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So, the 80’s Topos were/are better ?
Depends on how much detail and how many different layers you want. Old USGS topos were simply that - 2D topographical contour maps. Now, take that and overlay layers like those in GAIA with satellite views, hydrology, land ownership, timber harvest, road detail, shaded relief, geographical features, USFS detail, etc.., and that's what the newer digitized platforms offer.
So to your question, no, they were not better unless land contours are all you're interested in using. I spend somewhere around 100 days a year in the CO and WY woods and 99% of what I reference is GAIA with USGS Topo and satellite overlay.
I can't help you there because I'm not well-versed in the different Garmin-compatible aftermarket products. I use a DIY Hunting chip with topo in my Garmin, mostly for land ownership info and backup. But it only covers a few western states. Otherwise I use the GAIA app on a mobile device for everything. By comparing (or overlaying) recent satellite views onto a topo I can see what has been logged recently, new roads cut, old logged areas overgrown, etc..
They're all tools. I still like the old school topo maps. When I'm researching an area, one tab is an old school topo, another is the unit map with topo on mytopo.com, another google maps, another google maps on terrain that I can flip between terrain and satelite, and in another window is Google earth. I prefer to do this with at least two monitors.
Looking at an area with as many views possible is best, I think. Old school topographic maps from USGS are invaluable. But if you're only looking at them out of nostalgia or neophobia, I think you're missing something. But you can still find where to go. Have fun.
Can't you do all that from google earth?
You can, but it looks different.
I think what’s best for one may not be best for everyone. If your focus is out West then an 80s style topo would less than adequate unless you limited yourself to a large chunk of public hunting ground. Albeit, the multi layered apps are invaluable to what they bring to the game. I found a virtual unknown public hunting area with a google earth layer.
What I use is onX Hunt, google earth, topos from my topo. I owe the topo for trying to figure out the big picture of an area and the others for more specific information. Even though I always have a topo of some size in my pack I find that in the field it never gets pulled out.