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What GPS Devices do you use for overlanding

Posted: 03 May 2022 09:56
by izakjbrt
My good ol Montana 650 is now starting to show its age (two thick black lines running vertically on the screen are not helping). So I've been slowly looking. for something else. I could always try the master reset on the montana and see if it fixes the lines. But oh boy its a mission to set it up.

I've been looking at other Garmin devices (so I can use T4A maps), but the Overlander is just ridiculously expensive, at that price it'll have to include a couple of tanks of petrol as well. I've been looking at the DriveSmart 86 (I like the big screen idea). The price ranges from R5700 to over R7k. Since olx has disappeared its difficult to look for second hand units

I can always go the tablet route. Get a second hand iPad mini with sim. But then I have to depend on software like Gaia or OSMAnd (I have no problems with that, OSMand has great map), but there is no T4A on a mobile device, except the guide , which does not really count. But the one benefit, I can load victron connect on there to see that status of. the dual. battery . That is a. huge plus for me (why victron can't just create a CarPlay app for this I don't know).

Then of course, there is always the CarPlay route . Which is basically the same as above, but I can't load victron apps. On their I can load tomtom , Gaia, OSMand etc. But again, only that crappy T4A guide. The benefit is that there is no need for another screen on the dashboard, and no need to handoff to another screen on the dashboard as everything is in one place.

So what does everyone use that works for them?

Re: What GPS Devices do you use for overlanding

Posted: 03 May 2022 11:30
by iandvl
My personal thunks about this. Please note, this is my point of view.

I'm not overly fond of mobile devices (smart phones / tablets). My personal opinion is that there have been so many design trade-offs to get them to do as much as they do (ie: GPS, phone, camera, audio player etc) that they suck at all of them. In my experience, even with "offline" maps downloaded and similar, I've had issues where a mobile device would just get totally confused when there was no signal.

As I said, this is my experience. But in 2019, my GPS malfunctioned during a very rigorous and thorough search on the Namibian side of Seldelingsdrif. Put briefly, the customs officials gave my vehicle a very thorough going through - even inspecting inside the door trim / similar. Since I was travelling solo, and considering the proximity of the Sperrgebied, this is probably to be expected. However, in the process of inspecting my GPS, the official dropped it. Although it is a rugged GPS (I'll get to that later), it malfunctioned thereafter. It was a rather terrifying story getting out of the Richtersveld. I was travelling solo, there was no reception anywhere. My GPS was not working. My cell phone (despite having had "offline maps" downloaded) just didn't have a freaking clue. And I had to fall back to the tried and tested method of dead-reckoning on T4A's 1:1,000,000 paper maps estimating direction and distance. In short, guess work...

Back to the GPS thing. I use a Garmin eTrex20 for overlanding. It's tiny, and I do not use it for navigating in cities (refer next paragraph) as the display is just a little too small for that. But for managing tracks, and for getting from A to B in remote areas, it works perfectly. It's also small, which means I can also carry it around easily when I'm doing other stuff (fishing, hiking, hunting / etc). And it offers all of the functionality of the uber-expensive proper vehicle units. With the exception of having "voice directions" and a properly-sized display, They're discontinued now. I presume the Garmin eTrex22x (@ R3999.00) or the eTrex32x (@ R4999) are probably similar units in terms of spec. It's also got an IPX7 environmental resistance rating, which makes it quite difficult to destroy (although Nam customs seem to be accomplished at this).

Since I only use Tracks4Africa which is notoriously sucky at navigating cities / finding city addresses / similar, I use my Google Maps on my mobile phone for city navigation. I download offline maps for the areas I am interested in as I do not want to burn data needlessly when roaming. That works perfectly. Also, since it is city navigation, it's not the same as having to rely on unreliable tech in the middle of nowhere.

Finally, I've always got really, real paper maps in my vehicle when overlanding and also my compass, although there is a compass in the temperature display thingamajig too. A ZA road atlas and my T4A 1:1,000,000 paper maps live in the truck too. I think it is important so that one actually has proper backup for when the tech fails.

I'm still using my eTrex20. It has had a long, hard life. It's battered, and on its last legs. I've managed to get it working again after the Nam customs issue - which I explained here:

I'm in the market for a new GPS, but I'm strongly considering another eTrex. The GPSMap / Overlander more automotive-biased GPS units are not for me considering how I use mine.

Hope this helps.

Re: What GPS Devices do you use for overlanding

Posted: 03 May 2022 13:08
by izakjbrt
iandvl wrote: 03 May 2022 11:30 My personal thunks about this. Please note, this is my point of view.


Hope this helps.
Thanks Ian. I have to say the Montana has worked like a charm. Its very rugged. (the amount of times it has fallen of the windscreen), and the profiles you can set up on it, allows you to use it in most environment or recreational activity.

Like you said, the T4A maps suck in the cities (understandable), so on the Montana I have an overlanding profile that uses the T4A maps and a city profile that use the Garmin maps

The new ones are very pricey, but that's cause it has that InReach transmitter build in. I've been looking at another 650 second hand, but like I said before, since olx closed down, its been difficult to find them (and Im not on vleisboek to look at the market place)