Garmin Dakota 20 Review

I recently got the chance to play with a Garmin Dakota 20, and thought I’d put a few thoughts down here.  Unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to use it in the field, so my comment should be taken with a grain of salt at this stage.  Despite this I’m really impressed with this little unit and would probably buy one myself if I was looking for a small, easy to use, field GPS.

The Dakota 20 is marketed by Garmin as being an “entry level, rugged, touchscreen handheld” but despite it’s entry level status comes with great features like a full colour touchscreen, micro SD card slot and a barometric altimeter and can hold 1000 waypoints and 10 000 track log points.  In essence, it’s a smaller and slightly lower spec version of the Oregon series.  The great advantage of these GPS units to me is that you can load any raster data, including aerial photography or geophysical data on to them and refer to this in the field.  Anecdotally the GPSMAP 62 series (which retail for about the same as a Dakota) can achieve satellite lock in more challenging environments, but I doubt this would affect too many users.

Overall, a nice little GPS that’s easy to use and has most of the features you need for field work.  I would probably think hard about buying an Oregon to get a larger screen and a inbuilt camera, but would probably baulk at the extra $200 for this small benefit.

There’s some useful reviews at GPSFix, About.com and Trusted Reviews

2 thoughts on “Garmin Dakota 20 Review


  • mickmorrison says:

    I haven’t checked out any new products from Garmin since the CSX series came out years ago – they’ve really moved along! I don’t know if this is new, but the custom maps function would be useful, particularly if you have access to very high resolution sat/aerial imagery. Garmin have some more info on the custom maps here, I hadn’t seen this before now: http://www.garmin.com/garmin/cms/site/us/onthetrail/custommaps#fragment-1

  • Ian Moffat says:

    Hi Mick,
    Since I wrote the post I’ve had a look at the new 62 Csx. It’s still got the great antenna (which can apparently find satellites in the boot of a car) but it now has the ability to load sat/aerial imagery as per your post. You could also load geophysical data in there if you wanted to groundtruth your targets!

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