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What GPS to buy

Started by Sherpadon, January 04, 2014, 05:38:15 PM

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I'm thinking of purchasing an Etrex 30. Is this a good GPS to buy? If not, what do you suggest? I really can't afford much over $250.00 any suggestions?



The Oregon 450 is a very popular model, with a touchscreen that is larger with more pixels than the eTrex. You should be able to find them for $200, maybe even less (there was a sale for $150 awhile ago).

The eTrex is newer and features GLONASS which allows it to receive additional satellites. This can't hurt, but may not necessarily help either. But you really need to look at them in person. The eTrex is really tiny, something that isn't so obvious from looking at pictures. That might be either good or bad, depending on what you want.

The eTrex has a pushbutton interface, which can make it more awkward - especially if you want to enter text or coordinates (you must pick them from a grid with a tiny joystick).


To plug the Etrex30, IMHO all the points Boyd made about it are good things, but, as he said you really need to see it for yourself. 

I'm not wild about the touch screen interface on my OR.  They are nowhere near as friendly as the ones on my tablet and phone, and I find the E30 much better to hang on a backpack strap than something larger.


Thanks for the info guys... I think I will try to find one to look at and hold before I lay my money down.


Thing is, GPSCity has the Oregon 450 for $200 and the eTrex 30 for $250. If money is a concern, it might be hard to justify paying 25% more for the eTrex.

If you like the smaller form factor though, the eTrex 20 is only $166. It is identical to the eTrex 30, but without the barometric altimeter and  tri-axial compass. I recall complaints about the compass not working properly on the eTrex 30, but those may have been fixed with firmware updates. The Oregon 450 has a compass and altimeter.

Shop around because a sale on any of these devices could tip the scales.


I stumbled across this goldmine of a site and this thread.  I lucked into an unexpected trip in a couple of weeks to Fairbanks, Alaska, where I will be out at night by myself chasing Aurora.  Plus I'm scheduled to go hiking in Iceland later this year.

I am a complete noob regarding handheld GPS, and I also have absolutely zero sense of direction!  Unfortunately, I am on the road, and cannot go physically check out the units.

Based on this thread as well as information from other souces, I will probably buy the Oregon 450 from Amazon.  From what I've read, the lack of pre-loaded topographical charts should not be an issue--is that right?  Should I also get a microSD card for the unit? Anything else that I should consider before ordering the unit?



Quote from: bearspa on February 22, 2014, 01:11:53 PMFrom what I've read, the lack of pre-loaded topographical charts should not be an issue--is that right?

Well that depends on you. There are many free maps available, such as the ones on this site and openstreetmap. As long as they meet your needs and if you have an internet connection, you should be fine. Otherwise, Garmin has a large assortment of maps available for purchase, but you will need to budget as needed for those.

So you should do some research and see if free maps are available for your areas of interest. Since they're free, download them and have a look. You don't even need a GPS for that, you can use Garmin's free Basecamp program to view the maps on your computer.

The Oregon 450 is very popular, largely because it has been deeply discounted in the past. Since it is now discontinued, I wouldn't be surprised if the supply dries up pretty quickly.  :)


Thanks for your prompt response, Boyd.
I checked out the maps on this site using Basecamp, and was able to load all but one of them (which said it was for the unit only), and I went ahead and made the purchase.
Now I just have to find time to work with it and understand how to use it!