gps for MUni?

Anyone have/use a gps device for calculating distance, calories burned, location, etc? I’m thinking about getting something today, and I’ve heard good things about Garmin. Here’s a wrist-band version that looks good…although it’s an entry level model, it seems to have the key features I’m looking for:

If anyone has experience with gps systems and the garmin in particular, I’d really appreciate your input/advice. Thanks!

I don’t have experience with the new Garmin units. However, I do know that the new units with the SiRF chip (high sensitivity GPS receiver) keep satellite reception much better than the old units. GPS units work a lot better when they can maintain satellite reception.

The Forerunner units with the new SiRF chip are the 205 and 305. Those are the two I’d be looking at rather than the ones with the old receiver technology.

My dad uses a GPS for fishing and it works great and is easy to use. He says that it’s “industry standard” and the stock is doing very well.

Ok I have the Garmin eTrex Legend. It is awesome I use it for ATVing but I’m sure I could use it for muniing. You can’t really put it on your wrist but you could put it on/in a backpack. It is mostly waterproof and has an 8mb internal memory so you can upload maps onto it so that you can see exactly where you are. Once I start muniing next year I will probably use it all the time to see how far I go and stuff. It can also show you your average if you are into tracking that or anything.

that one looks cool but i really want one that I can wear on my wrist or forearm for quick reference. John C recommended the Garmin forerunner 305 which uses the latest gps technology and also has a heart monitor, calories burned, distance and it can pinpoint your location even if your in a tunnel! here’s info:

This is mostly used by runners, but I’m assuming it would be just as accurate and easy for cyclists, especially those on one wheel

I got a wireless Cateye cycle computer $35. I can’t see my preasant speed (reciever must stay w/in 70cm, so I mounted it under my seat), but can see my trip dist., total dist, and avg speed. The distance parts are nice to know plus it makes tire rotation easier.

I’ve use the forrunner 305, and loosemoose has i think the fortrek 205, I know he likes it alot because he can download rides to his PC an track equipment life and stuff. Personally i stick with a £15 cycle computer on my coker, it gives me everything i need and is a lot cheaper and simpler.

I use a Garmin Foretrex 201. Wrist mounted and fairly compact.

It’s good for speed and distance with a clear current speed display availbale on one fo the screens. It can give some odd results though -presumably because it is only accurate to so many metres, it is possible for it to change from 10 metres too far north to 10 metres too far south between samples, so it can sometimes log a top speed for the ride of 20 mph or more when I know I’ve only done about 10 mph. Over a journey, these minor errors are impreceptible.

It has got me out of trouble once - lost in the forest with darkness closing in, it helped me to find my way back to the car.

It can lose the signal in wet pine forest though.

When you remember that Chay Blyth sailed solo round the world without GPS, it seems strange to think of it as an essential for a 20 mile unicycle ride.

Next time you ride, take a sextant, clock, compass and lots of charts. Then complain about GPS…

One as yet un-mentioned feature is the capacity to connect the GPS to a PC, which the one you linked to can’t do. The best thing about GPS is the way you can download routes from map software to GPS, and tracks in the other direction. That ideally needs mapping software, but there are a few free things (GPSU, sportrax) that do some of the job. The SiRF stuff is nice (not that I’ve ever used it), but Ii’d say the PC connectivity is more important.


I agree. Depending on the intended use, the larger units offer optional maping software that is really nice when hiking (topo) or vacationing (services). I believe they’ll do most anything the auto based units will do except it fits in your hand and you can map the results on a PC.


The handheld units like the Garmin Vista do not do turn by turn navigation like the automobile units. They cannot calculate what roads to take to get from address A to address B. The know nothing of street addresses.

For outdoor use there are basically two types of GPS units: mapping and non-mapping. The mapping units can load in topo maps or street maps so you’ll be able to see features around your current location. The non-mapping units cannot load in maps. All you’ll see is a blank screen around your current location. No roads or other landmarks to give you a clue as to where you are.

The mapping units require additional software maps to load on the GPS receiver. Those additional maps cost additional money. So after you buy the GPS unit you also have to buy the software maps if you want to make use of the mapping features.

The non-mapping units show just a blank screen around your current location. They will display waypoints that you can program in during your trip or before your trip. They will also display routes which link different waypoints together. The ones that offer tracks will display a breadcrumb trail of where you have been. It’s like putting dots and straight lines on a blank sheet of paper. The dots are waypoints and the straight lines are routes. The GPS can tell you what direction and how far you need to go to get to a specific waypoint (like back to the car). That’s the basic navigation you get from those kinds of units. It’s the kind of navigation you get with the Forerunner 205 and 305. The Forerunner 205 and 305 can connect to a PC or Mac and load your track to so you can see your route on the computer with streets and other landmarks.

The mapping units have the same features of the non-mapping units except they also display a nice map on the GPS screen.

I have a mapping GPS and I love it for finding distances, speeds, and also using it’s ability to mark interesting spots. But I use a magellan.

I’m not sure I follow the rest of your post but I disagree with this statement. As I said, with the optional software (maps) they will do all of this and more.

I think John was partly right. I have a Vista too. Indeed when used stand-alone, it cannot calculate turn-by-turn routes but it does know about street addresses. You can select any street address in memory, and have the unit display the direction to it, and e.g. the distance and the expected arrival time. You can also calculate turn-by-turn routes on the PC prior to your trip, and then load them into the GPS receiver for later use, if you have the right software.

I use my Garmin Vista on every unicycle trip. I love it! Not so much for finding my way, but rather for it’s ability to store my itinerary in 4 dimensions (longitude, latitude, altitude, time). After the ride, I load the data into the PC and do a lot of stuff with them to analyse my rides. such as displaying red dots on the map where I UPD’d. Currently I’m building a 3D (stereoscopic) map of my usual MUni area, using my three years’ worth of recorded data stacked together and some fancy Excel processing.

I have a 201 as well. If you are in mountainous territory, and if the SirF chip in the 205 series will make signal reception better, you may want to go in that direction. I do lose my signal periodically in steep valleys and such. Also, take a look at GPS Visualizer for doing maps and stuff.

Additional software or firmware updates will not allow a GPS like the Garmin Vista to do turn by turn style directions giving you directions to a street address. It’s just not something those units are designed to do. The automobile navigation is different from the type of navigation you get on GPS units you take out into the woods on hikes and muni rides.

I have a Garmin Vista. It shows a nice map on the screen with many street names along with topographic elevation lines. I can use it to figure out what street I’m on and what direction I’m going. It can be very handy for figuring out how to drive to where I want to go. But it does not tell me what roads I need to take to get there. It does not tell me when to turn. It can’t do that. I also cannot type in “124 Main St” and have it know where that address is.

The GPS units you get for outdoor recreation are different than the type you get for driving navigation. The outdoor recreation units are basic units (non-mapping) or basic mapping (no turn by turn navigation). You wouldn’t want to take an automobile specific unit out into the woods. It doesn’t do the right kind of navigation.

There are some handheld units that bridge the gap and do both outdoor style navigation and automobile turn by turn navigation. But for now most units do one style of navigation or the other.

Garmin Forerunner 201 considered helpful

I bought a Garmin Forerunner 201 a few years ago (two actually, the second one I found at an estate sale, which was slightly creepy) and I’ve had a lot of fun with it. I used it while training for the STP and I found it much better than a cycle computer. Since it was on my wrist I could easily see my speed, distance, etc. without having to look down between my legs. I could download my routes to my computer and then plot them over satellite footage.

I found that watching my trip average was a great way to inspire me to ride a little bit faster–must try to maintain x mph for as long as possible.

Most of my riding was on streets and wide open paths. Riding through the woods would be more problematic as you might lose signal.

I also use my GPS in strange cities to avoid getting lost. Enter the hotel coordinates (either before I get there from mapping software such as AutoRoute or Streets and Tripsm or once I arrive) and then I can freely wander the city without a map, knowing that I can trivially find my way home. It’s nice to be less dependent on taxis.

I’ll probably buy one when I can afford it, but for now, I use GMap-Pedometer to work out distances, plan routes, etc. Obviously not much help when you’re lost out on a mountain, but it’s fun for working out where you went wrong when you get home. :slight_smile:

The Garmin GPSMap 60 series is a handheld unit that does that if you load the fancy maps (sold separately). It’s been around for a few years.

I’ve been pretty happy with it for tracking my rides. A GPS is overkill for speed and distance stats (and the elevation data is super noisy without the barometric altimeter), but it’s a fun toy if you want to map the route or geocode photos.

I use low tech GPS that is always reliable. Called the sun. Sure it may not tell me how fast I’m going or where things could be or how many calories I may be burning. But it does keep me informed on how long I’ve been out and which direction I’m going which are probably the only things that really matter.