A Friend In Need
Good value, 130 features worth the money, relatively waterproof
Battery hog, learning curve, OK radio capabilities
The Bottom Line:
These are great units for the money, just don't expect miracles. Fairly durable and great features.
I purchased 2 GARMIN RINO 130's and 6 GARMIN RINO 120's for my swiftwater rescue team. I purchased these for several reasons.
1. Reviews - these units got great online reviews as being durable, accurate units. Many soldiers deployed in the middle east were using them as backup navigation devices.
2. Durable - These are the least expensive waterproof units I could find, short of something rediculously expensive and out of our budget.
3. Price - The price was right for these units
First, lets cover the differences between the 130'2 and 120's. Both are solid GPS units with preloaded North American roadmaps, and both have FRS/GMRS radio capabilities. The 130 also has NOAA weather stations, which is a definite plus. The 130 can also "poll" the position of other RINO users in the area. But the bottom-line most important feature of the 130 is that is has a built-in electromagnetic compass. That means you can get direction bearings in place, regardless of GPS satellite availability or ground motion. This feature alone is worth the cost difference. I labeled the two 130's OPS 1 and OPS 2, the 6 120's TECH 1 through TECH 6, with the idea that the team leader has access to the weather band, polling, and navigation features, while the techs would not necessarily need them.
These radio/GPS units have performed valiantly for the price. We have lost 1 120 somewhere on the bottom of Baltimore Harbour. Just because the RINO is waterproof does not mean it floats LOL! We use them extensively for crowd events when there are not enough 800 Mhz radios to go around, for search & rescue, training, and live incidents.
As far as the waterproofing goes, the units are rated for 15 feet for up to 30 minutes. I would say this is questionable at best. While the unit front and body are nicely sealed, the battery compartment is not sealed especially well. If water gets in there, it stands to flood the radio. I took two 120's on a ten mile float/hike along the Patapsco River. One unit held up fine, the other got some water in it and ceased functioning. I dried it with a hair dryer and it was fine the next day, but I think I got lucky. I recommend not relying on the waterproofing alone and bagging these in waterproof radio bags to be on the safe side, but I'd still rather lose a $200 RINO to submersion than a $3,000 Motorola radio with zero tolerance to moisture.
Also, these radios eat batteries. Each takes three AAs, so buy plenty and bring spares. The more features you have active (polling, GPS, backlight, high volume), the faster the batteries go. 6-8 hours average use is max.
The radio communication is fair to OK. Generally, we use FRS. There is alot of breakup and garble between two vehicles.
Controls are easy to use, and menus are fairly straightforward. They may be a bit confusing for novices, and there is a bit of a learning curve for navigating the menus.