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Need Recommendation - GPS for 4 Wheeling

Started by justruns, September 05, 2013, 09:13:40 AM

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I am looking to replace my GPSMap 276C for use while 4 Wheeling.
Here are the features I want.  Can anyone suggest a Garmin model that has these features and doesn't cost a fortune?

GPS Features most wanted.

o   Ability to leave Tracks 
o   Ability to download detailed Topo Maps or "Customized Maps.
o   Ability to enter Waypoint by entering coordinates.
o   Large memory to hold lots of map detail, tracks, routes and waypoints
o   Large, Color, easy readable screen.
o   Easy to manipulate buttons while driving.
o   Ability to attach to car's 12v system for power
o   Both internal batteries and ability to use car's 12v power. So can be used outside the vehicle too.
o   Ability to use Routes and Automatic Routing.

Roger -  Please put "GPS Recommendation" in the Subject.


All the maps on GPSFileDepot are for Garmin GPSes.  The exact model of GPS has a lot to do with personal preference.  Several Garmin handheld models will do what you have listed in your wish list. 

First you need to decide if you want one with a touch screen or buttons.  Each have their advantages.  Touch screens are generally easier for a complete newbie to GPSes to learn, are faster inputting data such as comments, coordinates, renaming Tracks, waypoints, etc.  The biggest downside of the touchscreen is that the screen is not as easy to read, (this only applies when outside on a bright sunlit day when the unit is in the shade), as the non-touchscreen models are.  This aspect of the touchscreens has been improved with newer models.  For my ATV I prefer the touchscreen and probably won't ever go back to a button unit because I enter a lot of tracks, waypoints, comments, etc.  for map making while I'm out riding.

Since your first request was for it not to cost a fortune and to be able to do everything else you want, I would recommend the Oregon 450 (a touchscreen) @ ~$250 or the 62CSx (buttons) also about $250.

If you want to go up considerably in price then the Montana would be a very good unit, but pricey.  The Oregon 600 would also, but at present it seems to have a few software problems that need to addressed, Garmin usually ends up correcting these after a while.

I use the Oregon 450 all the time when riding and don't have any problems changing screens while riding, but it is usually just changing the zoom level or to view the dashboard view.  The Etrex units would fit your wish list but the screens are very small for using on a 4-wheeler while moving. 


Amazon has the Oregon 450T (T = includes Topo maps) currently for $237.99 and the Oregon 450 (without Topo maps) for $211.06, with free shipping.  That's a good deal.


Isn't the Oregon screen kind of small?  Is there a Nuvi with the features I wanted ?


The Oregon screen is 3" diagonally.  Not really, that does everything your asking for and do it well.  Garmin did make a crossover unit, the Nuvi 500 and 550 with a 3.5" screen that were waterproof and did do most of what your asking for but didn't do it very well.  The trackback feature is not well suited for what your wanting and various parts of a custom map appear at different zoom levels, even though the map is made for everything to appear at all zoom levels.  Some of a custom map's pois won't appear until your zoomed in to the 200 ft. zoom level, this pertains to most all of the Nuvi models, also when a .typ file is used to customize various road/highway types to be used for trail maps some road types won't appear until your really zoomed in close... so you won't even know that additional trails, besides the ones that you may see at a zoom level of 0.2 miles (for ex. purpose only) are in the map

Some riders are using some models of the Nuvis, but usually all they are doing is utilizing a custom map for display purposes only.  The big screen is nice but lacks the features of a handheld model.


I think the Montana 600 is clearly the best device for your needs. But it depends on what you consider "a fortune".  ;)

"Custom Maps" is an ambiguous term. As Garmin defines it, they are .kmz files that can contain scans of paper maps or satellite images. None of the Nuvi or Zumo series are compatible with this kind of map. The Nuvi and Zumo series are also incompatible with Birdseye, Garmin's subscription service for satellite images ($30/yr for unlimited downloads)

Garmin has an official eBay store that you might check from time to time (products change). They usually have factory refurb Oregon 450's for $200 (same warranty as a new unit):

Garmin is supposed to ship their new top of the line model, the Monterra, in October. It will be very expensive however the "changing of the guards" *might* result in lower prices on the Montana.

Currently Amazon and GPSCity have the Montana 600 for $470. You would need to purchase one of the vehicle mounts serparately. This price actually surpises me since that is what I paid for mine over two years ago. Unusual to see a price that doesn't drop for such a long time.

Whatever model you choose, you can use to track prices and even send alerts when they drop.


I don't need to be able to use or create Custom Maps.  However I do need the ability to leave Tracks and be able to upload and download tracks onto Topo Maps.  Mine is primarily in my Jeep but I sometimes want to Hike and need tracks in remote areas and want to be able to find my way back.  Also, I need to be able to manually create waypoints by entering coordinates.

I have a GPS for city use and so don't need to be able to do automatic routing to an address. 


Well my comments still stand. None of the Nuvi series will allow you to send tracks to the GPS. They also don't have any track managment capabilities (can't save tracks, change their appearance or choose which ones to show on the screen).

The Montana has the biggest, best screen - I have one and the screen is beautiful under all lighting conditions. If you can't afford the Montana, the Oregon 450 may be the best alternative. You could also look at the GPSMap 62s. The screen is lower resolution and no larger than the Oregon but arguably more visible. However, it is more expensive and has a pushbutton interface.

"Automatic Routing" is really a function of the map and not the device itself.


Thanks for your help.  I guess I need to save my money and get a Montana. 
My old 276C had all my desired features.  When it was new, it was an expensive GPS compared to others.

I think the GPS manufacturers miss a fairly large market by not making a GPS that is optimized for the 4X4 market.

Indrid Cold

Quote from: Boyd on September 06, 2013, 06:38:54 AM
Well my comments still stand.
I picked up a Montana 650t for offroading in the JEEP and it works great. I was trying to decide between a 600 and the 650, and stopped by a local REI where the 650t was on sale for less than the 650 so I ended up with that model and have been pleased with it for this use. The camera comes in handy, always have something on hand to take photos with now.


Can you power the Montana using cigarette lighter 12v power?

Indrid Cold

Quote from: justruns on September 06, 2013, 07:21:53 AM
Can you power the Montana using cigarette lighter 12v power?
Of course you can. With this cable, you can power it from pretty much anything... but they have a powered auto mount for the Montana and a standard USB cable will work with the GPSr in Spanner mode.


The vehicle mount is worthwhile IMO because it uses the rugged contacts on the side of the GPS to provide power instead of the USB port which is more fragile and could be weakened by off-road use. The unit also easily pops in and out of the mount. The automotive mount will also provide spoken directions if you ever want to use routable maps. There are two versions, this one has a friction mat and there's another with a suction cup.

They also offer this rugged mount: