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Garmin Oregon 400t

Oct
20
2008

Hitting the trails a couple of months ago, the Garmin Oregon 400t makes a big leap in technology for handheld GPS devices… the first major handheld GPS device with a touch screen display. Building on the foundations of the Colorado line, the Oregon line aims to make the GPS easier to operate through touch. But how well does it deliver? We’ve been kayaking, hiking, geocaching, mountain biking, and driving with the new Garmin Oregon GPS giving it a workout over a few months time for this review.

Physical Design

Garmin Oregon 400t Kayak Map 3D MapTaking the Oregon out of the box, I was a bit surprised about the size. The Oregon is smaller than I imagined and fits very comfortably in the palm of your hand. But it was also a bit heaver than I anticipated, coming in at 6.8 ounces with batteries giving it a dense, but rugged feeling.

On the back of the device is a clip that can be used to attach the included carabiner as well as access the battery compartment (two AA size). I was a little concerned about just how waterproof the Oregon would be given the very low pressure required to close the battery compartment, however I didn’t have any issues with water getting in there during several days of ocean kayaking.

Along the bottom is a rubber gasket which hides the USB port. After a sea kayaking trip I did notice a bit of salt building on the inside of that gasket around the mini USB port. It was easily wiped away, however this does give me a little bit of concern over extended periods of time. Also at the bottom is a small loop that could be used to attach a lanyard. Unfortunately the hole is really tiny so you wouldn’t be able to get a very thick cord through there. Still, I’m glad to see this attachment spot is at the bottom of the device as this puts it in a more user friendly orientation as it is hanging from your neck. When you grab it with your hand you are holding it in the correct orientation when you go to view the device, rather than a loop at the top which would put the device upside down when you pick it up while it is hanging from your neck.

There is just one button on the Oregon, the power button along the right side. Garmin seems to want to emphasize the touch screen as much as possible and eliminated all but the most essential buttons. Personally, would have liked to have seen at least one more button dedicated to marking waypoints (more on this later).

Touch Screen

Garmin Oregon 400t Touchscreen KeyboardThe Garmin Oregon touch screen is certainly the biggest reason you might consider this device over other models. The touch screen is the Garmin Oregon’s biggest asset, as well as the biggest weakness.

First the good… The Garmin Oregon GPS is hands down the easiest handheld GPS to operate. Nothing else comes close. If you are new to GPS and tend to be intimidated by consumer electronics, the Garmin Oregon will be your best friend. Mud on the display? No problem. Water on the display? No problem. Wearing thick ski gloves? No problem…. Well you might have some accuracy issues with such a thick finger, but the touch screen can still respond. Do you find naming waypoints is a tedious process “arrowing” around the keyboard on a typical handheld GPS? The touchscreen of the Oregon handles this like a breeze.

The bad? The only “touchable” part of the display I didn’t like was that panning the map can be somewhat difficult. If you don’t apply firm pressure, the screen can sometimes get “stuck” while you are trying to pan and register a click instead. The issue is compounded by the fact that a tap on the screen is the method that adds a new waypoint. So whenever I would try to pan around on the screen I’d wind up with a half dozen new waypoints I’d have to clear out.

Garmin Oregon 400t Kayak MapBut the biggest issue I had with the Oregon 400t is the readability of the screen itself. The transflective color TFT display is difficult to read in most lighting conditions. No matter what direction I was facing, where the sun was, the angle of the sun, or even if I was in the shade the screen is not even close to being as readable as previous Garmin models such as the 60 series.

While enjoying hiking or geocaching this wasn’t quite as much of an issue since I could orient the GPS in my hand to find an angle where I could scan the screen. But kayaking, driving, or mountain biking you can’t just move the screen around at will as it is strapped down somewhere. This made it very difficult to keep tabs on my progress while enjoying those types of activities. The backlight will help, but it will also kill the battery life. And even with the backlight turned on I didn’t find the screen as readable as my older Garmin 60CSx.

Maps

The Oregon comes with different sets of maps depending on the configuration. The 400t I tested comes with topographic maps of the USA based on USGS 1:100,000 resolution data. You can see other configurations below.

200 Garmin Oregon300 400t 400c 400i
US Inland Lakes Mapping Optional Optional Optional Optional Yes
US or UK BlueChart Mapping Optional Optional Optional
Yes
Optional
US or European Topography Optional Optional
Yes
Optional Optional
2-Axis Compass
Altimeter
Audio Tones
Wireless Communication
RS-232/NMEA Serial Communication
Alarm Clock
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes

When you can clearly see the maps they look fantastic. In low light conditions with the backlight on for example the maps look spectacular. Despite only being 1:100k resolution, they are still good enough for the activities most people will use the device for. As we have noted before, Garmin TOPO is Going 24k. Screen redraws were very fast and you even get a good number of POIs such as parks, schools, and churches.

Garmin Oregon 400t 3D ViewSomething we really missed though was the ability to use those maps from the computer. If you purchase the 400t, the maps come pre-loaded on the device and can’t be transfered to your computer. However you could also purchase the Oregon 300 and add the accessory topo maps and essentially wind up with the same outfit as the 400t. Then those maps could be used with some of Garmin’s desktop software for route planning. Otherwise with the Oregon 400t there isn’t any way using Garmin software and maps to plan a route on your computer that follows a trail, and transfer that route to the GPS without manually building a number of point to point segments.

The maps can also display in 3D. No, we are not taking just “shaded relief” although the Oregon can do that as well. The GPS can actually view the terrain from a ground perspective to give you a real world view of what the terrain looks like. The graphics in this mode are not as clear as they are in the 2D/shaded relief modes, and if you are accustomed to reading topographic maps you might find the feature “fun”, but of relatively small practical use. The view just always looks “overzoomed” and “pixelated”.

Electronic Compass

Garmin Oregon 400t Electronic CompassThe Garmin Oregon does feature an electronic compass and a barometric altimeter. The electronic compass allows the GPS to determine direction (North, South, etc) while the GPS is standing still; something most GPS devices cannot do. It can be handy to view the compass while you are stopped to take a break, but keep in mind that the electronic compass in the Garmin Oregon does require you to hold the GPS level to get an accurate reading. For example I was sea kayaking in the fog making a long harbor crossing without any view of land… just white fog in all directions. With the waves the electronic compass wasn’t any use, however I could still follow my plotted route on the map screen so long as I was moving. You should never rely on GPS as your sole means of navigation, so carry a traditional compass along with you too. The barometric altimeter increases the accuracy of the elevation reading since GPS tends not to be nearly as accurate vertically.

Profiles

Garmin Oregon 400t ProfilesI enjoy numerous types of outdoor activities, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, snowboarding, geocaching, etc. With many handheld GPS devices on the market today I’ve been frustrated by the fact that for each of those activities there is different types of data I would like displayed on the GPS. For some I might typically keep the GPS in a map view while geocaching, a route instructions view kayaking, a trip info view while mountain biking, etc. Every time I go enjoy one of those activities I typically have to reconfigure a bunch of settings to get the GPS to show me what I want to see. Not so with the Garmin Oregon.

Using the concept of “Profiles” the Garmin Oregon series allows you to setup different preferences for different types of activities. The pre-configured profiles are recreational, geocaching, automotive, marine, and fitness. Using those profiles I can setup most of my different activities with their own profile so I don’t have to keep changing settings every time I enjoy the outdoors. Very clever, and something I hope other devices adopt.

Geocaching

Garmin Oregon 400t Paperless GeocachingGeocaching is particularly fun on the Garmin Oregon due to the touch screen display and the ability to download geocache information straight from the Geocaching website into the Oregon to enable paperless caching. When I go geocaching I tend to hit several in one day. So I’m creating lots of routes, zooming in and out of the map, flipping to the satellite info screen to view the current estimated accuracy, etc. With “tap intensive” activities like geocaching, the true power of the touch screen comes into play. When you go back to a GPS without a touch screen you will realize just how convenient the touch screen is.

The Oregon also features a short range wireless communication option with other similarly equipped GPS devices. Quite a few times I’ve been out geocaching and have run into other geocachers. Typically the conversation will go “Hey, have you been to X-Y-Z cache?” You can use this wireless communications feature to “beam” waypoints back and forth to other users. Quite handy.

Chipset Accuracy, Speed

We did encounter a few questionable issues with the accuracy of the calculated location and the speed of signal acquisition. If the device was turned off for a couple of days and the batteries were replaced, it seems the ephemeris / almanac data was cleaned out… something to be expected. But when it was turned back on the Oregon took much longer to get a satellite signal than expected. With an unobstructed sky view I’d hope it would get a signal in 10 minutes or less, but it often took greater than 20 minutes and once took over 40 minutes. During these times the GPS would even be receiving a strong signal from 9-11 satellites as evidenced by the picture below. Typical “warm” or “hot” starts were still very speedy though, typically getting a satellite fix in a matter of seconds.

Garmin Oregon 400t Trouble Finding SatellitesThe other chipset type issue we had became apparent when reviewing tracklogs. It wasn’t uncommon to view a few “blips” in the tracklog where it suddenly moved us 30 or 40 miles in a matter of seconds showing us going 30,000 mph. That happened a couple of times and while the tracks can be easily cleaned up when they were moved to the PC, this type of thing almost never happens on our 60CSx.

Another tracklog issue we had was that sometimes the first few points in a new track displayed at the position we were at a few days ago. So if I went hiking in New Hampshire one way and then kayaking in Maine on the second day, often the start of the track from the second day in Maine (as evidenced by the timestamp) would show a position in New Hampshire on the first few points.

Finally tracks we recorded just didn’t seem as consistent as tracks recorded from our 60CSx. For example walking around our block a half dozen times typically produces tracks that are very closely bunched together. Recording over several days might show the biggest difference in tracks of about 60-80 feet. Recording tracklogs of the same route on the Oregon wouldn’t produce as “tight” of tracks with differences of 100-150 feet on subsequent days.

Garmin Oregon 400t Locating SatellitesThese track and accuracy issues won’t be a big deal to most people, and don’t make the GPS a bad device. It is worthy of noting though because older Garmin devices performed better at these tasks than some of the newer models. People who have owned the older devices will likely notice it, but it is probably not a deal-breaker for the average GPS user.

The Final Fix

If you’re debating about getting an Oregon, your decision will likely rest with the screen. Those with the highest praise for the Oregon will enjoy it because of the touchscreen. Those with the highest criticism of the Garmin Oregon will look elsewhere because of how difficult the screen can be to see.

If you are using your GPS as part of an emergency toolkit to throw in your backpack, or just turn it on (“set it and forget it”) for casual use you will probably not get the best use of the touch screen and enjoy something from the eTrex or 60 series better. However if you are constantly fiddling with settings, changing screens, looking at track logs or trip summaries, the Garmin Oregon’s touch screen can make it your dream GPS.

105 Responses


  1. Does the Oregon 400t have 3D maps (shading) for NH? Also, is it identical to purchasing the 300 and buying Mapsource Topo and downloading it? Finally, I heard a rumor that Garmin plans to upgrade topo – from 16K to 24K? Not sure what that means, or if NH has been updated/upgraded yet, and what the upgrades, if they exist, consist of.

    Dave - November 23rd, 2008
  2. Yes, the 400t does have map shading through the USA. Yes, you can purchase the 300 plus topo and have basically the same system. Garmin is going from 100k to 24k for their topos, but so far it is only a couple of states and they say it will take some time before they get the majority of them. Their 24k maps are very expensive. NH has not been updated to 24k yet.

    Tim - November 23rd, 2008
  3. I read some of the comments about the problems with the Oregon, but I think they were played down. I went from a 60csx to an Oregon 300.

    I use my handheld gps for backpacking, day hikes, and street navigation.

    Oregon pluses I noticed:
    1) 3d view shows elevation even in street mode
    2) shaded relief
    3) touch screen
    4) smaller size
    5) screen lock feature is nice
    6) sat initial lock is very fast and strong
    6) Battery life is pretty good for a touch screen. Lithium batteries will get you about 15 hours.

    Oregon negatives:
    On the map screen you have the option of two fields or no fields
    1) can not flip from screen to screen without exiting to the main menu and then selecting the other screen ( seems like they could just let you slide you finger left or right at the bottom of the screen to go to the next or previous screens. The do basically this on the main menu screen.
    2) battery meter does not read correctly
    3) car power adapter that is recommended by Garmin is not correct. I has a 90 degree turn that is the wrong way. Works but is not correct.
    4) No preview of your pending turn when the system beeps to let you know a turn is coming.
    5) If you are on another page other than the map page you get a beep warning that a turn is coming but no preview. You just see the page you are on at that time.
    6) should you miss your turn the Oregon is sporadic regarding how fast it will correct your path. Maybe immediately maybe a few blocks, maybe never.
    7) Can not manually stop, edit, or recalculate your route from the map screen, you must exit the map screen to the main menu then go to active route screen.
    8) Screen is very dim. In full sunlight you can not see the screen to read it. I light cloud cover it is hard to read.
    9) Not many search options. With the Garmin 60CSX you can search by almost any criteria you can think of.
    10) You can not customize the Oregon much, 60csx you could customize everything.

    Bottom line: If you have not had a gps before or you have had a low end unit you will like it. If you have had a high end unit like a Garmin 60csx you will be disappointed.

    I returned mine and got another 60csx.

    Beaqux - December 1st, 2008
    • I, trying to find out if the oregon 400i will give sppch direction fron point to point using the city navigator that is avaailable for the 400i. I sure would like to know

      thomas - April 12th, 2010
      • Thomas– it will not.

        Tim - April 12th, 2010
  4. Beaqux- what do you think for someone who already has a dedicated car unit and is just using the unit for search and rescue would find the Oregon useful? I currently use the 60CSx for that purpose, but I like the idea of having 3D visualization. Also, does anybody know if you purchase the 300 and Mapsource Topo separately, do you still get 3D?

    Dave - December 2nd, 2008
  5. Dave, you will still get 3D.

    Tim - December 2nd, 2008
  6. Your review is spot on. I returned the Oregon after being very disapointed in its accuracy and the screen brightness. On a very bright day even when not in direct sunlight the screen was almost unledgeable. Also the unit consistantly pointed 45-90 degees away from my waypoint and was never more accurate than 80 feet from the waypoint. Usually around 150 feet off. This, in my opinion, is completely unacceptable on a modern GPS. They should be getting more accurate, not less accurate. I returned the unit and ordered a 60CSx. Hopefully this unit will perform better.
    I will say the touch screen was its best feature but what good is that if your compass is more accurate!!

    Bill - December 3rd, 2008
    • With the original firmware, I also discovered that GPS accuracy is quite weak. But with the current firmware it is very accurate and does get a fix very fast. So just update…

      Matthias - May 7th, 2009
      • Agreed… things are a bit different now from the original release.

        Tim - May 13th, 2009
      • How do I access the “updates” mentioned in #6 above?

        Bruce - February 8th, 2010
        • Use webupdater or my.garmin.com

          Tim - February 8th, 2010
  7. Hi,
    I have been debating with this unit for some time. Primarily, I want it for skiing holidays. I will be adding SkiRanger maps of resorts I will be visiting so that I can use the unit as a piste-map and town map of the places I will be visiting. However, I have a couple of questions I was hoping you could help me with before I purchase:

    1. I will be buying in Britain but plan on using in the States as well as Europe – will this be a problem?
    2. Does the unit calculate calories, distance and speed (current, max and average)? If not, does a supporting program?

    I will look forward to your response.
    Thanks
    Ryan

    Ryan - December 6th, 2008
  8. I too am looking at the Oregon for ski tracking and guidance. The dim screen is a major issue for me…if on the slopes looking for the nearest rest station, what good is it if you can’t see the screen on a sunny day? Otherwise it sounds great. Any suggestions on another unit?

    Thomas - December 7th, 2008
  9. With the Oregon series can I transfer compass settings from a waypoints I’ve marked while on the trail? I have an HCx and can’t transfer compass settings from that unit.

    Carol - January 9th, 2009
    • I’m not really certain what you mean by compass “settings”.

      Tim - January 9th, 2009
  10. I meant compass reading of my track direction at the time of the waypoint mark.

    Carol - January 9th, 2009
    • No, the tracklog doesn’t contain headings. With two different coordinates you could derive a heading, but it isn’t in the tracklog.

      Tim - January 10th, 2009
  11. I just bought 400t in [deleted] and now iam using in midle east(qatar).is there any data base for geochache for this region(gulf country) and also how to put directly position that I already knew it. latitude and longitude.
    thank you very much

    budy setiawan
    captbuset@yahoo.com

    budy setiawan - January 12th, 2009
    • The geocaching.com website lists caches across the world.

      Tim - January 12th, 2009
  12. Does it have an option of displaying data in metric units?

    Miroslav Kopeck√Ĺ - January 18th, 2009
    • Yes, it does.

      Tim - January 18th, 2009
  13. Great review. I almost bought one today, but after reading your review I decided to stick with my 60CSx since I am in Middle-East and sun is VERY bright here. What I need is a 60CSx with a 4-inch touch screen that is as easy to read in bright sun as the current 60CSx. Any suggestions?

    Charlie - April 2nd, 2009
  14. hi i am looking for a gps i do not own one yet.i live in edmonton alberta canada,i want a gps to use when i go snowmobiling and quadding.will this mark my way down the trials while quadding in the bush or sledding in the mountians so i can ride for hours in new areas and then beable to find my way out.

    steve - April 29th, 2009
    • I bought my Oregon 400t almost exclusively for this purpose and then bought some trail maps that were available on line for New England and Canada snowmobile trails. Between way points and the maps, this unit has worked out great and has gotten us back to the truck safely after dark several times. Only word of caution is if you’re planning on making some real long days of snowmobiling, is bring some extra batteries just in case. I use rechargeble LI’s and get about 10 or so hours out of them in extreme cold before needing to switch them out.

      Rik - February 28th, 2011
  15. I am about to embark on a road trip from Alaska to California, and then east to Georgia. I need a durable GPS unit that gives turn-by-turn driving directions (and records it), trail information, national/state park info. I was leaning towards the Oregon 400T until i found out about the screen brightness issue. Also, does the preloaded topo information on the 400T contain road map info, trail info, etc, or is it JUST topo info? The website is not clear on exactly what is contained in the preloaded topo info.

    Which unit would you suggest for my journey?

    Peter - May 3rd, 2009
    • Peter, the 400t shows roads on the map, however they are not routable. (Just for display.) You might want to check out the Garmin Nuvi 500.

      Tim - May 3rd, 2009
      • Thanks a lot for commenting so promptly. The nuvi looks like the GPS for my travels.

        However I am undecided between the 500 and 550. The main difference seems to be that the 500 has topo/city maps for the 48 contiguous states, but does not include Alaska and Canada, whereas the 550 has the Canada maps but no topo maps. So here are 3 questions:
        1) The 550 has maps of USA and Canada, but does it include Alaska as well?
        2) Does the 550 have the city navigator feature like the 500?
        3) What capabilities will I be losing if I don’t have the topo maps of the 500?

        Peter - May 3rd, 2009
  16. It is interesting that so many reviews are mixed on the issue of screen readability in direct sunlight. My Oregon 400T, purchased in May, 2009 is perfectly readable in direct sunlight. In fact, the more bright the sun light, the more readable the display becomes. I will post a photo of the unit in direct sunlight on my Flickr Photo Page as soon as I have another sunny day here in “Orygun”….

    http://www.flickr.com/groups/1074405@N24/

    Gary - May 13th, 2009
    • Direct bright sunlight is okay, when viewed head on as if you were trying to see your reflection in the mirror of the screen. But slightly indirect bright sunlight, or diffuse bright light is where it becomes nearly impossible for me to read.

      Tim - May 13th, 2009
      • I just purchased the 450t in july 2010 and hunted for 3 days in all different sun light and never had one problem viewing the screen. Great Unit.

        Brock - September 22nd, 2010
        • The problem comes up more often when you are using the GPS in fixed position applications… such as mounted on a bike or on the deck of a kayak. When it is in your hand you can (and do without thought) adjust the angle of the screen to the optimum angle. When in a fixed position the screen’s quality isn’t as wide reaching as other GPS devices on the market.

          Tim - September 23rd, 2010
  17. I posted the results of my visibility comparisons on my Flickr Photo Page. Visibility Comparison: From left to right: Garmin MAP60CSx, Garmin Oregon 400T, AT&T Tilt. Please feel welcome to join the group and post comments and your own photos relevant to the Garmin Oregon 400 GPS unit.

    http://www.flickr.com/groups/1074405@N24/

    Gary - May 14th, 2009
  18. I am new to GPS. Garmin Oregon 400t is my first entry.

    I would like to use UTM coordinates for positioning.

    I have been unsuccesful in entering UTM coordiates top create a destination and to retrieve coordiates for my present position.

    The owners manual does not discuss this issue at all.

    Is this not a feature of the 400t?

    Dave - May 27th, 2009
    • UTM are possible on this unit but I find them hard to read in most screens. That said, select UTM coords by going to Setup | Position Format | Position Format UTM UPS. Then in the map screen, you can replace the upper left box called location with the UTM location by pressing the box and selecting Location (selected) instead of Location (lat/lon). When you go to the Waypoint Manager and press waypoint, then select Change Location, it should show you UTM coordinates.

      roger - June 25th, 2009
  19. Great review – it helped a lot. One question remains. Tim, you say the 300 is basically the same as the 400 but without the maps. What about on-board memory? According to specs, the 300 has 850MB and the 400 has 4GB. If you bought the MapSource software for the PC, can you load maps onto a microSD card and have the unit use them from that, or will it only accept microSDs preloaded from Garmin? Is the unit compatible with any other software – DeLorme TOPO, for example? OK, so that was more than one question.

    Jim - June 5th, 2009
    • Jim- Yes, you can load maps on a card and use them. You can use MapSource to load the maps. It will only take Garmin compatible maps, of which DeLorme’s are not. However sites like gpsfiledepot have lots of Garmin compatible maps that are free.

      Tim - June 5th, 2009
  20. I am new to GPSs and bought a new Garmin Oregon 400t last month also with the road microchip. I am having a lot of trouble but not for the reasons your readers are citing. I find the directions to be just horrible and the verbiage(bottons) descriptions to be either opaque or ambiguous. I’ve read the booklet cover to cover 3 times. I still do not have a clue as to how to make a track and follow it back when hiking. I’ve pushed every G..D button on it numerous times.

    However, compared to the topo program, the road program is as easy as Mapquest on the computer for a basic, How do I get to such and such an address? Does anyone make a step by step DVD on how to use this overpriced piece of useless technology.
    Thanks

    tom - June 10th, 2009
    • Looking for the same information, a CD that covers operation
      of 400t. I am getting old and need as much help as possible.

      Bryan - February 25th, 2011
  21. Before reading these posts I considered purchasing the Oregon 400. Sounds like there are a few issues that need to be resolved with this unit. What handheld GPS in this class would you recommend. Brand is not a big deal I just want a good accurate GPS with majority of the features the Oregon 400 has to offer.
    Thanks!

    San - June 17th, 2009
    • San, keep in mind this review was written shortly after the Oregon was released. There have been lots of application updates since that time which have addressed a few issues. Of course it can’t change what is the biggest flaw IMHO which is the difficult to read screen, but overall it is a great performing GPS. For comparative purposes, the [url=http://www.gpsreview.net/delorme-pn-40/]DeLorme PN-40[/url] is a strong contender.

      Tim - June 18th, 2009
  22. I just got a 400t after being a long-time magellan user. There are things I like and things I don’t, but the biggest issue I have right now is the accuracy. I did a walk around my neighborhood and the track is almost exactly 300′ due south of what the street map shows. I have tried to line up the datum of the base map but there is no info on the base map. I agree with a previous post that all the bells and whistles on this thing are useless if you can’t determine your position to a resolution of better than 300′. I also don’t like the treatment of UTM coordinates on this system as they are almost illegible when you replace lat/lon with UTM on the map page. Again, it’s nice that I can use the calculator to balance my checkbook in the outback, but I think the primary info that a GPS system should provide is accurate positional information in font that you can read. The industrial design is stellar, love the caribiner, and backlight isn’t quite the problem for me as for others on this site. I’m a bit peeved that I have to spend another $100 for a 24K base map as trying to use 100K for hiking and bushwacking is a dicey proposition, and most hikers could care less about using their handheld to navigate in a car. But I’ll probably take the plunge for Mapsource and the 24k base map because there is a big upside. Bottom line though, this is going back if I can’t come up with a fix for the accuracy issue.

    roger - June 25th, 2009
  23. Thanks for the review and all of the feedback in comments section. They are very helpful. I am planning on a 400t purchase very soon for many reason listed here and for others not addressed. First, as an old school navigator I find GPS as lazy and falling victim to the technology trap. If you do not know how to use a map and compass, I suggest you learn to in the event your batteries go dead on your GPS or some other event should render it useless. That being said, I know how valuable a GPS can be and the reason I have chosen the 400t to purchase.

    Old man pride or hard head refuses to put a dedicated street GPS in the car. And that is where the 400t may prove to save my marriage some day. It seems to be a great adventure unit while the display makes it “appear” more car GPS-like. Am I wrong in my assumption, Tim? While I understand there is no true dual use system, would this 400t be the closest unit out there to provide somewhat dedicated car 3-D graphics (no voice direction of course)of a car unit and provide all of the convenience of an adventure unit in the handheld?

    Thanks again for the review and help.

    DaveK - July 19th, 2009
    • Keep in mind that the maps in the Oregon 400t don’t include routable streets. The MSRP price for those maps is $99, although you can find them for a bit less. In contrast, the Garmin Nuvi 200 can be found for about $99 right now too… so for the price that it takes to add routable street maps to the Garmin Oregon you can have a dedicated street GPS device for the car with a car charger, widescreen display, maps, voice prompts, car mount, and full street navigation functions. So while it can be done on an Oregon, it just doesn’t make economical sense most of the time.

      Tim - July 19th, 2009
  24. I have a Garmin 76S for several years & want to upgrade to a handheld color screen primarily when sailing. Almost all reviews are negative to the Garmin Oregon display as hard to read. Is there a Garmin handheld with a good color screen especially in sunlight when sailing to recommend?
    Ron Sweden

    Ron M - August 1st, 2009
    • I used to have a Garmin 60CSX. But 6 months ago I lost it, and replaced it with a 400.
      The 400 has a slightly larger display, but it is not as crisp.
      I have been very disappointed and would like to replace it again with a Garmin 60CSX as the 400 lasts half as long on batteries, is usually much harder to see.
      I like to put the 400 in a backpack and when going for a hike I use it. However many times the batteries are empty as it turned on and drained the batteries. I never had that problem with the Garmin 60CSX.
      Oh yes the 400 does have an advantage, a touch screen is nice, but noit at that price.

      Henk - August 30th, 2009
  25. I have to say that after three weeks of reading about GPS units, I am more than confused.

    I turned an unused cell phone (AT&T Tilt) into a Tom-Tom and was out on the backroads. All it could do was point that a highway was not too far away. It works great on the streets, but the GPS eats battery faster than the auto charger can replenish it. So it is only for short trips.

    I really am lost as I need one for loger trips, and for off-road travel that lets me know where I am – accurately. I also hate spinning wheels to enter data (one fo the Garmins I tried out) and after using touch screen technology, realized I want that.

    What would work for off road, on road, have voice prompts (don’t care about text to speach) and be usuable outside of the vehicle if necessary?

    I did look at the PN-40, the 60csx, this unit reviewed here and countless others…

    Any suggestions?

    Scott - August 6th, 2009
  26. I purchased my Garmin Oregon 400t and use it in Japan having purchased an English map of all of Japan. I live in Okinawa and it is incredibly accurate! I used it while flying up to mainland Japan and it even worked on the plane as long as I was sitting by the window! This GPS unit is incredibly accurate and very rugged. I invested quite a bit of money in maps (Japan, North America, Europe) and it does give turn-by-turn directions. I haven’t used it in the U.S. or Europe yet, but will do so in my next trip in March.

    The monitor works best in direct sunlight with the light turned completely DOWN! It is a little difficult to read on cloudy days, but in sunlight it works great!!

    Oregon 400t rocks!!

    Tom DeMicke - August 6th, 2009
    • Tom, where did you get the all Japan map from? I need to download one for Okinawa to geocache here. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

      -Matt

      Matt - October 10th, 2009
      • Hi Matt! I received my map of Japan from a really good site based in Tokyo. The link is: http://www.uud.info/
        I will tell you the map is pricey (about JPY13,810 including tax and shipping). I’m not sure if they can send to a military APO/FPO address so you will need to give them a physical Japanese mailing address. You can order the map on CD where you can view it on your computer but that has a major disadavantage in that it would only be usable on your current GPSr, so if you ever get a new GPSr, it would not work. Or, you can get in on Micro SD card which makes it transferrable to any compatible GPSr, but you can’t view the map on a computer. In my opinion, the map is outstanding and very accurate. If you are into Geocaching, it will be a lifesaver. I hope this helps you out. By the way, I’m the owner of “Tropic Thunder”, weren’t you one of them that found it or do I have you confused with someone else? Take care!!

        Tom DeMicke - October 11th, 2009
  27. Does anyone have maps of South America or Central America?
    Garmin only has Brazil and Mexico.
    For a cyclist from Oregon retiring this fall, would the Garmin 60csx be a good gift? Drawbacks?

    Cliff Gerber - September 15th, 2009
    • Cliff
      I have no idea, worse yet, I need a Garmin unit for the whole Central American outdoors, I work in agricultural Input and I need a map, at least fo rthe hiway system. Do you now have a supplier> I have an Oregon 400t (Garmin). Please help.

      Ernie

      Ernesto - December 2nd, 2009
  28. Tom, thanks for the info. I think we’re gonna go with the MicroSD card option. I’m not so worried about viewing it on the computer as I am on multiple GPSr’s. Tropic Thunder isn’t on our found list yet, but will be soon. We just just got into it. We’ll make sure to hit yours up soon. Thanks for the good information! -Matt

    Matthew - October 11th, 2009
  29. Does anyone know what heart rate monitor I should purchase to use with the 400t? I see there is a function for it on the main menu, but want to be sure to purchase the correct model.

    Thanks!

    James - October 24th, 2009
  30. Great comments guys, thanks for that. I am planning to purchase a good mapping handheld GPS and have come down to the Magellan Triton 2000 and the Garmin 300 or 400t. The Magellan reviews are very scary so i will most likely go with teh Garmin. My problem is that I live in US but will use the unit mostly in Europe for back country skiing. It seems i am not able to purchase the 400t with the EU pre-loaded maps. Can i get around this by buying the Oregon 300, and then buying the EU topo map package? Will it be the same unit after that? I also intend to use the Snowranger EU software, does anyone have some comments / experience about that.. Thanks! Mark

    Mark - November 11th, 2009
  31. I think you can purchase good European maps from the same place you purchase your Garmin, it’s what I did and the maps seem to be very, very accurate. Good luck!

    Tom DeMicke - November 12th, 2009
  32. Hi Ernie…finding maps for your Garmin should pose minimal problems. I would first check directly with the manufacturer (sorry, not permitted to reveal company names here but you can figure out whta I mean by manufacturer), then if they don’t have it, I would go and “google” just what you need. That’s what I did when I needed a map of all Japan and voila, I found an excellent site that sold me the map of Japan and I use it for my Garmin 400t. Best of luck to you and enjoy!!

    Tom DeMicke - December 4th, 2009
  33. I am trying to decide between Oregon 400t and Colorodo 400t. Want to avoid 550 to save $. I will mainly use backpacking and occassionally on boat with optional charts. Which screen is easier to read. Does the advantage of touch screen outweigh any diffenence in screen visibility? Thanks, Roger

    Roger - December 6th, 2009
  34. Roger…I think the Colorado is pretty much obsolete as the Oregon 400t took over. I understand that the Colorado has just a slightly better viewing screen than the Oregon but the Oregon is touch screen and that is what appeals to everyone.

    I have the Oregon 400t and am very, very, very happy with it. The 500/550t is USD100.00 more but the camera doesn’t impress me, it’s only like a 3 megapixel cam, so not worth the extra $$$.

    You can get the Oregon 400t now very cheap and it is not going to be obsolete any time soon. Screen visability is very good in direct sunlight (turning down the backlight all the way help alot) but a little difficult to see on cloudy days (turning up the backlight to the halfway mark helps alot).

    400t is a very good choice. Good luck to you!!

    Tom DeMicke - December 7th, 2009
  35. Is the Garmin 400T easy to hook up to a mac?

    Thanks,

    Chris

    Chris - December 9th, 2009
    • Yes, it will hook up to a Mac.

      Tim - December 9th, 2009
      • i own an imac and it works great with it moved geocahce info very easily .not like my old explorist 210 it was a nightmare!!! just got this one for xmas !!! havent used it outide yet???
        r

        ralph - December 25th, 2009
  36. I just bought 400c version with included blue chart and a SD with Washington/Oregon 24K Topo. So far on land it is very accurate only occasional 20 foot or so anomalies. The blue chart is not nearly as good as my Lowrance that is installed on my boat but I decided not to wait any longer for the Lowrance handhelds to get straightened out. Thought about the 60csx but after the maps I want it was more money.

    By the way the Oregon has been excellent in tree cover, inside boat and inside car (if near window).

    Dane - December 9th, 2009
  37. The Oregon 400t is also excellent on board an airplane as well, but you have to be sitting right next to the window and hold it close to the window as well. I tried it when I flew to Tokyo from Okinawa…and it worked like a charm. Flew right along Mount Fuji and my Oregon plotted me right along side the beautiful mountain. Complete with accurate altitude, speed, and direction! Awesome piece of equipment!

    Tom DeMicke - December 10th, 2009
  38. How do you get to the Oregon to show the SD card which has the Wherigo games saved.

    John - December 31st, 2009
  39. I thought the “Whereigo” comes loaded on the main unit of the GPSr.

    Tom DeMicke - January 1st, 2010
  40. Does anyone know if there is a way to change the color of tracks on the Oregon like on the eTrex?

    Rik - February 22nd, 2010
  41. It is my understanding that you cannot change the color of tracks on the Oregon, this is one of the few things people did not like. I too, don’t like the drabby looking black line, but it can’t be changed unless Orgeon comes up with a future change in firmware. My suggestion would be to write them and suggest it to them. Oregon is ALWAYS coming up with firmware updates so they are good!

    Tom DeMicke - February 23rd, 2010
  42. I was hoping someone could tell me how well the turn by turn works on the oregon series Ex.400T. If I bought the additional City NT maps does it work just like the Nuvi in that it will find addresses and even have store names (home depot)etc in the memory that can be searched and take you to them turn by turn. I understand that it won’t be quite as nice as a Nuvi due to the screen size but I am also hoping to use it on the bike. Also does it announce the street names when turning or is it only on the display. Thanks for your help.
    THanks
    Brian

    Brian - March 8th, 2010
  43. The Oregon 400t turn-by-turn works well but it does not announce the turns…it will beep if you want it to and the light comes up bright as the turn is coming up so I find it quite helpful. Not as great as an automobile Navi system but considering the Oregon series GPS systems are designed for hunting/camping/trailing/Geocaching…I think it’s a nice “extra”. If the street name is on the map, it will display the street or route number but again, it will not talk. Hope this helps you out!

    Tom DeMicke - March 10th, 2010
  44. For those of you with “Dim” screens, not sure if you figured out how to change the brightness as it’s not intuitive. You would think you would go to “Setup” then “Display” and find a brightness setting, you won’t, you’ll only find the backlight settings. Out of the box the unit was pretty dim, finally had to check the owners manual, not the quick start guide. To change the brightness level you have to quickly press the “On/Off” button while the unit is on, a screen will pop up where you can adjust the brightness or lock the screen. I have no problem reading the unit in sunlight unless you have the unit angled in a way that results in direct glare.

    Craig - March 29th, 2010
  45. Can someone assist on how to manually load UTM waypoints in the Oregon. I have the GPS setup for UTM (the UTM is sooooo small on the screen) — but how do I manually load UTM waypoints? The directions are terrible……Ron

    Ron - March 31st, 2010
    • After much trial and error, I have figured out how to load UTM waypoints……Ron

      Ron - April 3rd, 2010
  46. I have a dumb question that goes along with a dumb situation but I’ll give it a shot. I really like the idea that the Oregon 400t has an ODOMETER (I’m not talking about the trip-odometer, but the odometer like on a vehicle). It keeps a total tab on how many Miles/Kilometers you’ve traveled with your device. But I once had a problem with my unit where the batteries went dead during a firmware update (they were new batteries but one of them was defective) and as you may know, this is one of the worst things that can happen. Well, as a result of a reset that I did, it lost the total KM I had on it (2008 km). Then while in Germany a few weeks ago, I “accidentally” did something to my device that caused it to go back to “default” settings and I again lost all the mileage I had on it. I was really disappointed. Now to the question…is there any way to manually go in and enter the mileage that I had on it originally. I know that you can go in and do some really cool things that let you monitor how it’s working and there are also some settings that you can adjust (the manual explains some of this but not all), but I’m wondering if there are ways to manually overide settings such as what I mentioned. Thanks in advance…
    Tom in Okinawa

    Tom DeMicke - April 13th, 2010
  47. Hi to all Oregon 400 users. Can you enter an off-road route directly and accurately using the touch screen?

    Rob Wethlam - May 17th, 2010
  48. I’m not sure what you mean, so could you please elaborate on what it is you’re trying to do? Sorry…

    Tom DeMicke - May 18th, 2010
    • Thanks for the reply. On my old GPS, I normally enter planned routes into it using mapping software and a PC. However, if I’m out in the wilds, that isn’t possible, so I have to manually enter waypoints by laboriously pressing keys and moving a cursor to the desired waypoint on the screen map, name the waypoint, then design a route by linking the waypoins. Needless to say I rarely bother with this.

      Can you enter a new route into the Oregon by displaying the map on the screen and tapping the location of the waypoints and construct a route easily and simply.

      Rob

      Rob Wetherlam - May 21st, 2010
      • Hi Rob…what I do is just tap on the “waypoint” icon and it automatically plots my present position as a waypoint called “000″, then later I change the name to whatever I want. Then from there you just enter your route. My advice would be to visit the Garmin website and download the Oregon 400t brochure which is in *.pdf format. It should answer all your questions…Tom

        Tom DeMicke - May 22nd, 2010
  49. Hello Rob….I’m the guy with the question you wanted never to have to answer. The first thing we do here in the sunny summer Shuswap is slather on the bug juice. The second is of course to pick up the 400T with the touch screen and start poking at this display or that while totally ignoring/forgetting the advice to not touch with the bug juice on.So my question iiiiis : any good ideas on what i can use to wipe said bug juice off said screen? thanks “~” ray

    Ray - May 30th, 2010
  50. I am unable to upload / download waypoints from the 400 to mapsource. When I connect to device the waypoint option is greyed out. Where am I going wrong? Works fine with my etrex / gekko. Any help appreciated

    David - May 31st, 2010
  51. I have a 400c and agree on all comments – including batery consumption. Is there any way, adapter, etc to allow charging NMH or other rechargable AA batteries inside the unit?

    Michael - June 8th, 2010
    • don’t think so, but I also bought the car kit which contains external power [cig lighter] cable when using on the road.

      David - June 9th, 2010
  52. The Oregon 400 has some limitations in terms of the size of the kmz files they take in their internal memory. This is a terrible limitation when we try loading some satellite images or geological maps that cover a large area. If Garmin will work in increasing the size and number of kmz files this GPS will become the best GPS in the market for an explorationist working in remote places where there is not way that one can bring a netbook to change every day the new images to be used. In the oil or mining industry this is very important. They should also try to increase the pixels although this is not so critical as the internal memory size as well as the size and number of kmz files.

    Antenor M. Aleman - August 14th, 2010
  53. This was bar-none, the MOST expensive GPS I could find on the market when I bought it, and it has helped my trail cutting tremendously – I now cut 50 feet of trail per day where I used to blindly slash through 300-400 feet per day before. I guess I’m cutting less trail because I spend more time trying to figure out how to use the GPS.

    Brian P. - August 24th, 2010
  54. I have an Oregon 400 running GPS software 3.70, Version 3.10.
    I cannot find a function to place “Proximity boundaries” around a Waypoint. Can the Oregon be loaded with a waypoint and have a proximity boundary wrapped around and make the Oregon sound an alarm when the boundary is breached? Is yes, please tell me how to do it.

    Neville - October 4th, 2010
  55. I am new to GPS. Christmas is around the corner and the family wants to buy one for me. I Fish (mainly fresh water area’s in Canada) and Hunt as well. What GPS would you reccomend. i/e finding direction from point A to point B then being able to trace way back to A. Also on Large lakes marking a Hot Spot and being able to find that spot again.

    Bryan - December 16th, 2010
  56. I wonder if anyone can help me here regarding my Garmin Oregon 400t. I am using the latest version of POI Loader for MAC and am trying to upload a POI list that was sent to me by a friend. It is a POI list of important military bases for air terminals and lodging facilities. He sent me one last year created in Excel and it ends in the *.csv extension. The file uploaded to my Garmin device just fine and I never had problems. Now, he has sent me an updated version (same type of file ending in *.csv) and has sent it to 54 other friends and none of them report problems. I first deleted the old POI file as I’m supposed to, then I completely exit out of POI loader and go back into it attempting to upload the POI file to my Garmin device. I do this by assuring the file exits and is in a folder I created on my computer. This is the error message I get: “No valid data was found in the specified folder, therefore no data was written. Please contact Garmin Support for assistance”. Please not that the file really does exist, ends in *.csv extension and has real data in it as I can see all the data. I am using the latest software/firmware in my Garmin device. Can you please tell me why the old file from one year ago works just fine, but not the latest one? Anyone having problems with loading POI’s for their Garmin? Thanks…

    Tom DeMicke - February 5th, 2011
    • Tom, you may wish to copy/paste your question over in our Garmin Handheld GPS Forums where people who frequently use that software are likely to give a hand.

      Tim - February 7th, 2011
  57. I am interested in getting a nice handheld gps that will run the maping software that you can buy on an SD/MicoSD card (BLM4GPS – STATEWIDE BLM/National Forest Maps for your GPS). This shows boundries of public & private land. What is the best Garmin unit for that purpose, I do like the touchscreen option if that application is nicely supported.

    -Chad

    Chad - February 24th, 2011
  58. I own the Garmin Oregon 400t which is no longer produced so my best recommendation is to get the Oregon 550t. It even has a built-in camera! Awesome piece of equipment and I’m very happy with my 400t just that it does not have a camera.

    Tom DeMicke - February 25th, 2011
  59. What is the easiest way to get waypoints into Mapsource from the Garmin 400 series. I can not download directly into Mapsource, rather copying across from Basecamp. Have I missed the point or is this the way?

    David Miller - March 1st, 2011
  60. I bought oregon 400t,is it possible to put known coordinate,
    latitude and longitude. for off road track that we had saved its great, but I need waypoint that I never been there before but I have coordinate
    tahnk you very much

    budy
    captbuset@yahoo.com

    budy - March 9th, 2011
  61. Yes, most definitely you can enter coordinates manually. Tap on “Where to”, then go down and tap on “Coordinates” and there you are. Can’t be easier.

    Tom DeMicke - March 9th, 2011
    • dear Tom
      Yes I did, the only thing is on that page after tap on where to,I couldnt find coordinate .the last one is geographic points. and I put all number but it came up like this

      no results found,try adjusting search parameter.
      thank you very much

      budy

      budy - March 9th, 2011
  62. Budy: Something is not right. The option to add coordinates is part of the firmware. A device like this would be useless if you did not have that option. I just found out that there’s a new firmware release and just updated mine. Actually my device crashed on me and quit working until I did the firmware update. Strange but true. Anyway, please do a firmware update and again, start from the main screen. Tap on “Where to” and you should have several options listed. “Coordinates” should be one of them. Look very hard. It HAS to be there.

    Tom DeMicke - March 10th, 2011
    • dear Tom,
      after the tap I only have
      1.recent finds
      2.waypoint
      3.tracks
      4.routes
      5.all POI
      6.cities
      7.tides
      8.geographic points

      I bought this oregon 400t when just came in the market in bestbuy and the price still high same like 550t.
      am living in midle east, its great when I wnt to sand dune am not worry when comeback at night,just zoom 50m, am like xpert guys, driving between big dune,
      now I want to explore more with known coordinate out side the country,
      by the way how to update like yours? if its possible will erase the saved track?
      thank you very much Tom

      budy - March 10th, 2011
  63. Budy and Tom, i also have the Garmin 400t. my GPS does not have the option of coordinates when i go to where i go. i have to hit, mark waypoints, i have the option of save and save and edit, i hit save and edit and then rename location, keypad comes up, hit the grn arrow to ok change. then change location, arrow over to number in coord you need to change, hit green arrow to ok, you will have to go back again to change location to change the other. i can’t figure out how to change both at once. then go to waypoints and you should see your new named and located waypoints. i got mine whn it first came out. odd but it is the only way i could find to put in coords. im not very techy so if i find one way that works, im happy. hope ths helps

    ronnie (mrs.) - April 6th, 2011
  64. Hi Mrs. Ronnie: Are you talking about manually entering known coordinates? If so…did that work for you? I’m not 100% sure what it is you are trying to do. Maybe you can explain again. There is a way to manually entering a known coordinate if that is what you are trying to do.

    Tom DeMicke - April 7th, 2011
  65. Tom. yes this is the only way i have been able to enter a known coordiate as i mentioned above. Like Budy, i have the same options on my Where to menu. i do not have the option of entering a cordinate. if there is an easier way i would appreciate the directions. it works the way i do it but is a pain to have to go in and rename name and location. i did order an Oregon 450. should be here anyday. i hope this one has the option available to enter a known coordiate in a much easier way. i am also looking forward to the 3 axis compass option. i will still use my Oregon 400t for family and friends and would still like to know if you have found out how to enter coordinates easier than what i have found to do. I hope all of this makes sense. thank you for your time.

    mrs. Ronnie - April 7th, 2011
  66. Very strange indeed…my menu options differ. I have an idea…have you done a software/firmware update recently? That may be the solution. Please use your Garmin Updater software and perform an update. Ensure you have fresh batteries (and test them to be sure) before doing the update. You do NOT want batteries to go dead in the middle of an update, it happened to me (both batteries were new but one was bad and I did not know that). When that happens, the files/firmware becomes(s) corrupt and the unit is rendered useless. Fortunately I called Garmin and hooked it up to my computer while they remotely “revived” my unit saving me from having to send it back. Let me know what happens. I do know…coordinates CAN be entered manually and it is very easy to do. Hmmm, I say.

    Tom DeMicke - April 8th, 2011
    • Thanks Tom, i will give it a try. thank you for all your time.Ronnie

      mrs. Ronnie - April 8th, 2011
  67. j ai un garmin 400t quand j ouvre le gps parfois l ecran devien gris et ne s’ouvre pas..est ce qu ily a une solution

    [Ihave a garmin 400t, when I opened the gps sometimes the screen turns gray and does not open .. what is a solution?]

    ghyslain - May 5th, 2011
  68. Hi
    I can’t find an ‘addresses’ option on my Orgon 400t. Does it have one for using as a sat nav?

    Pam - August 22nd, 2011
  69. Which typr of altimeter has GPS Garmin Oregon 400t ?

    darko - January 14th, 2012
  70. I don’t know “what kind” of altimeter the Oregon 400t has but it says “barometric altimeter” if that means anything. I sold mine and bought the new Garmin Montana 650t. It’s a monster and is very, very nice.

    Tom DeMicke - January 15th, 2012



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