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Old 04-13-2017, 02:27 PM   #1
AvalanchePass
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Garmin eTrex 10

Hi,

I'm in the market for a handheld GPS.

I'm partial to Garmin because it's compatible with the route planning software I use (although I'm not sure I'll ever upgrade to the paid plan to take advantage of that feature).

Plan is to track routes and then contribute to the OSM project. Don't plan to use it for navigation unless things go sideways. For this reason I'll need the ability to load area OSM maps to the unit.

The Garmin eTrex 10 seems to meet my requirements:
  • high-sensitivity receiver
  • tracks both GPS and GLONASS satellites
  • rated IPX7 (incidental exposure to water of up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes)
Don't think I require color, large screen, big storage, etc. But perhaps there are features I "need" that I'm unaware of?

Noticeably absent from the list of features is the ability to add maps. However, the OSM Wiki states "Contrary to the vendor's claim, you can (and you should) upload OSM data to eTrex 10."

Besides any general recommendations does anyone have real world experience with loading the OSM maps?

The OSM Wiki states that it doesn't have an altimeter. However, screen shots on Garmin's page show the elevation displayed. I would think that elevation would be a basic feature of any hiking GPS? I assume the OSM Wiki is referring to the lack of a barometric altimeter?

Again, the OSM Wiki highlights the lack of a compass but the screen shots show a compass option. I assume the Wiki is referring to the lack of a magnetic compass?

Amazon has it for CA$147 after shipping and tax. Used ones (some with cases) have been going on eBay for an average CA$99 after shipping, customs, and tax.

Any hesitation about going with a used unit?

Thanks,
AP
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Old 04-13-2017, 04:23 PM   #2
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Uploading OSM files to this Garmin device will involve a "middleman", namely Garmin's Basecamp software.

You first have to acquire the OSM map in a Garmin-compatible format. This involves using http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl and jumping through a few hoops before you can transfer the map from Basecamp to the etrex.

FWIW, there are other, non-OSM sources of free Garmin-compatible maps but they either don't have trails or the ones they have are usually outdated.

You're correct; it doesn't have a barometric altimeter. It uses the GPS receiver to get altitude ... and that means less accuracy and the total ascent for your trip will typically be higher than the true value.

You're correct again; it doesn't have an electronic compass. It uses the GPS to indicate direction and that means it only works (and sluggishly) when the GPS receiver detects movement.


If you have a smartphone, get a navigation app and skip the etrex. If you don't have a smartphone, consider buying a used one like the "Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo" (or similar). It's waterproof and has an electronic compass and a barometric altimeter. Install "Locus Map" and you'll have a device that's far more functional and easier to use.
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Old 04-15-2017, 06:27 PM   #3
AvalanchePass
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Thanks for taking the time to respond.

I apologize for the self indulgence of this response but I figure I may as well do my research here.

I'm new to GPS but here's what I thought were necessities from my 30 minutes of exhaustive research :
  • high-sensitivity receiver
  • tracks both GPS and GLONASS satellites
  • rated IPX7 water resistance
I appreciate that you used the Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo as an example of one of many smart phones that would work but I researched that one specifically as it seemed a good a place to start as any.

While it tracks both satellite systems and is IPX7 compliant it does not appear to have a high-sensitivity receiver. How important is high sensitivity in the Adirondacks or anywhere else I may be using it?

Samsung specs mention a Geomagnetic Sensor (I assume this facilitates an electronic compass) but not a Barometric Sensor?

When you recommend a smartphone as more functional do you mean for the intended purpose of outdoor GPS navigation? Or just that is capable of much more in addition to the navigation?

Obviously a smartphone has a camera. I would probably get a text plan (not voice or data). Take advantage of wifi hotspots. Probably put some music on it. Likely discover other apps that will be useful. Clearly a smartphone has some possibilities. Duh ...

I don't have navigation in my vehicle. I know the smartphone could fulfill that role, could the hiking GPS as well?

I see the phone is 16 GB with 10 GB usable. The GPS has 8 GB, not sure how much usable.

Seems like used Galaxy S5 Neo's on eBay are averaging CA$156 after shipping while used eTrex 10's are averaging CA$99 after shipping.

So I guess my main question is the necessity for a high sensitivity receiver? I went for a walk with my son's iPad the other night and the GPS lost signal so often it was rendered useless.

Electronic compass and a barometric altimeter would be nice but I could live without them.

Thanks to anyone that lasted this far,
AP
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Old 04-15-2017, 09:06 PM   #4
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Where did you read about "high sensitivity receiver"? It sounds like a dated marketing term because most GPS hardware nowadays is impressively "sensitive".

In real-world testing, my phone's GPS receiver performs at least as well as my old Garmin 530 HCx and often better. A friend did extensive comparison tests, between his iPhone 5s and his old Garmin GPSMAP 76cx, and concluded the 5s performs as well as and often better than the 76cx.

My phone gets a GPS fix inside my house. It also had no trouble in a maple forest with a 40' canopy. I'm not sure how much more "sensitivity" you need for trail hiking. If you plan to do a lot of bushwhacking in dense conifers, you might consider Garmin's GPSMAP 64 with a protruding antenna (brace yourself for sticker shock).

FWIW, I used my phone in these conditions: https://www.flickr.com/photos/948111...57676658539124

A smartphone can be just as capable as a purpose-built backcountry GPS with the added advantage of having a far superior screen, better software, more maps (and free maps), ease of transferring/sharing information, etc.

Its principal disadvantage is it is not as rugged as a purpose-built GPS ... but there are many phone cases available to fix that drawback (even waterproof cases). The other disadvantage is that a touch-screen is not the most convenient user-interface in cold, foul weather (buttons are better) and the screen or the entire phone may cease functioning at sub-zero temperatures. For most trail-hikers, who don't go out in those conditions, they'll never experience those problems.

Yes, you can use a purpose-built GPS as a satnav for your car. My 530 HCx has the ability but I have never used it. Imagine trying to navigate by peering at a very small transflective screen. It can be done but my phone does a far better job (and it speaks). BTW, according to the etrex's manual, only the model 20 and 30 can do road navigation.

Anyway, all I wanted to do is highlight the fact that an inexpensive phone can do an equivalent if not better job than an inexpensive purpose-built GPS device. The fact that many hikers already own a phone, all they need to do is install a good GPS app to reap the benefits.
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Old 04-17-2017, 12:33 PM   #5
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Avalanche,

I was in the same boat just last week. Came real close to purchasing the eTrex20 for some of the reasons you mention. But I read info similar to what TrailBoss provided and followed his advice.

The one thing I was still worried about was battery life on my cell phone. I like the idea of having spare batteries along that I could slip into the GPS. This because my older smart phone (an iPhone 4s) used to regularly die on the first night out - and I usually camp the night before hiking so it was useless.

A few minor adjustments though: I now sleep with my smart phone to keep it warm. Goes right in the sleeping bag with me. Getting kind of crowded in there with the Sawyer water filter and alky fuel but it works. The phone is alive the next day. Still though I invested in a 12000Mah cell phone charger ($15us). They make smaller ones but this one claims to be able to charge a smartphone 4x. Since both my daughter and I carry iPhones I figured the extra weight was worth it.

I use Gaia GPS, which allowed me to export maps from CalTopo with waypoints and routes defined.

I had no trouble checking location along the trail this last weekend. Never really tried it with thick overhead, would just make a point of pulling it out here and there along the way.

And I am not sure but I think TB is suggesting an older smartphone without a plan. You would not be able to make calls or text but could use wifi, camera and GPS.
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Old 04-18-2017, 07:48 AM   #6
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Thanks guys,

I've decided to get a used smartphone with GPS. No voice or data but I'll likely get a text plan.

It's always interesting when you get advice opposed to what you were expecting. It takes awhile for your thought process to "reset".

Thanks again TrailBoss for the detailed response. Wondering if there was a reason you mentioned the S5 Neo specifically or whether it was just as an example of a phone that would work?

The advantage of the S5 Neo appears to be a processor that is faster and draws less power, while the S5 seems to have the barometric sensor and USB 3.0 (vs 2.0).

There are a lot more S5's around so I'll have a bigger pool to choose from if I go that route.

Thanks,
AP
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Old 04-18-2017, 09:52 AM   #7
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No particular reason for the S5 Neo other than it was one of the phones available to me when I had to cash in all my FidoDollars (a form of loyalty points, now discontinued by Rogers/Fido). By the time I made up my mind to get the Neo, Fido increased its price substantially. I chose another phone (Moto X Play).

Mea culpa. The Neo doesn't have a barometric sensor.
http://www.gsmarena.com/samsung_galaxy_s5_neo-6506.php
I must've got my wires crossed because, like you pointed out, the Neo's upscale sibling, the S5, is the one with this sensor. I only got the second half right and the Neo does have a (hardware) compass.

Good idea to look for used flagship phones because there'll probably be a larger pool of available units (and more competitive pricing).

As for (Android) software, I highly recommend either Alpinequest or Locus Map. I have both. I reviewed six apps and chose Alpinequest. After six months of use, I switched to Locus Map because it had several additional features I wanted.
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Old 04-21-2017, 09:17 AM   #8
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Thanks for the reply once again.

I made a bid on an S5 but I was outbid so I need to decide whether to go higher.

In the meantime a friend has offered me his old S3 at no charge.

Your experience has been that a modern smartphone performs at least as well as a low end GPS. Plus it's easier to upload/download OSM maps and tracks. Any feel for whether that would hold true for an S3?

Here's a side by side comparison with the S5.

The S3 has:
  • Android 4.3 (Locus Map requires 4.0.3)
  • GPS and Glonass
  • Compass and Barometer
  • 64 GB microSD
  • Replaceable battery
  • Wifi, Bluetooth
  • USB 2.0
It doesn't have the water resistant designation and of course the screen resolution, camera, etc. are not as impressive.

So on paper it seems like it should work. Any thoughts?

Thanks,
AP
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Old 04-21-2017, 12:05 PM   #9
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Free? As in beer? Take it! Try it. It might prove to be all you need. If you find it wanting (eats through the battery ASAP, screen is low-res and too small, processor is weak, etc), go back to bidding for an S5. Whatever navigation app you buy for the S3 will be transferable to the new phone (as long as you use the same Google Play account).

PS
If you live in Canada, check out http://kijiji.ca. No bidding just direct sales from one person to another.

BTW, when buying a used phone, be sure to confirm it is no longer "owned" by the carrier (and is not stolen). If locked to a carrier, you can contact the carrier, report the phone's IMEI number, and they'll tell you if the phone is "off-plan" and now free and clear. They can also tell you if it's stolen or not.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/st...nada-1.1873674
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