Author Topic: Best GPS for cycle-camping - with turn-by-turn directions?  (Read 6515 times)

Best GPS for cycle-camping - with turn-by-turn directions?
« on: January 04, 2016, 07:28:38 pm »
Hello! I've read through all the threads here and don't think this has been covered...

We're planning a month's cycle-camping tour  and want to use a GPS this time. We've looked at the Garmin Edge Touring and as far as we can see it does what we want - but we know people buy things like the GPSMAP 64st. We can't tell, though, exactly what it offers.

We want a map with turn by turn directions, and we want to be able to plan the following day's ride each night while in our tent - where we'll only have a mobile phone, no laptop. AND we'd like to be given smaller road routes and bike paths, but not off-road routes. It looks like the Touring model offers this.

Now, as far as we can tell, the GPSMAP one has better GPS accuracy and is more rugged, and it takes batteries. But we're not clear if it has the same functionality as the touring one - for example, it doesn't seem to do turn-by-turn?

We've also seen other ones such as the Oregon and ETrex, so we're not sure exactly where they fit in. They seem to be cheaper versions of the GPSMAP one?

Any thoughts? Thanks!

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Best GPS for cycle-camping - with turn-by-turn directions?
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2016, 07:30:51 pm »
We want a map with turn by turn directions, and we want to be able to plan the following day's ride each night while in our tent - where we'll only have a mobile phone, no laptop. AND we'd like to be given smaller road routes and bike paths, but not off-road routes. It looks like the Touring model offers this.

[...]

Any thoughts?

That you're going to be disappointed.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

fuaran

  • rothair gasta
Re: Best GPS for cycle-camping - with turn-by-turn directions?
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2016, 12:35:54 am »
Now, as far as we can tell, the GPSMAP one has better GPS accuracy and is more rugged, and it takes batteries. But we're not clear if it has the same functionality as the touring one - for example, it doesn't seem to do turn-by-turn?

We've also seen other ones such as the Oregon and ETrex, so we're not sure exactly where they fit in. They seem to be cheaper versions of the GPSMAP one?

Any thoughts? Thanks!
The recent GPSMAP, Oregon, Montana and Etrex models are largely equivalent, its mostly a question of how big a device you want, and whether you want buttons or touchscreen.
ie if you want a large screen and buttons, go for the GPSMAP64. For large touchscreen, Oregon. For small and buttons, Etrex 20x or 30x. For small touchscreen, Etrex Touch 25/35 (which replace the Dakota). For HUGE touchscreen, Montana (but its rather large to fit on a bike).

You can load maps on any of them (except the Etrex 10 is really limited for this), and they can give turn-by-turn autorouting (so long as you have suitable maps loaded).

There are other differences in features (and price) if you compare specific models. eg some of the higher end Oregon or GPSMAP models have a camera built in, or Bluetooth for connecting to a phone, or options for using different batteries. Also some have an electronic compass, barometer, and ANT+ for connecting to heart rate or cadence sensors.

I wouldn't worry too much about GPS accuracy, any of the recent Garmins will be good enough for most purposes. Most of the newer models support Glonass, which should help. And the GPSMAP64 has a physically larger antenna, which may be better.

Re: Best GPS for cycle-camping - with turn-by-turn directions?
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2016, 07:22:42 am »
IIRC, going ‘off road’ with a Garmin requires the route to be in built with the maps 'Autorouting’ toggled to OFF. Each Waypoint will be joined by a straight line. The Waypoints can be where you wish; in corners of fields on Public footpaths and Bridleways etc.
It is a labourious task to construct a route on the device. I recommend an eTrex.
Each Route can have a limited number of Waypoints. When its finished, delete it to recover the device’s Waypoint Count.
Establish Waypoints by using the cursor, marking a point and naming it as a Waypoint. Then construct a Route using the Waypoints you have created.
Also IIRC, set the device to bleep a warning when approaching a Waypoint.

Re: Best GPS for cycle-camping - with turn-by-turn directions?
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2016, 07:49:08 am »

The recent GPSMAP, Oregon, Montana and Etrex models are largely equivalent, its mostly a question of how big a device you want, and whether you want buttons or touchscreen.
ie if you want a large screen and buttons, go for the GPSMAP64. For large touchscreen, Oregon. For small and buttons, Etrex 20x or 30x. For small touchscreen, Etrex Touch 25/35 (which replace the Dakota). For HUGE touchscreen, Montana (but its rather large to fit on a bike).

Thanks. And how would the Garmin Edge Touring compare to these?

Re: Best GPS for cycle-camping - with turn-by-turn directions?
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2016, 07:59:07 am »
The Edge range has internal Li-ion batteries, so you'll have to pitch your tent next to a power socket.
Otherwise, take a USB charger that uses AA Batts.
I'd get a GPS unit that takes AA batts straight off. eTrex or GPSMAP 64.

frankly frankie

  • I kid you not
    • Fuchsiaphile
Re: Best GPS for cycle-camping - with turn-by-turn directions?
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2016, 10:18:57 am »
And the 'Touring' moniker is just a way for Garmin to achieve some product differentiation - you shouldn't take it to mean that it has touring-related capabilities that other  models don't also have.
Edge models are small, intended to be cycle-specific, mostly touchscreen, BUT would need to be recharged every night.
Etrex 20/30x are small, buttons, take 2xAAs which (if you use non-rechargeables bought at garages for example) will last 2+ days and are very easy to swap.
GPSMap 64 are as above but bigger.  A bigger screen means slightly reduced battery runtime.
Etrex Touch are the same as Etrex above but touchscreen.  A touchscreen means slightly reduced battery runtime.
Oregon are as above but bigger.  With one thing and another, the runtime is by now significantly reduced, compared with the Etrex. But Oregons are popular with tourists.
Montana are as above but bigger.  Getting into tablet territory, but more robust.

All except the Edges are primarily designed for walkers, but a bike mount is available and they are equally capable when used on a bike.  None of them will give reliable A-B routing over a distance of more than about 20-30km - so your daily plan-ahead should be composed of 3 or 4 hops.  Depending on the package you buy, you may have to factor in the cost of adding maps into the GPS.
I would avoid the Edges because of the recharging issue, and I would avoid touchscreens because I think these might be more difficult to use when planning the next day.
So I would suggest you look at the Etrex 20x or 30x, or the 64 if you can stand such a big ugly thing on your handlebars.  If you would prefer a touchscreen look at the Oregons.  And I would take a cheap (20x) spare, packed away in the luggage and fitted with a pair of lithium AAs for minimum weight and maximum longevity.  (People will say, take maps as backup - but a spare GPS is more compact and weighs less, than a wodge of maps - the longer the tour, the more true this is.)

Is this month-long tour overseas?  The map suitability and availability varies, depending on where you're going.  Hopefully you'll find the free OSM maps suitable, and you can have a copy of these on your phone as well.
"This is a complex subject, with a need for more than one highlighter pen."

Re: Best GPS for cycle-camping - with turn-by-turn directions?
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2016, 10:32:07 am »
mllePB bought a Garmin Edge Touring with this purpose in mind.   The routes can be pre planned and loaded, then selected and followed. 

We have found some issues where the unit occasionally loses it's way, especially prevalent on day rides where one returns to the start point of the ride.   Easily resolved by splitting the day into sections.   

The unit will not last a day whilst doing this though so I have acquired an ewerk usb to see if that can keep the thing running.   A couple of usb battery packs for the barbag might also be deployed.   I have a usb charger unit which can be used with AA batteries providing the juice.   Handy for touring where mains power might be scarce.

Overall the experimentation is working well.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Best GPS for cycle-camping - with turn-by-turn directions?
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2016, 12:50:17 pm »
The unit will not last a day whilst doing this though

That's a fairly strong argument for the eTrex. :(
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Re: Best GPS for cycle-camping - with turn-by-turn directions?
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2016, 01:15:16 pm »

When I first started using my Dakota 20 I did so with routes and turn-by-turn alerts but the battery life wasn't so good (about 1 pair of AA batteries per day IIRC). I fairly rapidly switched to displaying a track and flicking the screen on to check my position every so often and now I get 2 or 3 days' operation from a pair of batteries.

Ariadne, is turn-by-turn directions a must-have or a nice-to-have for you?

Whereas my tracks are usually produced on a laptop at home and then transferred to the Garmin, I did once bail a tour early and spend rather a long time in my tent trying to input a route to the railway station, waypoint by waypoint, directly into the Garmin. It wasn't fun.

Is there any way you could borrow a Garmin off someone and work through your process a few times to check for painful bits?


A month's cycle camping sounds ace - have a fantastic time!


Re: Best GPS for cycle-camping - with turn-by-turn directions?
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2016, 01:22:39 pm »
I mis-read. NO off road riding.

Easy.

eTrex X30. OSM maps.
Packs of AA batteries.
Pages from an old AA Road Atlas folded in a plastic wallet.

Get a preliminary route on the AA Atlas pages. Create Waypoints on the eTrex along the chosen route. Construct Route on eTrex using newly created Waypoints.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Best GPS for cycle-camping - with turn-by-turn directions?
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2016, 01:32:28 pm »
When I first started using my Dakota 20 I did so with routes and turn-by-turn alerts but the battery life wasn't so good (about 1 pair of AA batteries per day IIRC). I fairly rapidly switched to displaying a track and flicking the screen on to check my position every so often and now I get 2 or 3 days' operation from a pair of batteries.

Data point:  I'll get 2 or 3 (touring) days of turn-by-turn autorouting from my eTrex 30 on a pair of high-capacity NiMHs.  Less on alkalines.  More on lithiums.

I only tend to use follow-the-track navigation for primarily off-road rides (and as a backup to autorouting for audaxes), so can't directly compare battery life.


Agree with Ningishzidda here.  Ideally your paper map[1] will have grid references that can be used to enter waypoints on the Garmin directly, which is inelegant, but eliminates a *lot* of tedious scrolling and error-prone clicking on map features.


[1] My paper map is an OS map on an Android tablet.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Otto

  • Biking Bad
Re: Best GPS for cycle-camping - with turn-by-turn directions?
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2016, 01:43:14 pm »
I have the Edge touring, seems to work well, the Road cycling setting sticks to roads (funnily enough) and does a good job, of route finding, but can take you on larger roads at times. The Touring setting, also uses cycle tracks and sometimes bridleways. I find the round trip function useful.. just tell it how far you want to go and it will give you a choice of round trip routes from your starting point.


Re: Best GPS for cycle-camping - with turn-by-turn directions?
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2016, 02:12:42 pm »
Does the GPS Map 64 offer routes and tracks as per Etrex?
Get a bicycle. You will never regret it, if you live- Mark Twain

mcshroom

  • Mushroom
Re: Best GPS for cycle-camping - with turn-by-turn directions?
« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2016, 02:26:08 pm »
I actually used the "Where To" option on my Etrex 20 on our Highlands Tour in October when we left the original route. To be fair to it for 25-40 mile days round the not very complicated roads of Skye, Lochalsh and the Great Glen it worked fine with the OSM maps I had installed.

Just choose the destination and it does turn by turn guides to it. A word of warning however is that we were happy to ride the Trunk roads in some of those places (well there wasn't much choice) and also had a paper backup if things had gone wrong. I don't know how well the OSM maps are differenciated for bike friendly roads, or how well the Etrex handles them as I just had it routing as a car.
Climbs like a sprinter, sprints like a climber!

Andrew

Re: Best GPS for cycle-camping - with turn-by-turn directions?
« Reply #16 on: January 05, 2016, 02:26:19 pm »
To be fair to all devices on the market at the moment (for practical use by the touring cyclist), the form factor v. usage is a tough one to combine and none of them are quite there yet. If they ever will be, without some form of major design/tech rethink. They are all compromise of one sort or another. All imho of course.

For life on the road, personally I think it's either 2 devices (one unit to plan and plot a route, a second to follow it) or maps (unless of course you want to mount a laptop on your handle bars ;) ) Yes, I know a single GPS unit can work and can be done, and what's more people do do it, but it's not ideal. Again, not imo.

Tbh, I think that some folk might be being a tad unrealistic too (no finger pointing at the OP intended) - almost as if they want their GPS units to do a bit of prophesying and mind reading too.

No, I say, relinquish your techdependence and unleash your inner nomad! ;)

woollypigs

  • Mr Peli
    • woollypigs
Re: Best GPS for cycle-camping - with turn-by-turn directions?
« Reply #17 on: January 05, 2016, 02:52:57 pm »
I got about 2-3 days out of the Dakota 20, on a set of rechargeable AA's. Beat the living shi*e out of it and it is still going strong. Putting a screen protector on was a good move, when I changed that it was like getting a new toy, I could see again :)

Though never got my head around how to get it to show turn by turn. I normally just studied a route first on google etc and paper. Either plotted a route online* or set the GPS to plot the route for me.

*/ Never had great success in plotting a route, getting it to the GPS and have it show there so that I could follow it. Tracks and Routes did my head it, often I got the route to show the wrong way, or with weird random loops that is not needed, or too many waypoints so the route couldn't be displayed.

This is where you normally double check the route on the GPS and have a good memory of where you wanna go from the route plotting on map/online.  So most of the time I just followed a coloured line on screen.

When Peli cooked I would check the following days route again on the GPS/map.

Get a unit that can take OSM, they get updated more often and have never let us down in NZ, Patagonia, USA and the UK. Though carry a map it does make life easier to plan and check a route.
http://www.letusbeheard.uk March in London on October 19th and on the 12th Rally 4 Our Rights

Re: Best GPS for cycle-camping - with turn-by-turn directions?
« Reply #18 on: January 05, 2016, 03:03:30 pm »
Now IF I was a serious cycle tourist, I’d equip my bike with a dynohub to power my TomTom Urban Rider.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Best GPS for cycle-camping - with turn-by-turn directions?
« Reply #19 on: January 05, 2016, 04:06:27 pm »
Putting a screen protector on was a good move, when I changed that it was like getting a new toy, I could see again :)

Agreed.  Especially on a non-touchscreen device, where there are absolutely no drawbacks.


Quote
Though never got my head around how to get it to show turn by turn. I normally just studied a route first on google etc and paper. Either plotted a route online* or set the GPS to plot the route for me.

*/ Never had great success in plotting a route, getting it to the GPS and have it show there so that I could follow it. Tracks and Routes did my head it, often I got the route to show the wrong way, or with weird random loops that is not needed, or too many waypoints so the route couldn't be displayed.

First thing not to do is plot a Route using a third-party service like a website.  It won't have the same maps as the Garmin is using, and will be doomed to random inconsistencies before you start.  If you want turn-by-turn routing, you need to use Mapsource/Basecamp with the same maps (which isn't foolproof, as the routing algorithms are still different), or just "go to" a single point directly on the device.

Tracks are easier to work with, but won't give you turn-by-turn instructions.


There is no simple, easy solution.  Apart from maybe Ningishzidda's TomTom.  And that's bulky and electron hungry.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Re: Best GPS for cycle-camping - with turn-by-turn directions?
« Reply #20 on: January 05, 2016, 05:48:48 pm »
The Garmin I bought off poler bear  routeing sends me down footpaths even when set for road's only  ::-). So I leave it set on autoroute and ignore it's more adventurous ideas ☺
the slower you go the more you see

Re: Best GPS for cycle-camping - with turn-by-turn directions?
« Reply #21 on: January 05, 2016, 06:08:47 pm »
There is no simple, easy solution.  Apart from maybe Ningishzidda's TomTom.  And that's bulky and electron hungry.

Its worth its weight in gold.

Re: Best GPS for cycle-camping - with turn-by-turn directions?
« Reply #22 on: January 06, 2016, 09:41:06 am »
Thanks, everyone. Looks like we have a lot to consider - and I think GPS just isn't as useful as I want it to be! Not yet, anyway. Really, yes, I was imagining a Tom Tom for a bike.

We're going to France. And we've always toured just with paper maps, but it seemed time to get up to date...

frankly frankie

  • I kid you not
    • Fuchsiaphile
Re: Best GPS for cycle-camping - with turn-by-turn directions?
« Reply #23 on: January 06, 2016, 10:13:25 am »
The AA and OS maps recommended above will be of limited use then!  ;)

I have toured across France 'ad hoc' using just a* GPS (an older Etrex model) and some kind of reference map** for planning, and it's completely do-able and trouble-free.  However I do have 'proper' maps (ie Garmin's own, possibly expensive, maps) rather than relying on OSM, and I suspect that makes a difference.

* Actually 2 GPSs, because there are two of us cycling together - with our 2 units set up slightly differently, this gives a huge confidence boost when they agree at each decisioin point - and if they disagree, it means we can choose the better-looking option on the ground.

** In France, I have used a tablet in the past but now I would take a large-screen smartphone, with Memory Map installed, and IGN mapping which is a bargain with MM.  I would use this as a planning aid in the evenings.  IGN maps on a 5" phone screen are just fine.  I would also put OSM maps on the phone, because that is pretty good now in most of France, except only a few un-touristy bits of the interior, and it is very good for identifying usable off-road options such as bridle paths atc.  OSM is also the best map to have in more exotic countries, such as India.

Our modus operandi then is simply to have a general idea of each daily destination, then bar-crawl our way there stopping at 20km intervals.  With a drink in one hand, it is a simple one-handed job to scroll the GPS map on to the next 20km-ish stop, click on it and choose the option 'Go To'.

Since we use hotels, not camping, the GPS is also very useful when we get near, for locating nearby hotels and maybe even providing a phone number to ring ahead.

I'm not saying we do this always - actually we are compulsive over-planners and usually have all our stops scheduled to the nearest hour, before we set off - but we have done it, and it's fine.

The alternative to the bar-crawl approach is to program the complete daily route each evening - to do this simply start a 'new route' (don't forget to name it) and then use the map to click-click to your destination, clicking on each road*** you want to use along the way.  Don't bother with towns, just click once on your way in and again on the road you want to be on when you leave town.  Make sure you're clicking on a road and not on some spurious feature such as a contour line!  You have a max of 50 clicks per route - should be more than enough, in central France probably 10 would be enough, for a day.

*** don't click on junctions, click part-way along each road you want to use.  Like this:

See this how-to: http://www.aukadia.net/gps/lwg_41.htm
"This is a complex subject, with a need for more than one highlighter pen."

Re: Best GPS for cycle-camping - with turn-by-turn directions?
« Reply #24 on: January 07, 2016, 11:07:06 am »
I suggest you take a GPS, paper maps and make a set of written instructions, and you'll still get lost.

Or is that just me???
I am often asked, what does YOAV stand for? It stands for Yoav On A Velo