OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
GARMIN IS TARGETING a niche market for GPS navigation devices with its range of Oregon products. They’re aimed at outdoor types looking for all-round GPS devices, whether geocaching, hiking, hunting, fishing, in the 4x4 or on the boat.
The Oregon 300 sent for testing is a sturdy device with a rubberised exterior. It’s water resistant and uses normal AA penlight batteries, which Garmin claims provide 16 hours of battery life. I used rechargeable batteries to test the device and found I could easily use it all day without having to recharge. However, you’d be wise to carry spare batteries on long hikes and trips in the bush.
The Oregon 300 has five customisable modes for various outdoor activities: automotive, marine, recreation, fitness or geocaching. The last-mentioned is a growing sport, in which people use GPS devices to seek out caches left in locations by other geocachers. Once found you follow the instructions in the cache, such as leaving behind a gift for the next geocacher, or simply signing a logbook.
The Oregon 300 can be used to list caches in a specific area, download information, provide hints for finding caches, allows you to track caches you’ve already found and it even congratulates you when you discover one. The device also has a digital compass and a barometric altimeter that tracks changes in pressure to pinpoint precise altitude – fantastic for making clever comments while hiking in a group. Its screen is designed for outdoor use and even looks good in direct sunlight. However, in low light conditions I found the maximum brightness setting was just a little too low.
The only real downside of the Oregon 300 is its high price. But if you’re serious about your outdoor hobbies, then I’m sure it can be justified. Or you could motivate one for Fathers’ (or Mothers’) Day.
PRICE: R6 930