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Garmin GPSMAP 62sc Review

   
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Handheld GPS

  • Currently 3.7/5
Overall avg rating 3.7 of 5 based on 9 reviews. Most recent review: April 4, 2014
Street Price:   $280 | Compare prices at 1 resellers
Pros:  Great reception/accuracy, push buttons reliable in cold weather.
Cons:  Large, heavy, low screen resolution, text entry is more difficult than with touchscreens.
Best Uses:  Boating, hunting, mountaineering.
User Rating:     
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 (3.1 of 5) based on 8 reviews
Recommendations:  57% of reviewers (4/7) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Garmin
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ August 4, 2013  
Overview
The Garmin GPSMAP 62sc is the most accurate and most reliable GPS unit we've tested. Its large external antenna locked on our position faster and plotted slightly more accurate locations than other units tested. In below freezing conditions its push buttons are far more dependable than a touchscreen. The 62sc is our favorite GPS for cold weather applications that demand the greatest accuracy. We recommend it to mountaineers, boaters that wear gloves, and those that do a lot of navigation in low visibility conditions. However, for most activities our testers prefer the Garmin Oregon 600, which is easier to use, has a much better screen, and weighs significantly less. The Garmin eTrex 20 is our top choice for weight conscious applications such as backpacking.

Check out our complete Handheld GPS Review to compare all of the models tested.

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Introduction
We tested the Garmin GPS Map 62stc but recommend the 62sc, which does not have preloaded 1:100,000 scale maps, because it is a better value.

Performance Comparison
Satellite Reception
The 62 performed slightly better in our accuracy and reception tests than all other models reviewed. It locked in on our position faster and logged tracks and points that were slightly closer to known locations (measured in ESRI ArcGIS). The 62's slightly improved accuracy is one of two reasons to choose it over other GPS models.

Ease of Use
The 62's push button design is the second reason to choose it over other models. In below freezing conditions push buttons are a must for navigation; they are more reliable than a touchscreen and you can operate the device with warm gloves on.

The 62 series has our favorite user interface and button configuration of all non touchscreen devices tested. The front has a large multi-directional toggle thats surrounded by eight function buttons. These buttons are farther from the toggle than other devices (DeLorme PN-60W and Magellan eXplorist 310), which allows for multi thumb text entry (one thumb uses the toggle while the other hits Enter). The 62 series is very rugged and has rounded edges that are comfortable to hold for extended periods.

Like all push button GPS devices, the 62 seriess main interface has a circular menu. While most other devices have a fixed menu the 62 series has a customizable page sequence that allows you to choose what pages appear and the order in which they appear. Pressing Page moves forward and Quit moves backward. Either button brings up a Page Ribbon (see photos) that shows you the pages that lie ahead and behind the current one. (This is very similar to Control + Tab (or Command + Tab for Mac) on your computer. This is a critical feature and makes it much faster and easier to move to the pages you use most frequently. If for some reason you dont like this its possible to ditch the Page Ribbon and revert to the classic menu style. The 62 series interface has lots of other shortcuts. A favorite among our testers: pressing the zoom buttons in the main menu will skip a full page.

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Of the units we tested the Garmin GPSMAP 62sc has the best satellite reception, which makes it better for navigating under dense forest canopies and in canyons, heavy fog and in whiteout snow conditions.
Credit: Max Neale

Though we appreciate the 62's relatively efficient button interface our tests show that touchscreen units are much faster for entering text, plotting waypoints, or creating routes. There is a tradeoff between the 62's accuracy and reliable buttons and other units' (namely the Garmin Oregon 600) more efficient work flow and interface.

Interface Description
The 62 series comes with six profiles that allow you to customize the display for various activities. For example, you can have four data fields for biking and two for hiking. You could track up (map orients in the direction the GPS is pointed or traveling) for hiking and north up (north is at the top) for kayaking. Or you could have a specific profile that displays certain maps or custom maps, such as Yosemite National Park trails on top of aerial imagery.

Navigating with the 62 series, and all newer Garmin devices, is super easy and better than with DeLorme, Rand McNally, and Magellan devices. Standard navigation creates a trail estimate as the crow flies. Garmin, however, automatically creates waypoints in high and low points when you select a track (EveryTrail is a good starting point for free trail track downloads). This gives you a more accurate distance estimate. When navigating Garmin units can display the distance to the next waypoint and the distance to the destination (most other devices only display distance to destination). Navigating with Garmin is easier and more accurate than with other manufacturers.

Models 62s and up have tri-axial compasses which provides an accurate reading even when the unit is not level. Compared to a dual-axis compass, this is much easier to navigate while moving (you dont have to hold it perfectly level). Recalibrate the compass after replacing the batteries.

Several other useful features include wireless data transfer capabilities that allow you to send waypoints, tracks, etc. to other wireless-enabled Garmin units, and a rail type mount on the back that can be fixed to optional bike, car, and boat mounts (the 62s and up come with an excellent carabiner/belt clip).

Camera
The 62sc and 62stc come with a 5 MP digital camera that automatically geotags photos. Although the camera isn't the best (see photos) our testers find the auto geotagging feature to be very useful; your photos appear in Garmin's BaseCamp software along with routes, tracks, and waypoints. Geotagging was originally developed by land managers and utility purveyors to monitor the condition of land and infrastructure. It quickly and easily solves the problem of where was that photo taken?

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Screenshot of Garmin Basecamp showing BirdsEye imagery in the High Sierra, California. Red is the Pacific Crest Trail and Pink is the Evolution Traverse. Waypoints, tracks, and images are managed in the left panel.
Credit: Max Neale
Display Quality
The 62 series screen is easier to see in varied conditions than all other units tested except the Garmin Oregon 600. The 62's screen is no where near as good as top smartphone screens because, like many GPS, it has a low resolution screen that doesn't display much information.

The 62 series is now several years old and we suspect that Garmin will release an updated version of the unit relatively soon. Perhaps in 2014. In that update we assume that Garmin will include a much better screen.

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The Garmin 550's screen (right) is slightly larger but harder to see in direct sunlight than the Garmin 62sc's screen (left).
Credit: Max Neale
Weight and Size
The 62 series is the largest and heaviest GPS we reviewed. It weighs 9.3 ounces with alkaline batteries and is 2.4 x 6.3 x 1.4 This is 2.6 ounces heavier and 5.56 cubic inches larger than the average unit tested. We feel the added weight and bulk are unnecessary for most human powered applications such as hiking, backcountry, skiing, and mountaineering because other lighter and smaller units are nearly as accurate as the 62.

Software
Garmin offers its device users Basecamp, a simple and powerful software tool used to plan routes and manage waypoints, tracks, and maps. Our testers found Basecamp to be user friendly and, at the same time, provided many of the tools we need for planning trips. Viewing waypoints and tracks in Google Earth is a great feature (see screenshot of Google Earth in photos).

Best Application
The 62 series is best suited to all land-based recreation that requires a reliable, accurate, and durable GPS device. The unit provides the best reception when hiking in forests, mountaineering in whiteout conditions, and sea kayaking in heavy fog. The 62scs satellite reception is significantly better than its competitors'. We found the difference to be striking particularly when hiking in Northern Californias Redwood forests, which have a notoriously thick canopy. There, the 62sc maintained a lock on our position much better than all other units tested. Get the 62 when good satellite reception is a priority.

Other Versions
The 62 series has five different models. How are they different?
The 62st and 62stc come with preloaded 1:100,000 scale topo maps for the U.S. ($100 extra, see photos for coverage). The 62st drops the camera, the 62s drops the topo and the camera, and the 62 drops the camera, topo, wireless data sharing, barometric altimeter, tri-axial compass, and micro-SD slot. If youre going to get something from the 62 series we highly recommend the 62s. We do not suggest the 100k topo (because you can get plenty of maps for free from GPS File Depot) unless you travel frequently and dont want to bother with downloading free maps. Instead, consider getting on Garmins 24k US Topo (~$90), whose finer scale is better for navigating in steep terrain and whose roads and trails are routable. The 62 series can do turn-by-turn directions with Garmins City Navigator maps (~$80 for North America). As for the camera, our testers like it, found it to be useful, and recommend it.

The 62 series replaces the 60 series like the very popular Garmin GPSMAP 60csx. See that review to see all the updates in the 62 series.

Click to enlarge
Though the 62 series is weighs 2.6 ounces more, and takes up 5.56 cubic inches (including antenna) more than the average device we tested, its improved performance far outweigh any drawbacks associated with being larger and heavier.
Credit: Max Neale
Value
We believe the 62 series is a good value if you need its reliable push buttons and top-tier accuracy. However, most of our testers prefer the Garmin Oregon 600 and Garmin eTrex 20.

What's in the box
-GPSMAP 62sc
-Carabiner clip
-2 AA NiMH batteries
-Battery charger
-USB cable
-Manual

Resources
Garmin Custom Maps allow you to upload any map (marine chart, campus map, park map, etc.) your device.

GPS File Depot is a good source for free, downloadable, digitized maps.

Garmin GPSMAP 62 Owners Manual


Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: April 4, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (3.1)

57% of 7 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
8 Total Ratings
5 star: 25%  (2)
4 star: 38%  (3)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 25%  (2)
1 star: 13%  (1)
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   Apr 4, 2014 - 04:43am
Gus · Backpacker · Western Australia
Not happy with the GPSmap 62sc and BaseCamp!!
I used different GARMIN GPS for the past 15 years in North Africa, the Middle-East and Central Asia for field work as a botanist and rangeland ecologist in extremely remote areas and environments.

I used a GPSII plus to entire satisfaction robust reliable stable under extreme temperature - outstanding battery life when bush-walking, with replacement batteries you may find in any bazaar anywhere. Never had a problem with it! Still operating to perfection after over 12 years of field work.

By 2007, I opted for a more elaborate and fancy GPSmap 60CSX and used it for 3 years in Libya. Good but had the bad habit to freeze under high temperature even always protected from direct sun exposure never left it in the car or the glove box always in my pocket when surveying on foot ; With Air temperature above 38 C, the machine will freeze; Annoying when your are tracking in sand dunes or on far-off Hamada country! You would have to disconnect the batteries and reboot the GPS but would have lost the track while the unit froze; would work for a while and then freeze again. Back to Australia, I send it back to GARMIN Australia they made a mess of it returned a reconditioned one? I suppose Not a single explanation from GARMIN about the problem or if it was solved? but still the same problem when back to Libya. Not good!
So, if you want to use your GPSmap 60CSX in normal conditions, fine! But the machine I had is definitely not reliable in extreme hot environment.

In 2010, I bought a GPSmap 62sc through a GARMIN supported representative in Western Australia. I needed a good and reliable GPS for tough missions in farwest Karakalpakia (West of the Aral Sea) in Uzbekistan and then remote wild south-east corner of Georgia. Looks fancy the GPSmap 62sc color screen camera with GPS located photos many menus to choose from and much more: Great!
The first issue I had is that finding your way through the many menus is more a distraction than anything else. Impressive but too complicated and a waste of time.
Second, with my brand new GPSmap 62sc while surveying on foot, I noticed that the GPS screen goes blank - goes off after a few second when on! Batteries low! The rechargeable batteries life is very very poor; barely a few hours 3 to 5h at max when using the GPS solo! Luckily, during my field work, I had a vehicle power cable to power the GPS: fine Then, while connected in the car, it works well but would not recharge the batteries; I could not use the GPS when walking the rangelands!
Back to Australia, I contacted the GARMIN representative where from I bought the unit would not even look at the GPS .contact Garmin. . Not helpful; so I got back to my computer and telephone and start the GARMIN maze finally got somebody online gave me instructions. to .send back the GPS.. Great but how do I do when I need it for the missions? Shall I buy a new one? Bad experience! Convinced that it was a battery problem (old rechargeable batteries?), I decided to buy a set of new rechargeable batteries tested them charged them and the GPS seems to work fine . But after a few hours, however better than with the first set of batteries, the machine just blank out screen off had to restart continuously until the batteries were totally empty! Got the unit on the vehicle power cable it worked fine but would not recharge the batteries quite annoying when working in remote areas with no power supply available.
Could not find anything on the net about this battery life / recharge problems with the GPSmap 62sc!
Is the unit faulty? I am reluctant to send it back to GARMIN
Third: The Camera! Great I though! Just a simple gadget On the GPSmap 62sc, the camera is just basic often underexposed photos poor quality! No flash, no Macro photo mode just the basics very disappointing! Just think how sophisticated are the camera now available on mobile phones and the fabulous quality of the photos you get from them. Not the case with the GPSmap 62sc camera !

Now, getting the data and photos on my computer! Simple, use BaseCamp! I used for many years MAPSOURCE WorldMap to entire satisfaction anywhere I went during my field missions. No problem some minor errors on locations but quite adequate even in the most out-of-the-way places. I could copy and paste my tracks, list my waypoints on Excel and properly illustrate my mission reports clear and neat! With BaseCamp, you can do this too but but there is no way, to my knowledge and after querying GARMIN support (never responded!), to remove the photos icons superposed on the map tracks; Hence garbled and difficult map to read on the computer screen (zoom in ….) a more so when you want to copy screen and past for an map track illustration for a report no way to remove the photo icons from BaseCamp tracks. Feedback to GARMIN: useless!

Also, the old GPSII plus use the x.gdb formats, while BaseCamp uses a new format incompatible with the old formats. You may drag the old MapSource files into BaseCamp, but while tracks still remain visible, the MapSource waypoints have disappeared. More annoying is that, again to my knowledge, you cannot copy and paste the BaseCamp waypoints collected to into an Excel file as with MapSource. Fancy BaseCamp but quite useless to me.
So my conclusion is simple, when on mission, I always keep my old GPSII plus as a backup (with spare batteries), and a real good camera in my backpack and MapSource WorldMap on my laptop.

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jan 15, 2014 - 01:45am
but until now i still need to know how much accuracy for this model 62sc
(eg. 50 cm, less or more)

please inform me coz i need to bye a new one
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Dec 5, 2013 - 12:38pm
 
Yes, I purchased a GPSmap again. I have no problem with the user interface, that is because I own a GPSmap60cs, and GPSmap72s for over 15 years. You have to use, practice and be familiar with the user interface, otherwise you will be very frustrated in the field, even if your GPS is an automotive GPS. As usual, don't expect the Garmin manuals give you much insight. If a automotive GSP is all you need, you are wasting your money on a GPSmap, although the GPSmap will serve the purpose as well. I also own a Garmin Nuvi2555LMT which I happily use in my car only. I also had Oregon450 which I happily lost, because the mounting attachment failed. It fell out of the clip into thick grass brush. The GPSmap62sc also has a similar mount, but it also has a loop for a lanyard. Guess which one I am going to use. I will not trade the screen of the GPSmap with the Oregon's touch screen. The touch scratches, collect dirt, and difficult to clean. The GPSmap62sc is the fastest GPS of all the GPS have used. The camera is to be used as a part of the GPS like a waypoint. It is not a camera to take photos. You will be disappointed if you use it as a normal digital camera.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Sep 23, 2013 - 09:16pm
I had a GPS60 for a long time and was very happy with that unit. I literally wore it out and had to decide whether to send it in for rehab or but something new. I liked the feel and workability of the 60, so I leaned towards the 62. I do not like touch screen, as I sometimes use the screen for a writing surface. So, I compared different units and the more I did the more I liked the 62. And, I'm happy to say that I'm very happy with this unit. It performs better than the 60, and I was happy with it. It syncs quickly, and appears to be very accurate when out chasing those elusive caches. The only thing that I'm not 100% happy with is having to sync the compass. But, that really isn't that bad.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Aug 22, 2013 - 07:29am
bluedino · Mountain Biker
I think it has pretty good signal because i actuallky have gps lock indoor about 2m from window. Could be reflected signals but still is nice.

Browsing and finding your way on the map is a pain. If i would have the ability to scroll the map directly and not just move the cursor which scrolls the map would be so much nicer.

Browsing the map to find your way is a pain and the screen is so small. For hiking is probably OK…but for mountain biking where you have to plan for 20km is not so straightforward to follow some path on the map to see where it ends

Also screen resolution is very low.

You have the pro-s in the review

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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   Apr 13, 2013 - 07:14pm
Chudak · Climber
I've had the 62st for a couple of years now. My review is biased from my
experience as a USN officer and geographer. That said, I have been pleased
with this unit. It is rugged, waterproof (not that I've subjected it to much),
very accurate, and reliable (as long as you have spare batteries). I give it
5 stars in all those categories. The display does not measure up - 3 stars.
Worst of all is the menu system - 2 stars. I have also found major discrepancies
in the topo map that I paid $100 extra for. It often shows a trail as a road
and vice versa. Not a life-threatening problem but not acceptable in this
day and age especially in view of the expense.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Apr 13, 2013 - 12:36am
dae1775 · Kayaker
Great reception, built like a tank. I only wish the screen was bigger check track on long range outings.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Aug 14, 2012 - 02:33am
Ent · Hiker · Tassie
O'boy do I love to hate the Garmin 62s series. As a piece of hardware you could not ask for better battery life, sensitivity and accuracy. But its user interface is terrible. It was designed by a sadist. Mark button will only mark the current position. Yes you can mark positions that you move the cursor to but this involves a very illogical process. For a geek that loves to express their superiority by learning complex and confusing sequences the unit will do just about anything that you could ask for. But for mere mortals it is horrible.

The maps in Tasmania, Australia are expensive and near useless with not even the world renown Overland Track being marked. Garmin's map copyright protection considers its customers as criminals and is insulting. If the unit fails or you lose it then you lose your maps. Thanks, Mrs Garmin for treating me as a felon. I am using it with OSM and developing my own maps so that about sums up what I think of the local maps.

I love its robustness (but chrome is peeling from the plastic not metal attachment point) along with its ability to get and hold a signal with remarkable accuracy. I hate it for not being able to relate to 99.99999% of human beings. To borrow from Dickens, "It was the worst of GPSs and the best of GPSs".

O'well at least you can use it to hammer in tent pegs when the interface drives you to insanity.

Cheers

PS this is not intended to start a flame war as in all honesty if it failed the impact test on a rock I might buy another one but not after I searched the globe for another unit that has the same impressive hardware but with an interface that makes sense.

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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