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Best handheld GPS for Trail riding horseback?

Started by HB Rider, April 16, 2011, 09:13:44 AM

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HB Rider

I'm new to GPS use and need one that would be easy to use on horseback. Would like to be able to print maps of trails I ride. Any suggestions?



For someone that is just getting into the use of a GPS, with any of the more sensitive and latest technology GPSs to become fairly proficent with it will require quite a bit of hands on practice and experimentation and be willing to ask a lot of questions and reading some very good wiki links (How To Instructions) for some models.

Once you become comfortable with it you'll never leave home without it. ;)  Since many horse camps / trails have paper maps of riding areas.  I would think that the ability to put these paper maps on your GPS to navigate by would be very benenficial, but another learning curve envolved.  Also satellite aerial imagery would be nice.

With all of the above in mind the Garmin units that will do all of the above are the Oregons, Dakotas, Colorados, 62 and 78 series units.  The touch screens are probably a litttle easier for a complete newbie to learn, so this brings the list down to the Oregons and Dakotas.  The Oregons have a larger screen.  For around $330 (on sale occasionally for $250) you can get a very good Oregon 450 and then you can put a lot of free maps on it from this website.  You would probably be well pleased with the 450 for a long time.

A lot of the final decision comes down to personal preference and the intended use.  The best thing to do would be to look at them in a sporting goods store with knowledgeable sales people.


U have a Oregon 450 and it works well outdoors.  But, as i recall, the 62 screen is better in bright sunlight.  How are you going to "mount" the gps?  Or are you going to carry it in a pocket and pull it out when you want to view it?  If the latter, then tilting it so the sunlight doesn't wash out the disply would be no problem.

Go here for lots of info on the Oregon in particular and the Knowledge Base on the left side:

And if your going to get one of the Garmin GPS listed above, get familiar with BaseCamp and MapSource.  Forums for those:

Hope this gets you started, Ron

HB Rider

Thanks both of you!
I will carry the GPS in a saddle bag. Duct taping to the horse was a thought but she said no way ;D!!
Will the touch screen work with gloves?
I have a early model Exporist uses buttons and toggle however no TOPO or download capability.
I'm wanting something I make maps from for horse games i.e. Poker Runs, Treasure hunts etc.
I have done some comparisons and had pretty much narrowed it down to a 62. Will go back and look at the 450.



I would test out a unit with your gloves.  The initial sales hype was that the touch screen made it unnecessary to remove gloves in using a GPSr unit.  A few owners have posted that they find the touch screen model they own is unusable with the gloves they use. 
A 62 (intented for hiking, etc.) is probable more resistent to damage from dropping then any of the touch screen units.  If you are going to use it while on horse back, I would get a protective 'case' for it.


Quote from: HB Rider on April 17, 2011, 07:54:28 AM
I will carry the GPS in a saddle bag. Duct taping to the horse was a thought but she said no way ;D!!
Will the touch screen work with gloves?
What, no handle bar mount? :D

If you plan to use gloves, I'd definitely suggest the 62.  I make enough typos on my OR300 with my bare hands.  If you don't need raster maps, the 60CSX might also work.


No handle bar....sure you have one.  Seems like you could make a mount that attaches by velcro or tape to the saddle horn. Some springy metal between a standard bike mount and the horn. That way you can still glance at it, but the flexible metal stalk could give in case the horse rares his head.   I've seriously mulled this over for my horse riding brother in Wy.

Or simpler......just a draw string bag tied to the horn.

HB Rider

eTrex Vista┬« HCx Do you think this one would work for me as starter? Hate to go much higher in price till I'm  sure of how much I would use the mapping part.



Sounds like a good place to start, but if you plan on gloves, try it out in the store.  You may not like the way the buttons work.

HB Rider

With riding gloves I'm able to operate the Explorist would the eTrex Vista® HCx be any more difficult? I live in the boonies so going to a store is difficult.



I'm not the one to ask, unfortunately.  I own a 60CSX, an OR300, and a very old Etrex.  I'm pretty sure that the 60CSX would work OK with gloves, and it should be more reasonably priced than the 62.

Trail Rider

I use a Garmin 76CSx on trial rides along with the Garmin Basecamp software.    I know that it is not the latest and greatest GPS.  However with a few things to consider it is a good one.   Being on horseback there is always the danger of dropping it and the newer one have a large touch screen gives you a greater chance of it not surviving the fall.   And if you break it it will not break the bank.
I am not sure about the use of the touch screen with gloves so the buttons works well. 
I also hang the GPS on the pommel of the saddle buy looping the GPS lanyard through it and over the saddle horn.  This allows the GPS to track better and less chance of spending a lot of time and battery power searching for the satellites. 
I have spent as much as two weeks in the high country every year with a pack horse and riding horse alone in the San Juan National Forest.   This GPS unit has logged hundreds of miles in the back country over the years without issues.  I have been caught in rain storms and snow storms and it has never failed me. 



I have a vista, just got an oregon. I keep my vista in the case from garmin. It has a clip on it and can be hung from a belt. I would attach a backup lanyard. I would make it out of reflective tent cordage.

I think the vista would work better in that application. The oregon screen is a little harder to easily see, plus that touch screen will make it harder to use in a case.

Just make sure you have it secured. I lost a vista hunting once. THe brush was so thick it pulled it right out of my pocket that was not zipped.  >:( THat's why I mention the reflective cordage. I don't know why they make all those cases black. OR camo.


I ride all summer and have used an eTrex Legend for years just for safety - to be able to tell someone where the heck I am if hurt or lost.  Just upgraded to an Oregon 450 and liking it so far.  I put in a white background so it's easier to read.  I clip it to a belt loop per the biner that came with it; however, that biner, when clipped that way, makes the Oregon upside down from that viewpoint, so I pulled out a loop of it from the clip and have it hanging correctly now but it's a little floppy - I may do a little more to it with velcro or duct tape to keep it even better.  Just now working on maps.  Haven't tried it with gloves.