First off, welcome to geocachingmaine.org . . . and geocaching in general. I hope you'll find geocaching as fun and rewarding as I have in the short time I have been geocaching . . . it will take you and your family to places that may not be found in any tourism brochure . . . but places that are pretty neat nonetheless.
Originally Posted by Maine-iac_Mom
As for your question . . . any ol' GPSr will do. In general most folks tend to go with the big two . . . Ford and Chevy . . . oops, I mean Garmin and Magellan.
There are pros- and cons- to both manufacturers. Garmins seem to be more popular (so if you want to go with the "in-crowd" go with a Garmin ) and have a well-deserved reputation for being tough, reliable and excellent customer service (if you want proof search these threads for Hiram357's many stories about Garmins that he has attempted to drown, drive over and freeze to death. )
Magellans (the type I own) on other other hand are less popular and have a past reputation for poor customer service (supposedly they have been bought up by another company so this may change and to be honest I've never needed to use their customer service), but if you look around you may find that you can get more "bang for your buck" when you stack up the features of comparable Garmin and Magellan models and bundled packages (i.e. DC chargers, mapping software, etc.) Honestly, one of the major reasons I went with my first Magellan was that I could get a lot more stuff for a lot less money (i.e. color screen, mapping software, DC power adapter, car cradle, etc.)
As I said however, just about any GPSr will work . . . as long as it is a portable model and not one of those car-based models (which I suppose could work if you were driving with Hiram in his Jeep . . . but otherwise you'd be limiting yourself to roadside caches and the dreaded LPC and GRC -- Lamp Post Caches and Guard Rail Caches.)
I personally think a GPSr with mapping capability is nice . . . especially if you think you might use it in the future for other purposes such as hiking, kayaking, ATVing, snowmobiling, etc. If you go with one with a mapping ability you'll also want to buy (or get one with a bundled package) that has mapping software since the base maps they pack with these units are pretty basic and don't offer a lot of detail.
I also prefer my GPSr to have mapping software and the ability to offer turn-by-turn directions as this comes in handy when I'm driving throughout the State looking for caches . . . but this is just me. I also like color screens when I'm navigating in my car or on my ATV or sled, but once again that's just me . . . for geocaching I use an inexpensive black and white screen Magellan which works perfectly fine.
I guess if I could offer any advice for someone who is looking at getting a unit to try out geocaching I would suggest going with a bottom to middle line product -- one that either allows you to use SD cards (or similar memory adding abilities) or has a decent amount of memory storage and one that has mapping ability.
Just for the heck of it I checked a few on-line versions of brick-and-mortar stores such as Circuit City, LL Bean, etc. to get an idea of what they're selling mid-entry level GPSr units for -- units with mapping capability.
Circuit City and Dick's Sporting Goods offers a Garmin Etrex Legend for $140.
LL Bean also has an Etrex Legend for $149 . . . but one of the best deals that I saw for their Magellan line was a Magellan Explorist 210 bundle package which includes Topo 3D mapping software, a lighter adapter, USB connector for your computer and a carrying case for $199 (this package was also offered at Cabelas.com.) LL Bean also had an Etex Venture CX with a packaged Eastern US topographic map program for $249 . . . this is nice as the CX offers a color screen.
As stated . . . this was just a quick check of on-line versions of b-and-m stores . . . if you're willing to wait and want a better deal you might want to check places like gpsdirect.com, tigergps.com, anchorexpress.com, etc.
I should admit however that I am one of those unabashed Magellan users so my opinions might be a bit judgmental one way or the other . . . incidentally I own a Magellan 210 and a Magellan Color Meridian (an older unit no longer manufactured.)
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