Garmin Oregon 300 or Vista HCX?

Hi all,

Right now I have a Magellan GPS which has been very bad compared to my previous Garmin Etrex (original), and so am looking for a new GPS that is good for OSM.

I am looking for:
-good/great battery
-OSM map support
-good GPS fix time, reception in densely treed mountain areas, accuracy

I have read on the wiki that WAAS/EGNOS doesn’t really work on the Oregon 300 right now because of a bug. Is this something that can be fixed by Garmin or is a hardware problem?

What do people think is the overall better GPS, the Vista HCX, or the Oregon 300?

Thanks for your help!

I have both here, the Oregon 300 and the Etrex Vista HCx.

I prefer the Vista HCX due to the following reasons:

  • longer battery life time (up to 24 hours, with the Oregon 300 up to 10 hours)
  • much better display (the Oregon display is useable outdoor only with full backlight)
  • TracBack is working with all gpx-Files, not only with an actual Track
  • better GPS fix (in woods, under trees, in small citystreets)
  • half the price of an Oregon 300
  • address search is working without the mkgmap option --road-name-pois
  • I can upload tracks up to 10000 trackpoints as ACTIVE_LOG (here the Oregon is more comfortable) and store the tracks afterwards with a special name (just to mention this point which is often unknown)

Advantages of the Oregon 300:

  • faster processor
  • you can use bigger gmapsupp.img (the Vista HCx can use a 2,3 GB gmapsupp.img for Europe, but you cannot search for POIS, streets, towns, because the Vista HCx will shut down during the search)
  • easy track management (just upload gpx-files to the unit or the SDHC)
  • touchscreen

Just my opinion, I use both with the bycicle, may be the useage within a car may be different.


So both devices can display a .gpx file? That is great.

I would like my GPSMAP 60Cx to do that. But it does not. Well at least I do not know how it would. It can produce .gpx files. Actually it makes one .gpx file for every day it is used. It can hold the logged tracks for 100 years (on a big card). But it cannot show it’s own .gpx files. I consider this the biggest missing feature of this great device. Sooo often I came to the same place a year later and wanted to know how I drove in that town before. But not possible.

Sorry, it is the English language …

Vista HCx: I declare an external GPX-file (at my computer) as ACTIVE_LOG to prepare the track for uploading to the Vista HCx. Then I upload the GPX-file with gpsbabel to the Vista HCx, there it will be shown in the current log. Afterwards I save the track in the Vista HCx with a name as seperate track and delete this track as ACTIVE_LOG to make the log empty. This stored track can be used again and again (together 20 tracks in the internal storage, unlimited tracks at the SDHC called chip in the menu, each up to 10000 trackpoints) as track, for TracBack or only to show it at the map.

Oregon 300: Here you can use an uploaded (to the internal storage via USB or to the SDHC via USB or cardreader) GPX-file directly without changes, but not for TracBack.

I hope that it is clearer …


At my Computer with Mapsource? But if you made an ACTIVE LOG out of a .gpx file then what is the result? Because if you upload the .gpx file with gpsbabel then what happened with the ACTIVE LOG? Please elaborate bacause I cannot follow your procedure.

Conclusion: this is not true for .gpx files.

  • GPX-files are the source (from friends, from or somewhere else)
  • I change the header and the title of the GPX-file to ACTIVE LOG (at my computer with a texteditor)
  • I store the current log in the Vista HCx to a track (to save it, if it is needed) and/or delete the current log in the Vista HCx (if it is not needed).
  • I upload the GPX-file with gpsbabel (I use only linux) to the Vista HCx
  • it will be stored as current log in the Vista HCx
  • I store this current log (= content of my GPX-file) as track with a name (bike-tour-danube e. g.) in the VistaHCx (not at the SDHC, because it cannot be used from SDHC)
  • I delete the current log
  • I can load one of the stored tracks (I wrote about GPX-files, this is false, you are right here!!!, but the track is the track out of the uploaded GPX-file) and use it to display on the map or for TracBack
  • I can store 20 tracks insite the unit and use these tracks (each up to 10000 trackpoints)

Because of the useage of GPX-files as source for my tracks I wrote in my former post:

  • TracBack is working with all gpx-Files, not only with an actual Track

It must be:

  • TracBack is working with every track uploaded from a GPX-file, not only with the actual track

And I used GPX-files in my description because it is a common file format. I can also use other files for this purpose.


Think that that is not happening. GpsBabel will convert the .gpx to an ACTIVE LOG format and then upload that to the device.

Yes. Not as a .gpx file.

This is a confusing formulation. The trackback capabilities of the device have nothing to to with the origin of the ACTIVE LOG. The device can not only track back the active log but also routes from intern memory or card.

Indeed. Thats why it is so confusing because .gpx is not a feature of the device. And you were comparing two devices.

Thanks for all the info.

GPX-files can be used with the Oregon 300 without converting these files!

Store a GPX-file at a SDHC or in the internal memory of the Oregon 300 and you can use it as a track shown at the map. You cannot use it for a TracBack.

You cannot use GPX-files from a SDHC with the Vista HCx and you cannot use again the stored track (which is also a GPX-file) if the storage place is the chip (SDHC) with the Vista HCx. This is only for external useage (tracking for OSM or other purpose). The tracks will be listed and you can delete these tracks, but you can only use the internal stored tracks within the Vista HCx for TracBack or showing on the map.