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I've spent some time researching handheld GPS units. Initially I was on the verge of purchasing a Garmin 750i, quite pricey, but seemed to be able to do everything I'm looking for, but after reading through many of the reviews it seems people are not happy with the units. They complain of them freezing up frequently, loading slowly, not being able to keep up while driving at highway speed, yada, yada, yada. Has anyone had any of these experiences? We want to be able to go off grid (in the mountains for instance) where cell service is poor or non-existant. I like having the ability to send SMS messages via satellite with the inReach system and being able to message for help if we run into any problems, of course, mapping is the key purpose when there is no cell service.

Thanks

Albert

(Delivery date of our E2 is May 27, 2022, TV is a Ford F250)

spacer.pngAlbert & Terri Sterns

Currently Denver Based

Elite II Hull #1125 Standard Floorplan / 2017 Ford F250 gas

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I don’t know much about the 750i Montana, but you should consider keeping your primary nav device separate from your satellite communicator. My inReach Explorer (no gps) has a one month battery life on standby, the 750i is 18 hours in gps mode. Do you see the basic problem? If you get stranded in the wilderness, the last thing you want is a dead battery. The inReach is built to a higher standard in terms of ruggedness. You can deal with the lack of a qwerty keyboard by tying it to your phone using the Earthmate app, which works fine, or just make do with the unit’s basic one. Preset messages stored on the website make sending routine check in messages easy - even “broken down, no injuries, send tow truck” - it is only when you have to talk to SAR that do you need to be able to type in details. I use my inReach three times daily on trips when there is no cell, in the morning when hitting the road, at a lunch stop, and when retiring for the night; all are my pre-loaded messages that cost nothing.

John Davies

Spokane WA

 

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

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Thanks John, That's certainly good advice. I'm still at a loss as to which off grid navigation device to go for

albert

spacer.pngAlbert & Terri Sterns

Currently Denver Based

Elite II Hull #1125 Standard Floorplan / 2017 Ford F250 gas

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Are you talking about handheld GPS or dash mount for a vehicle? If you're talking about handheld for hiking, etc. also get a compass and learn how to use it with paper maps. Never bet your life on anything with batteries. In fact, get a compass and maps either way. You can get lost on back roads, too. We've all seen the stories about people who take a wrong turn on a forest road and can't get themselves out. A $25 compass and some practice with it before you head out is good life insurance.

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Stephanie and Dudley from CT.  2022 LE2, Hull #1150: Eggcelsior.

Tow vehicle: 2016 GMC Sierra 6.0 gas dually 4x4.

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Where we've been RVing since 1999:

ALAZCACOCTDEFLGAIDILINIAKYLAMDMAMIMNMSMOMTNENVNHNMNYNCNDOHOKORPASCSDTNTXUTVTVAWAWVWIWYmed.jpg.e6391b9064a3f8f0951751f985664135.jpg

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AMEN to the compass and map!!! :-)

 

Yes, I have (AND know how to use) a compass and map. 

 

I initially was looking for a handheld unit, then as I was looking I came across the Garmin 680i, 700i and 750i, all of which would also work nicely as a dash mount. The 700 and 750i are quite heavy for hiking but that is much less of an issue for us since our ability to do much estensive hiking is limited, so really what I want is a device to reliably get me in and out of areas that have no type of cell or internet service (other than a compass and map). 

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spacer.pngAlbert & Terri Sterns

Currently Denver Based

Elite II Hull #1125 Standard Floorplan / 2017 Ford F250 gas

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15 minutes ago, albert said:

AMEN to the compass and map!!! 🙂

Yes, I have (AND know how to use) a compass and map. 

Most former military folks and even Boy Scouts remember their land navigation training.  Back in the day, while at West Point, part of our summer training was being dropped off somewhere in the hills/mountains in pairs.  We had a map, compass and some C-rations (early 1970’s).  We had to figure out where we were and find our way back to camp.  For most groups it took 2 or 3 days.  My buddy and I made it back in 2.  Slept under the stars and gathered fresh blueberry’s in the morning.

Now, back to our regular programming, new fangled handheld land navigation devices….  Mike

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Texas Hill Country | Elite II #135 | Ram 2500 6.7L

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I'll basically second JD's advice concerning Garmin's InReach devices when used with the Garmin Earthmate app.

I have the InReach Mini.  While driving my wife and friends can basically keep track of my location (as long as I have turned it on) and I can see where I am on the map on my cellphone or tablet or computer.  While hiking and fishing the same thing applies plus I have the unit's "breadcrumb feature" that allows me to retrace my steps and if I get in trouble I can always hit the "SOS" button for search and rescue.  These things are not cheap!  But, you never really know what is right around that next boulder.

Bill

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2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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Albert, this is a common conundrum. I no longer hike much due to some physical issues, so a handheld GPS doesn't matter to me since I just take easy tourist paths - "Oh what a pretty view!" - , nothing at all rugged or wild. I rely on an iPad Mini loaded with aftermarket nav apps such as GAIA and Pocket Earth Pro to get the truck where I want it, I think that is a great option for overlanders who are often in the boonies, exploring remote forest and ranch roads. The USFS maps and their MVUM layer (Motor Vehicle Use Maps - where your vehicle can legally go) are very good. If I had to pick one for hiking, it would be in addition to the iPad, and it would fit on my wrist. Look at running/ hiking wrist units to see if any would suit you.

John Davies
Spokane WA

 

"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags, Safari snorkel.

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We were looking for a device to use when the ipad/iphone are not inservice and that will provide information in line with what you get wtih the MVUM maps, which is my default when all else fails. I thought the 750i was it until I read through all the comments and now I'm a bit gun-shy to spring for the unit since  several of the comments indicate that it doesn't seem to work as well as it's touted. 

spacer.pngAlbert & Terri Sterns

Currently Denver Based

Elite II Hull #1125 Standard Floorplan / 2017 Ford F250 gas

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1 hour ago, albert said:

We were looking for a device to use when the ipad/iphone are not inservice and that will provide information in line with what you get wtih the MVUM maps, which is my default when all else fails. 

Try GAIA Premium, that lets you download all sorts of maps and layers for when the cell signal disappears. It has a fairly steep learning curve, but once you figure out the basics, it works great. Buy from their website to save 10% compared to the App Store. https://www.gaiagps.com/membership/?COUP=10OFFFIRSTYEAR

Pocket Earth Pro, I think I mentioned that somewhere already, I love it for just routine “road atlas” type navigation, it gives great situational awareness for what the terrain is like beyond your truck’s OEM nav screen, or an aftermarket GPs with road maps, which might just show a line on a grey background…... Here are a couple of screen captures at different zoom levels. These are all downloaded maps, they work anywhere.

69C74B86-E1F2-484A-BD4E-EECDC5AF9BA7.thumb.png.38cd6f584490dc56f4d33f9e4fef9ed9.png

4A827DA8-F401-442E-995A-284B0242C420.thumb.png.2944c989cc618b9d57758db5b7a634e1.png

John Davies

Spokane WA

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags, Safari snorkel.

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I have an old Garmin Nuvi 500 I think that's the model number and it has both regular maps and topo maps in it, also the has a battery backup that will last for around 5-6 hours. It is small and can easily be carried in your pocket, I mainly used back in my motorcycle days and hiking in the woods, I think I paid somewhere around $150 for it  I think I will get it out, charge it up, and see how it works, probably needs the maps updated and see what it can do. I guess if you could find one of these models it would be worth the money in good working condition, but I'm sure it would not have all the bells and whistles of todays models.   https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/13424

trainman

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Elite II, Twin Bed, Hull #489, 2019 RAM 1500, 5.7 Hemi, 4X4, Crew Cab, 5'7" bed, Towing Package, 3.92 Gears.

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Depending on how you intend to use the handheld GPS, you may want to take a look at OnX Maps  ( onxmaps.com ).  They offer a free trial.  The app loads on your phone and works off the internet.  You can download satellite maps of any area you know you will be in that doesn't have cell coverage.  Originally developed for backcountry hunters, they now have a "recreation" version (trails, campgrounds, ski reports, etc.) that is pretty amazing.  It won't give you driving instructions, but if you want something that works anywhere you can see the sky and has impressive mapping and GPS features,  you may find OnX maps and your phone to be preferable to a handheld GPS.  I do.

Steve and Lornie

LE II Standard  Hull #657  2004 4Runner 4.7 L V8

Oregon

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OnX also sells chips containing 24,000 (7.5 quad) topo maps of entire states.  These chips can be utilized by devices, such as the many handheld Garmin GPS units which allow you to switch out micro sd cards.  While quite spendy, about $100 per state when I bought WA and OR a couple years back, these cards give you seamless, high resolution topo map coverage for an entire state. 

As you move from one state to another you must change out chips as you go.

As John Davies stated, you can download maps by region on both GAIA and also OnX.  These maps are available in resolution from high to low depending on the size of the area covered - higher resolution comes at the cost of a smaller geographical area covered .  This is fine if you have access to internet but is slow or impossible to update on the fly if done over cell signal.  If you have marginal or no cell coverage, the option to download maps simply goes away.  Files are quite large which means you either have to spring for a device with a great deal of memory or delete files when not in use to make space for new regions.

I like using my I Phone or I Pad for day trips where cell signals are strong but find these devices lacking when signals are weak, non-existent or when your device has limited battery life ... these programs are energy hogs.

When seriously hiking, I carry maps, compass and a dedicated backcountry GPS unit like the Garmin 66ST with pre-loaded, high resolution maps aboard.

 

 

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thank you everyone for the inputs. I'm starting to lean more towards just using a compass and maps and sticking with the apps I can download on the iPhone, seems like that'll work for what we need.

spacer.pngAlbert & Terri Sterns

Currently Denver Based

Elite II Hull #1125 Standard Floorplan / 2017 Ford F250 gas

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@albert,  I think the determining factor is whether you go out of cell-coverage into remote areas and have a safety problem or a communication need.  I see that you are from Colorado as well.  We find we are camping quite often in places with no cell signal such as Bear Lake Campground in Rocky Mountain Nat Park     Since dogs are not allowed on trails in a national park, we had left our little dog at home with a neighbor coming over to our house to take care of her.   I have a Garmin InReach Mini like @topgun2 mentioned.  It allowed us to text our neighbor to check-in and answer some questions that came up.   From a safety perspective, if there are others around then you have someone to ask for help, but if you camp remote or you hike remote the Garmin InReach is worth having and it works well.  I opted for the cheapest, year-around plan with Garmin andI believe it's $12/month.  I hike and fly fish in remote places by myself and take the InReach Mini every time to check-in with my wife and it shares my GPS location to her automaticallly.  Like John, I use the InReach for communication/safety but rely on downloaded maps & GAIA GPS Maps in my phone for navigation.

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2020 Elite II #627, 2021 Silverado 1500 3.0L Duramax, Colorado

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Thanks for that input tallmandan. Colorado is one of our more common stomping grounds which is in large part why I've been looking at the GPS systems. Your information is helpful, I appreciate the response. 

 

a. 

spacer.pngAlbert & Terri Sterns

Currently Denver Based

Elite II Hull #1125 Standard Floorplan / 2017 Ford F250 gas

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The Gaia app is the place to start, and add as needed if the layers and features you can get there aren't sufficient. The one problem I have with relying solely on Gaia when I'm hiking or backountry ski touring is that if my phone screen gets sufficiently wet, it can be tough if not impossible to interact with. Backup, whether compass/map (and maybe altimeter) or a dedicated GPS unit is wise. But fwiw the mountain ski guides I know (IFMGA, ACMG certified) tend to start with Gaia or whatever is the closest equivalent when they're in Europe or Canada but keep a Garmin GPSr unit charged and in the bottom of their packs, with waypoints entered when plans warrant. The interface on the phone is just better (when the touchscreen works and the battery has charge).

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Jim and  Yanna, Woodinville WA

2004 Ford E250 camper conversion

Oliver Elite II hull #709

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BTW, for turn-by-turn type directions while away from cell reception, I have added the TomTom Go app to my phone, which allows easy downloading of regions or countries (much more useful for offline than the gmaps map download feature). You seem to be more focused on the feature set of handheld GPS units typically used for walking or if in vehicles maybe more like "overlanding" but for road routing, this so far seems to be a decent option.

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Jim and  Yanna, Woodinville WA

2004 Ford E250 camper conversion

Oliver Elite II hull #709

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