Navigating while traveling through the back country has always been a challenge, and while paper maps are always a good backup tool to have, this is 2016.
Over the past few years I’ve utilized multiple navigation platforms ranging from Delorme Atlases to iPad based applications (MotionX and Gaia GPS) and have found all of them to have their own pros and cons. So when Tony at the Pocket Yacht Company suggested we try utilizing a marine chart plotter for back country navigation, I was definitely a bit skeptical.
To help coax me into it, he lent me a unit for our scouting trip for the Winter Camp Out and it created a perfect track of Long Run Road. After the trip I was completely sold, so I ordered a unit and quickly went to work designing a mounting system.
The unit Tony lent me was a Garmin GPSMAP 721, it’s traditionally found in maritime applications, but as we found out, it also runs Garmin Topo maps. The 721 comes with a plastic bracket that is designed to be attached to boat consoles, but it also has mounting holes that work perfectly with a RAM mount.
I knew I wanted to use a ball mount for the system, so I started by ordering a Carolina Metal Masters JK Grab Bar because it comes with a 1″ ball that is perfect for mounting accessories. In order to mount the 721 to the ball I used a RAM-B-111 6 1/4″ X 2″ Marine Ram Universal Electronic Mount.
The 2″ extension provides plenty of clearance for positioning the unit and and the mounting plate mates to the Garmin factory mount perfectly. Finally I secured everything with stainless steel bolts, washers, and nylon nuts.
For power, we had Forge Specialties wire the unit directly into the accessory fuse block in the Jeep. I also had it wired into the switch panel so I could run the unit with the vehicle on or off at my leisure. Finally, Forge installed a quick disconnect so I could easily take the unit out of the truck and also provided me with an extra 12 volt plug if I ever wanted to use the system from another rig.
So far the mount has proven to be very stable, and the unit works as advertised. We’ll have a review on it’s capabilities coming up in the next few weeks, but in the meantime if you have any questions, feel free to ask.