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Garminetrexvista

Submitted by Eric Daniel

Well, it only took 10 years, but I've finally given in to the inevitable and purchased myself a hand-held GPS unit.  While I'm not about to give up my compass (the magnetic field hasn't failed me yet) I have come to believe that, all things being equal, navigating with a GPS (where they'll work) is faster and less technical than navigating with a compass (as a firefighter we often parked the trucks and hoofed it to the fire as quick as we could, and then used a GPS to plot a direct route back to the trucks after the fact.)

Anyhow, after much looking and reading and thinking, the unit I settled on was the Garmin  eTrex-Vista.  No it isn't in color, it can "only" store 20 routs and 1,000 waypoints (not that I'll ever come close to using all of them, mind you) and its power consumption is a little on the high side, comparatively (12 hours of continuous operations as opposed to 30-50 out of some models.)  What it does do however, is support lat/long, UTM, MGRS, it comes with an electronic compass, is backlit for nighttime ops, and has an altimeter as a back up elevation instrument.  It also provides me with all that atmospheric data that you need for paragraph one of your OPORD (ever wonder where the TOC finds out when BMNT, EMNT, BENT and EENT, moonrise and percent illumination come from?  This unit will tell you.)

As a "first" GPS I am quite happy with it.  I know it's not the biggest, the best, or the most complicated, but for only $150 it does everything I ask it to.

Check out the Garmin eTrex-Vista here.

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