Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Garmin eTrex H and TOPO! Mapping Software

This Straight Shootin' Gear Review is a two'fer special. In the following multi-part video review, I'll show you how you can exceed the capabilites of a high-end mapping GPS with the plain-Jane Garmin eTrex H GPS and the TOPO! State Series topographic mapping software from National Geographic... at a fraction of the cost.

I chose to review these two products together because in my method of using them, they are a tightly (though manually) integrated duo that I depend on for outdoor navigation and for recording important details of my scouting and hunting trips. Any decent GPS can help get you where you are going and back in the woods, but only by adding the capabilities of a custom topographic mapping tool will you be able to create historical views of important details like feeding areas, bedding areas, trails, rubs, and scrapes. You can even attach photos and custom notes that can be viewed with a simple click of the mouse.

As an added bonus, I'll also show you the terrific Adventure Paper that lets you create totally waterproof, nearly indestructible custom topo maps straight from your inkjet printer.

Remember, no GPS is a substitute for a topographic map, a compass, and the knowledge of how to use 'em. If you are a newcomer to using those two essential outdoorsman's tools, or if you just want to refresh your memory, take a look at this article about topographic map basics then this article on compass basics and this article where I show you how to use them together.

Happy trails!

Update: This article shows how I use the system out in the field.






Garmin eTrex H Sources

The eTrex H is widely available including these online retailers:
Gander Mountain
Amazon had the best pricing at the time of this review

National Geographic TOPO! Sources
Cabelas has a limited selection of states
Again Amazon had lowest prices plus the complete line of states

National Geographic Adventure Paper Sources



Anonymous said...

I have a few questions on the mapping software.

Pursuit Hunter said...

Fire away. I'll do my best to answer.

Anonymous said...

Do you use a 3rd party program to get you etrex to talk to your computer? I have the same GPS as you but can't get it to down load the way points I collected. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Never mind! I got it. I'm also using some stuff I learned from the august 2010 Field and Stream. It's about google earth functions. Imbedding video and pictures at waypoints. I can send an eg if your interested.

Pursuit Hunter said...

John. I have not been able to get my eTrex to communicate with my computer. I transfer the data manually. The good news is... I just got a new Garmin GPSMAP 62s that is really sweet - and it communicates with my PC. I'll be doing a gear review on it once I have learned more about it.

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to it. I've just ordered a really nice compass,, but am going to stick with the Etrex. I've got to spend where I really need it and control the "must have the new" urge. Thanks again for your site. My son and I will apply these principals in the Yanahli WMA and let you know how it works.

CjGaleana said...

Do you know if the software is compatible for mac?

Anonymous said...

man i used your system and it works great with the gps and software discribed. i thank you for the great informations.

Unknown said...

Est-ce que je peux faire un relevé topographique avec?