Today's Ask Garmin question was sent to @JakesJournal on Twitter by Lindy G (or @formerfatmama), who describes herself as "A deaf 37 yr old single mom on a weight loss journey. I plan to walk across America." Lindy asked "Which GPS device would you recommend for someone who's planning to walk across america? Preferably a handheld or wristheld." Not a typical question as Lindy's goal is pretty remarkable, but the answer(s) can apply to many hikers/walkers/runners. Meanwhile, another cross-country endeavor is tapping into Garmin's technology, as Move For ALS cyclists are currently using an Edge 605 to pile on the miles for ALS awareness.
As for Lindy's trek, Jake's condensed reply (the 140-character limit on Twitter is the only way we can keep him from rambling) was: "@formerfatmama Great goal to walk across US! I'd suggest either Oregon (geotagged photos), Dakota (light navigation), Forerunner (mileage)"
So here's where we elaborate on the strengths of each:
Oregon 550 (or 550t, which adds preloaded U.S. topography in case Lindy goes cross-country): In addition to super-simple touchscreen interface and robust variety of features, the 550 series features a built-in 3.2 MP camera so that Lindy can snap pictures of her journey along the way. Because the pictures are automatically geotagged with her location, her friends, family and supporters can see where each was taken.
Dakota 10 or 20: Lindy can save a little money (and a few ounces in her backpack) by going with Dakota, which features the same touchscreen ease of use in a little smaller package. Like Oregon, the Dakota can use City Navigator microSD cards to add turn-by-turn directions and millions of points of interest.
Forerunner series: If Lindy just wants to track mileage and be able to upload her routes each day for friends to see on Garmin Connect, any of the GPS-enabled Forerunner watches will do the trick while sitting comfortably on her wrist. For a long battery life of up to 20 hours, she could turn to the Forerunner 310XT. Also, 310XT, the 405/405CX or older 305 or 205 could help with breadcrumb navigation and waypoint management. And for simple start-and-stop tracking of pace, time and distance, the Forerunner 110 is a great bargain.
Foretrex series: Lindy can get key features from both our outdoor recreation and fitness products by turning to a Foretrex for wrist-worn navigation with breadcrumb trails and easy waypoint marking. As with all of the devices listed above, she'll be able to easily upload her progress to Garmin Connect.