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Chockstone Forum - General Discussion

General Climbing Discussion

GPS Portable Units
4:46:31 PM
Hi All
I would like to hear from anyone with experience about gps handheld units. I have started to look at getting one. I have become confused over the various units and there confessed benefits. I am really interested in a magellan or a Silva unit.

6:02:39 PM
OK, having sold these things and owned a couple, a general comment first...
The Silva MultiNavigator is the most advanced piece of unuseable shit available.
I have doubts about the reliability of Magellans older units (anything starting with 3xx)
Although I don't know of any problems (so far) with the newer "Meridian" series.
To best answer your question I need to know your budget and what features you need,
or more importantly what you will use it for.
Again, as a general comment, for climbers the garmin Etrex or the newer geko 200 are cheap, reliable, small, waterproof and user friendly. For mountaineering the "Summit" version of the Etrex adds barometer and altimeter (same as a Suunto watch).
If you want to find crags at the gramps, inbuilt "mapping" is a waste of money.
7:59:13 AM
Budget not an issue and it looks like you can get a top of the line Meridian in Canada for under A$500. I travel a lot interstate and like to idea of not have to carry various maps around. We do a bit of walking but mainly climbing at Gramps and Araps.

8:15:14 AM
On the subject of GPS, does anyone log the GPS location of climbs?


9:11:54 AM
I've used a GPS to plot crags I've found so that I can identify them on a map later or add use it to locate the cliff for a guide.

That said, I've found a GPS to be of limited use in the Gramps. It's not terribly useful to know, with unerring precision, that you're at a particular grid reference when you're in a hakea choked gully littered with scree. Often the terrain is so limiting that precise navigation is impossible anyway, and adds more confusion than it alleviates.

12:06:59 PM
Suggest also looking at the Garmin Vista - similar features to the Magellan Platinum
but much smaller. 24 Meg memory but not expandable, I don't know whether anyone
would really need more... Basically to get full topo map detail you need huge memory (although the market is asking for it) and without a colour display how much use is it?
There are other pages on the Magellan and it's quite friendly. All but a couple of the most basic units interface with PC's and you DON'T need OEM software. Have a look at ZDNET for GPS stuff.

2:55:23 PM

2 years later and I am in the market for a GPS. If anyone can help me out that would be great... I am a
total novice about this stuff so this list of 'wants' might seem silly...

- under $350 (prefer $200 or under)
- waterproof
- ability to download plotted points to some sort of Macintosh software which has real maps. Someone at
the Nowra mansion had this working on a PC.
- USB or Firewire ports in preference.
- alimeter and barometer
- small
- long battery life

I will be using it to plot climbing areas in the Grampians for future guidebooks. If anyone knows a good
source of cheap units that would be great as well!

3:12:38 PM
The BC forum over at often discusses GPS, lots of first hand experiences with various models. Here's just one such GPS thread;f=9;t=002633

The latest Outdoor Australia Magazine (Jun/Jul 2005 issue) has a review on GPSs. There's a useful comparison table on page 79, comparing functions, battery life, etc etc of the models and brands featured - might be useful to get an idea.

These guys also have comparison tables online

3:30:09 PM
Neil I bought a sub $300 Garmin one this year - Ben Wright (BenHev on Chockstone) has it at the moment and has been using it at Buffalo to plot a few things - perhaps he can fill you in on the pros and cons of this unit.
5:25:22 PM
I work with a (fellow) gear-freak who is right into this stuff, in fact loaned me his unit to wander around Buller last winter.
He writes:

ebay is probably the best cheap source of units. Buying in aus direct adds a 40% premium on price.

As for software I use PC software (OZI Explorer and this is not compatible with a MAC. This software is a possibility though I've not used it and don't know much about it ( OziExplorer can run on a MAC using Virtual PC 6.1 or later...

I use a garmin ( unit (eTrex Legend) which would fit all the requirements below except the barometer. The etrex Summit would probably be your best bet in this case as it has the barometer and a built in altimeter. For USB in the garmin range you would have to go to a colour unit (Legend or Vista). The summit is an older model and will only have serial.

I don't know much about other manufacturers stuff.

More info that I forgot. Also, I'm happy for your friend to give me a ring to have a chat about this stuff as it can be a bit confusing making sense of it all.

I get about 11-12 hrs use out of my eTrex Legend from a set of 2300 mHA NiMH batteries. Unit is rated in low power mode to do 18 hrs (the vista has a battery rating of 12 hrs I think?). I run mine in full juice guzzling mode. The new colour units rate at 30hrs use in low power mode, are twice as expensive but have USB. I paid AUS$230 to get my unit shipped from the USA 2 years ago (from ebay).

The eTrex Garmin units have been on the market for about 6-7 years (maybe longer I think) and are probably in need of an overhall of the GPS chipset, as some of the newer chipsets are more accurate. Having said that they are still pretty good, very reliable, small size, shock and water proof (Waterproof to IEC 529 IPX7 standards, held under 1m water for 30mins). Although if you drop em 300m from a cliff face then they might not survive. The more expensive ones (Legend and above) also have larger resolution screens and better data entry options ('cos they have the click-stick on the front).

Some other sites of interest:

Geoff (via Steve).

7:03:32 PM
ok - i have tracked down a Summit for AU$220 from, and have found a USB to 9pin cable for
for AU$17. That should do the trick I think!
11:11:08 AM
We have the Garmin Geko 201
Bought from Paddy for about $260-$270..
It's small, light, waterproof, and does the job!

There are 12 messages in this topic.


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