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Kayaking GPS Advice

I am planning on buying a GPS system and would like a little advice from you GPS owners out there. I have done a little research but am getting confused by all the “nice to have” features vs those that are worth investing a little more money for. I plan on using it primarily for kayaking and hiking and secondarily for navigation/direction finding on car trips. I would appreciate any opinions on the following.

1. My first choice right now is the Garmin E-Trex Vista. I like the idea of an internal digital compass, altimeter (for hiking) and lots internal memory (24Mb) . Does anyone have experience with this model or the e-Trex line? I am assuming that at some time I will be wanting to download additional charts and data so getting as much memory as I can afford is a good thing.

2. There are some hand held marine specific GPS models out. Would I be missing any important marine navigation features by going with a more all purpose model like the Vista. For example I know in some models you can enter tide currents and it will make corrections in heading to allow for drift. Do the pre-loaded base maps in the Vista or other generic GPS models include some of the marine chart features like locations of channel markers?

3. I like the idea of down loading maps to my computer to view or print out a map of my trips. I would also like to be able to do the reverse i.e. plan waypoints for a trip on the computer and upload them into the GPS with the right software. Will I have to purchase additional software to do this? Any recommendations on software if that is extra.

4. I am willing to spend up to $400-500 on GPS and software. I this reasonable? Should I be spending less on the GPS and more on software.

Any and all thought or pointers to info would be appreciated.

Jack

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Kayaking GPS Advice
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Charts vs. GPS
Charts and GPS are the way to go
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