Posted by: geonarcissa | January 4, 2010

Garmin Dakota Comments

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to write more original content in my blog. To get things off to a good start, here’s a preliminary review of the Garmin Dakota 20.

Garmin Dakota 20

Garmin Dakota 20

I haven’t used it much yet, but so far I have only good things to say about the Garmin Dakota 20.

I love that I can simply plug it in to the computer, then drag and drop the GPX files without converting them to a different format. While it wasn’t difficult, creating the files for the eXplorist was somewhat time-consuming and it is nice to eliminate a few steps from that process.

Another clumsy step I can forget about now is pulling out my iPod (or, previously, iPaq) to look at paperless geocaching files. While my old eXplorist did store some information about geocaches that I could access from the field, having the full GPX file right in the GPS is wonderful.

The wireless sharing feature is fast and easy. I’ve used it several with Taoiseach and his Oregon, and I can already tell that it’s going to be an invaluable tool during future caching trips. I am really impressed with this feature in particular because I’ve spent a lot of time fiddling with Bluetooth wireless on various devices like phones, laptops, and PDAs, and always found it fussy and flaky. I don’t know the technical particulars of Garmin’s wireless sharing, but I do know there’s none of the frustration I experienced with Bluetooth devices.

As an iPod Touch user, the touch screen concept is nothing new for me. One concern I’ve always had about using the iPod for paperless caching is that it’s not designed for rugged handling. The sensitive touchscreen on the iPod is great for indoor use, but not so great when I’m out in the rain with dirt and bug repellant on my hands. The Dakota’s touchscreen is less sensitive than the iPod, but I don’t need to be so careful with it. I can even hit the buttons while I’m wearing gloves! I couldn’t do this with the iPod, and pulling off my gloves in the field when the windchill is -35 is certainly not ideal.

Lastly, while some might consider this a drawback because of the lost screen size, I love how tiny this GPS is. It fits in my small hands perfectly and it is very lightweight. The display is good enough that the small screen size isn’t an issue for me.

I’ve only just begun my adventures with the Dakota. Once I’ve done some serious winter caching with it, I’m sure I’ll have more to report.

Happy New Year!



  1. We just bought the Dakota 20 today!! We ran a pocket query and ran out ran away to find a cache.

    Thanks for the review.


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