I had an issue with my sole GPS source last week where the android OS crashed due to the new Kitkat 4.4 update.
Shopping for new GPS for backup led me to these thoughts:
1) I primarily use my android GPS app: "US Topo" from Google Play. I've had to supplement the battery life of the phone by purchasing a 12 Amp-hr battery (good for 2-3 charges).
2) a physical compass is priceless (as are paper charts if you are new to an area). The compass will not crash etc. It will save money too on getting one built into GPS (I don't think this is really worth it)
3) the availability of GPS topo maps at 1:24000 resolution FOR FREE makes the extra cost for this option built into a gps not a factor. IT SHOULD BE a determining factor between brands of GPS that may or may not be able to load external maps.
4) Regional 1:24k topo maps take up about 10 Mb of space, which means on fairly new GPS that can be loaded, you can load 1 or more regions (you don't need the entire state or country) without a problem. My old (2004) Garmin GPSMaps 76 (monochrome) had 8 Mb, so I can load SOME regions (<8 Mb). It's painfully slow to scroll, but will serve as a usable backup. What this point means is that you do not need 3 Gb of storage... or even an SD card reader built in.
5) Along with #3 and #1, I don't need a memo recorder, phone, or compass that come at a premium cost, in my GPS. my phone does these fine without cell reception. A compass on a lanyard around my neck is as vital as a pocket knife.
6) Garmin seems to be the most widely supported and longest running GPS maker. It has the broadest community support in my observations over the last few days. This adds up to forums with Q&A where you can trouble shoot or find answers already solved.
7) Garmin: It also means there are FREE maps available and for the missing maps, there are map making tools available:
This site provides free support and maps, mostly tailored to Garmin platform: http://www.gpsfiledepot.com/index.php but supposedly they can be used by other platforms (Magellan?)
8) Garmin: Garmin provides free PC software to manage your GPS. For PC's you need either basecamp or mapsource to retrieve or store waypoints, tracks, routes and maps from/to your GPS. It took some playing around, but I learned them in a day and will write a tutorial for both.
I loaded MapSource from CNET (to avoid bloatware installation, use this direct link: http://tinyurl.com/mapsourcegarmin ) for my older GPSmap 76, which Basecamp doesn't support.
For Mapsource, I downloaded the original older program from CNET, then, after installing, I downloaded the upgrade patch from Garmin: http://www8.garmin.com/support/download_details.jsp?id=209
The general page for Mac and PC GPS management software (FREE) is http://www8.garmin.com/support/mappingsw.jsp
This includes the latest version of Basecamp.
There is a free Garmin GPS manager available for modern/some Garmin GPSs called Garmin Express: http://software.garmin.com/en-US/express.html
There is also a free marine chart builder manager available here (disclaimer: I haven't used or tried it): http://www.polarnavy.com/#sthash.6IHLoGX9.dpuf
9) Garmin (primarily): to get additional maps for the Garmins (and supposedly other brands) for a fraction of the cost (or FREE) in many cases, try this site: http://www.gpsfiledepot.com/index.php
Here's the link for the Florida maps: http://www.gpsfiledepot.com/maps/state/fl
I didn't purchase any, but went with the free ones (not stealing, these are based on publicly available information. The ones who charge are doing so to compensate themselves for the production work they performed to make them available). What I can tell you is that the ones downloaded as exe files (or that unzip to exe files) will install themselves into the garmin directories that were created when you installed Mapsource and/or Basecamp (I do have both installed to learn)
If the tutorials on Mapsource or basecamp at GPSfiledepot don't help you (they didn't me), try my trial and error lessons:
* To open the newly installed maps in Mapsource, you must go to View>Switch to Product and select the newly installed map to display
* To open the newly installed maps in Basecamp, on the toolbar, select Maps and then select your new map.
10) Magellan: Here's a free management program for your PC. After looking at all the features and support (and though my original GPS back in 1999 was a magellan), I'm not looking at Magellans any further: http://www.easygps.com/gps-receivers/Magellan-eXplorist-500.asp
11) Finally, to help you with decision-making process, if you are buying a new GPS and money is a factor, consider this approach:
a) either find a site that has the models you're interested in evaluated numerically OR develop your own grid/matrix with the categories that are important to you factored in. Assign each category a point value (say, 1-10) and then score each category accordingly. Sum the scores for each model and choose the highest score.
b) alternatively, as above (step 8a), I chose a site (http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Handheld-Gps-Reviews/Ratings ) that had evaluated a series of models including a couple i was interested in. I then inputted the data (with updated/real cost from Amazon.com ) to a spreadsheet and had the spreadsheet invert the score total for each model. I then multiplied the cost by the inverted score totals and looked at the result. By graphing product versus price, I was able to see visually the groups of GPS by prices and the lowest in each group represented the best buy for each price range:
Like Golf, lowest score on my approach wins: however, I discounted the Magellan 310 since the evaluation did not score the ability to load freely available maps:
|magellan explorist 310||126||2.4230769231||3.7058823529|
|gar etrex 20||170||2.9310344828||4.5945945946|
|gar dakota 20||191||3.0317460317||4.775|
|Garmin Oregon 600||352||4.0930232558||7.04|
|gar Oregon 550||318||4.2972972973||7.0666666667|
|magellan explorist 710||369||5.5909090909||9.4615384615|
|rand mc 850||399||7.125||11.4|
this looks like this when graphed:
I'm experimenting with a different approach. Instead of my dedicated GPS ( I have Garmin) I've purchased a GPS enabled Android tablet and loaded an app called Backcountry Navigator. You may want to look into it. I wanted the tablet primarily because of the larger screen (7 inch). I have not upgraded to Kit Kat as I heard about the GPS bug.
So far I'm liking it, although there is a learning curve. The app ($10 after free look-see) supports a wide variety of download sources, both topo and satellite images. Unfortunately, the big corps: Google Earth, TerraServer, Bing, etc. got wind of people grabbing their imagery (via MOBAC) and put a stop to it. But there are lots of sources, the best (highest rez) are "premiums" that require a small subscription, but I've not had to go that route yet.
There is a lot of functionality outside the usual stuff, but its not "off the shelf". It takes a bit of want-to and some technical ability.
I'll be able to better report after I use it more, maybe by the end of the year.
Like you said, still carrying redundant magnetic compasses! Technology is great until it isn't.
My android samsung S4 active is my primary gps/map tool.
I tried Backcountry and US Topo simultaneously and went for US Topo. I found Backcountry a little bulky.
Stay away from kitkat. there is no ends to the bugs (google it)
It'd be nice if phones/tablets could implement paper white screens like kindle for sunny days.
Easy method to add topo layer to GE (use opacity slide to make it transparent to see sat imagery beneath topo overlay):
Congrats! Now you're ready for the fun part - Hit the field with more Confidence!
The Garmin Software BaseCamp allows you to convert a TRACK to a ROUTE.
Here are the steps
You can also use the program winGDB to convert a TRACK to a ROUTE. You can download the software here.
Install this program on your PC and follow the instructions.
It is correct that a ROUTE follows the network of the activated map on your device. That's the difference with a TRACK (read more about it here).
But a DIRECT ROUTE (or a route with the routing option DIRECT) in Garmin is a route with straight lines between the via-points. From a FORMAT point of view, the ROUTE is a ROUTE, but from a functional point of view, the ROUTE has no more information than a TRACK.
This is nevertheless important for some GARMIN devices because some GARMIN devices can only import ROUTES (from a FORMAT point of view), a,d no TRACKs (e.g. [help=184]the Zumo 210[/184]).