Garmin’s Rino Series Radio/GPS

If you’re in the market for a GPS and you regularly use radios to communicate with your hunting buddies, you should take a close look at the Rino series by Garmin. I have used several different models over the course of several years and have found them to be useful, reliable tools. In this post we’ll take just a quick look at these products.

There are many different Rino models to choose from with varying options and price ranges. Admittedly they are not cheap, but by combining a radio and a GPS into one unit they have created a number of unique features that you won’t find anywhere else. Obviously one benefit of having a two in one unit is less to carry. Another great benefit is being able to send your location and that of waypoints to other Rinos. They can then see your location on their GPS and navigate to you or you to them. With some of the models you can even send text messages. I am unaware of any other product that is able to do this.

The Rino comes in five different models. The 110, 120, and 130 models are very similar in appearance and only vary slightly in features from one another. The higher priced of these models have such additional features as weather radio, electronic compass, and increased internal memory (for topo map storage). They vary in price from about $150 to $340. The 520HCx and 530HCx are a step up from the aforementioned models and feature such things as color screen, rechargeable long-lasting battery, 12 channel high-sensitivity GPS receiver, and longer range radio. They retail for $400 to $450, although if you do some careful research on the internet you can often find lower prices on all these models.

I have had experience with several of these models and have owned a 120 for about five years now. Here are some of my observations. My 120 has been used a lot, dropped many times, and has given me very little trouble. The unit is user friendly and the screen is of good quality. Garmin has topo maps available on CD-ROM to install on all the Rino models and I have found it to be very handy to have them when hunting and hiking. The road and trail detail is quite good. The GPS has probably saved me from getting lost several times now. The location sending feature is also great when out hunting with friends; it makes it a cinch for them to find you and your downed elk! The Rino 120 runs on three AA batteries and battery life is about a day and a half. On the downside for the 120, I live and hunt in mountainous terrain with heavy forests and both of these limit the radio somewhat. The GPS can also cause some frustrations when in heavy timber as it loses satellite contact frequently.

The HCx models are a different story, however. Deep forests and even basement walls are no match for their GPS receivers. These also have increased radio range. The other day while elk hunting, we were on top of a ridge and were able to contact a friend on a mountaintop over 20 miles away. The batteries on the HCx will generally last for several days, and you can purchase an accessory battery pack to use AA batteries as well. The only downside to the HCx models is the price. They are also slightly larger than the 120 variety.

If you’ve been looking at the Rino series, I hope this helps you make an informed decision. Garmin also has free software updates for all these models on their website. Overall, I have been very pleased in my experience with the Garmin Rino.