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Make sure you have essential GPS accessories before you hit the road

By Robert B.

Options and accessories are the spice of life! And when it comes to GPS accessories for your Garmin or Magellan handheld, there are certainly no shortages of options.

When shopping for these extra accessories, you'll want to keep some things in mind.

First, these are made by both the manufacturers and by third parties. Also, make sure you know the make and model of your GPS unit.

The reason this may pose a problem is because of compatibility issues. It's certainly obvious that a Garmin mounting bracket won't fit a Magellan GPS unit, but you might not notice this when ordering if you don't pay attention.

Cases.... Essential Protection

Before you take your unit anywhere, you should have some type of protective case. Dropping your handheld while hiking on the trail could leave your costly investment useless, or scratching the display can make reading it difficult.
  • Hard crushproof cases such as a Garmin IQue hard case are perfect for the trails. In case you slip and fall, a hard case will protect your unit whether it's in your pack or in your hand.

  • Waterproof marine cases are great when you're on the open sea. While most marine GPS units are built waterproof, a waterproof case made of neoprene certainly couldn't hurt!

  • Lastly, if you don't have a need for fancy cases, and simple holster might do the trick. These make it easy to attach your GPS unit in an easy to reach location on your belt.

Don't get tangled in the cables!

Searching for the right cable can be a pain because there are so many different types. But when you know exactly what you need, it's easy to sift through the junk. Do you need a USB data adapter cable or a 12-volt cigarette lighter car charger? While they may sound complicated, finding the right cable for you is fairly straight forward.

Memory cards are not a game

Various types of memory cards can be used to improve your handheld GPS unit. First, research the style of memory card that your unit takes. SD memory cards from Lexar will generally work with any unit, but double check what you currently have.

Most units come with a stock memory card of 64 MB of space or less, which is quite small for storing many maps and other data. Consider upgrading to a larger memory card if you plan on traveling outside your local area. Also, secure memory cards can offer another level of protection to protect your information from prying eyes.

Stick your GPS Unit where it belongs

Whether you're on a boat exploring the seven seas or on your daily commute to work, you want to secure your GPS receiver out of harms way.

GPS mounts are one of the most difficult items to buy simply because they are not a "one size fits all" item. Make sure you select the proper mount for your manufacturer and model number.

In addition, the two main styles of mounts include temporary and permanent.

For example, a suction mount can easily attach your GPS unit to your windshield or another easily visible location. The downfall of suction mounts are that bad potholes and bumpy railroad tracks could knock the mount off the window, potentially damaging your unit.

While permanent dash mounts are the best, most secure solution, they could require drilling into your dashboard or other factory components. This is definitely not an option for leased cars, let alone anything you're planning to eventually resell.

Don't forget...

Among the above GPS accessories, don't forget about batteries and external antenna. External antenna are great for getting better satellite reception while in your car or boat. External antennas are streamline and attach to the roof of your car or boat. Although they do require extra wiring to properly connect them to the GPS unit.

If you weren't aware of it before, now you can certainly realize the amount of possible GPS handheld accessories. Before you purchase anything, having a game plan is essential. Make sure you know your GPS unit's specifications and the exact product(s) you're looking for. With this information in hand, you'll be sure to make a great decision.

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