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Top Pick!

Our Personal GPS recommendations

Garmin eTrex Vista HCx Color or the Garmin 60CSx Color

By Roy Reehil

This is an easy recommendation for me because I have owned a black and white version of the eTrex Vista for many years, depending on it for bushwhacking, hunting and fishing or when I'm afield as a search and rescue volunteer.

As a wilderness first responder for the Central Adirondack Search and Rescue Team, I can tell you that a dependable GPS is must. And the 60CSx is not only the unit that our SAR team selected, it is also the choice of the Forest Rangers in New York State. Both are strong endorsements of this unit that we have put into practice when lives are at stake.

I list the eTrex Vista here too, because I have had great luck with mine and it's a little more affordable. The nice thing about both of these these units is that they are pretty easy to use, so you won't have to be a "geek" to figure them out.

If you plan on using your GPS off road, you will want to order the Garmin Mapsource Topo Maps of the United States. This program allows you to load topo maps right onto the GPS screen and exchange routes, waypoints and tracks back and forth between your computer and your GPS. This makes planning a trip and then seeing where you actually went easy.The addition of a GPS with a marked route loaded onto a topo map onscreen is the difference between just bushwhacking and BUSHWHACKING NIRVANA.

For some people (and you know who you are), bushwhacking is an end unto itself. But I'm usually going somewhere, and  the faster I get there the sooner I can fish, eat, or set up camp, etc. The onscreen topos and waypoints make all the difference!

With the Mapsource program and the included cable that connects your PC to the GPS,  you can easily plot the best route and major waypoints along the way. You can check the distance on the entire route or just sections. While you're at it, you can add in any other points of interest or other entire routes. That way you can change plans during your trip and as long as you have batteries, you can find your way to and fro efficiently.

Drawbacks - Not Many. The Vista is pretty much a left hand unit so you just get used to it.

Don't expect the mapsource topos to look like USGS maps onscreen or when you print them out. The program is about $75 and covers the whole country. If you want USGS quality I recommend Maptech Terrain Navigator Pro (all New York state is $269.99 last time I checked). They're available for the entire country and they're outstanding.

While I'm on drawbacks, let me warn you not to skimp on this purchase. Garmin has several units that are priced below the Vista but some don't have enough memory to load the topo maps onto the GPS screen and I know several people who are kicking themselves for not spending that little extra cash. The map-on-screen capability is what makes this GPS so VERY useful and color is better.

Where to buy and "Best Prices"

Prices change fast but here are the best deals I could find on these units. Garmin GPS 60Cx at Amazon.com - Price Varies

Wal-Mart's price varied too The Garmin GPS 60CSx Handheld GPS Navigator at Wal-Mart.com (The 60CSx is the GPS we selected for for the Central Adirondack Search and Rescue Team.)

MapSource CD Rom maps that allow you to put topos right on screen... a beautiful thing for you bushwhackers: Garmin Mapsource Topo US 2008
Link:

Amazon lists some of the same items through third party vendors. The prices vary so some times it's good to check. The Mapsource CDs were a good deal last time I checked but the GPS was more than at Wal-Mart. Here's what I found:
- Garmin eTrex Vista Cx - Color Screen
- Garmin MapSource Topos - US

Happy Bushwhacking!
-Roy Reehil

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