Summary This unit has great features, is very well constructed, and has a nice display, but the receiver is sub-par. Only moderate tree cover or clouds will block reception of the receiver. Also when walking/hiking I find that I have to keep the unit held up at chest level or it sometimes loses reception even in the open. I also have a Magellan Map 330 which almost never loses reception except in the thickest of woods or heavy cloud cover. I bought the unit primarily to keep track of how far I walk and hike and also to trasfer track info. to topo maps. But the unit loses reception so often that it is useless for this purpose. If your travels are mostly in the open,such as boating, etc. then it is a good choice. Support is too expensive especially for outdated map info. So for my purpose I give it a thumbs down.
Summary A well-meaning brother gave me the e Trex Vista last Christmas. The map that comes with it is worthless. You can find more detail on free state maps. I purchased a better but over-priced map from Garmin (Roads & Recreation, about 100.00) that you can download into your computer, map your routes, and then download the map and routes into the e Trex. You can also map routes directly on the E Trex, but I found the process so tedious that after two hours of toture, I nearly smashed the unit. Although the unit E- Trex can accurately navigate you along your route, you will need a magnifying glass to see it. I could not see the names of streets unless I zoomed in to maximum magnification. At that point the screen looses all context of where you are or where you are going i.e., the name of the steet fills the screen and you see little else. Although the unit seems accurate and includes an altimeter, clock and compass, I plan to return mine. If you need a GPS, buy one with a large screen; otherwise you may walk off a cliff.
Pros Nice design, nice features.
Cons But it just doesn't work most of the time!
Summary I bought an eTrex Vista for hiking a few years ago. However, it has consistently been very poor. It never works with any sort of tree cover or in a city. Perhaps acceptable, but it also fails to work most of the time even in the open, even at the summit of a mountain!
Pros Buy Magellan eXplorist XL
Cons Do not buy Garmin
Summary I bought a Garmin eTrex. During the first year, the springs in the battery compartment broke because they are badly engineered. Garmin customer support refused to solve my problem. I soldered the springs together several times.
Subsequently, I was hiking down from the summit of Mount Harvard in a rainstorm. My Garmin eTrex became a rain guage. Garmin charged me $120 to replace the water-logged unit. The first hike with the replacement unit indicated that I hiked to 24,800 feet, an impossibility unless I had oxygen tanks and floated on 10,000 feet of air.
Garmin cannot be read in the dark, which is the only time when I have been close to being lost on a hike near Mirror Lake in the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area. Garmin eTrex did not track satellites in lodgepole forest. This year, I bought the Magellan eXplorist XL. Magellan is the GPS that I should have purchased the first time around. I can easily read the large letters on the large color screen, even in the dark. The construction is far more solid than the Garmin and has double the battery capacity, which enables me to hike multiple days without GPS failures.
Cons It's not Brunton. Really, from everything everyone has said so far I'd say forget about magellan and garmin. The Brunton Atlas MNS is what they are trying to be and for around $400.00 for a professional geological tool that's also easy to use and has so