Looking for recommendations for handheld GPS unit for work

GrantMan

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2012
Messages
124
Location
Fernley, Nevada
I am a land surveyor and have a lot of experience with Trimble survey grade GPS but I have little experience with hand held versions most use for backpacking.

I am looking for recommendations for a rugged unit that will experience daily use for periods of up to two weeks at a time. The unit must have a screen that will display usgs topo maps and I need the ability to upload shape files of mining claims.

My initial price range is around $500 but may change as this is my first step in my research. I appreciate any feedback on recommended GPS units or units to avoid.

Thank you
 

tim tarras

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 23, 2012
Messages
398
Location
Antigo, WI
Look at the Garmin 62ST, garmin oregon series, or garmin Montana units. They are great for getting shapefiles into when combined with the dnrgps FROM THE MN DNR.
 
OP
GrantMan

GrantMan

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2012
Messages
124
Location
Fernley, Nevada
Thanks for tip about dnrpgs. I just googled it and this the type of info I am looking for. My follow up question would be about durability of the Garmin units. They are going to see temps from 0 to 100 F and experience lots of bug dust and some rain and snow.
 

Yellowknife

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2012
Messages
1,707
Location
Fairbanks, Alaska
Myself and my coworkers use handheld (and survey grade) GPS units extensively for similar work. We wear them out on a regular basis, so we get to try quite a few different ones.

My current daily use GPS is a Garmin 62s. It does everything you are looking for and mine is three years old, which has to be some kind of a durability record for me. The screen isn't the largest, but it's workable for topo. I do prefer the buttons vs touch screen for use with gloves and in direct sunlight but it's not a huge deal. The others mentioned will also work for what you want it for.

The DNR software mentioned is a handy conversion software for .shp files, and we also use something called AllTopo which deals with .shp files well.

I do HIGHLY recommend Garmin over all other brands, simply because it is the "standard" for industry use and the garmin file format is what is most commonly used for data transfers. The current version of Garmin "Basecamp" software is quite good.

Yk
 

Craig4791

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2012
Messages
2,142
Location
Prescott Valley, AZ
I have a Garmin GPS map 62csx that I have had great luck with. I prefer buttons as well.

You should be able to get a good deal on one for well under your budget price.
 
OP
GrantMan

GrantMan

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2012
Messages
124
Location
Fernley, Nevada
Thanks for all the responses. I really appreciate it.

YK could you give me a rough average life expectancy you expect out of the Garmins? The reason I ask is that I am also considering the Trimble Juno for roughly $800 and I am trying to justify the added expense over the Garmin units.
 

Yellowknife

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2012
Messages
1,707
Location
Fairbanks, Alaska
Thanks for all the responses. I really appreciate it.

YK could you give me a rough average life expectancy you expect out of the Garmins? The reason I ask is that I am also considering the Trimble Juno for roughly $800 and I am trying to justify the added expense over the Garmin units.

We usually get about two years before we break or loose a Garmin. Latest versions seem to have gotten better about durability and we used to burn through them quite a bit faster. Like I said, my current version is 3 yrs old and has seen heavy use, including down the -25 F on a number of occasions. They aren't babied AT ALL, so I'd say they are pretty darn rugged.

For a real industrial units with better precision we use MobileMapper, which can deal with .shp files directly. They are more complicated to use though, and so the Garmins take the brunt of most non precision work. No experience with the Trimble, as we use Leica systems, but I thought the Juno was considered to be "non-rugged" which may be a consideration.

Yk
 

MCKROB

Newbie
Joined
Jan 7, 2013
Messages
7
Location
Newfoundland
Newbie here. Geophysicist. I have a Trimble 5700 system and a R7/R8 system for work. I'd recommend the Garmin 62 series, very durable, loaded with features, best of which is the custom maps feature, it's nice not to be reliant on Garmin's mapsource products. You can upload your own customs maps in Google Earth (raster) kmz format. I've been using these since they were first released and have bought 6-8 of them for my crews, and rhey are not babied! The only real con with this unit is the battery life. I've switched to using Eneloop rechargeables with great success, and saved a lot of money in the process. They were a bit buggy in early versions, make sure you update your firmware and keep it current if you do buy one.

If you like touchscreens, the Montana 650 is pretty nice, but it does take a bit of getting used to. It can be used car mounted in Nuvi format, or pop it out of the mount and into your pocket as an outdoor GPS that's as durable as the 62. It uses an internal rechargeable lithium battey, but will also take AA batteries. It also has custom map capability and a built in camera. I bought mine when they first came out in 2011 and was just getting attached to it when I had it stolen out of my truck last month... buggers!
 

MCKROB

Newbie
Joined
Jan 7, 2013
Messages
7
Location
Newfoundland
... and you can import your shp files easy enough using custom maps, but you need to convert to raster format first. The easiest way to do this I've found is with GlobalMapper, it has an excellent tool that converts and uploads the kmz files directly to the GPS.

www.globalmapper.com

It's been a few years since I've used the free version of Globalmapper distributed by the USGS so I'm not sure if it has the GPS export/kmz utility (there are features disabled in the free version)...this was introduced a couple of years ago...it's a great piece of free software to have regardless.

http://mcmcweb.er.usgs.gov/drc/dlgv32pro/
 
Last edited:

Lukem

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2012
Messages
629
Location
Nebraska
I use both the Juno and 62st for work and the Garmin is by far more durable. However it depends on exactly what you're looking the unit to do for you. If you're looking at collecting data and would like to run a program like Cybertracker or ArcPad, then obviously the Juno is the route to go. However, if you're just interested in mapping and shapefiles, then the Garmin is the route to go. If you're budgeting $800, watch the sales at Cabela's and buy 4 of them for that price.

They have come out with a slightly ruggedized version of the Juno, the Juno 3B. I haven't had it out in the field yet, but have spent a lot of time with the SB. It isn't rugged, but it handles the outdoors pretty well, but you do have to baby it.

Go with the Garmin.
 

MCKROB

Newbie
Joined
Jan 7, 2013
Messages
7
Location
Newfoundland
I've got two older Trimble handhelds; an older Juno ST, and a Pathfinder XB (Bluetooth GPS), and the quality/durability is just not there. The Juno I have is based on an HP Ipaq base, which is anything but bush-worthy, and the Pathfinder I've had to coat it in silicone to make it somewhat water resistant. Stick with the Garmin and give the custom maps feature a try, I think you'll find it does almost everything you need....
 
OP
GrantMan

GrantMan

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2012
Messages
124
Location
Fernley, Nevada
Thanks for all the responses. I have decided to go with the Garmin 62 because of all the positive reviews. I love this site, a lot of helpful people with different backgrounds willing to help out a member.
 
Top