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Garmin GPS MAP 64s Review

Top Pick Award
Price:   $300 List | $244.99 at Amazon
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Pros:  Fantastic reception through thick coverage, affordable, large buttons, share wirelessly features, smart notifications (connect to your smartphone).
Cons:  Weak basemap, larger size, non-rechargeable batteries.
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Garmin

Our Verdict

If you're a big buttons kind of person, the Garmin GPS MAP 64s may your next handheld GPS. This Top Pick for Reliability blows all other buttoned units out of the water. The quad-helix antenna not only provides accuracy up to 10 feet, but keeps your position on lock-down while trudging through deep forest canopies. The 16 hours of battery life allow you take longer trips while the 4 GB of built in memory allows you to store up to 5,000 way points and 200 routes. We were also impressed by some of its unique features. Wirelessly share way points, tracks, and trips with compatible devices. If you are out for days and need a weather report, track pressure changes over time to guesstimate if a storm is about to roll in. We also loved how this device has "smart notifications" that syncs to your smartphone. To put the cherry on the cake, it comes with 250,000 pre-loaded geocaches. Take it out for a treasure hunt anywhere you go.

Even though this unit is reliable, it's not perfect. The basemap that comes with the unit is quite limited, so don't go on any big adventures without uploading a topo map. Also, [[Garmin Oregon 600t] | unlike our Editors' Choice winner Oregon 600t), this is not a touchscreen. It's more reliable in extreme conditions, but it does not perform as smoothly as touchscreens. In all, we thought this unit was incredibly reliable, earning a Top Pick award.

Get the Most Out of Your Garmin
Garmin has come out with its Cadillac of a model, the Garmin GPSMAP 64sc. The 64sc comes with an 8 megapixel camera, GPS and GLONASS quad antenna, a 3D compass, and an altimeter. If money is not an issue, or you just want the best Garmin you can buy, check out the 64sc.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Handheld GPS Review


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Amber King
Senior Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Sunday
April 17, 2016

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The Garmin GPS MAP 64s features large buttons for easy use in all weather conditions. The large antenna locks-down on position while trudging through the most tangled terrain. This is our Top Pick for Reliability.

This is the only unit with Smart Notifications technology. Receive text messages and updates on this handheld GPS when connected to your phone. No need to take your phone out of your backpack!

Performance Comparison


Check out the chart below to see where our Top Pick for Reliability winner ranks amongst the competition.



Reception


Combining a highly sensitive quad-helix antenna with GPS + GLONASS + WAAS compatible technology, this unit sees high accuracy in both open spaces and shady places. Signal acquisition in new places takes a little longer than the Garmin Montana 680 and Garmin eTrex 20x, but once your position has been found, it stays locked in. Take it through heavy canopies or deep canyons.


The electronic compass makes it much easier to navigate back through old tracks and hit old way points. Of all the units tested, this unit provided us with the second best satellite reception and accuracy in all types of terrain.

The quad-helix antenna coupled with GPS + GlONASS satellite access keeps your position on lock-down everywhere you go.
The quad-helix antenna coupled with GPS + GlONASS satellite access keeps your position on lock-down everywhere you go.

Ease of Use


The large buttons on this unit make getting from one place to another easy breezy. In total the unit features 10 large and easy-to-use buttons. They are strategically placed far away enough to operated with both thick and thin gloves.


The operation keypad features a large multi directional pad, zoom in/out, find, mark, quit, enter, menu, and page button. We especially loved the mark button which made marking way points very accessible. The menu, like many Garmin units, is easy to use and customizable.

This is fully-buttoned unit with quick access to menu options. The screen is large and easy to see in all light conditions.
This is fully-buttoned unit with quick access to menu options. The screen is large and easy to see in all light conditions.

Of all the buttoned units tested, we felt like this was one of the easiest to get to know and understand. Some of our testers mentioned that getting to know more intricate features takes a little research, but the same is true for all units.

Receive text messages and media updates on your device without pulling out your phone. A modern and unique feature.
Receive text messages and media updates on your device without pulling out your phone. A modern and unique feature.

Display Quality


The display is not as large and brilliant as the Oregon 600t, but a close second. It features a 2.6" display with 160 X 240 pixel resolution. Even though this is one of our lowest display resolutions, our testers really couldn't tell the difference when comparing unit screen quality.


The transflective display (same as the Garmin eTrex 20x) is quite durable and shows up quite nicely in both high and low light conditions. Unlike the Garmin Montana 680, the display stays stationary in portrait view and does not rotate.

This screen is a larger; a great size that can be seen in high and low light conditions. The keyboard is shown on one screen and is quick to use.
This screen is a larger; a great size that can be seen in high and low light conditions. The keyboard is shown on one screen and is quick to use.

Speed


Not the fastest unit tested, but we were surprised to see how fast it could redraw maps. Even though the buttons are not nearly as quick to respond as any touchscreen units, we were pleasantly surprised to see there was very little lag time between pushing a button and the device carrying out its function. Even though it was slower than the Oregon 600t for inputting way points, it was not nearly slow as units like the now discontinued DeLorme PN-60.


Weight and Size


Not too big, not too small. The Garmin GPS MAP 64s is only 7.6 oz. A little larger than the Oregon 600t, but much smaller than the Garmin Montana 680.


Its thin design will easily fit into a larger breast or pant pocket. It also comes with a loop option at the base of the unit to attach it to a lanyard.

A little larger than most units  the antennae makes the unit a little larger than other units. Stash it in a larger pocket  the lid of your pack  or attach it to a lanyard for easier access on your journeys.
A little larger than most units, the antennae makes the unit a little larger than other units. Stash it in a larger pocket, the lid of your pack, or attach it to a lanyard for easier access on your journeys.

Here we compare all units. From left to right: Garmin eTrex 20x  Garmin Montana 680  Garmin GPSMAPS 64s  Magellan eXplorist 510  Garmin Oregon 600  DeLorme PN-60. The eTrex 20x is our smallest and lightest unit.
Here we compare all units. From left to right: Garmin eTrex 20x, Garmin Montana 680, Garmin GPSMAPS 64s, Magellan eXplorist 510, Garmin Oregon 600, DeLorme PN-60. The eTrex 20x is our smallest and lightest unit.

Versatility


With all of its great features, we thought this unit was incredibly versatile. Many of our testers felt like it was incredibly durable and easy to use in all weather conditions. With that, we selected this GPS as our Top Pick for Reliability.


Enjoy the pre-loaded geocaches on this device.
Enjoy the pre-loaded geocaches on this device.
When submerging the unit in our water, we didn't notice any leaks. When marking waypoints and performing functions while wearing gloves of varying thickness, the buttons were easy to press. To top it off, this unit comes with 250,000 pre-loaded geocaches. So if you're into hunting for hidden treasures, this unit is perfect. That said, plan on uploading maps for your hikes. The basemap that accompanies this device is fairly simple with little to no detail.

Buttoned units are typically more reliable than touchscreens because of their versatility in gnarly weather.

This device is also a little bit heavy. Even though 7.6 oz isn't bad for most missions, it's not ideal for adventures that require a minimalist approach. Overall, great to use for most activities and all weather.

Use it with or without gloves. In both situations this Top Pick for Reliability is accurate and easy to use.
Use it with or without gloves. In both situations this Top Pick for Reliability is accurate and easy to use.

Best Uses


Take this versatile and reliable unit anywhere. Go geo-caching, hiking, or backpacking. The world is your oyster.

Pictured here are the barometric pressure settings. You can set this to track pressure trends and predict weather patterns while in the backcountry.
Pictured here are the barometric pressure settings. You can set this to track pressure trends and predict weather patterns while in the backcountry.

Value


This unit is high value all the way around. For just $299.99 you get a handheld GPS with better reception than our Editors' Choice and a more reliable design.

What comes in the box? Garmin GPS Maps 64s  carabiner attachment  USB cable  user manuel
What comes in the box? Garmin GPS Maps 64s, carabiner attachment, USB cable, user manuel


Conclusion


The Garmin GPS MAPS 64s is perfect for the adventurer that loves geocaching, buttoned units, and high-value items. Enjoy our Top Pick for Reliability.

Did you accidentally drop this unit in the water? No worries. All units tested - including the Garmin GPS Maps 64s - are water resistant. Feel free to take this device anywhere.
Did you accidentally drop this unit in the water? No worries. All units tested - including the Garmin GPS Maps 64s - are water resistant. Feel free to take this device anywhere.
Amber King

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: December 26, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (5.0)

100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (2)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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Write a Review on this Gear

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   Dec 26, 2016 - 05:35am
rdmOz · Backpacker · Melbourne, Vic, Australia
Having had a gpsdmap62s for about 4 years and now upgraded to the gpsmap64s which I have already used for six months at approx 20 hrs / week (cycling mainly), I would like to correct your review statement that the unit does not take rechargeable batteries. Wrong, wrong, wrong.! I always use rechargeable batteries - Actually use a pair of Panasonic 2450 mAh batteries. They power the unit for 20 hrs + with screen brightness set to minimum. Always clear in sunlight.

Garmin have an optional battery pack which has much shorter run time capacity, and perhaps this can be recharged while the battery pack is still in the unit, whereas otherwise you can use any type of AA battery, but if rechargeable then you have to remove the batteries from the unit. For multi day trips you just need to carry a couple of spare batteries.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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