You are correct in looking at a Garmin. I have three of them and they are great. I'm not sure that you will like the Nuvi for the canoe. I have a Nuvi 700 and it is great for the car. What ever one you get look for long battery life, color screen, slots for memory chips. I would get one for the car, Nuvi and another handheld for canoe/hiking. Also get the mount for the thwart for the GPS. Just my .02
It's a matter of personal preference, but I would not buy a GPS unit made primarily for auto use if I was intending to use it in the BWCA. I would get one of the units made primarily for trail use. I use a Garmin 60csx and think it's great.
Another thing to consider - if you want to use your GPS unit to do detailed tracks of your travels, I suggest getting a handheld garmin that has the SD memory card slot. This allows you to save your track logs directly to the card so that you have much more detail. You can also have many more maps loaded. The internal memory on hand-helds is pretty limited, so it's nice to have the memory card slot.
I've got the Garmin Etrex Legend HCx and have been very happy with it.
You will be far better off with a handheld oriented to hiking than an auto unit [battery charging/replacement]. 'Garmin' makes a lot of good units that will work well. My preference is for the 'Delorme PN' series. My GPS of choice:
I can print the same maps that I load onto the unit. Also use sat and aerial images of the BWCA loaded onto the unit.
Garmin Oregon 400T with 100k US Topo, 100k Canadian Topos. Use Minneapolis weekend topo pack to make maps and load waypoints. I would stick with Garmin. The 60sx is being clearanced in some places. This is the GPS all others are compared to. I would get this over the Oregon series and save enough money to get all the software. My son has an Etrex summit. Nice unit for much less money. All you really need!
"With an ax, you can build a life. With a stove, you can boil water. That is if nothing breaks and you don't run out of fuel." -Samuel Hearne
I have a 60CSx. My brother later bought a 76CSx. When I saw the 76-series in person I was stunned by how much bigger it was. I suggest folks looking at them handle both before buying. They each have their +'s & -'s.
I have a Garmin Vista CX. This is a true hiker model designed to be held and operated by the same hand. It works reasonable well in a canoe though I think something like the 60 would work better having all the buttons front mounted. I use the bike mount on a thwart and that works pretty well. If I were doing it again I might consider the 60, on the other hand the price on the Vista is lower and it really does what I need it to.
I agree with whiteh2o on the Garmin 400t. I have it and it works wonderfully. I also have the street maps for it, so it also works quite well in the car - it just doesn't give voice directions like most other vehicle specific units.
It comes preloaded with with the basic topographic maps for the whole country, and you can also upgrade to the much better detail maps if you like. It is all touch screen, waterproof, and has a slot for MicroSD memory cards.
It is not the cheapest one out there, but if sure is easy to use.
I have the Garmin Colorado 400I, with inland lakes maps. I am planning on purchasing the US topo, or regional topo's to go with it, but the basic map isn't too bad. I really like the Colorado series because it is 1 hand operation, and easy to navigate the menues. It is very spendy, but I bought mine brand new on ebay, and got it for $240.00, so I couldn't pass on it. I was going to by the 60 csx, but I was able to get the colorado for less, so I went for it. I have been pleased.
I have the Garmin Vista CX like Merg. It is perfect for the BWCAW. Small, water resistant and two AA batteries last for ever depending on usage of backlight.
Nuvi models are generally for Autos. Definitely don't want to use one for trail or BWCAW. I have a Nuvi 680 that is a couple years old and I would definitely not use it outdoors. If you want to use the GPS unit for both BW and auto, I would get the Vista. It may not have all the cool bells and whistles of the Nuvi but it can still get you from point A to point B with City Navigator. You can get the windshield mount and the autocharger for it.