TOP 5 GARMIN GPS UNITS COMPARISON REVIEW
|Display Size (W" x H")||1.4" x 1.7"||1.43" x 2.15"||1.5" x 2.5"||2.0" x 3.5"||1.43" x 2.15"|
|Screen Size (in2)||2.38 in2||3.07 in2||3.75 in2||7 in2||3.07 in2|
|Sunlight-readable Color Screen||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Weight (oz)||5.0 oz||8.1 oz||7.4 oz||10.2 oz||11.3 oz|
|Battery Life (hours)||25 hours||16 hours||16 hours||16 hours||14 hours|
|AA Batteries Needed (#)||2||2||2||3||4|
|Optional Rechargable Internal Battery Pack||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Internal Memory (GB)||1.7 GB||4.0 GB||1.7 GB||3.0 GB||1.7 GB|
GARMIN ETREX20—MOST LIGHTWEIGHT GPS DEVICE
Coming in as Garmin's least expensive option, this entry level GPS has found a very popular following. This GPS unit is inexpensive, lightweight, uses little battery juice, and easy fits into your pocket or pack for a day in the hills. The newest model in this line, the eTrex 20, replaces the older etrex/vista models from several years ago. If you want a GPS with buttons and don't like interacting with a touch screen, this is one of two choices you have. I have found that this model is the hardest to learn as all of the menu options run through 2-3 buttons and you need to practice to familiarize yourself with operations such as making waypoints. Our onX VP explains "I like how lightweight and inexpensive this unit is, it is a great GPS unit for people just getting into GPS mapping technology." If you put the time in to learn the eTrex 20 it will reward you with up to 25 hours of continuous battery life, a bright screen, and a light load for your pocket book and pack.
GARMIN GPSMAP 64S—MOST CONVENIENT GPS DEVICE
The 64s is the newest replacement for one of Garmin's most popular models ever, the GPSMAP 60 version. This was the GPS model that got onX off the ground back in the day. I have many fond memories of days in the field with my 60csx and the new GPSMAP 64s has taken over it's place flawlessly. With an incredibly easy-to-use menu and bright screen, the 64s has become a very popular model. Our onX Founder is all about this GPS unit, "I like the battery life and ability to use with the GPS device with my gloves on." Weighing in at 8.1 oz it is slightly heavier than the Oregon 600 but usually has better battery life even though its specs say 16 hours. If you want a GPS that has physical buttons instead of touch screen then this is your only other choice besides the eTrex 20. It also comes with a ridiculous amount of internal memory at 4.0 GB. The 64s is the go-to GPS unit if you don't want a touchscreen.
GARMIN OREGON 600—MOST POPULAR GPS DEVICE
With the second largest screen size at 3.75 square inches, the Oregon 600 is another onX-recommended unit. The new screen has a reflective display technology that keeps the screen bright and readable even in direct sunlight which was one of the main drawbacks of the old Oregon 450 models. This GPS is very sleek and slim and comes in at 7.4 oz. I have found that it easily fits in most coat and pant pockets as well. Through personal testing I have found that the battery life is less than the specified 16 hours so be sure to have extra batteries on hand. In general, battery life can vary from GPS to GPS even for the same models so try to get a good gauge on how fast your unit uses battery so you can prepare ahead of time for what you will need. The Oregon 600 GPS also boasts a touchscreen with a simple to use navigation. This model does support gloved operation but I have found it a little cumbersome and hard to select a point on the screen so in most cases the gloves have to come off to use it, which can be a downfall in cold weather. Overall this is one of Garmins most popular units and has a good balance of weight, screen size, and cost.
GARMIN MONTANA 600—LARGEST SCREEN GPS DEVICE
Now it's time for my favorite unit. It might be big and it might be expensive but it sure is easy on the eyes. This was the only unit I considered when purchasing a new GPS for my father last year. The combination of size (hard to misplace) and large, 7 square inch screen (easy on old eyes) made it the perfect combination for him. The easy-to-use touch screen menu and interface was simple for him to pick up after a quick 5-minute tutorial from me. Basically you can move forward or backward on each screen though buttons/arrows. So just read the options on each screen and navigate to what you want. The large screen makes it easy to see maps and use the GPS. As with all of the GPS units, the more you practice on the couch, the more you will use it in the field. If you are so inclined, you can also get navigation maps from Garmin and mount the Montana 600 in your vehicle for everyday navigation around town as well. With the second-most memory at 3.0 GB this unit is the second heaviest at 10.2 oz, only the Rino is heavier. Another nice feature is the rechargeable lithium ion battery pack which saves on buying batteries. However when out for an extended stay you can grab a handful of double AA batteries as the Montana 600 can just as easily run on 3 AA's right out of the box.
GARMIN RINO 650—MOST COMMUNICATIVE GPS UNIT
If you are looking at the Rino 650 you just need to ask yourself one question, do you want a GPS with a built in radio? What does this radio do you ask? Well three main things. First it allows you to use the GPS unit as a walkie-talkie, you can easily communicate with other members of your group who have a radio as well. Provided you are in range, that is the big question. The quoted range is up to 20 miles but we all know that is under perfect conditions. In Alaska along the coast we were getting 5-8 miles pretty regularly; on a sheep hunt in MT in the steep breaks country, it was more like 1-3 miles at times. Still a nice feature to have when legal and used ethically while out in the field. Secondly, you can send unit-to-unit text messages to other Rino units. This is a nice silent tool for communicating with your party and sending messages back and forth. Finally the third feature, and one of the nicest, is the ability to ping your location to another Rino so that your friend or family member can see your location on their map. Our operations manager has found this very valuable for a variety of reasons both hunting and safety related, "I like the ability to know my son's location when we are both out hunting." Of course with all of these features, the price tag is pretty hefty and the screen size of only 3 square inches is lacking. This GPS also runs on a rechargeable lithium ion battery pack but if you want to use AA batteries you have to purchase an additional battery adapter that is gonna cost another $30 bucks. It has the same easy to use touch screen and menu options as the other GPS units—something that Garmin has really spent time on in the recent years.
WHAT GARMIN GPS DEVICE IS BEST FOR YOU?
Heres a couple things to consider when looking at your new GPS. First do you want a touchscreen? If you're not sure, visit your local sporting goods store and play with one of each. You should figure out pretty quickly what you like and this will cut your choices in half. Then, what is your budget? With each model separated by $100 dollars on average this is the next thing to consider. Finally do you want a radio built in and if so, will somebody else have one in your party so you can use all of the features? Below is a table to help you determine what Garmin GPS device is best for your adventure style.