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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.

Check the weather and be prepared

Weather in the hills – plan before you head off

Weather in the hills – what to do before you head into the hills.

Yes, in the UK we are a little obsessed with the weather. But keeping an eye on the weather is essential when planning your walk in the hills.

When heading out into the hills being prepared for the weather can make a big difference as to how you feel at the end of the day.

Be flexible

There’s no shame in changing your plans.

Choose a different route or turn back if the forecast doesn’t look too clever; if the weather closes in unexpectedly or if the conditions turn out to be more difficult than you’d expected.

If you are heading for the hills and realise that reaching the summit is going to be a challenge, then switch to a lower level walk that you can all enjoy and achieve comfortably.

Check the latest weather forecast before you set off and alter your plans if need be

Check the weather forecast – the Met Office (https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/) is a good place to start.

Remember to check conditions for different points on your route, for example, if you are heading for the hills find out how cold and windy it will be at the top of your climb, and also what level the cloud base will be.

Don’t forget to take into consideration the wind chill factor.

Many of the new generation GPS units will give you a live weather update as you are ‘out in the field’, so this can be invaluable so you can alter your route if the forecast and weather conditions change.

Don’t forget, the sun sometimes shines!

If this is the case don’t forget your sunscreen and sun hat!

And don’t forget your Outdoor GPS unit.

Planning is key, plan your route before you head off and transfer this to your Outdoor GPS unit or Multisport GPS watch.

Then whatever the weather brings you will be able to navigate at ease.

Be safe this winter whilst Outdoors

Don’t get caught out this Winter when in the outdoors

,Don’t get caught out this Winter when in the outdoors, your GPS will keep you updated about daylight hours.

One of the lesser-known features on Garmin GPS units, is the ability to display the Sunrise and Sunset times at your location. They will even show features such as time in hours until sunset or sunrise. When out walking or running this winter the reassurance of having this information can really enhance your day. Allowing you to enjoy the activity knowing you will not get caught out.

Access this on a handheld unit; There is a Sunrise/Sunset icon on the main menu. This will then give you the Sunrise & Sunset times at your location. Using the menu system you can also change the location it is giving this information for. This is updated live from the satellites, once you are outdoors and it has logged onto the satellites this information will be automatically updated.

On a Garmin Fenix GPS watch;you can get the same information – this is available via the widget screen. If the GPS is not in the use the data comes from the Garmin Connect location, GPS is in use this data is calculated for your location.

If you do get caught out with Sunset times on the hill having an “epic” day – not a problem! Garmin units pack some great features to help with these days.

The GPSMap 66 series now has backlit buttons, seeing them on the hill in dusk is simple and easy and these will automatically activate when the ambient light level drops. If the day really does get extended all Garmin handheld units can or do run on AA batteries. So if you need extra power you can just pop some spare batteries into the unit, all information will be automatically saved.

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/

 

Garmin GPSMAP66s locking onto the satellites

European Galileo satellite system

On 25 July 2018, the European Space Agency launched the last four satellites for the European Galileo satellite navigation system.

The European Galileo satellite system comprises 24 satellites in total and took 13 years to get in place. The launch of the first satellites began in 2005.

Overview of the European Galileo satellite system

The Galileo satellites orbit at an altitude of 29,600 km from the earth’s surface. The Galileo satellites appear as a fixed point in the sky this is, like both the US and Russian satellite systems they can be used to navigate within the outdoors with both handheld and wrist-based GPS devices.

All the Galileo Satellites have just been launched from the Kourou site in French Guyana in an Ariane 5 rocket and satellites must be replaced after about 15 years. This is primarily owing to the fragile atomic clocks on board. The system was originally only to be used for civilian purposes but is now also being directed for military use. The satellites that were launched first will already be due for replacement next year.

Accuracy down to 20 cm – but not for all users – European Galileo satellite system

The Galileo system has greater accuracy than the current version of the American GPS. For general use, Galileo has an accuracy of less than a meter (GPS: three meters), but the high-accuracy service with encrypted signal provides position detection down to an accuracy of 20 cm.

When Britain leaves Europe this is the area of the Galileo GPS system that the UK will be unable to use the encrypted signal that gives this accuracy.

Because the exact location of the satellites is known, the receiver can calculate its own position based on the time difference of the signals it receives from at least three satellites.

The satellite signals reach the receiver in less than one-tenth of a second. To measure the time difference accurately, the satellite navigation uses a specially coded Pseudo-Random Noise signal.

Atomic clocks ensure that each satellite sends its own PRN code at exactly the same moment as the rest. This is how such good accuracy can be given, which is not able to be done with the existing GPS and Glonass systems.

Outdoor GPS devices that utilise the European Galileo satellite system

Since late 2016, Galileo has been sending a navigation signal. There is now a whole series of user devices that work with Galileo including both Garmin and SatMap Outdoor GPS devices both handheld and wrist based (GPS Watches) devices.

The use Galileo website list all the current devices that use the satellite system for navigation.