Like the Oregons, the Dakota 20 relies on a pair of AA batteries for power, although it doesn’t come with rechargeable cells like the 550t. With more miserly hardware, it also lasts a bit longer per set of batteries. Garmin claims a 20-hour life, which should be enough for two or three days of daytime use. The box contents are more miserly, however. Unlike the Oregons, the Dakota 20 doesn’t bundle a heavy duty karabiner, but only includes a lanyard for wearing the device around your neck. The spine is still available, though, so you can fit the same karabiner as an optional extra.
The Dakota 20 performed as expected during testing. It did occasionally take a while to get an initial GPS lock when powered up in an occluded spot, such as within dense woodland. In our very subjective testing, the time taken was longer than with the Oregon 550t. But once it knew the location it kept good track of where we were. As we noted in our review of the Oregon 550t, the transflective touchscreen has extremely poor viewing angles and is relatively dark. But the three-way compass means you can hold the device for optimal viewing and still get accurate bearings.
The Garmin Dakota 20 provides most of the key features of the Oregon 550t for two thirds of the price. If you want the facility to use Ordnance Survey maps electronically in a device costing less than £200, the Dakota delivers on its promise. However, the smaller screen and slower map performance do put it behind the Oregon range, so for those with a bigger budget the Oregon is still our preferred outdoor option.