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Best Outdoor GPS unit

Best Outdoor GPS unit for Christmas 2020 and 2021

What is the best Outdoor GPS unit for 2020 and early 2021? This is a question we get asked lots as 2020 draws to an end.

It is been an amazing year for Outdoor GPS navigation. After the dreaded Covid 19 lockdown, many more people headed into the outdoors.

This has seen a massive increase in people looking for Outdoor GPS units to navigate them.

Last year The Guardian officially said walking is ‘No longer just an activity for older people with sticks, rambling in the countryside is catching on with a new generation’, it is now officially cool. You can read the article here.

GPS units – New Outdoor GPS units for late 2020.

It has been a busy second half of 2020. Garmin continued to dominate the sector, by launching a staggering six GPS units at all price brackets.

From the budget Garmin GPSMAP 65s, which has really livened that part of the market up right through to the stunning, large screen, Garmin Montana 700 range (read our review here).

With the new Montana 700 range having the option of two-way satellite communication being incorporated into this top end unit it has certainly shook the GPS market up lots.

Therefore, there is now even more Outdoor GPS units when looking at what is the best Outdoor GPS unit for Christmas 2020 and 2021. But don’t worry we have produced a great toot to guide you through them all.

GPS chooser bot – let us guide you through the process

In late October the Outdoor GPS Shop officially launched the Outdoor GPS chooser bot. This automated GPS chooser will ask you a few simple questions.

These questions include what you will be using your GPS for, what features you would like on your Outdoor GPS unit and your budget.

With this information from you the Outdoor GPS chooser bot analyses the answers you have given and recommends the best Outdoor GPS unit for you.

It rates the results in a % score on how well each Outdoor GPS unit will meet your requirements. Then it lists the best Outdoor GPS unit for you at the top of that list.

It is free and no personal information is requested from you.  Get yourself a tailored recommendation.

GPS Unit selector

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  • What primary activity will you use the GPS unit for?

  • What secondary activity will you use the GPS unit for?

  • Would you like GB maps or GB and European maps?

  • Would you prefer a touch screen (easier to input information) or button (you can use with glovers on) GPS unit ?

  • Would you like a large screen on your GPS Unit?

  • Would you like your GPS to run from AA batteries or built in battery?

  • Would you like two way satellite communication (subscription required)

  • What is your budget?

  • Based on your selections, these are the best options for you...

    Back

 

 

 

 

 

Best GPS for Mountain biking - Oregon 700

Best GPS for mountain biking

A question we get asked a lot is what is the best GPS for mountain biking.

The most common mistake people make is going for a Garmin Edge or one of the road cycling GPS units.

They should have been looking at an outdoor GPS mountain bike unit. The main reason is these come with Ordnance Survey Maps and you need this map set when mountain biking as it is the only map set that shows Bridleways, which you need to follow when mountain biking. The mapping the edge range comes with (TOPO Active mapping) does not show Bridleways, it just shows everything as tracks, and these could be Footpaths, Bridleways or even a private drive!

Ordnance Survey mapping

Now we now understand that we need an Outdoor GPS unit with Ordnance Survey maps we now need to consider which of the map options we need to go for, with a Garmin mountain biking GPS unit we have three options.

1. Birdseye Plus Voucher, enabling you to download 25,000 sq km of 1:25k maps
2. TOPO Great Britain Pro 1:50k – Full GB 1:50k maps (same as a OS Landranger map – key here)
3. TOPO Great Britain Pro 1:25k – Full GB 1:25k maps (same as the OS Explorer map – key here)

Most people believe they need a 1:25k map option for mountain biking but they actually don’t, the 1:50k maps show all bridleways, as well as footpaths and roads etc. The only thing you don’t get on a 1:50k map is the map showing you where walkers have ‘a right to roam’ (open access areas) and field boundaries.

As neither of these is applicable for mountain biking the 1:50k maps are the best option.

The other great thing about the TOPO Great Britain Pro 1:50k map card is that it also gives you turn by turn on-road routing, which makes it feel like a car satnav when on the road. So, at any time during your ride you do end up on the road this navigational feature is second to none.

So, what is the best GPS for mountain biking?

Most of the modern Garmin GPS units are truly multi-activity outdoor GPS units, you can quickly swap between profiles so your GPS acts differently when walking, mountain biking or even road riding.

This ability to swap quickly and easily between these profiles I think is invaluable when deciding what is the best GPS for mountain biking.

I also think the look and feel of a touch screen unit is another asset that needs to be thought about. We are all used to touch screens and the compact nature of a touch screen unit (i.e. you do not have buttons underneath), keeps the unit showing you a large screen without you accidentally knocking the bottom of the unit with your knee on that tricky downhill section.

This leaves us with two contenders for the best GPS for mountain biking.

1. On a budget – Garmin eTrex 25t – more

The Garmin eTrex Touch 25 is just a smaller version of the Garmin Oregon 700 unit, it looks and feels exactly the same, except for the smaller screen.

this therefore gives you great battery life and with the stunning sunlight-readable screen you get on any Garmin GPS unit it makes for a great addition to any mountain bike.

2. Not on a budget – Garmin Oregon 700 – more

The Garmin Oregon 700 is ideal for complimenting your mountain bike experience and navigating you whilst out on the trail.

Its large screen is second to none and with its connectivity, to a smartphone it even tells you who is calling you whilst your mobile phone is safely tucked away.

The option with the 1:50k TOPO Great Britain pro is the one to look at and please do not forget your bike mount, as the Garmin Oregon 700 does not come with one in the box.

Best batteries for an Outdoor Garmin GPS unit

Best batteries for an Outdoor Garmin GPS unit

A common question we get asked here at the Outdoor GPS Shop is what are the best batteries for an Outdoor Garmin GPS unit.

Because there is never a straight answer there some questions you need to ask.

1. Does you GPS have a built-in power cell (units like the GPSMAP 66i, GPSMAP86s, GPSMAP86i and the Garmin Montana range.

If the answer is yes, you can charge your unit both from the mains or by using a portable power pack like the –

– Goal Zero Venture 30 Power Bank – more
or the
– Goal Zero Sherpa 100 PD Power Bank – more

In my experience Goal Zero are the market leaders in outdoor power. Both these products above can be charged by mains power of with a solar panel if you are heading ‘off grid’ –

– Goal Zero Venture 30 Solar Kit – Solar Panel and Recharger – more
or
– Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus Solar Panel – stand-alone solar panel (plug into an existing power pack) – more

2. Does your Outdoor Garmin GPS run on AA batteries?

The majority of Garmin Outdoor GPS units are powered by 2 x AA batteries.

The reason for this is then you can easily double your power time by taking a further 2 AA batteries in your rucksack, an easy solution.

BUT, not all AA batteries are good batteries to power your Garmin GPS unit with. If you buy cheap disposable batteries, they, frankly, will not last very long, and throwing away the batteries will also have an environmental impact.

Therefore, you really should be powering your Outdoor Garmin GPS unit with rechargeable AA batteries. Depending on if you are walking just day walks or multiple days there are several battery options to choose from.

Day walks – best batteries for your Garmin GPS unit

The assumption for your day walks is that you will have access to mains power before your walk, so you can charge

– Best budget option – Energizer Battery Charger 1 Hour inc 4 batteries – more

Which did a test a couple of years ago and they rated these as the best rechargeable batteries currently on the market. In one hour of charging you have got yourself two batteries to power you for one days walking and a second ‘backup’ set just in case.

– Panasonic Eneloop Charger, Including 4 x AA batteries – more

Over the past year, we have had lots of customers raving about these batteries, so we gave them a go ourselves. In our eyes, they are worth the money.

This battery charger charges each battery cell individually, so if a cell is 40% full it will charge it the further 60% then stop charging it. It treats every battery cell individually.

If you can afford them you will not be disappointed.

Long-distance walks – best batteries for your Garmin GPS unit

If you are doing a multiple-day walk, do not have access to mains power or just don’t fancy carrying a battery charger with a three-pin plug on the back in your rucksack the option to go for is the –

– Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus – Recharger – more

This you can charge from a USB plug (like the one you more than likely use to charge your smartphone), alternatively, you can also charge this from a solar panel.

– Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Solar Recharging Kit with Nomad 7 Panel – more

The great thing about the Goal Zero Guide 10 plus is not only charges 4 AA batteries but if you leave those batteries in it also becomes a power pack that you can charge your phone or other electronic devices with. Therefore a top tip is to buy both a Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus and a second set of 4 x AA batteries.

Then you can charge your four batteries, put two in your unit, two in you rucksack as your backup. Then charge another 4 batteries in the Guide 10 and use that then as a power pack.
To do this all you need to buy is a further –

– 4 x AA rechargeable batteries – more

How long do batteries last in a Garmin Outdoor GPS unit?

The six-million-dollar question, how long will my batteries last in your Outdoor Garmin GPS unit.

Aa good set of batteries should enable you to get a good day walking under your belt, this would be 7 – 8 hours.

I know Garmin says you will get twice as long as that, but frankly, if you are using your GPS properly, to navigate you I would expect a good 7 – 8 hours of battery life.

There are a number of things you can do to extend your battery life on an Outdoor Garmin GPS unit. GPS Training created this short video that will help you look at how to preserve your batteries on a Garmin Oregon GPS unit.

Best GPS watch for Ultra and Trail running

Best GPS watch for Ultra and Trail Running

The questions we get asked here at the Outdoor GPS Shop are. What is the best GPS watch for Ultra and Trail Running?

The key things to look at when considering a GPS watch for these activities are the following –

1. Good Battery life.

With the recent changes to the Garmin Fenix 6 range of GPS watches you now have the ability to see how various settings and sensors impact the watch’s battery life. This enables you to make battery-extending changes on the fly.

If you are on long ultra runs or trail runs you can switch off sensors and features on and Garmin Fenix 6 watch to prolong battery life.

in the past, this would have been given you as a % of battery life. Frankly is useless, but with the new capabilities on the Garmin Fenix 6 range of GPS watches it actually tells you the hours and minutes you have with your current battery state. By switching on and off various sensors and features on the watch you will this battery time increase or decrease accordingly.

2. Very good durability for the GPS watch and of course it must be waterproof.

Durability is key for the ultra and trail runner.

We would always recommend going for a Sapphire screen if wearing a watch for ultra or trail running.

Sapphire has a value of 9 while diamond has a value of 10 under the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. This means that a Sapphire glass is almost resistant to scratch unless it will come in direct and hard abrasive contact with a diamond. A Sapphire glass screen on an outdoor GPS watch is not only hard but also strong.

Therefore, if you accidentally fall or catch the GPS Watch on a rock the screen will survive and not scratch.

3. What built-in maps to aid navigation do you want in a GPS watch for Ultra and Trail Running.

Garmin Fenix GPS watches (5 plus onwards) come with built-in Topo Active maps.

These are fully digital maps, so as you zoom in you get more information as you zoom out you get less, making them, ideal on the relatively small screen of a GPS watch, compared to a larger handheld GPS unit used when hiking.

An Ordnance Survey map on a GPS watch is frankly not ideal on a GPS watch as the screen is not large enough to accommodate a map made for large paper maps.

The Garmin Topo Active maps on Garmin Fenix GPS watches still show paths, roads, rivers, contours and everything else you would expect from a map, but as they have originated from satellite imagery and locally sourced data you will actually find them to be more accurate than the Ordnance Survey maps on not only a GPS watch but any outdoor GPS unit.

4. An easy to follow navigational experience, even when you are fatigued it is key that it needs to be easy to follow.

To get the best navigational experience on any GPS watch it is best to load it with a course. These are usually .gpx files that event organisers will issue to you before your Ultra or trail running event.

If you are using the GPS watch to navigate you on a training run you can create your own .gpx file on any mapping software including Memory Map, Quo, Anquet and many apps including OS map app, View Ranger and many others.

It is just a case of plotting your training run on one of these mapping software’s or apps and then transferring the .gpx file onto your Outdoor GPS Watch.

Once this is done your GPS watch will navigate you along your ultra or trail run, think of it as a car sat-nav, but off-road.

5. Great features on the GPS watch to aid both training and performance during any race. These will include heart rate and other physiological measurements

These are the things that really make a good Outdoor GPS watch made for Ultrarunning and Trail running stand out.

The built-in technology will measure your cardiorespiratory fitness and aerobic performance capacity.

The ability to see your current fitness level and track changes over time is a game-changer and with all the Garmin GPS watches currently showing recovery times etc it really is a great tool for your training programme.

So, taking all these key points onboard – What is the best GPS watch for Ultra and Trail Running?

1. Garmin Fenix 6x Sapphire – more here

2. Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire – more here

3. Garmin Fenix 6s Sapphire (for those wanting a smaller GPS Watch) – more here

What is the Best Open Water Swimming GPS Watch?

Over recent years there has been a massive growth in open water swimming and now many of the Garmin GPS units now have a swim feature on. So what is the best Open Water Swimming GPS watch and what are the main features you need to look at.

Before you head off you can plan your ‘course’ on your computer and then follow it if you wish. As you veer from this course the GPS will vibrate so you can swim and let your GPS watch do the navigational job for you. A great navigational experience when swimming.

All the Garmin Instinct and Garmin Fenix 6 GPS Watches now have an open water mode and with these running it will run an open water swim algorithm, possibly making these the best open water swimming GPS watches.

When your arm is under the water you will lose satellite signal so this algorithm smooths this out and gives you both the navigational experience and swim recording experience you are looking for.

As well as navigating when the GPS records you open water swim you get all the stats you would be expecting plus several swimming specific ones such as the average stroke rate as well as the temperature and heart rate which when pulled together with the other stats give you a great overview of your open water swim.

Garmin Fenix 6 Pro – more here
Garmin Fenix 6s Pro – more here
Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire – more here
Garmin Fenix 6x Sapphire – more here

 

Further Reading and Useful Information;

We have teamed up with GPS Training to put together a online training resource for the Garmin GPS Watches. They take you through all the steps from turning on the Garmin GPS Watch and getting it paired to the Garmin Connect App too putting routes on your Garmin Watch to use for your chosen activity.

You can achieve access to this through the GPS Training Website – https://gpsonlinecourse.co.uk/

What Is The Best Outdoor GPS Watch?

What is The Best Outdoor GPS Watch?

As we approach the end of the year it’s time to look at the best outdoor GPS watch for outdoor activities, for walkers, runners, cyclists and the many other activities GPS watches are made for.

What is the best GPS watch on a budget?– Under £400.00

So in this category, we have only got a couple of watches –

  1. Garmin Instinct (available in four colours)
  2. Casio ProTrek WSD-30 (works with Viewranger app)

The Garmin Instinct is a great black and white screen GPS watch where the Casio ProTrek works alongside the Viewranger app.

The Garmin Instinct has a stunning battery life but it does lack because it does not show any maps, therefore as a walker who wanted to navigate using a GPS Watch we think the best budget GPS Watch is the Casio ProTrek WSD-30, it also comes in some great colours.

– Best budget GPS Watch – The Casio ProTrek WSD-30

 

Best top end GPS Watch (unlimited budget)

In this category we have the following GPS Watches –

  1. Garmin Fenix 6 Pro
  2. Garmin Fenix 6s Pro
  3. Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire
  4. Garmin Fenix 6s Sapphire
  5. Garmin Fenix 6x Sapphire
  6. Garmin Fenix 6x Solar Edition

So let’s help you understand the differenced between each of these Garmin GPS Watches –

  1. Pro v Sapphire – This is the screen type
  • Pro is a gorilla glass screen
  • Sapphire is chemically hardened creating a strong anti scratch screen

  1. S version v non S version

S Garmin GPS watches are smaller, so meant more for those with a smaller wrist perfect for ladies. You will notice all the GPS watches in the lady’s colours are produces in s versions – Garmin Fenix 6s Pro and the Garmin Fenix 6s Sapphire.

The trade off though, of the small watch body is the reduced battery life (6 hours of battery life in GPS mode compared to 10 hours with the normal version).

  1. X version

The Garmin Fenix 6x versions have larger body, this therefore holds a larger battery so you get better battery life (15 hours of GPS usage compared to 10 hours of GPS usage that you get with the normal version).

  1. Solar Edition – With this version of the Garmin Fenix GPS Watch you will get an additional 3 days when solar charging, and 15 hours in GPS mode with an additional hour when solar charging (All-day wear, three hours per day outside in 50,000 lux conditions).

– What is the best top end GPS Watch – The Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire

Further Reading and Useful Information;

We have teamed up with GPS Training to put together a online training resource for the Garmin GPS Watches. They take you through all the steps from turning on the Garmin GPS Watch and getting it paired to the Garmin Connect App too putting routes on your Garmin Watch to use for your chosen activity.

You can achieve access to this through the GPS Training Website – https://gpsonlinecourse.co.uk/