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Discussion Forum - Gear ! - Using GPS trackers (Like Garmin eTrex)

Author: Marc Devanny
Posted: Sat 2nd Feb 2019, 1:26
Joined: 2019
Local Group: Lincolnshire
Hi not sure if this is now a 'dead' conversation.

I have the Garmin 64. had it about 3 years now, its great. It has big chunky buttons that work with gloves, no touch screen (so batteries last longer) and runs of AA batteries. (so you can swap them out for fresh if needed when out) The device itself is chunky and give real confidence that it is robust.
You can download the GPX files, it is compatible with other types as far as I am aware.
You do need to find it on amazon and just add it to a wish list for a while to watch as its price varies greatly. I got mine for £135 thats without maps. Its the plain 64 no letters after it.
it doesnt have wifi or a camera (I think these are options on later models but not my sort of thing so not looked in any detail)

Mapping software you can find cheaper than Garmin. I have the 50k view of the whole of GB. I cant remember how much I paid, it might have been as much as £50 again off amazon. But essentially it is a sd card with a 3 gb (ish) file that can be 'copied and pasted' for back up. (so you dont need to worry about losing the GPS and having to pay out for more mapping.

The Garmin website allows you to download the instruction book. (something I really must read soon) Its Garmin Connect software allows you to update the device software. I havent used it for anything else so cant comment on that.

I have used this device to log shorter walks (between 2 to 12 miles or so) and when teaching my son how to map read how to check if he was right by getting a grid reference off the GPS.
I have downloaded and added a few of the Long Distance walks from this website to it ready for when the cold snap ends. But I an not one for following a GPS blindly, I do still like to have a map and compass, so I cant comment on purely following a path on the device yet. (although as I type this I have just thought of a 10 miler locally that I have never been down that I could do a test run of this function on and get back to you about). I am sure there are many features that I don't use or know about (it does come with geocaching sites listed, I imagine these get updated when connected to Garmin Connect, my son used it to find a few when first brought it but never really become a hobby)

It may be a little less 'sexy' than some of the other models, but it is reassuringly robust, has cheap accessories, is accurate and has an interface that even someone like me can muddle out without resorting to the destruction manual. And its cheaper than many other options.

Hope that gives you options,


Author: Scott Whiteside
Posted: Tue 20th Nov 2018, 20:07
Joined: 2018
Local Group: Essex & Herts
Thanks Iain, very helpful.

I've been looking at using it to follow a gpx file, so it looks like it'll be fine
Author: Iain Connell
Posted: Tue 20th Nov 2018, 17:07
Joined: 2010
Local Group: East Lancashire
For tracking, at any rate, the Garmin eTrex Touch is remarkably good. After initial problems with battery life (compass on, screen brightness too high) I use mine (the eTrex Touch 35) primarily as a tracker and location-marker. If that's mainly what you want a GPS device for, I'd say it's worth the relatively low price (maybe less than £200 minus a Cotswold Outdoors discount) compared with other varieties.

On a tracked route, either self-created using one of the online mapping tools or downloaded from a challenge walk website (or the LDP database), you can compare your own breadcrumb trail with the 'correct' route. If you're off route by more than 50 yards it's then possible to adjust your direction by traditional means - a line round or through the visible features on the ground to a point on the original track - without using the GPS's routing facilities. The eTrex shows in minute detail every routing error and diversion, including natural ones!

For routing - setting or following straight lines between waypoints - I've found the eTrex to be more of a problem. It does the job (it's the primary mode of a GPS device) but it eats batteries like finger biscuits, and, unlike the narrow lines created by tracking (or downloading a track), its wider routing lines obscure the features of the map which I'm trying to follow. So I keep the routing tools off and the screen display on auto-save, giving about two days on a single battery charge compared to the original seven miles.

If you want to orient yourself with respect to OS 25k or 50k mapping you'll need a microSD card which covers the majority of the area in which you commonly walk or intend to go. The eTrex Touch series has a card slot for that purpose, and mine came with a code for a 25k map portion, but that still wasn't cheap and the full-GB coverage is very expensive. A couple of years ago I found an online site with a bargain £39 for full-GB coverage (see elsewhere in Gear!), but last time I checked (August 2018) the seller had run out of that card and had only regional versions at 25k (still worth it compared to Garmin, though).

A problem with the eTrex Touch is that there are no physical buttons other than on-off. At times the 35 version's screen just refuses to respond until it's switched off and on again (it saves all settings and locations); you may have better finger-sensitivity than me. People with smartphones seem to manage fine with them in the winter: I've resorted to finger-tip-latticed glove liners.

After a lot of initial experimentation and with the Settings menus (helped by a non-Garmin website), I've come to a compromise between most of what the device does (routing) and what I want it for (tracking and location-marking). The Garmin online manuals are awful, and I haven't found a book in English on the series. But I now record all of my walks as GPX files, and the well-designed (fits well into the hand and is physically robust - it's been with me in a stream) little device is now part of my standard gear (which, btw, still includes the paper maps).

Author: Scott Whiteside
Posted: Tue 20th Nov 2018, 12:48
Joined: 2018
Local Group: Essex & Herts
Hi, I am thinking of buying a handheld GPS tracker (currently I am looking at the Garmin eTrex Touch 25)

Does anybody have experience using GPS trackers like this on LDWA walks? Are they worth it, any good ones you could recommend?


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