Garmin Vista HCX

Without a doubt the best of the GPS units that can’t display Ordnance Survey maps on their screens. The Vista is compact and light, and offers just about all the features a walker could want with the exception of OS mapping. It picks up a fix in seconds and is robust enough and sufficiently waterproof to use anywhere at any time. It’s simple to set up, and if you’re planning your walk on a PC then data transfer could not be easier. Manual waypoint input isn’t too painful either. In the hills, the compass page points the way with a clear Direction of Travel arrow, and if your walk is particularly complex, you may even want to try the Highway page – a basic 3D representation of your route which shows all the twists and turns as you go. Battery life is absolutely superb, over three days out of a single set of lithium batteries. And it has an electronic compass and a barometric altimeter – really useful in the mountains. The buttons are easy to operate, with a simple, single button press to input a waypoint that can then be used as a Go-To or to mark the spot where you are stood.

VITAL STATS
Size
: 5.6x10.7x3cm
Weight: 156g
Routes/waypoints: 50 routes; 1,000 waypoints
WAAS/EGNOS-enabled: Yes
PC/Mac-compatible: Both
Works with: Most software including Memory-Map
Features: Electronic compass, barometric altimeter
Battery type/claimed life: 2xAA/14hrs
Contact: 0808 238 0000; www.garmin.co.uk


Garmin Dakota 20

Billed by Garmin as an entry-level GPS, the Dakota is actually incredibly functional; and it’s also very small and very light. But the £290 price tag might put a lot of first-time buyers off, especially as they may need to spend another £100+ on mapping. It’s small, but has the benefit of displaying optional Ordnance Survey mapping on its screen (£130 for a national park at 1:25000 or £80 for all national parks at 1:50000). It relies on touch-screen for all functions, and again this works well even in gloves. And the data transfer is even easier. Following a route proved simple and the battery life was excellent – helped no doubt by the excellent battery-saving mode that switches the screen off after a preset time. A great device but a lot of money, especially when compared to some.

VITAL STATS
Size: 5.5x10x3.3cm
Weight: 150g
Routes/waypoints: 50 routes; 1,000 waypoints
WAAS/EGNOS-enabled: Yes
PC/Mac-compatible: Both
Works with: Most software including Memory-Map
Features: Electronic compass, barometric altimeter, OS mapping (optional extra)
Battery type/claimed life: 2xAA/20hrs
Contact: 0808 238 0000; www.garmin.co.uk


Lowrance Endura Out and Back

The Out & Back is a huge unit and it’s also quite heavy. It operates on both buttons and touch-screen, so no trouble in gloves or even mitts, and it boasts an excellent Direction of Travel arrow as well as a small arrow on the mapping screen, making it easy to follow a route or move between waypoints. Data transfer is quite clunky as you need to remove the mapping card to get the PC to recognise the unit before downloading a GPX file into the right directory, but the biggest weakness is the screen resolution, which makes it debatable whether it’s worth investing in the optional OS mapping (UK 1:50000 in three regions at £100 per section).

VITAL STATS

Size: 13x6x3.1cm

Weight: 230g

Routes/waypoints: 500 routes; 4,000 waypoints

WAAS/EGNOS-enabled: Yes

PC/Mac-compatible: PC only

Works with: Most software including Memory-Map

Features: Optional OS mapping; touch-screen

Battery type/claimed life: 2xAA/10-15hrs

Contact: www.lowrance.co.uk

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Memory Map Adventurer 2800

This is the only Ordnance Survey mapping GPS to come with the mapping included in the price – a genuine bonus – and it’s also very light and very small. The screen’s a decent size however, and is wonderfully clear too, but the controls are all touch-screen and the icons are very small, making it quite difficult with fingers and near-impossible in gloves. It naturally works with Memory-Map’s PC mapping software, which makes data transfer really easy. Once you’ve downloaded a route or chosen a waypoint, navigation is very simple, with a clear direction line on the map that points to your objective. It comes in two packages: National Parks Edition, featuring 1:50000 mapping of all the country’s national parks (£260); or the GB Edition, which features 1:50000 mapping of the whole country (£360.

VITAL STATS
Size: 10x5.5x2cm
Weight: 135g
Routes/waypoints: Almost unlimited
WAAS/EGNOS-enabled: No
PC/Mac-compatible: PC only
Works with: Memory-Map
Features: OS mapping included in package
Battery type/claimed life: Rechargeable lithium battery pack/8hrs
Contact: 0844 811 0950; www.memory-map.co.uk


Memory-Map Adventurer 2800 2010

In 2000 Memory-Map changed the way hill-walkers plan their routes. Now they are about to change the way walkers navigate in the hills, if this GPS receiver performs as well as their PC software. Already dominating the PC mapping software market, Memory-Map has released the Adventurer 2800, yours for just £250.

Design
The Adventurer 2800 is a small, neat, quietly understated GPS receiver. It is powered by an internal rechargeable lithium polymer battery, which allows the unit to be smaller and lighter in weight at 135g than comparable units that run off AA batteries. Lots of mobile chargers and even solar panels can also be used to charge the unit. You get a touch-screen operating system with a full colour screen. Most importantly the OS maps are preloaded for the £250 asking price.

On the hill
Once charged, this unit is designed to be used straight from the box, so that is what I did with it. The onboard OS 1:50,000 mapping appeared at a touch of the screen. The receiver picked up the satellites quickly and soon my position was clearly identified (the car park at the foot of Stanage Edge in the Peak District). A thumb slide across the screen moved the OS mapping, and pressing the on-screen +/- icons speedily zoomed in on the detail. This was the best on-screen speed of mapping I had seen. My fingers were a bit too big and clumsy to use the drop-down menus, which are much smaller. But I had an early pre-production model, and in production the unit will, I am told, come with a stylus attached to a lanyard to improve this aspect of the performance.
Anyone who has used Memory-Map’s PC route-creating mapping software will find the interface very familiar, but even new users should find that on-screen route creation is incredibly easy. The PC-style drop-down menus are very intuitive but they definitely require a stylus for easy operation due to their small size.
One big advantage of the unit is that you can buy additional Memory-Map Digital Map Shop mapping products for your PC and then download them directly into the Adventurer 2800. This makes this unit incredibly good value for money and a real benefit when travelling abroad or for those who like to plan routes on Memory-Map’s PC software in the comfort of their home.

Price £250 for GPS receiver inc. OS Landranger 1:50k mapping for National Parks plus credit to download 10,000 km2 of Memory-Map UK maps. Extra mapping from OS, marine and aviation for UK + worldwide topos
Size 11x5.8x2cm
Display 6.2x4.0cm, 400x240 pixel colour touch-screen
Power rechargeable lithium polymer
Memory MicroSD cards
Computer interface USB port
Weight 135g (including batteries)
Made in China
Stockist details – tel. 0844 811 0950; www.memory-map.co.uk

Verdict
The Memory-Map Adventurer 2800 is waterproof; touch-screen; very fast operation; easy to use; can use Memory-Map PC mapping; price. But touch-screen is not as easy to use as buttons; relatively small screen. In summary it has superb on-screen performance but would be even better with button operation and a larger screen. It won the ‘Best value’

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine January 2010





Mio Digiwalker P350

This PDA (pocket PC) from Mio runs typical PC software, but also has a built-in GPS antenna. Teamed with digital mapping software, such as Memory-Map, the P350 can be used as a walking GPS unit that shows full detail Ordnance Survey mapping. There’s no doubting the appeal of a GPS receiver that shows your exact position on 1:25,000 OS mapping and, in practice, it’s as good as you’d hope. However, the cons probably outweigh the pros for serious walking, as battery life is very low – less than four hours at times. Also it’s not really robust enough for British weather and you need to use a stylus, which is fiddly.

Verdict: Buy one if you would use a PDA for other things anyway and if the majority of your walking isn’t too demanding.

Size: 11.5x7.2x1.78cm

Weight: 170g

Contact: 0870 740 9040; www.memory-map.co.uk

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