I have been wanting to start keeping track of my riding this year and am also interested in making maps of where I have ridden. What are your favorite brands of GPS for trail/endurance riding, and why?
For the money, you almost can't been a Garmin eTrex Venture HC. I have it set to tell me speed, miles, average speed, total time, what time it is etc. on one page. Another tells me my heading, my bearing, etc. and makes a track of the trail I am going on and of course, a compass. I can mark waypoints an track to it, etc.
The Garmin Dakota 20 is a little fancier than mine with a touch screen feature which is nice and has a few more features. I think its battery lasts quiet a bit longer which is very nice!
I have a blast with mine and don't ride without it.
The Dakota also will let you use a heart monitor which is pretty darn cool. I have a heart monitor but it is separate. I would like to have the Garmin Forerunner 305 (I think that is correct). They are pretty darn cool.
One think that I like about my Garmin eTrex Venture HC is that it comes with software that you put on your computer. It is called mapsource. Anyway, you upload data from the GPS to your computer. Then you can open your track in Google Earth. Maybe I am a bit geeky, but it really entertains me to look at my ride on a Google Earth map.
My sister has been working on developing maps of some federal land (U.S. Forest Service land) for her work. There are a bunch of horse trail riders that she has working to help her. They record the locations of significant things that they find on their rides and she can use these in the maps. As part of her work, she was able to go on a 14 mile trail ride with them to check the accuracy of some of their data. Tough job, but somebody's got to do it..........
I used a Garmin eTrex legend once. It worked ok. The only main problem I had was when you went into a lower area or an area with thick tree cover and it lost it's tracking signal. I was only borrowing it for the day but I did like how simple it was to use, once I figured it out.