About | Blog | Forums | People | Free Newsletter
Trailspace is a product review site for outdoor enthusiasts. Use it to find and share great gear.

bushnell gps

7:59 p.m. on June 7, 2012 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
22 forum posts

I got a bushnell onix 350 gps for a graduation present last year......and just now started messing with it....im havin some problems tryin to access bushnells website for downloading topo's on it....im kinda new to gps as it is, having always favored a map and compass.....can you download topo's from any site onto a gps? thanks


9:16 p.m. on June 7, 2012 (EDT)
2,264 reviewer rep
5,188 forum posts

First thing to note is that the Onix is a discontinued model. Plus Bushnell has discontinued the satphoto downloads, though they continue their topographic map downloads for their various models.

Bushnell has 8 current models, including 3 of their Backtrack series. The other 5 do, like the Onix, have capability of downloading Bushnell's proprietary topographic maps. I have no real experience with their "real" GPSRs (just a little playing around with 2 of the "real" models enough to get a feel of what they would do, but no actual long-term usage). The Backtrack series is intended only as an ultrasimple device to record your outbound travel and then retrace it back to the car, trailhead, campsite, or whatever starting point. Trailspace (Alicia and I) offered to review their original Backtracker a couple years ago at the Outdoor Retailer Show, but their response was that they would sell one to Trailspace at a slight discount (almost all companies are willing to provide gear on a short period loan for review, with the understanding that we "tell it like it is, for better or worse." - I was very unimpressed with the on-the-spot 10 minute demonstration).

To deal with your direct question:

can you download topo's from any site onto a gps?

The short answer is "only Bushnell's own proprietary topo maps".

The longer answer is that there are a several people in the geocaching community who have created ways of scanning any map, rectifying and geolocating the map features, and downloading it into a GPS receiver that can be connected to a computer. Since the Bushnell GPSRs are far from being the most popular (sorry about that piece of bad news), I suspect that no one has hacked the Bushnell units to load scanned USGS topo maps, USFS trail maps, local State parks, etc. But you might go on the geocaching.com forums and ask there.

Another part of the long answer is that the main maps that can be loaded onto Garmin (most widely sold handheld GPSRs), Magellan, Delorme, and Lowrance (the four most widely sold handheld GPSR companies) are actually vectorized contour maps, not scanned from USGS topo maps. Since the underlying grid is fairly coarse, the vectorized maps are not very accurate. However, all 4 have models which can download satellite and aerial photos, as well as road maps. The photos are quite accurately rendered, though in an area such as where I live (lots of giant redwoods and other tree-covered areas with lots of overlapping canopy), you often can not see the trails under the tree cover. But that's ok, since the quality GPSRs (and units like your Bushnell) will trace and store the track of your wanderings, and allow you to retrace your steps (in much better detail and accuracy than Bushnell's "Backtrack" series that show no mapping detail).

Bushnell has a good reputation for many of their products in the hunting community, and for their golf-oriented customers. The accuracy of positioning (the latitude/longitude and the UTM/MGRS coordinates) is equal to other handheld GPSRs (the limitation is the satellite signal available to "non-authorized users", meaning non-military), which is to say it will measure your position to within 3 meters radius (roughly a 20-foot diameter circle) and 30 feet of elevation (which is better than most USGS maps, with their fairly standard 40-foot contour interval).

Since you favor a map and compass anyway, your Bushnell Onix will serve well as a supplement. You should consider the map and compass primary, anyway (they do not run out of battery power at critical times). If you spend a little time learning how to transfer positions to and from a USGS map and the Bushnell, you will be very able to navigate in the middle of the Big Bend, even in a sandstorm.

There should be some stores in your area that run basic courses on how to use your GPSR. Cabela's sells Bushnell units, and has shops all over the US, so might be a place to check (Allen, Ft Worth, and Buda in Texas).

I suspect you will outgrow the Bushnell before too long, though. At which point, take a good look at the Delorme, Magellan, and Garmin GPSRs.

10:28 p.m. on June 7, 2012 (EDT)
884 reviewer rep
3,432 forum posts

Welcome to Trailspace texas trekker!

Bill S, I learn something (or several things) every time you answer one of these types of questions - thank you.

As I sit here I am actually loading the Southeast US  Topo North America 9.0 maps onto my external drive from one of the CD-ROM's that came with my new Delorme PN-60w. It also came with a free 12 month subscription to MapPack with unlimited downloads.

As you mention to texas trekker above, I outgrew my old Garmin Etrex. The Delorme was a very nice upgrade.

Mike G.

5:05 p.m. on June 9, 2012 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
22 forum posts

Lol well that kind of answers why ive been having a hard time with their website! Thanks for the info!

April 24, 2014
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

More Topics
This forum: Older: You can stop worrying about bears now Newer: Bear stopping at your back yard
All forums: Older: Indiana Hikes Newer: Knife fixed blade or folder