Memory-Map is best-known for its PC mapping software, but it also makes dedicated outdoor GPS receivers. The Adventurer 2800 is a stripped-down GPS receiver with a touchscreen that gives access to OS mapping. The screen is smaller than the Memory-Map Adventure 3800 (£300), but the 2800 does have enough space to allow easy navigation, thanks in part to minimal on-screen furniture coupled with the additional stylus pointer that allows you to tap the screen to obtain functions even while wearing gloves in the rain. The operating system is a little less intuitive than some other devices in my view, even though there are relatively few functions, but once you practise with it then it works well. What is particularly good is that for your £199 you get OS 1:50,000 mapping for the whole of Great Britain; you also get Memory-Map software and the same OS mapping for your PC so you can plan and print routes on your PC and transfer them to the Adventurer 2800 without having to spend any more cash. There is no camera but if you want a simple, functional touchscreen device that operates easily with your PC the Memory-Map Adventurer 2800 is ideal.
Screen 6x3.5cm colour touchscreen
Battery life 8 hours
The Memory-Map Adventurer 2800 offered the best compatibility with PCs in our review.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine October 2012
Most of the time when hillwalking you just need a device that will give you a position, help you get to or from a summit or to a footpath that you can more easily follow. To do this the most basic GPS receiver is all you need, and the Garmin eTrex 10 is a perfect example. At only £110 it is a much more cost-effective means of navigating than other devices featured here. Also, as it has only the essential features required to get you from A to B, it is far easier to use than more complex units. There is no mapping here, so you just punch in the grid reference of where you want to go and the device will direct you there (in a straight line!) via an arrow. You can also create routes on Garmin’s Basecamp software and then import them into the device to allow it to navigate you along a specific route. The screen is very small, but as you are not using it to read an on-screen map this is no great problem. A simple joystick allows easy navigation of the functions, while the unit’s tiny size means you can easily stash it in your pack ready for use. Better still, as the screen is not colour, you get far better battery life from the Garmin eTrex 10 than other units. All this adds up to a unit that is easy to stash in a rucksack pocket for emergencies – an option that is ideal when basic functionality is all you need.
Screen 4.5x3.5cm greyscale
Batterylife 25 hours
The Garmin eTrex 10 was the best GPS for basic function in our review.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine October 2012
Recent developments in Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers have focused on developing colour touch screens that put digital Ordnance Survey (OS) mapping at your fingertips. But while the latest high-tech GPS receivers offer almost everything a hillwalker wants, they carry high price tags and perhaps offer more than most hillwalkers actually need.
The yellow Garmin eTrex first appeared in outdoor stores in 1998 and back then it was one of the most popular gadgets for hillwalkers. Over the years improvements in receiver sensitivity, as well as the development of colour screens and better mapping facilities, means that the original eTrex may now be fighting for a place in the pockets of hillwalkers. But there is one thing you cannot take away from the eTrex, and that is the price tag: as at around £100 it is clearly one of the most affordable GPS receivers on the market.
The new Garmin eTrex 10 takes everything that was great about the original but places it into a new housing with a better screen and better functionality. It’s still a greyscale device without the facility to display colour OS mapping, so you have to input your waypoints either directly via the digital keypad or download them into the device via computer software such as Garmin’s BaseCamp. Also you can visit Garmin’s OpenCaching.com to download geocaches and the device will display information such as full descriptions that include terrain, hints and difficulty.
Operation of the device is very simple, thanks to a clear screen that points you towards your chosen destination waypoint. There is a joystick that helps guide you around menu functions, and when pressed this selects the function. A ‘back’ button is ideal for retracing progress through menus and screens. Like all modern GPS receivers the unit is very fast and accurate when it comes to tracking satellites and finding its position, even indoors! If you want to pay more you can get the eTrex 20 (£180), which can display colour OS mapping; or the eTrex 30 (£230), which can display OS colour mapping and has a compass and a barometric altimeter on board. But actually the eTrex 10 is all you often need, for most of the time your paper map can provide the big picture and the eTrex is perfectly capable of telling you where you are as a grid reference and it can point you in the right direction to reach your destination.
I really enjoyed returning to a more basic form of navigation; and with most people not wishing to burn cash unnecessarily the eTrex 10 is really all most walkers will need, plus a trusty paper map and compass of course!
The Garmin eTrex was a classic GPS, and thanks to a facelift the Garmin eTrex 10 looks set to become just as legendary as its predecessor.
Screen 4.3x3.6cm greyscale
Batteries 2 x AA
Battery life 24 hours
Route storage 50
Waypoint storage 1,000
Stockist details www.garmin.com/uk
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine February 2012
The eTrex is famously simple and reliable, almost a mini-brand in itself, and they are hugely popular with those dipping their first toe in the world of GPS. This unit doesn’t have the ability to load Ordnance Survey mapping via a flash memory card, which means it’s most commonly used as a basic position-finder and walks log, or as a back-up unit if you have something swisher. There is a small amount of internal memory however, and coupled with PC software you should be able to add some small amounts of mapping to the device, although Garmin only really offer their Topo mapping and not Ordnance Survey maps. It is a simple beast, with basic mapping that gives general outlines, and nowhere near enough detail for use in preference to a paper map. As there is no mapping to load up when the unit is switched on, it is one of the fastest units to go from switching on to locking on to a satellite, and is barely slower than pricier Garmin units. The build quality is good, with a rugged, waterproof design. The buttons are all encased in rubber and the main control joystick is tough. A good unit for those not looking for full OS mapping capability, and to save a bit of cash whilst still having a quality GPS unit.
Dimensions (cm): 5.6x10.7x3.0
Waterproof: Yes – IPX7
PC/Mac-compatible: PC and Mac
Battery life (claimed): Up to 14 hours
Contact: 0808 238 0000; www.garmin.com/uk
A joy to use. PC connectivity is simple and it will readily share data with Memory-Map with no need to use any other software for file conversions. Menus are intuitive and can be easily customised, while swapping between main functions is amazingly easy. The single button press for “Find” and “Mark”, means little time need be wasted on the hill. The new, highly sensitive antenna is lightning-fast to pick up a fix and holds on to it well in cover. Light, compact and comfy, yet rugged, in the hand. An SD card slot makes it easy to run Garmin Topo maps, although at £70 each (with three covering the whole country) this isn’t a cheap option. The “Highway” page – a 3D representation of the route – makes complex navigation simple, while the direction arrow on the compass page works brilliantly for easier route-finding.
Size: 10.7 x 5.6 x 3cm
Weight: 156g (including batteries)
Screen: 256 level colour TFT, 176 x 220 pixels
Battery life: 25 hours on two AAs
Routes/waypoints: 50 routes/1,000 waypoints
Works with: Most mapping software; WAAS/EGNOS-enabled
Contact: 02380 524000, www.garmin.co.uk
Verdict: Lacking some of the super hi-tech features of newer top-end units but, at this price, we can’t fault it.
Links to a PC via Magellan’s free download VantagePoint software but you need to import your route from Memory-Map into VantagePoint before downloading it. Tracklogs are uploaded in the same way. Navigating around the menus is easy enough with positive clicks as you scroll through the options, but the main control is fiddly to use with gloves on. Easy to read, thanks to a brightly backlit colour screen. To follow a route, a “heading marker” (direction arrow) needs to be lined up with a small icon depicting the next waypoint. This works well. There’s no slot for a memory card, but it does have 64mb of storage – enough for some topographical map coverage. Very quick to get a fix.
Size: 11.8 x 5.5 x 3.1cm
Weight: 212g (including batteries)
Screen: 5.6cm colour, 320 x 240 pixels
Battery life: 10 hours on two AAs
Routes/waypoints: 20 routes/500 waypoints
Works with: All mapping software that’s compatible with Magellan’s VantagePoint content manager, including Memory-Map; WAAS/EGNOS-enabled
Contact: 00800 62435526, www.magellangps.com
Verdict: A lovely budget-end GPS unit that does an excellent job.
This GPS from Garmin is very easy to use from the box, with a large clear screen and really simple functions, such as “Mark and Find”. A great selection of pages and it’s easy to switch between them, or even change the order, if necessary. Inputting routes or waypoints by hand is a slow process, but can be done quickly and easily via a PC. Slow to get a satellite position and faster than most to lose its reception under tree cover, or in narrow gorges. It is also quite a size to carry, and heavy, too. In its favour, its “Highway” page is really easy to follow and the large screen makes navigation or following a bearing an absolute doddle.
Verdict: An easy-to-use, functional unit with very good PC compatibility at a nice price. However, it doesn’t hold its signal as well as some and is also quite heavy.
Screen: 3.8x5.6cm FSTN, 160x240 pixels
Battery life: 28 hours on two AAs
Works with: Most software. WAAS/EGNOS-enabled
Routes/waypoints: 50 routes/500 waypoints
Contact: 0870 850 1242; www.garmin.co.uk
This neat little GPS unit from Magellan has a decent-sized black and white screen and a brightness switch. The buttons are very small and data transfer can be fiddly, but actual navigation through the pages is easy and the menus are reasonably intuitive. It will connect to a PC, via a USB cable, but not as easily as some. The easy “Mark and Find” functions are good, and inputting routes manually is fairly simple. The folder system makes finding stored info easy, and the compass page is easy to follow when hunting for waypoints. It is quick to give a co-ordinate and just as accurate as more expensive units.
Verdict: A light, well-featured option that, despite the fiddly data transfer, performs well.
Screen: 4.6x3.6cm greyscale
Battery life: 18 hours on two AAs
Works with: Memory-Map and Anquet. WAAS/EGNOS-enabled
Routes/waypoints: 50 routes/250 waypoints per route
Contact: 01539 733842; www.magellangps.com
This GPS unit from Garmin is very simple to understand, with a logical sequence of pages, each doing a very specific and obvious job. It’s also extremely easy to link to the PC, although it’s not quite as effortless as the USB connection of the Vista CX in the higher price band. Note that the data cable isn’t supplied, so budget for this separately. The lack of a joystick means it’s not quite as good as some for inputting waypoints and routes by hand. It’s aimed very squarely at walkers and it does an excellent job, with all the features you’d expect, plus the addition of an electronic compass and barometric altimeter. The main navigation page is easy to follow, with a clear black and white screen. The simple trip page is also good, and the elevation data and graph information are interesting and very useful. It’s small and light, too, so no problem to carry.
Verdict: A big step down from the dearer Vista CX, but still a fantastic budget GPS, beating the Etrex as it has the electronic compass and barometric altimeter, features definitely worth paying an extra £50 for.
Screen: 2.8x5.4cm grey LCD, 64x128 pixels
Battery life: 22 hours (GPS only) or 13 hours (GPS and compass) on two AAs
Works with: Most software, including Memory-Map and Anquet. WAAS/EGNOS enabled
Routes/waypoints: 20 reversible routes/500 waypoints
Contact: 0808 238 0000; www.garmin.co.uk