Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 50

Thread: GPS Unit Suitable for Alaska

  1. #1
    New member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Posts
    5

    Default GPS Unit Suitable for Alaska

    Planning a trip this year. Will be bringing a compass but would like advice on possible low cost GPS units that are suitable for Alaska. Mostly interested in the type that will allow marking a few points for backtracking like the Bushnell Backtrack. Biggest question is are there satellite connection issues?

  2. #2
    Member IndyCzar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Just 55 miles north of ANC ... on the lake
    Posts
    351

    Default

    i use a garmon 530...has GPS plus line of sight radio...downloadable topos...small waterproof...satellite is only an issue when can't get a clear view of sky, (heavy forrest, canyon, ect)...normal hunts no problem...extra batteries, compass and topo map for back up...

  3. #3
    Member JOAT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Soldotna, ALASKA since '78
    Posts
    3,720

    Default They all work up here

    The GPS system is "global". The GPSr (receiver) will work anywhere on the planet without a care in the world. Alaska has the exact same GPS coverage as Florida or Texas. The GPSr does NOT "connect" to the satellites. It just recieves radio signals from them and does some fancy triginometry to calculate your location based on your distance from 4 or more of those satellites. Any GPSr will work in Alaska. Pick the one with the features and price tag you want. Garmin builds the best units, so you'll never go wrong if it says Garmin on it.

    Don't confuse the GPSr with other devices that do have to "connect" with satellites such as sat phones and SPOT trackers. Those items don't work as well in Alaska because they have to actually transmit a signal to a low orbit satellelite that is in a more equatorial orbit and thus a low horizon shot for us. The GPS sats are in a very high orbit with such scattered paths so that from any point on Earth you can see at least 8-10 of them at all times.

    I'd stay clear of that Bushnell backtrack unit. That company makes optics, not electronics. Go with a comapany that makes GPSr's when shopping for one (either Garmin or Magellan, consider no others). I'd recommend you take a hard look at the eTrex series for a simple entry-level unit.

    Forget about the Rhino series (the ones with radios in them). Worthless as a single unit and dangerous to take hunting (chance that you'll be seen as breaking the law that prohibits using 2-way radios for hunting). As for batteries, invest in a 4-pack of Energizer Lithium AA batteries. Put 2 in the unit and vac-pack the other 2 for spares. The 2 in the unit will run the thing for at least a week straight (depending on model).

    Feel free to ask about specific models that you're looking at to get a no-BS assessment.
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

  4. #4
    Member tboehm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Soldotna AK
    Posts
    2,408

    Default

    I would have to say that the garmin is the way to go. I have the 60csx. I got the alaska chip for it and used it many times and found it to be on the money. I might take a look at the new Delorme with built in spot but it dosn't fit your low cost requirement.
    Semper Fi and God Bless

  5. #5
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Midwest
    Posts
    45

    Default

    Garmin all the way....proven to be reliable.
    Rent a sat phone, it is worth the money. Accidents do happen in the bush.


    just my.02

  6. #6
    Member ADUKHNT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Eagle River
    Posts
    503

    Default

    Gotta love my Garmin 176. It's waterproof and it works. I have owned several Garmins-car and boat(blue chart). They are awesome and easy to use.
    I have such a hard time trying to decide which outdoor activity to do every chance I get!! Living in AK is a mental challenge

  7. #7
    Member Yellowknife's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Fairbanks
    Posts
    803

    Default

    I have probably used 20+ different Garmin GPS's up here, plus a few Magellans and Delorme. They all work fine, but there is no doubt that Garmin owns the market.

    If you are looking for cheap and simple, I would vote for the basic yellow Garmin Etrex. They work fine for basic point marking and can hold a fairly long track.

    I wouldn't waste time on the Bushnell, simply due to it's extremely limited functionality. I also second the suggestion to use Lithium batteries. In cold weather they will outlast the Alkalines 5:1 or better.

    Yk

  8. #8
    Member SkinnyD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    20B
    Posts
    1,379

    Default

    I use recreational, commercial, and survey grade GPS units and data from them every day and I can tell you that the Garmin is your best bet. The Magellan will be fine if you only want to plot a few points and do a track back, but.....

    In today's world, we would like to be able to pull up our data on a computer and then look at it in Google Earth or ArcGIS. With this in mind, I highly (very highly) recommend the Garmin 60CSx or 76CSx because they are small, accurate to within 15 feet or so, and there are only about four buttons so it is easy to use. If you have a Garmin unit, run a search for MN DNR Garmin and download the latest version, then use it to download your GPS data in .kml or .kmz formats to view in Google Earth. There are tons of tutorials online about doing this, or you can send me a private message and I'll send you some detailed instructions.

    Better yet, let me just stick the link to Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources and save you the search...
    http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/mis/gis/t...DNRGarmin.html

    Odd, you might say, that the state of Minnesota would be the entity providing this software. They had a software developer who came up with this several years ago and when everyone found out how well it worked, they were under pressure to continue producing it.
    Passing up shots on mergansers since 1992.


  9. #9
    Member Yellowknife's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Fairbanks
    Posts
    803

    Default

    If you can come up with the cash, I second SkinnyD on the Garmin 60CSx. It's currently my primary work unit, and I like it alot. You will find the base maps to be pretty inaccurate, but that is the case with virtually all GPS base maps. The 76CSx is very similiar, but will float if you drop it in the water.

    We have been generally not impressed the the useability of touch screen anything in the field (daylight screen view issues) so we haven't made the jump to the Oregon style.

    Yk

  10. #10
    Member J2theD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    300

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JOAT View Post
    The GPS system is "global". The GPSr (receiver) will work anywhere on the planet without a care in the world. Alaska has the exact same GPS coverage as Florida or Texas. The GPSr does NOT "connect" to the satellites. It just recieves radio signals from them and does some fancy triginometry to calculate your location based on your distance from 4 or more of those satellites. Any GPSr will work in Alaska. Pick the one with the features and price tag you want. Garmin builds the best units, so you'll never go wrong if it says Garmin on it.

    Don't confuse the GPSr with other devices that do have to "connect" with satellites such as sat phones and SPOT trackers. Those items don't work as well in Alaska because they have to actually transmit a signal to a low orbit satellelite that is in a more equatorial orbit and thus a low horizon shot for us. The GPS sats are in a very high orbit with such scattered paths so that from any point on Earth you can see at least 8-10 of them at all times.

    I'd stay clear of that Bushnell backtrack unit. That company makes optics, not electronics. Go with a comapany that makes GPSr's when shopping for one (either Garmin or Magellan, consider no others). I'd recommend you take a hard look at the eTrex series for a simple entry-level unit.

    Forget about the Rhino series (the ones with radios in them). Worthless as a single unit and dangerous to take hunting (chance that you'll be seen as breaking the law that prohibits using 2-way radios for hunting). As for batteries, invest in a 4-pack of Energizer Lithium AA batteries. Put 2 in the unit and vac-pack the other 2 for spares. The 2 in the unit will run the thing for at least a week straight (depending on model).

    Feel free to ask about specific models that you're looking at to get a no-BS assessment.
    Not to go off topic, but I had a quick question about using the "2 way radios" while hunting. Is it illegal just to track and position animals, or can you not even call my buddy and say "I am heading back to camp in an hour" type of conversaton?

    On topic, I have the Garmin 60csx and I really like it. I havent used it much and need to read and figure out how to do more stuff with it.

  11. #11
    Member AKDoug's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Talkeetna
    Posts
    5,714

    Default

    If you are looking for small and inexpensive it is tough to beat a Garmin Etrex Vista HCx. Even better is the fact that you can get a 60CSx for $199 right now off of Amazon. Both have great reception. I can fire my Vista up in my office inside a metal building and get reception..can't get better than that.
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

  12. #12
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    6,031

    Default Garmin Legend

    I upgraded from a garmin etrex (very old but still works fine) to a garmin legend mainly because now I can save my GPS data on my computer.

    I put an 8 GB memory chip in it. It came with a CD that has topo maps of all of the US, and since I put all that memory in it I was able to upload all of the state of Alaska - it took most of a day to upload all that to the legend.

    A real bonus of the deal is that it came with "basecamp" software, which I now love. I can find places on it (like you do on google earth only its topo, not imagery) then upload those places (that I want to go to) to the legend and bam, it'll get me there.

    Nice stuff.

  13. #13

    Default

    The Garmin 60CSx has proven to be very reliable in my vehicle and while in the woods for 2+, or 3+ years (can't remember). No Issues. The areas I've lived have not been AK, but I can say that the Garmin 60CSx is a reliable unit.

  14. #14
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    SwampView AK, Overlooking Mt. Mckinley and Points Beyond.
    Posts
    8,816

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by huntsalot View Post
    Planning a trip this year. Will be bringing a compass but would like advice on possible low cost GPS units that are suitable for Alaska. Mostly interested in the type that will allow marking a few points for backtracking like the Bushnell Backtrack. Biggest question is are there satellite connection issues?
    I think you're on the Right Track, in considering the Bushnell Backtrack.

    I hadda Garmin Etrex Legend, the older model in B & W, but it was so complex, it was of no use to me. I sold it at a Garage Sale, for $50.00, or maybe, I setttled for $40.00 ??? And "Good Riddance".

    I was unable to relate the screens info to where I was, or was goin. It was also, very time consuming. When I'm out and about, I wanna get goin. This could be an issue with you on vacation, if you're not VERY proficient with your particular GPS device.

    The maps were interesting, but useless, for my purposes. All I want is something to tell me the direction of a marked location.

    I want something simple, and fast that I don't hafta get emotionally involved with.

    I'm leaning towards the Bushnell Backtrack Point 5.

    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

  15. #15
    Member JOAT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Soldotna, ALASKA since '78
    Posts
    3,720

    Default

    Smitty, I have to strongly disagree with your assessment on this one. The eTrex will do the exact same thing that the backtrack does. If you can run a cell phone, you're more than savy enough to navigate around a Garmin with no more than 5 minutes of practice. You save a waypoint (hold down the Enter/Mark button for a couple seconds, give the spot a name, save it) and later on you pick that waypoint from the list and "navigate to" it. The screen turns into a compass with a big arrow. Follow the arrow. It couldn't be any easier.

    The backtrack lists for $120, but the basic eTrex H lists for $99.

    Garmin is the cutting edge in GPSr technology and they have nearly 20 years of proven experience. Bushnell? They just broke into the market and if you look over the backtrack products on sites like Amazon, they are consistently getting low to average ratings. Garmin is always highly rated.

    Do NOT buy a backtrack. Get a real GPSr.
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

  16. #16
    Member JOAT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Soldotna, ALASKA since '78
    Posts
    3,720

    Default Radios while Hunting...

    Quote Originally Posted by J2theD View Post
    ... I had a quick question about using the "2 way radios" while hunting. Is it illegal just to track and position animals, or can you not even call my buddy and say "I am heading back to camp in an hour" type of conversaton?
    Here's the appropriate section of the reg booklet on page 18 with everything but the radio parts snipped out...

    General hunting restrictions for all game

    You MAY NOT take game by:

    Using ... radio communication, cellular or satellite telephone, ...

    EXCEPT:

    -- Communications equipment may be used for safety; they may not be used to aid in taking of game.
    -- In the Unit 20D bison hunt, the use of ground-based radio communications, including cellular or satellite phones, to locate bison is allowed.
    So, using a radio to "track and position" animals sound pretty illegal to me. Using a radio to call back to base camp saying your heading in is not. If you're going to have a radio with you while hunting, just be very careful about how you use it. Once accused of using a radio to take game (e.g. asking your buddy to walk a certain direction, which you know will flush game to you, even if you don't verbalize the details over the air), it can be pretty hard to defend yourself as there is no "evidence" so to speak.

    You never know who's listening and how out-of-context your radio message may be.
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

  17. #17
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    6,031

    Default Garmin waypoint mark button

    Quote Originally Posted by JOAT View Post
    ...If you can run a cell phone, you're more than savy enough to navigate around a Garmin with no more than 5 minutes of practice. You save a waypoint (hold down the Enter/Mark button for a couple seconds, give the spot a name, save it) and later on you pick that waypoint from the list and "navigate to" it. ...
    I agree with what you said with one caveat. They guys at Garmin have never put one of their units into a "holder" on their ATV. I have a nice handlebar attachment that lets me put my SPOT there, or any similar device; I use it to hold my Garmin Legend usually. While my ATV is running, it is virtually impossible to mark a waypoint.

    The vibration from my Grizzly 700 engine is enough to confuse the Garmin into thinking I'm using that button in joystick mode, instead of just pushing it down. So I must turn off my engine to mark any waypoint.

    A very minor complaint though. I do love my Garmin anyway (and my Grizzly).

  18. #18

    Default

    Another strong vote for anything Garmin. If you just want simple gps function and no map, then Etrex is a cheap as they come. $199 is a great deal for a 60csx. I just bought the 62s, which is the new version of the 60 for $400 and I love it.

  19. #19
    Member SkinnyD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    20B
    Posts
    1,379

    Default

    I'm going to type up some simple step-by-step instructions for acquiring and using DNR Garmin.
    Passing up shots on mergansers since 1992.


  20. #20
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Hanover Pa.
    Posts
    26

    Default

    Garmen Rhino is what I used comes with a built in radio. $170.00 at Cabelas.[ Don't forget to have some sort of lanyard on it, One of my hunt partners lost his]....Jim
    Quote Originally Posted by huntsalot View Post
    Planning a trip this year. Will be bringing a compass but would like advice on possible low cost GPS units that are suitable for Alaska. Mostly interested in the type that will allow marking a few points for backtracking like the Bushnell Backtrack. Biggest question is are there satellite connection issues?

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •