Handheld GPS Questions [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Handheld GPS Questions

11-24-2007, 01:10 PM
I don't have a GPS (yet ;) ) and was doing some reasearch to try to determine which model would best suit my needs. I would be using this from shore and boat on lakes/rivers and primarily from shore on the coast (until I get a yak :lildevl: ).

I did a few searches and it seems like the Garmin GPSMAP 76 series might be a good choice. The base unit has 8MB storage. The 76S has 24MB of storage and an electronic compass/barometer for $50 more. The 76Cx and 76CSx add a high sensitivity GPS receiver and removeable data card (128MB) for about $230 more :whoa: . I now have a few questions. Some are specific to this model but some are relevent to any make/model.

I guess the most important question is whether the high sensitivity receiver would be necessary. Has anyone used the 76 or 76S and had reception issues? Has anyone used the 76C or 76CS and got good reception when someone else could not? Has anyone used the 76C or 76CS and still had reception issues?

How much memory is necessary? I know this depends entirely upon the user, and more is usually better, but is 8MB even useful or would that just lead to frustration? How about 24MB?

How useful is the electronic compass? I already have a magnetic compass pinned to the outside of my gear bag.

How useful is the barometer?

Does anyone know of other brands/models that they would recommend over the Garmin 76 series?

Thanks for any and all info you can provide.


11-24-2007, 07:38 PM
I can help some here. The electronic compass is not as good as a regular Silva magnetic type. I typically carry two compasses when I am out in the toolies. I just replaced my Garmin Etrex vista with a Garmin GPS map 60Cx

The etrex only had 24 Megs of memory. It had the electronic compass , altimeter & barometer. Other than neat to know stuff I never used those features. I bought the GPSmap 60 because of the larger color screen and ability to use Blue Chart navigation charts with it.

As far as map space I have a 128 meg chip. I have stored 132 topo maps for most of NH, Maine, some of Mass & the cape. Chicago and northern Illinois and a section of The Gaspe' and Anticosti Island Quebec. I have used 29.3 megs. The GPS satellite will tell you your elevation if you need to know that. The ability to load decent Topo maps or marine charts that are usable in a small hand held unit is invaluable. As well as being able to transfer waypoints to a computer map or a regular paper USGS map makes the GPS a valuable tool indeed. Not to mention its use as a navigation tool in fog. More memory is always better, but 64Mb will get you a lot of maps stored & still leave room using the currently available map products from Garmin

After much consideration and option weighing I think the GPS map 60Cx is the best buy now. Or at least for what I am using it for.

12-02-2007, 01:05 PM
I've used a 76S for several years now. I'm very pleased with it. I use it in conjunction with the Garmin Bluecharts for marine use primarily.

The only reception issues I've ever had with this unit is when I've used it hunting and have been in heavy tree cover. This will obviously be a problem for any GPS unit.

I've never come close to needing more memory than the 76S has. I think I could get along just fine with the amount of memory that the 76 has but as you said, more is better.

The electronic compass is kinda nice for orientating a map or to rotate the unit itself when you're trying to find one of your points but a hand-held Silva or other will do that for you too. The 76S has a "sight and go" function which works with the compass. This is a nice feature that I've used a few times. It allows you to orient the unit towards a destination and then prompts you about your course as you navigate. This feature has been useful for me in the woods where you can't see where you're going and the terrain wont allow you to travel in a direct path to your destination.

The barometer is nice for weather forecasting but not really necessary.

The newer "x" models have color screens. This would be a big improvement. My 76S has the B&W screen and the added contrast would help me to see pick things out much more quickly. This would be of great help when navigating on the water at night which I do fairly often.

Take extra batteries with you. These units will go through AA batteries quickly! I don't have much experience with other units so perhaps this isn't atypical. Nevertheless, I wish they were more miserly on their power consumption.

12-03-2007, 09:57 AM
Hi Quentin....You might want to check out megagps.com
for good deals on Garmin GPS systems. I bought the GPSMAP 76Cx there as an over stocked item and saved a bunch. They have great customer service.

I now live in southern NH, but grew up in the Berkshires - beautiful country!

Steve M.

12-03-2007, 06:00 PM
Thanks for the info guys. Sounds like the 76Sx would be the best bet for my needs. I'll pass this info along and see what shows up under the Christmas tree!


12-04-2007, 04:44 AM
A word on the rechargable battries. Get the ones with the highest MH and they'll last a long time. I use 2300MH everyready battires which are great. I've noticed that there are 2700 MH battries out there which would be even better. Try them and you'll like them. FishHawk