Best low cost GPS for PCT?

4:04 p.m. on August 16, 2012 (EDT)
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Any thoughts? Want to use half-mile maps on a GPS and don't know where to start.

10:24 p.m. on August 19, 2012 (EDT)
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First thing I am going to assume - you and the others in your party have at least basic map and compass skills. If not, then you should take a class in map&compass (REI offers them fairly frequently). The PCT is pretty straight-forward, so navigation is not a problem, except for resupply and side trips. You really do not need a GPSR to do it. There are good map sets and guidebooks for the PCT that will help you more than a GPSR, and they do not require batteries.

That said, my top recommendation would be the Delorme PN60w. Second would be Magellan's 610. Both of these have reasonable downloadable maps, scanned from USGS quads for a not-too-outrageous price (still pretty steep, but worth it in terms of the map quality). For many reasons (one of which is their map quality for the basemap, another the cost of their downloaded scanned USGS quads), I do NOT recommend the current Garmins (I have all 3 makes and see all 3 in the map courses I teach).

I know you asked for a "low cost" GPSR. However you also said you want the maps. There are GPSRs for half the price, but while they will record your tracks and you can load waypoints to produce a route to follow, they do not have the downloadable detail maps.

One possible plus for the Delorme is that you can get the Delorme inReach to link to the PN60w to send 2-way messages and tracks to your support team to coordinate resupply. Right now, one of the Trailspace regulars, bheiser, is doing the John Muir Trail (coincides with 200 miles of the PCT) and is using just this combination. So it is a proven approach. Look in at this link to see the mapping and messaging capability. You can zoom in with the slider on the left and switch between a topo map and satellite photo to get different views.

The PCT is a real challenge. Good luck in your preparation and trek!

8:46 a.m. on August 20, 2012 (EDT)
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Thank you so much for your thoughtful and useful reply.  Worried mainly about staying on course, especially through snow. Most of what I've read about the PCT is years old, so it's hard to judge what I really need in the way of equipment.

Thanks for your good wishes. Best to you, too.

8:55 a.m. on August 20, 2012 (EDT)
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+1 for basic map and compass skills

I used to use a dedicated gps, and still do for off trail trips. But for trips that are following a trail I now just use my iPhone for gps 90% of the time. I keep it in airplane mode and turn it on every so often to take a fix. Takes about 30 seconds to get a fix typically, and using it this way It will last me 2-3 days taking about 10 fixes a day. I also carry a battery pack to keep it charged up for long trips. So I have a phone, camera, electronic maps, and gps all in one. It isn't the best choice for a gps but works plenty well enough IMO. I have been using it this way now for about 2 1/2 years with no complaints. I also carry paper maps and a compass.

You do not need cell service for an iPhone, droid etc to use the phones gps.

7:13 a.m. on August 21, 2012 (EDT)
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Excellent suggestion. Thank you.

June 25, 2018
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