May 29 2010

A Case for My GPS: First Look at GPS Outfitters’ Micro Pack

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been getting to know my new eTrex Legend HCx, taking it just about everywhere. When I’m cycling, it fits handily on a bracket mounted to my handlebars. When I paddle, it goes into a pocket on my PFD. But when I’m hiking, I’ve been carrying it around my neck with the included adjustable lanyard. If I’m wearing a shirt or jacket that has a breast pocket, I can slip the GPS inside, but often my shirt doesn’t have a suitable pocket. The lanyard carry leaves much to be desired. Though the Legend is a small GPS, it’s still a bulky box to have slapping against me as I hike. And when I’m carrying my camera on a sling around my neck, I have to be careful that the GPS and camera don’t collide with each step.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that I needed a safe yet accessible way to carry the GPS, one that didn’t “blind” it to the satellites passing overhead. And I succeeded. The title of this article gives the game away. I bought GPS Outfitters’ Micro Pack from Ben Meadows. Here’s the big picture:


GPS Outfitter's Case

Ben Meadows’ online description was somewhat misleading, showing an earlier version of the Micro Pack. It certainly didn’t prepare me for the Pack’s considerable bulk, a consequence of a second large pocket concealed behind the flap. There’s a third pocket in the flap, as well, with ladder loops on the outside and a hook-and-loop closure on the underside. And there are elastic mesh pockets on each side of the case. These may prove handy for carrying spare batteries or a notebook and pencil, but I can’t help thinking that GPS Outfitters went a pocket (or two) too far when they designed the Micro Pack. At least the GPS pocket is lined with a soft material to protect the display from scratches. That’s a plus.

GPS Outfitter's Case Pockets

Does the case hold my GPS? It sure does, with room to spare—but not too much room, which is a good thing because this will make it less likely that the rocker button will be accidentally pressed. The case can also hold my Canon A590 IS.

A Case for GPS and Cameras

That’s the supplied shoulder strap, by the way, clipped into the D-rings on the side of the case. I suppose some folks will find the strap useful, but I’m not one of the them. I plan on mounting this case on the shoulder strap of my rucksack. And that’s the rub. Literally.

Clip This

The back of the case is stiffened, with a belt loop and a riveted metal clip, as well as a vertical slot. The clip will have to go, and this will entail minor surgery, since it apparently didn’t occur to GPS Outfitters that not everyone needed both a belt loop and a clip. In any case, the clip is bulky, and its sharpish edges are guaranteed to cut into the shoulder of anyone who mounts the Micro Pack on a pack strap. A classic example of over-engineering.

The bottom line? The Micro Pack is well stitched and reasonably priced, if somewhat fiddly and unnecessarily complex. It’s a GPS pouch, after all, not a summit pack. Still, I think I can make it work for me. And I’ll let you know how I get on.

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