Whats the best GPS for Geocaching?

If you are just starting out I recommend the Etrex Venture.  Why?  Its only $99.  Its the lowest cost GPS that gives you everthing you need to start Geocaching.  When the Etrex Venture was first available it was over $200.   The Garmin Etrex Venture is an excellent choice for use in schools its durable and takes AA Batteries.  I have used this model with my classes for years.

What GPS unit should you stay away from?  Do not purchase a Garmin Etrex H.  The Etrex H uses a Serial cable to hook up to your computer.   Most of today’s computers and latops do not have serial ports.  You would need to purchase an adapter.  After purchasing the adapter you will have spent more money than if you had purchased the Etrex Venture first.   I expect that the Etrex H will soon be discontinued.

After you find the first 100 or so caches and you are still interested in geocaching, then upgrade.  By that time the costs of the newest units will have dropped.  You can keep the Etrex Venture for friends and family to use, or sell it on Ebay and get most of your money back.

What is the best GPS if money was not an issue?  In the Garmin brand the Oregon 550T has all the bells and whistles, but sells for over $500.  Its touch screen, has a built in Camera, supports paperless caching, includes a Topographic map of the United States, and will transmit data wirelessly.    It has a lot of toys, more than any Geocacher really needs.

Garmin Chirp

Chirp is the next level in Geocaching.   You program the chirp with hints that lead the cacher to the geocache.  When the Geocacher gets close to the chirp the hint you have programmed will appear on their GPS.  The chirp will also keep track of the number of visitors.

Chirp is a one-of-a-kind wireless beacon designed specifically for the outdoor adventures of geocaching. Affordable, durable and waterproof, chirp can communicate with, and be programmed by, any compatible wireless-enabled Garmin handheld.   Chirp stores hints, multi-cache coordinates, counts visitors and confirms the cache is nearby. Chirp is password protected and has a battery life of up to one year.  Compatible GPS Unit: Oregon 300, 400i, 400c, 400t, 450, 450t, 550, 550t GPSMAP 62s, 62st, 78s, 78sc Dakota 20.

Garmin Dakota Series

The Garmin Dakota 10 and 20 are very capable geocaching GPS unit.  Both support paperless geocaching,  So whats the difference between the two?  The Dakota 20 has the following additional features:

  • Accepts Micro SD cards
  • It includes an Electronics compass and Barometric Altimeter
  • Supports wireless unit to unit wireless transfers of data

Garmin Oregon Series

Oregon 450

The Oregon series from Garmin is a top of the line hand held GPS.   These units support paperless geocaching.  With paperless geocaching, you’ll have cache descriptions, ratings, and recent log info stored directly on your device so there’s no need to take paper printouts along with you.   There are four models in the series.

All of the units have:

  • 805 Meg of RAM
  • Paperless Geocaching
  • Touch Screen
  • 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass and barometric altimeter
  • Improved 3″ sunlight-readable, color, touchscreen display, enhanced clarity
  • High-sensitivity GPS receiver with HotFix for improved performance and reception
  • High-speed USB for faster map transfers with your computer
  • Wirelessly share routes, tracks, waypoints and geocaches between units

The Oregon 550 includes a 3.2 megapixel autofocus digital camera with 4x digital zoom. Each photo automatically is geotagged with the location of where it was taken, allowing you to navigate back to that exact spot in the future.   The Oregon 550T adds topographic maps of the United States.

The Oregon 450 and 450T doe not have a built in camera.   The Oregon 450T has topographic maps of the United States.

Garmin GPS 60CSx

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One of the most popular handhelp GPS units for Geocaching and Hiking.  This Garmin unit has been the standard for years.  It contains a fast processor that provides accurate tracking in mountain valleys and under tree cover.  Some reviews state that the battery life is not as long as the Etrex models.  But since it uses standard AA batteries that should not be much of a problem.

  • High-sensitivity GPS receiver
  • Color-handheld mapping ideal for both marine and outdoor use
  • Fully supported at Geocaching.com
  • Bright, sunlight-readable color TFT display
  • 64 MB microSD card for storage of optional map detail
  • Uses a standard Micro USB cable
  • Uses two AA batteries

Garmin eTrex Venture HC

— This is one of the best units to start Geocaching on a Budget! — Cost about $99

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If your new to geocaching this is and excellent GPS to get you started.

  • 24 Meg of Memory
  • Fully supported by Geocaching.com
  • Color Screen
  • Uses standard Micro USB cable
  • Uses two AA batteries

So, what is it missing?  More expensive units have the ability to add memory (using a Micro SD card).  Really costly newer models will download the full description of the cache – this is called paperless geocaching.   But if you are just starting out this an excellent GPS for the money…..  Cost about $99

Garmin eTrex Legend HCx

  • Adds the use of Micro SD cards to expand memory
  • Supports auto routing

Garmin eTrex Vista HCx

  • Adds an electronic compass and atimeter to the features of the Legend.