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GPS for Offroad?

hank's picture

By hank - Posted on 10 March 2015

I'm thinking of upgrading my basic trip computer to a GPS, predominantly for navigation when on new off road trails. Do they work well for this kind of thing and is it worth the mega $ of something like the Garmin 1000?

Pete B's picture

I've got an 810 and it was great around Kinross forest in Orange and around the unsealed roads in that area.

Not sure what advantage the 1000 has but the 810 is probably enough. I would also recommend the performance pack WITHOUT maps, it's not worth paying for Garmin mapping when you can download open street maps for free, you just need to buy a mini memory card for about $10.

mrptl's picture

I think the Garmin 1000 is of course more expensive but it's faster, runs an android base system, and has a bigger and better screen… which in all aren't necessary. The bigger screen might be not an advantage because the 810 fit pretty well on the stem (which is the best and safest place on your cockpit, in my opinion).

I've got the 800, and i'm already quite happy with it; I wouldn't mind getting the 810 for the wireless capability (so you can sync and update/add courses from your phone). I've bought it for the same reason you want one, and it does the job. When riding on a trail you know, it's still quite a good bike computer recording lots of data; and after a while you still have interest in. Plus it's a nice way to archive your rides.

About the maps, I took the Garmin Topo map option and still got a good deal. I have also a second micro-SD with Open Street Map. For off-road, I prefer using Garmin's topo, as you can see the difference in height (lines).

I've seen people using this one too, a bit more bulkier though:

staffe's picture

Why don't you just use an app on your smartphone? Costs virtually nothing and you can download maps and routes via 3 or 4g when you are out and about.

I personally don't use a dedicated cycling GPS unit for navigation, most probably because smartphone apps gives me all I need wrt navigation and maps.

For tracking I use a forerunner10 because it works for both running and riding and is worn like a wrist watch so it takes no space and adds no weight. It does not give you a display of any use so it is only for tracking. It's main down side is the battery life is 4 - 5 hours so it is not suitable for the really big rides - for those I track with a smartphone app.

Lach's picture

.. appears to be battery life. I've never run my Garmin 800 down even on some long (5-6 hours) rides with HRM data happening as well as navigation. Open street map has its limitations for navigation work (especially away from urban areas), but I haven't bothered with the Garmin topos at about $200. If I'm heading somewhere remote, I try to download a gps trace to follow or refer to, or worst case you just follow your trail back out again.
Downloading the data to something like Strava helps with analysis and motivation for training, as well as giving you a record of previous rides to refer to if needed.

hawkeye's picture

What Lach said.

IN addition, I treat the phone as a safety device, a important piece of gear if I should get into trouble and need to summon help. It's not something I'm prepared to compromise on.

So for ride tracking and occasionally navigation I use a dedicated bike GPS.

I've had the Garmin 705 and recently upgraded to the 810. I have the Garmin topo maps and got them virtually for nothing as part of a very attractively priced package deal from Pushy's in ACT.

Love the new GPS. Very fast to start up, finds satellites quickly, and the multiiple bike profiles storing the pairing data for the devices on each bike makes it really easy to get on with.

Now I just need to upgrade the engine. Sticking out tongue

fwoark's picture

I've used my Garmin 810 twice since throwing the iphone in the bin and getting a xperia z3. I can take an extended ride to work (2hrs each way), plus spend a lot of time at work playing with the phone and still have plenty battery life. I love the 810, but I found I was more tempted to look it that concentrating on the ride / scenery. Personal choice, but I'm enjoying having a clean set of handlebars again.

obmal's picture

Garmin etrex 30, perfect for long off road adventures, hiking, rugged enough for climbing up down mountains while banging on rocks swinging off a tether.

You can swap out the batteries and not reset the current activity, load topo maps for detailed navigation.

hawkeye's picture

Interesting! I have a couple of power meters which I'd be surprised if the Etrex would record, and I like to have a record of heart rate as well, but for off road navigation that sounds pretty good.

Nice touch with being able to replace batteries without stuffing the activity recording. Smiling

hank's picture

Thanks for the advice guys - I'll start the business case procedure through her indoors.

ChopStiR's picture

Should be noted that open street maps is a user edited. A lot of areas haven't been created. Majority of the users just trace Google Earth's satellite imagery. Of course you could always update the maps on open street map before downloing them.

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