The time has come to review another Garmin GPS device. First we had the eTrex Legend, then the Oregon 650t and now we have the GPSMAP 64s ($399).
Things to love about it:
Comes with a basemap that you could still use to follow your own track and you get a free regional 24K topo map that you can download via your computer.
Uses GPS satellites as well as Russian GLONASS satellites, which means that in heavy tree cover or canyons, you still get a signal.
Screen is sunlight readable and can be brightened or darkened – darker gives you more battery life.
Can be connected to your computer via USB and tracks can be transferred via BaseCamp.
Waterproof and durable.
It’s a handheld device that also comes with a way to carabiner/clip it to your bag or a mount to put on a bike.
Great at determining elevation with a barometric altimeter (though, frankly, in Kansas, this isn’t as much of a concern) and electronic compass gives good bearings on which way you’re facing, even if you’re not holding the device level.
Want to know when you’re within .05 to 250+ miles of a certain spot? You can set a proximity alarm for different locations that you can set before you leave or at the car.
It can be synced with Bluetooth and you can also link it to get text notifications if you pair it to your iPhone (apparently – I didn’t try it because I didn’t want alerts on the trail).
You can wirelessly send and receive data with other GPS devices.
It gives you sun/moon data – daylight hours left are important to know, and you won’t miss sunrise.
Thousands upon thousands of preloaded geocaches that you can check off, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Things be aware of:
My main annoyance was that there wasn’t a touch screen (I’m used to touch screens, though my slightly more Luddite brother was a fan of the buttons from the start).
But as I did some thinking about it, it’s easier to use buttons if you have on gloves or if it’s raining. So it may take some getting used to for those more accustomed to smart phones, but I think it’s something work getting used to.
It doesn’t have a camera.
Another thing to consider is the mapping. With the 64s, the topographic maps don’t come loaded, though it does come with the option to get one region of 24K topo maps for free as well as the option to buy more.
If you want maps preloaded, you can get GPSMAP 64st, which comes with 100K topo maps (not as great a resolution as the 24K, but for Kansas, which has relatively little elevation concerns, 100K is fine) and that will cost you an extra $100.
For $100 less than the 64s, at $299, you can get the Garmin GPSMAP 64, with that you lose the wireless connection and the barometric altimeter and the triaxial compass, so you have to hold it level to get an accurate reading.
Take some time to play with it before you head out on the trail, download your free 24K map, always carry extra batteries, and have fun tracking your trail runs or geocaching efforts.