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Being brand new to the world of GPS I put in some long hours of google research before finally deciding to purchase the Garmin 60Csx. But there was some information that I wished I had known before shelling out a good deal of money for this unit. So, below is my short but rewarding experience with my new GPS unit and some tips that might save you some cash.
Many kinds of GPS models on the market, what one did I want?
I do a lot of hiking and camping (rural, backyard, backcountry, wild, around the block) and so wanted a unit that could withstand adverse conditions and be of some assistance while I walked around in circles. The unit would have to withstand being shoved in and out of a backpack, the possibility of hitting the ground, rain, dark, fending off bear attacks and of course make cool beeping sounds just as a Star Trek transponder would.
Perhaps the most important advice I read somewhere on using gps gadgetry, is that even though it costs a lot of money, it should never be relied upon. So really a £10 map and compass set offers more stability than a £250 handheld Star Trek gadget. But this is the future and so it was time to jump on board. My girlfriend thought we would never be lost again, but that can still be managed if batteries die, the gps is submerged or the wrong map was installed in the unit. In effect, a gps should just add to the tools on your belt, along with a map, compass, stars, throwing grass up in the air and bread crumbs.
A friend who works on a Search & Rescue team introduced me to the Garmin 60CSx in 2007 during a hiking trip. I did not play around with it too much at the time, but noticed that its handling was excellent and rugged and had a solid exterior. So this experience, plus online research led me to purchase a Garmin 60CSx in 2009. Plus, it had already been on the market for a few years and thus there was lots of help online and the price (hopefully) would be perhaps a bit cheaper than the initial market price.
How much and where to buy from?
I am from Canada, but was temporarily living in the UK so had to decide where to buy it from. Searching around I came to an ebay store called, AudioVideoDirect in the US which had the unit for sale at $309US.
My initial thinking was that by buying from the US, the basemap on the 60CSx would be the North American Basemap and because I would be returning to North America, I would need that basemap. However, this is not the case. By my understanding, another map can be installed over top the existing basemap in the unit's memory. The initial basemap will always be there, but really it is inconsequential if you are frequently transferring maps to the unit.
There were no problems dealing with AudioVideoDirect and in 3 days, after travelling 5000miles, I had it in my hands. But in hindsight, I should have purchased from within the UK and avoided the shipping/handling/tax charges. I think I could have saved about £50 by doing so.
Maps: going beyond the basemap of the Garmin 60CSx
I would be using the 60CSx most of the time for hiking rather than driving and had read that this particular unit works well either way. I did not understand how the maps worked until a few months after using the product and through trial & error of whatever I found online. Unfortunately, GPS is not a handheld equivalent of google-maps (yet).
In the box comes a program called MapSource, that sorts out your maps and makes transferring them to the 60CSx easy. But other than the simple basemap (not much detail), no other maps come - they cost extra!
It is possible to find other maps for download online, through torrents or googling around. Your first step is to find a city-navigator map. My suggestion is for the Garmin City Navigator North America, or the Garmin City Navigator for Europe.
The two above maps, once installed and via MapSource, transferred to the 60CSx, will give a detailed view of the road/highway infrastructure, at least enough to get you to your next jump off point for an expedition.
For hiking or hill-walking, one would probably want topographical maps. My girlfriend and I recently completed a weekend trip to the Isle of Skye & Lochalsh regions of Scotland. We had read about Scottish 'wild-camping' where because of a 2003 bylaw, camping is permissible anywhere (within reasoning and as long as one can survive the midges). So we found this site, http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk, which provided free GPX waypoints. Right-click on the gpx link, download to a 'My Maps' folder (keeps things organised), then open the file in MapSource, the waypoints will be laid out on your map, then make the transfer to your 60CSx and your all set.
There is a way to send Google maps to MapSource, (GMAP to GPX: http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/gmaptogpx/), but I found the waypoints to be off once transferred to the 60CSx. As one author of this trick points out, "If a GPX file produced by this code directs you into oncoming traffic or over a cliff, don't sue me." Though because google maps is so easy to use this method is worth some more checking out.
Otherwise, after only 2 months with the unit, continual training by usage is the plan. The battery life has been great (takes 2 'AA'). I have had no problems with lost signal or not picking up satellites. It has worked fine while driving and hill-walking. Next, I will probably purchase a carry-case as it makes me feel better as I shove it into my overloaded backpack.
The only problematic, learning curve issue could be the maps. But there is definitely lots of help online, whether on discussion boards or posted tutorials, enthusiasts are everywhere willing to help. Try to find maps that say they are MapSource friendly, they'll contain an installation file which makes it easy to setup. For example, going to Iceland? Check out this map: http://www.ourfootprints.de/gps/mapsource-island_e.html
Have fun & good luck!