This review was written by Troy Bryan, AKA StarBrand on geocaching.com’s Groundspeak forums. My initial review of the Lowrance Endura Sierra wasn’t exactly glowing, so after seeing positive reports about recent firmware updates, I asked Troy if he’d post a review of his Out&Back.
I got my Lowrance Endura Out&Back just 1 day before my big summer 2009 vacation to Minnesota last August. I had been eagerly awaiting this unit after reading the specs and preordering the unit in Late May. The many delays in shipping were frustrating but I was interested in seeing what this offering could do. After opening the package and briefly reading through the included guide , I was almost immediately disappointed with several aspects of the unit. Dim screen, a bit awkward in size and quirky behavior loading up a few PQs. I dumped it my caching bag with my Oregon 200 and Colorado 300 and took it with me to give it a good workout anyway.
About 40 miles down the road, I hopped out of the car to locate a cache in a very small city park in an equally small Nebraska town. I fired up the unit and waited – and waited. It took an awful long time to lock onto the sats and start Navigation. Sluggish performance on the compass screen left me doing the drunken bee dance. Then it locked up. After about 30 minutes, I put it away and went and grabbed my trusty Colorado. I located the cache in just under 5 minutes. Still, I was impressed with the onboard Geocaching features. I wrote it off to inexperience with a new device.
I tried using it on 4 more caches during the trip. No better luck. It was especially bad in the mosquito invested heavy foliage found in Minnesota. The unit then basically ended up at the bottom of my bag for the next few months. I used it occasionally and was impressed with the filtering for caches. It was also nice having all the Poi’s preloaded in the unit. However, navigating with it was a pain – I just wasn’t finding caches very easily with it, and occasionally, I was led off in the wrong direction with sluggish updates on the screen. Finally, I wrote a few scathing reviews of the unit in October and stopped using it. Then, along came Endua Expert.
Just a username on a forum. Groundspeaks GPS forums. At first, EE’s posts came off as highly commercialized. Then sympathetic. This quickly turned to helpful. EE even sent some emails and private messages to myself and a few other users to gather opinions. It wasn’t long until version 1.1 for the Endura was released to little fanfare. Lowrance it seems, had heard the groans and complaints and had actually listened. The install routine was a bit odd and certainly took a long time. I was skeptical but willing to try it out though.
I waited a few days to take it out caching with me but when I did – the Out &Back’s behavior was like night and day. I actually found the cache- quickly and easily. The unit had led me straight to it and was giving good steady updates as I approached the cache area. When powering on, it acquired the sats a lot faster and got me going a lot faster. Over the next few days, I repeated the feat over and over. The software upgrade had worked!!
Then I got ambitious and loaded up a few PQs with all different cache types and different terrains. I found a few minor issues and re-discovered a few major problems as well. For the most part however, the unit worked as advertised and was actually useful for Geocaching. A few weeks later, Lowrance put out a second upgrade – moving up to v 1.2. The unit became more stabilized and behaved even better.
A more mild and specific 1.3 version is out now and future upgrades with additional new features have been promised. I expect a 1.4 release any day now. It would be nice to clean up a few remaining issues
These days, the O&B goes out caching with me regularly as the in-unit cache filtering is a terrific for caching with family and friends. It becomes easy to select cache types that suit tastes of the moment and still have plenty of targets for me to enjoy as well. The unit has a room for a rather generous 4000 caches loaded via GPX files in the units onboard memory. Once a cache is selected, moving between compass, map and description screens is surprisingly easy with the touchsceeen/button hybrid interface. The screen is all but unreadable without the backlight but is easy reading under most conditions with it on. Really not much different than the original Garmin Oregon series.
The unit is far from perfect yet. For example, when navigating to hand entered coordinates (as is often needed with a multi-cache), the unit will stop navigating and announce that you have arrived when you are still some distance from the location. Very annoying to have to reselect and start again. Lowrance needs to correct this soon. Endura Expert has noted it will be fixed in a future release. Another rather glaring missing feature is the ability to project a waypoint. Also very necessary when doing some caches. The final, big issue I have is the overlap issue. If the same cache appears in multiple GPX files – the unit shows it multiple times on the map and in the find interface. This too has been noted and will likely be fixed soon.
The O&B is not a high end unit in Lowrance’s lineup and so does not offer any road routing or large amounts of street map detail. No music player or voice notes either.
Still, for the price, the unit has a lot to offer. I get 12 hours regularly from a set of NiMh rechargeable batteries. The readings are accurate and it works very well under most tree cover and large building situations. Having all the cache details loaded up by a simple drag and drop operation is always a bonus. Add to that the ability to hold 4000 caches and then filter them by criteria in the unit and the need for sorting in external software is nearly lost. Everybody like the fieldnotes feature for logging a weekend’s finds online.
The online pricing for topo maps and aerial images has come way down but remains far more expensive than similar offerings from Garmin and Delorme. But the bottom line is that Lowrance is really listening to Geocachers these days – recognizing an important and growing segment. It looks like they are committed to making this a competitive choice for the sub $200 (street price) fully paperless Geocaching GPS market. Keep it on your shopping list. I am formally withdrawing my earlier ‘bad’ reviews.
More Lowrance Endura Out&Back reviews
- Consumer-authored Lowrance Endura Out&Back reviews have been posted at Amazon
I’ll be posting more hands on GPS reviews as they appear, but in the meantime, here are some…
Other Lowrance Endura Out&Back resources
- The Lowrance Endura Out&Back owners manual, in the language of your choice
- Here are a couple of Lowrance forums
- The official Lowrance Endura Out&Back web page
Compare prices on the Lowrance Endura Out&Back at these merchants:
- Check the current Lowrance Endura Out&Back price at Amazon
- Get the Endura™ Out&Back Handheld GPS from BoatersWorld.com