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Author: Mike Schoby
The latest innovation in electronics provides the ability to communicate with others, find your truck and let others know exactly where you are - all in one convenient package. Head afield with author Mike Schoby as he puts the Garmin Rino to the test.
Ever wish you could eliminate some of the gear from your pack? Maybe combine a couple of tools in one? I don't know one hunter, fisherman or hiker who wouldn't like to lighten up their load a bit. Aside from lightening the load, how about being able to communicate with others in your group and let them know exactly where you are or find your truck in the dark, or know, at all times, where junior is while camping with the family? Now one product does all this - the Garmin Rino - the world's first FRS/GMRS radio/GPS that actually interfaces with other units, essentially allowing you to "beam" your position to other Rino users.
Garmin has long been known for making high quality, user friendly, extremely accurate GPS units. Their Etrex series have set the standard for field GPS use. In the last several years, hand-held two-way radios have taken the outdoor world by storm, with many different options, sizes and ranges. Garmin took their proven GPS technology and married it to an extremely high-quality FRS/GMRS radio with a high-range capability without significantly increasing the size of the unit. If they would have stopped there, it would have been a great breakthrough, but not being satisfied with "good enough" Garmin took this project one step further and added their new technology, which allows users to keep track of each other afield by not only audio communication, but by tracking each other on GPS.
Meeting up Afield
As any experienced hunter knows, there is a natural phenomenon that occurs in the woods entitled the "meeting spot". This spot is easily defined, but rarely, if ever, found. The spot can be "The big dead pine", "The old beaver pond" or "The granite mountain". The name really doesn't matter, the phenomenon occurs just the same. Two partners will separate at dawn, both agreeing to meet for lunch at the "meeting spot", but will not see each other again until after dark, back at camp.
Even when a meeting spot is known to everyone in the hunting group, many times plans change while afield. You can cut the track of a herd of elk and by noon be a long way from your predetermined meeting spot. This is all fine and dandy up until you kill one of the elk, and are faced with the prospect of hauling the critter out by yourself.
These issues, along with many more, are a thing of the past with the Garmin Rino. The patent-pending peer-to-peer positioning feature employs the FRS spectrum to "beam" your exact location to another Rino user within a two-mile range depending upon terrain. This Garmin-exclusive feature shows the receiving party the distance and bearing from your position to theirs to keep you from getting separated or lost.
Field-Tested and Approved
A partner and myself used a set of the Rino 120's on several different hunts this past year. Not only did they work great for communicating with each other over a variety of broken mountainous terrain, the GPS functionality was very simple to use and made easy work of finding camp and the truck. They were truly waterproof, as I got caught in some severe downpours that didn't affect the Rino in the slightest and the AA batteries lasted for several days under almost constant use.
While the radio and GPS functioned flawlessly, the best part was when I heard my partners' voice come over the Rino one afternoon. "Hey, I found a great draw over here with lots of sign, you want to come check it out?"
"Sure" I replied, "I see your position now and will be over in a bit - should only take me 20 minutes or so, see you then."
Having the ability to not only communicate with your hunting partners, but also meet up quickly and easily is invaluable and in my opinion is the best feature of the Garmin Rino.
Offered in Three Configurations
The Garmin Rino is offered in three configurations - the 110, 120 and the 130. While all models share much of the same base line technology, the 120 comes with 8 MB of memory (allowing you to download additional map data from Garmin's Map Source CD-Roms) and a preloaded detailed and highly accurate base map of North and South America complete with major cities, highways, thoroughfares, rivers, lakes, coastlines, borders and railways. In addition to the great map, The 120 also has voice scramble and a vibration mode.
The 130 has all the benefits of the other two models but with an expanded 24 MB of memory for dowloading maps. In addition to the expanded memory the 130 has an electronic compass, access to seven NOAA weather channels with weather alert mode and a barometric altimeter that provides accurate elevation and pressure information.
All Garmin Rinos utilize 12 parallel channels to give you pinpoint locations under a variety of conditions. They also have the capability to store 500 waypoints with graphic identification and 20 reversible routes. Plus they include a trip computer with speed tracking, sunrise/sunset read out, trip timer and trip distance.
The Rino 110, 120 and the 130 feature the reliable communication power of a 22-channel GMRS/FRS radio. Each channel has 38 squelch codes for semi-private conversation. In FRS mode, the radios have up to a 2-mile range and in the GMRS mode can reach up to 5 miles (actual range depends on terrain). The Rino 130 also has the ability to send short text messages.
If you currently don't own a GPS or Radio unit and are looking to get either, the choice is easy - get the Garmin Rino - Not only will you be money ahead, you will be much more satisfied in the long run with the many user friendly features, and size saving design. If you already own a GPS unit and/or a two way radio - it is time to look into getting an eBay account to get rid of them - once you experience the high-quality Garmin radio mated with the user friendly GPS, not to mention the ability to pin point your partners exact location afield, you will quickly say goodbye to your old technology and hello to the Rino.
Click this link to purchase a Garmin Rino.