Garmin Oregon 450

Yeah, I’m not new to the game here. This GPS has been reviewed all over the internet already.

But, I decided that the Edge 705 wasn’t really for me. Here’s why:

  • I hated the little joystick on the etrex series, and I didn’t like it any better on the Edge.
  • I only used the heart rate monitor a couple of times, and never when riding the trails.
  • I never really made much use of the speed/cadence sensor. I only ever used it on the trainer. Never on the trail.
  • I didn’t care for the start/stop functionality of the Edge. I am used to and prefer the technique of the handhelds where you erase your previous tracks and trip odometer data before use. The fact that the GPS auto-stopped without me knowing a couple times also bothered me.  I also occasionally forgot to start it after turning it on.
  • I never used Virtual Partner or any of the workout functions.

I had been leaning towards the 62s, but a few things swayed me towards the Oregon 450.

  • The Oregon 450 is small enough to use on the stem of the bike (and there is a mount that can attach it there).
  • It is also still large enough for handheld use.
  • The touchscreen makes data entry (waypoint names and descriptions) MUCH easier than with the arrow pad of the GPSMap series (which is better than the joystick from the Edge and etrex models).
  • REI put the Oregon in its Labor Day Sale announcement for $250.

I appreciate that the Oregon can take a HRM or cadence sensor if I really would like to use them on the trainer in the future, but they’d be separate accessory purchases, not necessarily bundled with the GPS.  I’ve been VERY interested in the custom mapping feature ever since Garmin introduced it in a firmware update.  I’ve already played with it, and in a word, it’s truly an outstanding feature.  Garmin hit a home run with it, and it’s not talked about enough, in my opinion.

I really appreciate using Garmin Custom Mapping with Topofusion.  Topofusion makes the whole process so much easier byautomatically sizing the tiles appropriately and automatically navigating to the Garmin device to save them.  It’s mentioned in the Topofusion help file, but I believe it’s worth mentioning here: with Garmin Custom Maps, you may include any number of trails into the .kmz file and they will appear on your basemap on the GPS.  This is probably the best way to include a whole network of trails on your Garmin GPS.  With the soon-to-be-released Edge 800 hitting the market soon, I think a lot of mountain bikers will be exposed to this feature for the first time.  They’re not “navigable” the way they would be if you loaded a .gpx or .tcx file, nor are they “routable” the way some trails are on Garmin’s 24k software.  But many sources are starting to provide files that show a whole trail network, and now you can include those onto your basemap.  Plus, with Topofusion’s “Network” algorithm, you can create your own trail network and load that onto your GPS so you can always find your way out when you’re on a confusing network trail system.

Draw times for these raster images is slower than for vector maps (I also have the Texas Topo 24k vector basemap from gpsfiledepot loaded), but not unreasonably so.

I’m curious to use the paperless Geocaching features on this GPS in the future.  I don’t cache a lot, but I do appreciate the utility of not having to print cache details for every cache I want to look for.  In the past, I have carried a PocketPC PDA with Cachemate with the details on it, and it was somewhat of a pain to go back and forth between that and my GPS sometimes.

By the way, I do like the rail mount that Garmin is using on its handhelds right now.  I got a couple bike mounts and the

mounting system feels so much more substantial than the Edge’s mount.  It also stays out of the way and doesn’t require extra cradles like the bike mount for the GPSMap 76CSx I used a number of years ago.  The attachment point on the GPS is also aluminum, and there are no flimsy tabs asking to break off when I’m tired and clumsy.

I do feel the need to put a screen protector on the GPS before I get into the woods with it.  I have scratched or nicked the screens of 3 portable devices before I got smart and started using screen protectors.

I plan to be using this as my all-purpose outdoor GPS rather than as a dedicated use receiver like the Edge is.  It will be going mountain biking, hiking, geocaching, and even paddling with me.  I’ll be selling my clunky but trusty GPSMap 76CSx because I just don’t need that sort of redundancy.  I just bought my wife a Forerunner 205 for running workouts, and I may get myself one if the 76 sells well enough.  I don’t think this receiver will be small enough to carry on a 5k, to be completely honest.

5 comments to Garmin Oregon 450

  • Amen brother! I have an Oregon 400 and, to me, it is the best thing ever. The custom mapping stuff, especially with Topofusion, is a beautiful thing. Garmin not trying to cash in completely by pioneering some proprietary format or forcing us to buy maps like that through them was the right thing to do.

    My only gripe with it is what I believe is their “belt clip” – I can’t clip it onto anything! It is too tight.

  • Nice review! I’m not new to GPS either. I own a Edge 705 and don’t like the joystick on that one either ; ). It’s also very slow in building the maps. However, I do like some of the bike specific functionalities of the 705 like ODO meter, Total amount of calories used during workout, and the altimeter (it displays the (increasing/decreasing) percentage while climbing). I also own a HRM and cadence sensor, but don’t use the last one very often.

    Now, I do wonder if you can tell me if such functions (ODO, calories, altimeter) are on the oregon too? Are these stored for just one trip or also for ‘overall statistics’? Hard to find this kind of information, so you would help me a lot!

  • Nate

    The Oregon has a ton of preset “trip computer” screens, and you can customize the fields beyond that. There is an overall odometer field option in addition to the trip odometer field. There is no calorie calculator, but there is a HR field. There are several field options that might work for you on the altimeter front. There’s a current elevation, vertical speed and vertical speed to destination, and two fields called “glide ratio” and “glide ratio to destination” (they are given in a xx.xx:1 notation), but no % grade.

    You do get some additional fields on the elevation plot screen. They include the aforementioned ones, plus avg, max, total ascent, avg, max, total descent, max and min elevation, a barometer field, and an ambient pressure field.

    Most of the fields seem to get cleared out upon a reset, but the overall odometer does not. It shows that I’ve put 19.9 miles on the Oregon since I got it. That makes sense, because I’ve done a bike ride and a dayhike with it so far.

  • Rico

    Screen size was the reason you didn’t purchase the Dakota series? Bit smaller, w/ a 2.6″ screen, and a 5.5 oz weight…size is excellent on a stem. Fits well in the hand, too, for trail running, rough scrambling, or hiking.
    Larger is better when it comes to screen size, but the Dakota screen (which is also the size of the Edge 800) is certainly large enough to be useful–and my eyes have been around awile, if you take my meaning….

    BTW, for any hikers or mtn bikers in the Pacific NW, check out the free mapset download at http://www.switchbacks.com. I’ve used the mapset for mtn biking in both WA and OR; it’s outstanding…and free, though a small donation is appreciated.

  • The GPS Geek

    I appreciate the greater detail from the higher resolution screen on the Oregon. It’s not a huge difference, and if I had to pay full retail, the price would have been too great a difference for just a bit of resolution.

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