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Nuvi for offroad use

Started by astainback, December 08, 2012, 05:41:50 PM

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Guys... (and gals)

I currently use a 60Csx on my ATV.
A couple of guys I know of use a Nuvi as well on the ATV for the screen size.

They are able to use topo apparently.

What Nuvi model will work best with topo?  I want one that can take track points as well.
I called Garmin to learn more, but they were not a big help.

Does anyone know what would work best?
The waterproof thing isn't a problem.  I would probably get a RAM box for it to keep it safe.

Garmin Montana 610
Garmin VivoActive HR


I can't be of much help, but may can steer you to where you can get some good advice.  I believe BobT on here rides with some guys who use Nuvis on their ATVs. Maybe he'll respond and give some good first hand information or you could PM him.

I have ridden with guys who use the waterproof Nuvi 500 and 550.  I'm not really impressed with it all when using custom vector maps, mainly because these 2 units won't display all line types at the same level of zoom, plus another downside for them is that you have to be zoomed into about a zoom level of 200 ft. for all points on a custom map to be displayed.  For trail riding I never zoom in that much.  The handhelds don't present either of these 2 issues.

There may be some Nuvi models that don't have the above display issues with custom maps, I'm just not familiar with the other Nuvis and how they handle custom vector maps.


I 'finally' got a Montana recently to work with my Topo creations for my region...

But before that, all I had were Nuvi 1390's and 1490's. They 'display' topo just fine. But the battery doesn't last as well as a handheld.

Just my $0.02


-- Smug

In a nutshell, I get claustrophobic.


Quote from: astainback on December 08, 2012, 05:41:50 PMI want one that can take track points as well.

Do you mean that you want to load a track (tracks are lines and not points...)? If so, then forget the Nuvi. None of them allow you to load a track. They will display the track of where you have been but cannot display a track that is sent from another source.

I can't completely agree with SmugWimp, the display of topo maps is not "just fine". Some features do not display correctly, epsecially the 1300 and 1400 series - wetlands look like huge lakes for example. Many of the points of interest will not show at all. Elevation contours are huge fat lines, thicker than roads. If you use a Garmin topo map, you cannot turn off the shaded terrain and it makes the screen hard to read - small roads blend into the background.

So it "works" but is not at all optimal. If you are used to the way your maps look on a 60csx, you will not be very happy IMO. The Montana 600 is really the best choice, but it's expensive. Really, I would suggest sticking with your 60csx unless you can afford the Montana. Anything else is going to be a big step backwards in every respect but the screen size.


IMHO series 13xx/14xx is one of better nuvis for topo maps. The only problem is with bitmaps for polygons and lines, which sometimes are drawn incorrectly. Here screen shots from PL Topo on nuvi 1440:

And here the same map in BaseCamp:


I had a Nuvi 1350 for awhile and just can't agree with you here. I suppose it depends on what kind of maps you are using. Or maybe they fixed some things in the firmware after I gave mine to my daughter? The most glaring error was that polygon 0x51 (wetland/swamp) was rendered as water. I live in a coastal area where there are large wetlands - these are often just low areas that are seasonally wet and not "lakes".

Here's a comparison I did in 2009 between the Nuvi 5000 and Nuvi 1350 using Garmin's Topo US 2008 maps. The Nuvi 5000 correctly shows the river that passes through the wetlands. The Nuvi 1350 makes the whole area look like some kind of huge lake. Also note how fat the contour lines look on the 1350. They are wider than the minor roads. I think this is a mess personally, but maybe it's just me.  ;)

Now here's an example of a topo map I made myself. I was able to get around the problem with the wetlands and elevation contours by defining them as custom bitmapped types. Garmin doesn't do that with their ownUS maps though, and very few (if any) of the map authors here do that either. But notice how the 1350 fails to show the place names (Buckshutem, Port Elizabeth, Ormond, Muskee Hill, Jonesmill, Bricksboro, etc).

My own experience is that the older Nuvi models - like the Nuvi 5000 in these screenshots, or the 2x5 series - do a much better job with topo maps.

Indrid Cold

Quote from: astainback on December 08, 2012, 05:41:50 PM
What Nuvi model will work best with topo?  I want one that can take track points as well.
While some of the nüvi's might be acceptable with certain TOPO maps, overall they are weak compared to the Montana that has everything a handheld has with a nüvi packed inside.


@Boyd: This is probably effect of the bug with polygon bitmaps, when color of the pattern floods whole polygon. I can observe it too.

I agree that older nuvi could do even better job. But comparing to current models, nuvi 13xx/14xx is better, since on current models Garmin damaged presentation of POI.


Adrian, a lot of guys I ride with use Nuvi's, but for limited purposes.  As Boyd said, you cannot install tracks on them, only maps.  They do track and you can get your tracks off of them.  I am not sure how accurate the gps chip is.

None of them are power users and only use them because they can load the maps I make onto them.  Some of them have the Topo's from this site for Utah, CO, and WV but never use them since they make the screen too dark with all of the topo lines and shading.  They only run with my maps turned on.

My friends are all migrating to the new larger screens since when ATVing the larger the screen the better for when you are moving and bouncing around.

Knowing that you are a power user you will not like it better than your 60 for logging new tracks (for the rest of you Adrian and I know each other).

Large screen.
Can use it in the car.

User does not have many display options (turn shading off, level control  etc)
Can't load tracks.
Need custom maps for it to be affective for ATV riding.

I got a Montana 6 months ago and it is fantastic.  Since I got mine several other members of my club have also gotten them.  I got the basic 600 for around $440, not cheap but awesome.


Here's a comparison I did a couple years ago between an Oregon and Nuvi 3790. The Montana displays the map in a similar style to the Oregon, but has a larger screen with more pixels. The map is Garmin's US Topo 24k North East.

Quote from: BobT on December 09, 2012, 01:59:03 PMSome of them have the Topo's from this site for Utah, CO, and WV but never use them since they make the screen too dark with all of the topo lines and shading.

You can see the contour line problem in these screenshots, and these are only little "hills" by your standards out West.  ;D  The Nuvi's will always show shaded terrain if it is present in the map - but only "real" garmin maps have shaded terrain. On a handheld like the Oregon or Montana you can turn off terrain shading. The image from the Oregon at the top left has terrain shading off and is more readable than the Nuvi with the fat contour lines and shading.



Everyone... thank you for all the info!!!
BobT.. as usual.. you are the man!!
I will be sending out an email soon.  I actually worked on my track file recently.. not that you need it.  hahahaha 
1/2 of it is your tracks anyway.

I am actually not looking to replace my 60Csx.  I was only going to use the Nuvi for viewing while riding.  I was actually going to run both the 60 and the Nuvi at the same time.

I want a Montana.. but 400+ is a lot for me to spend!

I used to want an Oregon, but back when it was 400+, the screen size was not big enough for me to justify getting it.

I don't know a lot about the Montana, but it sounds like the way to go.

I will look into it and them make a choice.  I guess I could always sell the 60.
I love that thing though.

Garmin Montana 610
Garmin VivoActive HR