Moving from the Garmin eTrex to the Garmin Oregon 650t was like moving from a rotary telephone to a smart phone. Don’t get us wrong – the rotary telephone still gets the job done, but the shiny new Garmin Oregon 650t’s that we have on loan to use for the book are just, well, they’re just amazing.
It’s hard to know where to begin. Some of the highlights:
- Color touchscreen that changes orientation based on how you’re holding it – horizontally or vertically
- 8 megapixel camera
- USB connection to charge from a computer or an outlet AND the ability to swap out the rechargeable Garmin batteries with double A’s if you run out of juice on the trail – the device will beep to signal that it’s low on battery, and there’s ways to set the screen to help preserve battery life
- Already loaded topographic maps
- Easy to mark waypoints and space to take notes
- A carabiner attachment to clip it to a backpack or belt loop
- Waterproof – anyone who’s been in Kansas over this summer knows just how important that is
- The ability to save 200 tracks and 4000 waypoints
Best of all – this handheld device hasn’t lost signal for us once, even in heavily wooded areas. So you always know where you are and what direction you’re headed in (or should be headed in.) You’re also guaranteed to know exactly how far you’ve gone and the accuracy of the track since the signal doesn’t drop out.
One of the convenient benefits that we found for making maps was the option to pause the track, so if you go off the trail, you won’t have a messy map when you upload your trail back home.
On the Trip Computer screen, you can easily find out how long you’ve been hiking/biking/riding, how fast you’re going, your overall average, etc. And along with following your track on the Trip Information screen, you can check out your elevation profile, and you can remember where you were on a certain day with the calendar. While sunrise and sunset are given, if you happen to get caught out after dark, there’s a flashlight.
Uploading information from the GPS is easy with a Mac or PC – the free BaseCamp software lets you design “Adventures” (one to be shown off on this site soon!) from the tracks you’ve recorded, the waypoints you marked, and the pictures that you took and then you can share that Adventure online.
- It’s easier to plug in the USB cord after taking off the carabiner attachment. It’d be a touch more convenient if it could easily be plugged in while the carabiner was still on
- Sometimes the carabiner can get in the way of the camera – hold it down to make sure it’s out of the way
Yes, it’s pricier at $549, but you really do get what you pay for with this bad boy. I hate to have to give it back once the trails are mapped, and I’ve already started saving up to buy my own.