Garmin Dakota 20

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The Garmin Dakota 20 does not sacrifice convenience with its compact size. A refreshingly versatile product, this GPS receiver can be mounted on a bicycle or car, provide marine charts and maps or accompany a backpacker on an extended journey. A giant in the navigation industry, Garmin knows exactly what outdoor enthusiasts need most – durability.

This little device can be entirely immersed in water and still retain functionality, so even the most intense rainstorm is no match for good design. A rugged exterior protects the Dakota 20 from malfunction and damage from falls, impacts, sand and dirt: the regular rivals to anything that one brings along on wilderness excursions. Two AA batteries can power this receiver for up to 20 hours, so there is no worry of degraded capacity as with rechargeable batteries.

Smaller than the average handheld GPS, this particular model has a 2.6-inch diagonal touchscreen that makes navigation simple. A large font keeps text and vital measurements visible, while the bright screen gives sharp readings even in broad daylight. Most customers probably will not bother, but Garmin offers a fairly large array of peripherals for the Dakota 20. Among the more useful accessories for the more active users: a belt clip, bike mount and heart rate monitor strap. Extra features are always nice, but certainly not necessary when this device offers so much on it its own.

A bevy of useful little gadgets are included to provide handy measurements and orientation. Changes in pressure are recorded in the barometric altimeter, which calculates precise altitude. An electronic 3-axis compass is capable of giving an accurate reading even while a user is standing still, never a bad feature to have available at one’s fingertips. Additionally, satellite locations are recorded in memory and predicted thanks to HotFix. Reception is greatly improved and the time so often spent waiting to find the necessary amount of satellites is reduced.

The popularity of geocaching is constantly growing amongst the community of outdoor enthusiasts. This product makes it simple to log one’s location and download information on thousands of user-created caches, without the hassle of entering coordinates manually. Built-in wireless technology allows for the sharing of waypoints, tracks, routes and geocaches between other compatible Garmin devices. The Dakota 20 is able to send and receive information with other Dakota models as well as the Foretrex, Oregon and Colorado GPS receivers.

Updates are available online at a constant basis and can easily be installed via microSD card. Additionally, one can purchase topographic, marine and road maps at an extra cost, so that no territory ever seems too mysterious.

A small population of consumers voice complaints regarding battery malfunction and faulty accessories, but Garmin’s outstanding customer service record will help guide any frustrated owner through a technical problem.

Price: $350

I would rate this product a 4.5/5. Well designed and able to seriously stand up to a number of weather conditions that would put other GPS receivers to rest, the Garmin Dakota 20 is a quality piece of equipment. Purchase this device and it will likely be a long while before it is time to shell out for a replacement.