It tells me that you should do a fare amount of homework before jumping into a GPS - not that you couldn't figure some basic things out but rather so that you don't start off buying something you don't need or want out of the gate.
I would suggest starting with the basics of GPS. You might read the "Sticky's" in this Forum on GPS Basics. To get you started, here's an excerpt from one of my Classes/Articles. . .
Why Would Anyone Want a GPS Receiver?
- Supports pre-ride planning
- Finds "stuff" for you
- Encourages exploration
- Reduce driving “stress”
- Record a ride
- Archive a ride
- Share ride
- Will help you avoid "getting lost"
Basic Specs for a GPS
- Portable, ruggedized, water-proof
- Powered by Battery and external 12VDC power
- Operable with gloves on
- Create waypoints and display their properties
- Import and navigate tracks and routes
- Can record tracks and store them
- You can add addition maps to the unit
- World Wide Map products are available
- Software is user upgradable
Let’s do a short review of the basic GPS data types that are most important to Adventure Touring and Dual Sport Riding.
Waypoints: For our purposes a waypoint is a point on the earth defined by latitude and longitude coordinates.
Routes: In today’s GPS context, a route is a path calculated by the GPS between a minimum of two waypoints using onboard maps that contain information (routing data) that the GPS uses in the calculation. Since a Route is calculated, no two GPS’s will produce the same Route given a start point and end point unless they are calculated on the same model of GPS using the same exact map data with the same exact routing preferences – and that is rare!
Tracks: Since the beginning, commercial GPS’s have been able to record the path we traveled by setting points (latitude, longitude) along the way.*These points (track points) are represented on the GPS display by a line connecting them from start to finish.*Once a track is recorded the direction of a track is determined by the time-stamp associated with each point along the path.
As you can see there is a significant difference between Route’s and Track’s.*So, are Route’s really useful?*Well, sometimes, but not when you want to ensure everyone follows the same path – then we need Tracks.
Digital Maps: Most modern GPS’s support pre-installed or installable digital maps.
The two fundamental types of digital maps are referred to as Raster or Vector maps.
- Raster maps can be made from arial or satellite imagery, scanned paper maps or any image that is earth coordinate calibrated.
- Routable (vector) maps are typically created using map editing software, or drawn, and have earth coordinate data associated to the drawn lines that represent roads; or any other feature the author wants to place on the map. The advantage of vector maps is that they can also have routing data associated to the roads which will enable the GPS to create a route based on a start point and an end point.
Maps are only as good as the author who created them. There is not one type of map that is better than another but routable maps are more convenient since you can both auto-route and use waypoints and tracks to navigate.
Hope that get's you started.
Now, go to your favorite GPS store(s) and look over the various models so you get a feel for Screen Size, Brightness (go outside in the sunlight with it before you buy!!!), Touch Screen or Button ergonomics.
Remember, you'll be trying to look at this device while you're riding and "see" what's ahead on your route.
Here's the short list of the units I recommend to our Clients:
Garmin Montana Series
(it's at the top of my list in all categories)
Garmin GPSMAP 276, 376, 478
(tried and true - but out of production and older technology)
Garmin zumo 660/665
(supported - becoming less desirable due to software issues)
There are certainly a lot of other GPS's available on the market that will meet/exceed the basic requirements. Hands-on is the best decision maker. Take your time.