Friday, May 20, 2011

The new Garmin Montana--the all-in-one GPS?

Garmin GPS units; Review: New line of dual-use touch-screen GPS. A guest post by Kevin Jordan

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“Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”  ~Henry David Thoreau


First, there was Colorado. Then came Oregon, and after that Dakota, and now...Montana? If the my chronology seems a little out of whack, it's because I'm not talking about states here--I'm talking about Garmin GPS units. Montana GPS This week, Garmin announced the release of a new line of dual-use touch-screen GPS units. The "Montana" series, as it's called, is designed to bridge the gap between outdoor-use GPS units like those in the Oregon series, and automotive units like those in the Nuvi series. Both the Oregon and Nuvi series have been very successful and popular, and those GPS units are very good at their respective tasks. However, there has never really been a GPS unit that was a good fit for both the outdoor and automotive markets...but it looks like the Garmin Montana might just be the GPS that does that successfully.

For one thing, unlike previous outdoor-use GPS units that will just give textual turn-by-turn driving directions, the Montana GPS units will also give you voice commands. However, the speakers for the voice commands are located in the actual automotive mount, not the GPS. This way, Garmin could keep the size and weight of the GPS low enough not to be awkward for hikers and backpackers. Montana Auto Mount Another first for the Montana is that, similar to many smartphones, you can hold it vertically or horizontally. I would imagine that holding it horizontally would make it a little easier to use in the automotive mode. There are two power options for the Montana: a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack (included with the GPS), or 3 AA batteries. Useful battery life with the AA batteries is advertised as 22 hours, which is more than most handheld GPS units currently on the market. Battery life with the lithium-ion pack is advertised as 16 hours.

All 3 units in the Montana series (the 600, 650, and 650t) include a barometric altimeter and electronic compass, have slots for microSD cards, and are compatible with all Garmin maps, BirdsEye satellite imagery, and custom maps. Montana GPS The Montana 650 also includes a 5 megapixel camera, and the 650t includes the camera and is also pre-loaded with detailed U.S. topographic maps. All in all, the Montana GPS units look pretty impressive. They're slated to hit the market in late June, so we've got a month to drool in anticipation. Until then, we can only wonder--is the Montana the elusive all-in-one GPS we've all been waiting for?


About Kevin Jordan  I’m an avid hiker, Kevin's Picturebackpacker, climber, and lover of the outdoors. I’ve been backpacking and climbing all around the world including trips to New Zealand and Chile. I currently run a business selling new and pre-owned handheld GPS units, as well as providing GPS units for rent. I love teaching people how to use GPS technology to take their outdoor adventures to the next level.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hiking in the Rain & Fog

The pleasures of hiking in the rain and fog

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“He who would travel happily must travel light." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

So it was raining this weekend and looks like rain all this week. I just took the dog out for a walk in the drizzle and it reminded me I wanted to write a short blog post about my hike yesterday in the rain.

When I don’t have time for a full day hike I often hike at a very nice county park near me. It’s a wonderful park with many nice trails up to views of New York City and flatter trails along a reservoir.  The only down side being it sometimes gets a bit “crowded” (meaning you can spot some other people there from time to time).

149 rainy

So yesterday I figured it was a good place to go, cause “Sunday” hikers don’t normally hike in the rain.  Thinking I would have the place to myself, I drive into the lot and find a troop of cub scouts.  They seem to be standing around debating if they should hike in rain or not and appear to be inclined against it.  They ignore me as I walk past them.

Fortunately they were the only other people in the park and I walk for a mile or two before seeing anyone else.  When I get to the top I think about turning around – the fog and clouds are making it feel kind of spooky and I’m getting a little creeped out – but I decide to go ahead and do a long loop.  Just as I walk into a normally dark part of the woods (now really spooky) I meet a young lady and her dog walking the other way.  I recognize her as someone else who often haunts these woods and we exchange a smile as we pass; this makes me forget how creepy the woods is this day.

The rain has stopped now and the woods are so quiet. There is just the stillness of the hanging fog in the air and the dripping of water from the leaves.  A peacefulness that is hard to describe. It’s like a vacuum that sucks the tension and stress out of my body. My daydreams, worries and thoughts evaporate into the mist and all that remains is that peaceful feeling.  The quietness. The solitude.

A short while passes as I near the end of my loop and I hear the ear-piercing noises of cub scouts coming toward me.  That’s OK too. It’s nice to see the kids out in the rain.  They ignore me as they walk past.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Platypus Gravityworks Water Filter

Camping or hiking with a group? This gravity water filter does 4 liters in 2.5 minutes with out any pumping…

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“I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

If you are backpacking, camping or hiking with a group, share this Platypus Gravtyworks water filter.  As a group you save weight and platypusthere is no need to do any pumping.   Just hang this from a tree and Isaac Newton does the work.  It will filter 4 liters of water in 2.5 minutes with out any pumping.  It has a flow rate of 1.75 liters per minute. 

The system weighs 10.6 ounces and filters to 0.2 microns.

click rei from purchase to here