60Cx can be loaded with optional street map and automatic routing ability so it will give you turn-by-turn directions to an address, restaurant, hospital, etc. that all come in its database. Its base map only gives the major streets and highways.
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Unread 04-28-2011, 07:06 PM   #9
chris87xj
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I'm another happy Garmin GPS60Cx user.
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Unread 04-28-2011, 08:40 PM   #10
badtux
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I do have a Garmin 60CSx, but have not used it in for Jeep navigation for years because my middle-aged eyes simply can't see that tiny little screen. Compared to the iPad 3G running Topo Maps / Navigon,

1) Cost:
Garmin 60CSx - $320
1:24000 maps for your area (which also includes routeable street maps): $100
Total: $420
iPad 3g 16G - $480
Navigon street maps: $80
Topo Maps - $8
Total:$568

Cost-wise, the Garmin is clearly cheaper. But with the refurb 1st gen iPad 3g selling so cheap (you don't need to create a 3g account but the gps is on the 3g chip so it has to be the iPad 3g to do the topo maps), the cost of the iPad-based solution is more modest than you'd think. Note that I did not add in the cost of the car-mounting kit for each, it's roughly the same price for each.

2) Street routing: The iPad (Navigon, rather) will talk to you to give you directions. Connect it to your stereo if you want your directions to be intelligible. The Navigon maps are updated regularly and it's a free update. Traffic can be added as a service, but that would require enabling the 3g account, which is $20/month, plus the Navigon in-app purchase. I passed on that. Because of the size of the iPad screen, it's quite easy to see where you're supposed to turn at just a glance.
The Garmin 60CSx beeps at you to warn of an upcoming turn. You must then examine the tiny screen to see where it's telling you to go. Garmin requires you to pay if you want to update your maps. Granted, you don't need to update your maps that often (every few years should suffice for anybody who's not a professional trucker), but that's still an added expense.

3) Topographical mapping: Garmin's 1:24000 maps are vector maps. They do not include all the details on the rasterized paper 1:24000 maps presented by Topo Maps on the iPad, which *is* the paper USGS topo map, just digitized. The difference is sometimes astounding. I pulled up Panamint City (Surprise Canyon, CA) on the Garmin maps, and pulled it up on the Topo Maps. There was *much* more detail available on the rasterized USGS map, including the locations of mines not even on the Garmin map. (And Garmin put Ballarat right in the middle of Panamint Lake where the old Jacobs haul road to Slate Range Crossing meets the new main road, a place where Ballarat has never been for the simple reason that it would have been UNDERWATER every time it rained hard!).

Unfortunately the registration of the rasterized USGS topo maps isn't always accurate on Topo Maps, when you move from one sheet of maps to another sheet of maps the roads don't always match up, for example, you'll see one map shifted up or down (or sometimes even an overlap or gap between them) because the registration wasn't accurate. It's usually plenty close for our purposes though.

4) Durability: The 60CSx will survive *anything*. If you have an open Jeep that you run topless through rain and dust storms and everything else, the 60CSx will shrug it off. I ran the 60CSx on the handlebar of my KLR-650 dual-sport for years, through rain, through freezing weather once (eep, that was *NOT* fun!), heck I had it on the handlebar there when I rode my KLR up the Pacific Coast Highway all the way to Washington State and back, I've dropped it from the top of a waterfall in Surprise Canyon, and you just can't break it. Vibration, baking sun, freezing rain, it shrugs it all off. If you run a topless Jeep, get the car kit with the 12v power cable and the suction cup mount for your windshield and you're all set. If you want to get fancy, get a RAM U-bolt instead and mount it to the passenger grab handle, get a long stalk, and get the RAM cradle for the 60CSx, this'll help damp the vibrations a bit (this is basically the setup I ran on my KLR which vibrates a *lot* more than a Jeep). And the 60CSx will clip right to your belt when you're ready to start hiking too. The only problem is that a) the screen is tiny, and b) the maps are mediocre at best. Which is why my 60CSx annoys me and I rarely use it, instead using my iPhone or iPad in the Jeep and a Delorme PN-60 when hiking (which has an even smaller screen than the Garmin, but much MUCH better maps).

The iPad is quite durable for what it is, it doesn't mind vibration and it doesn't mind dust on that fancy touch-screen (that guerilla glass they use is *tough*) but it is *not* waterproof so you should not run it in a topless Jeep where you may get rain. It is also not dustproof, though mine got covered with dust pretty well during my last two Death Valley trips and it doesn't appear to have harmed it any. One thing the iPad *did* let me do was avoid taking a computer with me altogether on my last two trips -- there was no need, the iPad would read email and browse the Internet just fine, as well as let me read my eBooks in my tent at night. Note that the 3G connection, if you choose to enable it, is month-by-month so you can enable it for that big trip to MOAB and then disable it after that, but the WiFi works fine with typical hotel WiFi connections.

So anyhow, that's the comparison from someone who actually owns both of these (plus a bunch more) and has used both extensively. For what that's worth. After all, everybody knows that second hand information from a friend of a friend is much more reliable .
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Unread 04-29-2011, 09:14 AM   #11
duncan-d
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Great. Thanks guys. All the info was helpful. I have decided to go with the Garmin 60CXs for offroad. I found it for $199.00 here in Canada new. I also bought the Topo maps for Western Canada for $59.00. I can buy the maps as I need them. I am going to buy a Tom Tom for onroad refurbished for $74.00 XL 310.
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Unread 04-29-2011, 10:04 AM   #12
IslandTJ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duncan-d View Post
Great. Thanks guys. All the info was helpful. I have decided to go with the Garmin 60CXs for offroad. I found it for $199.00 here in Canada new. I also bought the Topo maps for Western Canada for $59.00. I can buy the maps as I need them. I am going to buy a Tom Tom for onroad refurbished for $74.00 XL 310.
Good plan .
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1998 TJ Moss [COLOR=darkgreen][B][SIZE=3]Green[/SIZE][/B][/COLOR] Sahara w/ numerous scratches & dents whose playground is on a tropical island that's 33 miles long and 4-12 miles wide, in year-round 82 degree weather.

[Edit] "Now jeepin in Oregon" [/Edit]
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Unread 04-29-2011, 12:04 PM   #13
Jerry Bransford
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duncan-d View Post
Great. Thanks guys. All the info was helpful. I have decided to go with the Garmin 60CXs for offroad. I found it for $199.00 here in Canada new. I also bought the Topo maps for Western Canada for $59.00. I can buy the maps as I need them. I am going to buy a Tom Tom for onroad refurbished for $74.00 XL 310.
I doubt you'll need or use the topo maps in the Garmin unless you're a cross-country backpacker. I too bought topo maps for my Garmin 60CSx but soon discovered I did not use or need them for offroading. Garmin's street maps and navigation software is far more useful. Heck I didn't even load my topo map software into my latest Garmin 60Cx.
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Unread 04-29-2011, 12:29 PM   #14
badtux
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Note that the latest topo maps from Garmin include all the streets too, including some that may not be on the streets map disk, and it's routeable. You no longer need to purchase street maps for Garmin GPS's if you've purchased the 1:24000 topo maps for your area.

Regarding the usefulness of the Garmin topo maps for offroading, as well as the 60Csx I had a large-screen Garmin car GPS prior to moving to the iPad as my large-screen GPS (the topo maps work on all of the Garmin products and are *not* locked to a single GPS), and the topo maps had interesting detail on them that was useful for offroading if you're a destination offroader who enjoys visiting mines, old townsites, follow the routes of old rail beds and historic settler wagon roads, and so forth as vs a "I wanna trash my junk" offroader who doesn't care about anything other than what's the biggest rock you can crawl. The only thing the topo maps disk lacks that the Streets disk has is the POI database. Big deal, if I'm anywhere that the POI database matters, I just do the search with my smartphone anyhow, since a real time Google Maps search is always more up-to-date than some year-old POI database.
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Unread 04-29-2011, 01:39 PM   #15
duncan-d
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The Garmin 60CSx does not come with street maps only built-in Americas autoroute basemap, including highways, exits and automatic, turn-by-turn directions. I cannot buy the 24K maps for Canada! I can only purchase Topo for regions (Canada) or complete country and the City Navigator NT: CANADA or City Navigator North America NT. I figured that the Topo would be the best for offroading, no? Let me know if I am wrong.
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