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schucanoe
senior member (57)senior membersenior member
  
04/14/2023 02:32PM  
After 35 years of navigating through much of Quetico/BWCA using only maps and a compass I'm thinking that I may be ready for a GPS unit largely because I could also incorporate text messaging as I would also like to start doing some solo trips and being able to communicate if needed becomes more of an issue as I've "matured".
After reviewing many of the comments here I believe that I have narrowed my search to the Montana 700i and GPSMAP 66i. For navigation, does the larger screen of the 700i make it considerably easier to navigate by or do most of you still pretty much depend on hard copy maps to wind your way through the park with anyway? I see the touch screen as a plus for the 700i but it is not like I will be texting a lot with it. Is one unit more user friendly that the other for a beginner? Also, with the rechargeable batteries of both units what size of Anker charger would you recommend for a typical 8 day trip of moderate use. Thanks.
 
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04/14/2023 03:14PM  
I have been carrying a GPS unit for the past 6-8 years. But I am old school and still navigate mostly by map/compass with assistance from the GPS. I use it to verify my position and for an idea of what lies ahead. I have the Garmin Oregon 600 and the screen size is not really an issue.
 
andym
distinguished member(5360)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
  
04/14/2023 04:35PM  
I agree. We use the GPS largely to confirm location when necessary. Might use it for navigation when following our track back out of an area. But maps still rule supreme. You can't beat them for screen size and resolution. Plus, we like maps.
 
04/14/2023 05:38PM  
Consider the new GPSMAP 67i which has improved GPS (multi-band) and USB-C charging (finally!!). If you can get a 66i for a steal, though, like $300, then that might be a better option.

I'd be concerned with fragility and battery life of the Montana. They look like nice units, but I don't think that screen size, and a touchscreen, is necessary. You can pair your phone with the GPSMAP over Bluetooth to send SMS messages and view weather when needed. I leave my phone powered off in a dry bag for 99% of my trip, but I pull it out when I want to send a message (which I don't do daily, but probably will on my first solo this year).

A 10-15k mAh battery pack should be fine to get you through 8 days assuming you get the 67i. With my 66i, having it tracking me with the default interval (just GPS, not inReach position tracking), I probably get somewhere around 40-60 hours before I charge it. This makes up probably 5-6 travel days, but I use it while fishing as well since the Garmin BWCA maps have water topo for most lakes and it really helps save time navigating and focus on fishing, so it depends more on your use case.

Whatever you get, I recommend buying a pack of screen protectors and putting one on the day you get it. I cracked my previous screen protector pretty bad, but the underlying screen is in great shape. They're so cheap these days, it's a worthwhile expense to protect your investment.
 
04/14/2023 08:40PM  
Post your inquiry on the GPS Forum on this site.
 
04/14/2023 08:42PM  
I had thoughts about purchasing a satellite messenger until I saw this on the news. Now I'm waiting.

I use a map and compass 90% of the time and will use my phone (or my instinct watch as a backup) to verify my location. Once they implement satellite + mobile coverage there will be absolutely no advantage to dedicated GPS navigation devices in my opinion. The phone does everything they can and more.

Not long ago I would have said I wouldn't trust my phone in the outdoors as they're too fragile and the battery dies too quickly, but I've had a couple waterproof "tough" phones over the last few years that have changed my mind on that.
 
Saberboys
distinguished member(902)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/14/2023 10:27PM  
I have the Montana 700i and love it. I keep it clamped to the thwart in front of me. I went with the big screen so I can simply glance down and easily read it. Still use a map, but it's a great luxury item. Ran it for 7 days with no need for a charge on expedition mode.
 
schucanoe
senior member (57)senior membersenior member
  
04/17/2023 04:17PM  
Thanks for the replies everyone!
 
04/17/2023 04:49PM  
Avoid the touchscreen. Doesn't work well with drops of water on the screen, gets confused easily.

 
MDVancleave
member (31)member
  
04/17/2023 05:46PM  
Worth considering that every smartphone is a fully-functional GPS navigation device—even without cell service. There’s plenty of free or inexpensive apps and maps out there to download before your trip (I’m a big fan of the Avenza app and Voyageur’s free digital BWCA maps).

You’ll still need a separate device to send and receive messages and a extra battery bank to top off each (though is is probably true the the dedicated nav units you looked at too).
 
Marten
distinguished member(519)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/18/2023 10:21AM  
I have been navigating with a GPS for almost 20 years and only use the paper maps for study in camp. I now have the 66i and it is great for travel and texting. Shortly most high end phones will be able to access the different satellites. BUT the 66i can send texts to other such devices so easily. We use ours for keeping track of each other as we wander for a few days on our own. I use the cheapest all year plan at less than $15 a month and 50 cents a text after ten per month. The cell phones will not be giving away those texts to satellite.

For navigating I use the ROUTE feature to plot out my next days travel and then all I have to do is follow the line on the gps. A real perk in island studded lakes or bay filled shorelines. Of course the compasses and paper maps are still there for back up.
 
Northwoodsman
distinguished member(2059)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/18/2023 10:50AM  
I generally navigate by map but whip out the GPS to quickly locate portages. Has saved a lot of time over the years by not having to locate them.
 
mgraber
distinguished member(1501)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/18/2023 01:12PM  
For anyone wanting to start using a GPS, please do not put your maps away. I love having a GPS to back up my maps, but would never do it the other way. The GPS can keep you on an exact heading precisely to your target, can help to confirm if you are exactly where you think you are, as well as many other things. BUT, they can fail, and if they fail and you are not following along on your map, you may not be able to find where you are on the map. We "rescued" a couple that had been using a GPS to navigate with their maps stowed away. It was cold, windy and rainy for 3 days straight and while out in open water their GPS batteries died. When changing them they must have allowed moisture in to the device and it failed at a most unfortunate time and they got lost, hypothermic, and very scared. They had no idea where they were on the map, but happened on our camp as darkness settled in. We got them and their dog warmed up and straightened out, but it could have been a lot more miserable for them.
 
04/18/2023 01:49PM  
Northwoodsman: "I generally navigate by map but whip out the GPS to quickly locate portages. Has saved a lot of time over the years by not having to locate them."


Couldn't agree more
 
04/19/2023 12:59PM  
I have a GPS mounted to the boat for the official record of the trip track. I use it along with USGS topos overlaid with BWCA portage and campsite info so my GPS screen mirrors what I see on the MacKenzie maps I also carry. I like to follow along on the map and use the GPS to confirm I am where I think I am.
 
04/19/2023 10:26PM  
I use a smart phone with a Gaia GPS app and carry a Garmin in reach mini.

For me, this is an excellent combination I still use the map and compass as primary and the GPS to back it up as others have mentioned. The ability to get current accurate weather, forecasts, and messaging on the inreach, makes it worth every penny.

There are other Garman units that have a inreach communication built into them along with a GPS but they cost so much more. I can’t justify it over a smart phone that I already have.
 
04/20/2023 07:49AM  
+1 Like AceAce … I use GAIA App (now owned by Garmin) on my IPhone to navigate around Quetico (large viewing screen on IPhone Pro Max) and a Garmin INREACH Mini 2 to communicate with wife/family as well as other fellow paddlers tripping with me.

My INREACH Mini tracks my trip and also provides accurate weather forecasts too. Bring 68 years old … I really like to have SOS capability.

I always bring along (Fisher or McKenzie) maps and a compass.
 
AlexanderSupertramp
distinguished member (394)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/22/2023 06:05PM  
Wally13: "+1 Like AceAce … I use GAIA App (now owned by Garmin) on my IPhone to navigate around Quetico (large viewing screen on IPhone Pro Max) and a Garmin INREACH Mini 2 to communicate with wife/family as well as other fellow paddlers tripping with me.


My INREACH Mini tracks my trip and also provides accurate weather forecasts too. Bring 68 years old … I really like to have SOS capability.


I always bring along (Fisher or McKenzie) maps and a compass. "
Does the Gaia app have portages marked? Or campsites? Is that something that can be added?

I’m at the crossroads of getting a 67i or just using my phone and a mini, and tagging a long a battery bank.
 
04/22/2023 06:34PM  
You download the route with campsites in a GPX file from PP and upload them to GAIA. It is very easy to do and works well.

Used it for the first time last Oct in the BW on a trip. Did not even pull out my Garmin 62
 
AlexanderSupertramp
distinguished member (394)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/22/2023 08:03PM  
ISRO: "You download the route with campsites in a GPX file from PP and upload them to GAIA. It is very easy to do and works well.


Used it for the first time last Oct in the BW on a trip. Did not even pull out my Garmin 62"


Seems more cost effective but battery packs in the 30,000 to 40,000mah weigh like 2 lbs. Do you bring a battery pack? My iPhone 11 is just over 3 years old now and the battery ain’t what it used to be. If I put the phone in airplane mode it lasts a lot longer but can I use Gaia in airplane mode?
 
Kermit
distinguished member (132)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/22/2023 08:33PM  
"If I put the phone in airplane mode it lasts a lot longer but can I use Gaia in airplane mode?"

Yes. You can use Gaia in Airplane mode. The GPS in your phone works even when in Airplane mode as it works off satellites rather than cell towers. As long as you've downloaded the maps ahead of time, Gaia works great. I just took it on a three day trip and only charged my iPhone 11 once, and mostly because I was listening to a book at camp.
 
AlexanderSupertramp
distinguished member (394)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/22/2023 08:39PM  
Kermit: ""
If I put the phone in airplane mode it lasts a lot longer but can I use Gaia in airplane mode?"


Yes. You can use Gaia in Airplane mode. The GPS in your phone works even when in Airplane mode as it works off satellites rather than cell towers. As long as you've downloaded the maps ahead of time, Gaia works great. I just took it on a three day trip and only charged my iPhone 11 once, and mostly because I was listening to a book at camp."

This is good to know. Maybe I can get away with a 15000 mah battery bank then, which will charge the phone about 3 times.
 
04/23/2023 07:52AM  
ISRO: "You download the route with campsites in a GPX file from PP and upload them to GAIA. It is very easy to do and works well.


Used it for the first time last Oct in the BW on a trip. Did not even pull out my Garmin 62"


You can also download the nat geo trails illustrated layer on Gaia which has portages and campsites marked already. I would guess some of the campsite info is a little old but that's true of most maps. It's good enough.

IMO all the layers available in Gaia are amazing. You can get NOAA nautical charts, USGS topo, satellite, satellite topo, private and public land boundaries, the list goes on. You just have to remember to download the layers you want for the area you want before you loose signal.
 
04/23/2023 12:21PM  
AlexanderSupertramp: "
ISRO: "You download the route with campsites in a GPX file from PP and upload them to GAIA. It is very easy to do and works well.



Used it for the first time last Oct in the BW on a trip. Did not even pull out my Garmin 62"



Seems more cost effective but battery packs in the 30,000 to 40,000mah weigh like 2 lbs. Do you bring a battery pack? My iPhone 11 is just over 3 years old now and the battery ain’t what it used to be. If I put the phone in airplane mode it lasts a lot longer but can I use Gaia in airplane mode?"



99.5 % of my navigation is via map, only pull the phone out in a rare event. Battery issue is never been a problem as I leave my phone turned off and start the trip with a full battery.
 
04/23/2023 01:34PM  
ISRO: "99.5 % of my navigation is via map, only pull the phone out in a rare event. Battery issue is never been a problem as I leave my phone turned off and start the trip with a full battery."


Map & compass skills are great to have. People who don't develop at least basic map & compass skills should remember that moss grows on the north side of the bodies of people who got lost because they couldn't read a map.

TZ
 
04/24/2023 09:35AM  
Corsair: "
Northwoodsman: "I generally navigate by map but whip out the GPS to quickly locate portages. Has saved a lot of time over the years by not having to locate them."



Couldn't agree more"


I do the same.
 
AlexanderSupertramp
distinguished member (394)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/24/2023 04:39PM  

99.5 % of my navigation is via map, only pull the phone out in a rare event. Battery issue is never been a problem as I leave my phone turned off and start the trip with a full battery."


Previous trips it has been the same for me. My dad bought a 66i last year and brought it with on a 4-5 day trip but we only used it twice to find portages, which I had technically already located via map but as dads will be dads... he insisted that he find it on the GPS too, just to be sure. We used the weather feature a lot, since it rained for 3 days straight.

InReach Mini 2 is looking better and better, since it too has activity tracking.



 
YetiJedi
distinguished member(1442)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
04/24/2023 07:56PM  
I navigate with a paper map. For the past five years or so my trips are tracked with the explorer+ and my family follows along. Staying in contact with my family is important to me and works well for a handful of messages each day. The weather functionality is helpful although I wish garmin would add thunder/lightning probabilities. I am pleased with the accuracy of the wind forecasts. I will note I sometimes check the map for location but not very often. I don't find myself needing or wanting the touchscreen functionality. Very pleased with the long-lasting battery.
 
04/26/2023 07:09AM  
YetiJedi: "I navigate with a paper map. For the past five years or so my trips are tracked with the explorer+ and my family follows along. Staying in contact with my family is important to me and works well for a handful of messages each day. The weather functionality is helpful although I wish garmin would add thunder/lightning probabilities. I am pleased with the accuracy of the wind forecasts. I will note I sometimes check the map for location but not very often. I don't find myself needing or wanting the touchscreen functionality. Very pleased with the long-lasting battery."


That is a good summary.

I would add that I have now accumulated tracking records of three trips. As this database continues to get populated it provides a decent record that is not only interesting to look back upon, but also provides some useful travel information about possible future trips as I can see precisely how long each leg or travel day is and how much time each leg takes. My Explorer+ usually only needs one charge on a nine day trip. Battery drain is not a concern at all.

I also have maps that have campsites, portages and miscellaneous waypoints that I have embedded using OziExplorer with the downloaded Etopo maps of Quetico (fortunately I bought the digital maps over twenty years ago as they are about ten times the price now). The program allows you to enter waypoints and then download the set to your GPS. Just print the maps from the program before the trip and everything's in sync.

 
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