i'm planning on doing a few long rides and was wondering what forms of navigation people have found best/most accurate.
whether it be a Garmin or what not?
it'd be good to know what people have found best.
I did Lands End to John O'Groats solo (but with luggage carried by car) 20 months ago.
I used a Garmin 800 with all the routes planned beforehand and uploaded to the Garmin from the Garmin Connect website.
Provided you are riding a carefully planned route that you are going to stick to this works really well.
However, if you change your mind about the route during the day then the Garmin is much less useful (at least in the UK). It's own routing can give some weird experiences by taking you on roundabout routes, in theory to avoid major roads, that do include some very busy roads.
I don't know if the routing on the newer models is any better but at least you don't need a laptop to connect the garmin to, sadly though I can't seem to use the Garmin connect course planner on my Nexus 7 tablet. However, the Strava route planner does seem to work on the tablet which opens the possibility of more dynamic route planning while out and about (if you have a bluetooth enabled Garmin).
A Garmin 800 with open source maps and routes loaded from ridewithgps.com got me from London to Paris unsupported. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend one if in new territory and you have distance to cover.
Basic but it works. Write route notes on paper 2" wide and selotape to top tube. I do this with all new routes and have never got lost!
Another alternative is Tulips. Plan the route then draw a sketch of each junction (a Tulip) on low tack masking tape and tape them to your stem, one on top of the other in sequence. Just peel each one away after the junction, but please stow them don't throw them.
All I'll say about Garmins (I have an 800) is that the navigation in the middle of towns which have lots of close-together junctions can be difficult.
The "turn right" / "turn left" arrows imposed on the map frequently obscure the actual turning you need.
Also, where hairpin roads converge can confuse it as the GPS resolution is frequently less than the distance between switchbacks.
Now, I may just have it set up badly......
I would say this, but Viewranger.com is an excellent free app and online route planning tool that works on Android and iOS. You can buy the premium OS maps or download the excellent and free OpenStreet or OpenCycle maps. And set up right, you can run a smartphone for 12hrs plus on one charge, navigating all the way. External battery packs are dirt cheap these days if more time is needed.
As well as all the advise given above (none of which I can fault - it's all good) if I am going far afield then I take with me photocopies of the relevant pages from a road atlas as well as the route on my Edge 800 (That's if I can be bothered to download/plan one).
The reason for this is simple, sometimes you can get turned around in your head and this helps you re-orientate yourself. All you need is a road sign and a road number. A couple of sheets of A4 paper don't weigh much.
If you have a smart phone; don't forget you can use this as your cycle computer and/or satnav.
Oh! And one last thing. Getting lost or falling off your intended route can sometimes be more fun and more rewarding; you never know what you'll find.
I have used my Garmin 800 with the OS maps for GB installed for several years now. It very rarely lets me down (mostly due to operator error) and I have used from the north of Scotland, West Wales and throughout England. 10 days ago I was following a winding route westward from Hereford along the southern side of the river Wye and came across a road closure. I found it very easy to use the zoom and scroll functions to see that there was an easy navigable way to avoid the bridge which was down and get myself back on the route. One word of caution don't let it do a recalculation of your route as it may take you to your destination directly and avoid the pretty village or the steep hill that you have selected as an essential part of your ride.Garmin for me is excellent value for money based on miles done or number of courses followed.