The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Garmin GPS MAP 64s Review

This is your best bet for four-season reliability when it's too dirty or cold out to take off your gloves.
Top Pick Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $300 List | $254.99 at Amazon
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
Manufacturer:   Garmin
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 17, 2016
  • Share this article:
80
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 7
  • Reception - 20% 8
  • Ease of Use - 20% 7
  • Display Quality - 20% 8
  • Speed - 15% 9
  • Weight and Size - 15% 8
  • Versatility - 10% 8

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 to take longer trips while the 4 GB of built-in memory allows you to store up to 5,000 waypoints and 200 routes. We were also impressed by some of its unique features. Wirelessly share waypoints, 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 with 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 base map that comes with the unit is quite limited, so don't go on any big adventures without uploading a topo map. Also, 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.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Garmin GPS MAP 64s
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  
Price $254.99 at Amazon$449.99 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$289.99 at AmazonCheck Price at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
$437.35 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
100
0
80
100
0
82
100
0
79
100
0
75
100
0
75
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Fantastic reception through thick coverage, affordable, large buttons, share wirelessly features, smart notifications (connect to your smartphone)Excellent reception, large buttons, big screen, smart notifications and connectivity.Smartphone-like touch screen, solid reception, activity specific profiles, wireless messaging and communication, tons of waypoint storageEasy and affordable two-way messaging, great smartphone app, feature loaded, proven global networkImpeccable reception, large display, 8 MP camera, compatible with several mounts, dual orientation, wireless communication, electronic compass
Cons Weak basemap, larger size, non-rechargeable batteriesExpensive, bulky, complicated connectivity between devices.More waypoint storage and features than most need, battery hungry, hard to use with glove, can freeze up in coldExpensive initial purchase, largest and heaviest messengerLarge, heavy, expensive
Bottom Line This is your best bet for four-season reliability when it's too dirty or cold out to take off your gloves.A reliable and accurate GPS unit chock full of features.Straightforward function meets glitzy features in a unit that's great for a range of activity in reasonable weather conditions.Fully featured and arguably more reliable even than commonly available satellite phones.A large screen and excellent reception make up for this unit's bulk if you have trouble viewing normal units or use satellite imagery.
Rating Categories Garmin GPS MAP 64s Garmin GPSMAP 66st Garmin Oregon 700 Garmin inReach Explorer+ Garmin Montana 680
Reception (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
Ease Of Use (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
Display Quality (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
7
Speed (15%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
Weight And Size (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
4
Versatility (10%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
Specs Garmin GPS MAP 64s Garmin GPSMAP 66st Garmin Oregon 700 Garmin inReach... Garmin Montana 680
Battery Life (hours) 16 16 75 22
No. of Waypoints 5,000 (250,000) preloaded geocaches) 10,000 500 4,000
Saved Tracks / Points per Track 200 / 10,000 250 / 20,000 20 / 500 200 / 10,000
Preloaded Maps Simple Basemap US and Canada 1:25k U.S. and Canada Simple Basemap
Dimensions (in.) 2.4 x 6.3 x 1.4 2.5 x 6.4 x 1.4 2.7 x 1.5 x 6.5 2.9 x 5.7 x 1.4
Weight w/ Batteries (oz.) 7.6 8 6.8 7.5 10.3
Display Size (in.) 1.43 x 2.15 1.5 x 2.5 1.4 x 1.9 2 x 3.5
Display Resolution (pixels) 160 x 240 240 x 400 200 x 265 272 x 480
Built-in Memory 4 GB 16 GB 2 GB 4 GB
Accepts Data Cards microSD microSD No microSD
Touchsceen or buttons? Buttons Buttons Buttons Touchscreen (dual orientation)
Electronic or Differential Compass? Electronic Electronic Electronic Electronic
Barometric Altimeter Yes Yes Yes Yes
Wireless Communication? Yes Yes Yes Yes
Satellite Systems Used (GPS, GLONASS) Wide Augmentation System Present (WAAS)? All All All All
Ability to add maps? Yes Yes Yes Yes
Automatic Routing Yes Yes Yes Yes
Vertical Profiling Yes Yes Yes Yes
Camera/Video No No No Camera - 8 MP
Photo Viewer Yes Yes No Yes
Geocaching (paperless) Yes Yes No Yes
Hunt/Fish Calendar Yes Yes No Yes
Sun and Moon Information Yes Yes Yes Yes
Area Calculator Yes Yes Yes Yes
Battery Information 2 AA batteries 2 AA Batteries Rechargeable lithium ion 3 AA Batteries / Rechargeable NiMH pack
Online Connect Communities Garmin Connect Garmin Connect Garmin Earthmate Garmin Connect
Screen Info transflective, 65-K color TFT, transflective transflective color TFT transflective, color TFT transflective 65k color TFT
Interface Information USB, NMEA 0183 compatible high-speed USB and NMEA 0183 USB high-speed USB, NMEA 0183 compatible
What Comes in the Box? -1 year BirdsEye satellite imagery w/ international coverage
-USB data cable
-Carabineer clip
-Documentation
USB cable, documentation, bird's eye sattelite imagery, carabiner clip -inReach Explorer+
-Preloaded with TOPO
-USB cable
-Carabiner clip
-Documentation
-1 year BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription
-USB cable
-AC charger
-Battery pack
-Multiple socket adaptors

Our Analysis and Test Results

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 unit has 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



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.

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 is fast and, once it finds your position, it stays locked in. Take it through heavy canopies or deep canyons.

The electronic compass makes it easy to navigate back to old tracks and hit old waypoints. Of all the units tested, this unit provided some of the best satellite reception and accuracy in all types of terrain.

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.

Ease of Use


The large buttons on this unit make getting from one place to another easy breezy. In total the unit features ten large and easy-to-use buttons. They work well 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 waypoints very accessible. The menu, like many Garmin units, is easy to use and customizable.

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 some of the touchscreen models, but it's also not far behind. It features a 2.6" display with 160 X 240 pixel resolution. Even though this is one of the lower display resolutions in the test, our testers really couldn't tell the difference when comparing unit screen quality.

The transflective display is quite durable and shows up quite nicely in both high and low light conditions. Unlike the dual-orientation touchscreens, the display is locked 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


Even though the device doesn't respond to button pushes nearly as fast 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. We were also surprised to see how fast it redraws maps.

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.

Weight and Size


Not too big, not too small. The Garmin GPS MAP 64s is only 7.6 oz. 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.

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, 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 base map that accompanies this device provides little to no detail.

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.

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.

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.

Best Applications


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

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

Value


This unit is high value all the way around. For just $299.99 you get a handheld GPS with excellent reception and more reliable design.

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.

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.


Amber King