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Boundary Waters Quetico Forum
   Group Forum: GPS
      Border Route GPS unit recommendations?     



distinguished member (414)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/11/2021 08:51AM  
Hey folks,

For 15 years, I have tripped WITHOUT a GPS unit. The last couple of years, I used my phone in airplane mode and the Huntstand App, which came in handy navigating a few tricky spots with the fam after a long day, which was plenty for our needs up to now.

Next Fall, my son and I are planning on doing the Kruger/Waddell Challenge. We've talked, and as we will be putting 35-40 miles behind us per day... not wanting to waste any time/energy getting turned around or veering off course... seems like having a GPS along to check every once in awhile would be wise. Also handy in case we need to emergency exit for some reason and didn't have all the maps for whatever area we are in. It would be helpful, in our training and while on the challenge, to get a sense of our pace - how fast are we covering water to gauge where we will be able to reach each day.

If you are willing to weigh in I would appreciate it, here are our wishes:
$200-300 or less budget
Weight/size conscious
Battery life probably helpful, recharge a plus, will have power banks along
(Beginner) User-friendly
Works easily with a Mac (that's all we have at home)
(Right now I'm leaning towards Garmin etrex 22x?)

I assume it is possible to connect to a computer and mark a route and waypoints ahead of time. Looks like lots of folks have links to places where I can get maps to upload to the device, very much appreciated. I'll search through old posts and YouTube, I'm sure I can figure it out. Final question: I saw somewhere that one of the SUP border route guys last fall used a watch GPS. Is there anything in our price range that would be worth it, or are we better off with a hand-held unit that we could mount somehow to the thwart?

I appreciate your time and all that you have contributed thus far, thanks much.
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distinguished member (414)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/11/2021 09:36AM  
Bonus points for any tips on how to set the GPS unit up for a trip such as this - setting up waypoints ahead of time that are easy to follow on the GPS, marking potential campsites, that sort of thing.
01/11/2021 09:59AM  
Check with the organizers, a satellite communication device may be required. If so a Garmin Inreach or 66i will do the comms and GPS routing.

Garmin is a field leader and has many very good reliable units. To save on budgeting used units are easily found at 25-50% less than new, factory refurbished and private used units, I have good results with either. I often by Ebay.
My current (bought used) GPS62st weighs under 6 ounces with batteries (Energizer Lithium). Run full time for tracking will last 2 days on 2 AA's. I figure 8 batteries is a more compact and lighter load than a 20000ma powerbank.
The 22x series is as capable as the full sized units but saves only 2-3 ounces. Adding waypoints routes and tracks is easy with Basecamp. If that program seems daunting preloaded chips with the needed components can be sourced, often from the member/posters here. I have done more than a few myself. I use Win based computers so the Mac question would be better answered by schweady who does use a Mac.
Like any new to you tech a learning curve is to be expected. For me the best learnig tool is doing. I carried my GPS around with me a lot just to get used to it's functions, another valuable learning tool is the Geocache hobby.
The watch GPS is something out of my usage, old eyes and small screen conflict.

distinguished member (414)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/11/2021 10:28AM  
Thanks for the reply Butthead. I have a SpotX (non-bluetooth) which I planned to use for check in's and messaging. I have not looked much into the mapping functions of it, only used it for sending messages that show our location as well. I assume it to not be as good as a garmin gps, though maybe I should look into that...
01/11/2021 02:09PM  
For GPS mapping the Garmins are about the only unit to consider. Nobody else makes a unit as versatile, user friendly, with similar capabilities for the price. The 22x you list is a fine unit, that will handle mapping as well as the GPS 66, if you like touch screen the Montana/Oregon series. If you do look into used stay with GPS62 and higher for the improved operating systems, the touch screens I believe 600's and up, ETrex 20 and up.
I would wager any member who has done the "Border Route Challenge" could supply a route in .gpx/.kpx form to add to these units.

distinguished member(7205)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
01/12/2021 02:17PM  
Happy to answer any Mac-specific questions. My experience has been seamless with BaseCamp and my old 62st and current 64st units, as long as you don't try installing any g3 charts such as the Lake Vu series. They don't show up in BaseCamp Mac. Garmin just updated BC to v 4.8.11 which finally allows it to work with macOS Big Sur v 11.1.

And, yes, it is easy enough to create waypoints on an on-screen map in BC and then transfer them all to your handheld.

Like butthead, I would suggest Garmin's 62 and 64 and 66 series handhelds. Most bang for the buck, for sure. I see the going price today for a 64st unit is $249. I might be tempted to upgrade to the 66 if I got that price for mine. wink. wink.
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