Rand McNally Maps its way into Outdoor/Bike GPS with Foris 850

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You probably know the name Rand McNally from their maps and Atlases. They also have a pretty complete line of GPS units for cars, trucks, and RVs. Now, Rand McNally is introducing their first hand held or bike mounted GPS unit specifically designed with the outdoor set in mind. The Rand McNally Foris provides another option for your mapping needs whether you’re hiking, biking, or geocaching. Maybe most interesting is the “Loop Me” feature which will provide options for a trail that begins and ends in the same spot – pretty useful if you’re not familiar with the local trails!

Find your way past the break.

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Inside the box you’ll find the Foris 850, a bike mount, two AA batteries, an Anti-Glare screen protector, USB cable and the start up guide. The GPS itself weighs about 9oz with batteries, and has 8GB of memory with an additional Micro SD slot. That 8GB of storage is good for 7,000 waypoints and 1,000 tracks. Built to be as rugged as possible, the IPX7 rated waterproof unit has a 3″ touchscreen, a 3 axis compass, and barometric altimeter.

Take the Foris out of the box and you will find more than 5 million (!) miles of roads and trails preloaded onto the device. Trails include National and State parks and forests, Rails-to-trails biking and hiking trails, and US street and contour maps with water features. Using these preloaded features you can get your way with visual and spoken turn-by-turn directions.  Not sure which route to take? You can compare three alternate routes with elevation profiles. As mentioned the “loop me” feature sounds really cool, which creates a loop trail that is customizable by distance, time, or elevation. Finally, you can turn any GPS track into a route with turn by turn directions with TrackNav.

The Rand McNally Foris 850 will retail for $399.

We will update this post in a bit with some additional info, and should have a hands on first look soon!

Update:

1)      Does it work with any ANT+ or Bluetooth accessories like speed/cadence sensors, heart rate monitors or power meters commonly found on bicycles?

This particular device does not, but we are exploring this for future products.

2)      Are there international maps, or just North America? Are they updated for free for life?

We are compatible with Falk Outdoor GPS products (Falk is our hardware partner), so yes, European maps are available.   Unlike car navigation products, lifetime map updates are not typically provided in the Outdoor category.  If the category moves in that direction, we will be competitive.

3)      Can ride data be downloaded and shared via Strava, Training Peaks, etc?

We support the common GPX standard for ride data for exchange to/from the unit for sharing.  Additionally and uniquely, we can turn GPX data into turn by turn bike navigation, on the unit.  So any GPX file sent to the unit, can be turned into an actual route with guidance, not just a breadcrumb trail.

 

Comments

nathan - 07/17/13 - 1:40pm

AA batteries and a bulky package? Congrats! You remade a Garmin eTrex from 2005!

paulpalf - 07/17/13 - 1:52pm

AA batteries are a great feature if you are away from civilization and can’t charge via USB, you can always carry spares.

Doug - 07/17/13 - 1:58pm

Glad to see some more competition even if this product is not yet something I would buy. I also like easily replaceable batteries.

Jeffy - 07/17/13 - 3:02pm

This looks like it “could” be fantastic. AA batteries are a winner for this kind of device. The big factor is how easy it will be to create routes. I own a Garmin Oregon 450 and the expense of buying 24k maps plus the major amount of time creating routes makes the unit a paper weight for me. Not to mention the effort to use 3rd party maps and they fact you loose “shading” on maps with 3rd party. The Garmin is a total headache and I don’t want to spend the time using it. It is one of the worst purchases I have made for my bike in the past 10 years.

If this thing is easy, then I’m all over it!

Robo - 07/17/13 - 4:05pm

I love that we’re seeing more gps options for people who aren’t trying to go nuts with their fitness and just want the mapping.

David - 07/17/13 - 6:23pm

^^^ I’m a cyclist totally nuts with my fitness.

patrik - 07/17/13 - 9:27pm

I hope its UI is marginally better than the lackluster crap from Garmin. If you can get to the Settings screen in less than 84 clicks, then it’s a success.

Eyal - 07/17/13 - 11:08pm

Absolutely great to see more competition to Garmin. People use Garmin’s products begrudgingly. If Garmin has any future in cycling it’ll need to make the Garmin 900: No more that $400 that includes maps. Color/Retina display, and half the weight. Wifi and battery that would last up 20 hours.

rider - 07/18/13 - 3:46am

It looks more user friendly than a Garmin but still a long way to go before it´s as good as a Twonav Sportiva.

Dave - 07/18/13 - 12:57pm

I welcome competition to Garmin. If this new device has better navigation and turn-by-turn directions, then I’m all for it.

As someone who bought the top-of-the-line Garmin cycling product, the Edge 800 (well, now the 810 is the top), I’m pretty surprised at how clunky the navigation is on their best model. The turn-by-turn is awful and easily confused (as well as confusing to the viewer). It is a mistake to try to rely on it to actually get somewhere for the first time. The graphics are poor, hard to see and decipher, and do not compare to cell phone maps, which are much sharper and detailed in comparison.

And yes, I agree that the Garmin prices are ridiculous, asking ~$500 and then you have to buy the maps seperately. The one good thing about the Garmin is its long battery life.

So any alternative to Garmin is welcome, and I hope this device has better navigation.

NS Rider - 07/24/13 - 2:47pm

I’ve been riding with one of these Foris 850′s for a few weeks now. I’m more a casual rider and prefer non-urban, rails-to-trails type rides and put on a hundred or so miles a week. At first I wasn’t sure about the 2 AA batteries, but I put in rechargables, charge them every night, and get 6-8 hours of riding out of them each trip. The device has virtually all trails I’ve tried in it and is expecially great at advising you to “In 500 feet, bear right” (or left) when you approach that all-too-common unmarked fork in the trail in the middle of nowhere. I’ve even planned a pretty complicated bike route on Google, then transferred it to the Foris 850 which turned it into a route with guidance. Cool. Like most GPSs, you only really need it that small percentage of the time when you are in an unfamiliar area, but I’ve been been glad to have it along at those times.

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