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Why wouldnt I just use my phone? I cant see why anyone with a modern smartphone would opt for this.
Because smartphone GPS doesn't work out in the boonies. Did you ever drive in Alaska? No cell service = no GPS functionality. My humble little Garmin works anywhere with a view to the sky.
Not true. You don't need cell service or a data connection for GPS to work on most cell phones (I have never used one where it didn't work - but I suppose it is possible). It is possible that the standalone GPS has a larger antenna and it is possible that your phone app doesn't have the necessary maps, but if you are using an app with all the maps for the area, there is no need for a cellular connection.
"All the maps for the area"
That's the rub. You need to make sure you have the map for the area you WILL be in, or MAY be in.
You better not deviate from your plan or you might be SOL. Why impose this kind of restriction on yourself?
I drove in Alaska, or the Mojave and I am free to roam wherever I want.
What do you do when you are traveling and don't have any service? Your phone won't be worth anything then! GPS units work regardless.