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

Garmin Oregon 600t Review

Garmin Oregon 600
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $480 List
Pros:  Smartphone-like touch screen, color, fast map redraw, simple menu layout, customizable menu options, dual orientation screen, long battery life, several features, upload maps, rechargeable battery
Cons:  Sensitive screen that changes easily, expensive, freezes up, limited basecamp interface
Manufacturer:   Garmin
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 25, 2017
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83
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Reception - 20% 7
  • Ease of Use - 20% 9
  • Display Quality - 20% 9
  • Speed - 15% 9
  • Weight and Size - 15% 9
  • Versatility - 10% 6

Our Verdict

The Garmin Oregon 600t is discontinued as of early 2018
The Oregon 600t takes the touchscreen outdoor recreation GPS to the next level. This device is a huge improvement over all other existing touchscreen units we've tested from all manufacturers. It's easy to use and it feels modern, unlike some units that operate like arthritic donkeys. Garmin has also improved (over the 62, Dakota, and eTrex series) many other software and hardware components that make for easier navigation and general use. The changes offer striking advantages that make this our overall top-rated GPS unit.


Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison



Reception


We took this unit into canyons, heavily treed areas, and into the mountains to determine how reception and accuracy compared to the rest. We also performed tests to determine which units were able to pick up a signal the fastest. All in all, the Oregon 600t has stellar reception and accuracy. This accuracy is attributed to the utilization of both GPS and GLONASS (24 extra satellites) satellite networks and WAAS capabilities.

We marked a waypoint and had the device navigate back to that spot. The Oregon 600t was able to navigate within 75 inches of the waypoint

Taking a look at a potential back country line through the trees. The reception of this unit maintains in open and covered spaces.
Taking a look at a potential back country line through the trees. The reception of this unit maintains in open and covered spaces.

During our field tests the Oregon 600t was able to lock and fixate on a position throughout the journey. When navigating under thick cover, accuracy decreased slightly, but we could navigate from point to point. All in all, the Oregon 600t has great reception in both open and covered areas.

Chris Simrell navigates off trail in the Olympic Mountains  WA.
Chris Simrell navigates off trail in the Olympic Mountains, WA.

Ease of Use


Easy peasy! If you're a little challenged when it comes to technology, the 600t is an excellent choice. The device has a sensitive touchscreen that operates like the display of a smartphone. You can use two or one finger to navigate, zoom in/out, and select options. This was the only touchscreen device that offered this versatility in screen function. The unit also features two buttons. One for power and the other to quickly get back to the menu (this button was programmable).

This unit is simple. Two programmable buttons and a touchscreen. The top is a power button  while the other can be programmed to access waypoints  menu options   or whatever you prefer.
This unit is simple. Two programmable buttons and a touchscreen. The top is a power button, while the other can be programmed to access waypoints, menu options, or whatever you prefer.

The interface (like other Garmin units) is easy to get to know. The menu is set as the default screen and fairly self-explanatory. The text is large with the option to be smaller or bigger. It also allows you to customize the menu to make it more adaptable to your personal use. Many of our novice testers were able to navigate the device and deemed it one of the easiest to understand.

The main menu is easy to see with large icon-based options.
The main menu is easy to see with large icon-based options.

Display Quality


What really sets this device apart from the rest? Its display quality! The durable mineralized glass cover (a.k.a gorilla glass) is more durable and easier to see than other units in all light conditions. Garmin has incorporated special technology that uses the sun to determine how much backlight is used. It's also great for those who wear sunglasses.

Here Kelly and Dan compare the screens of the (left to right) Garmin Montana 680  Magellan eXplorist 510  and Garmin Oregon 600. The Oregon's screen was the easiest to see and crisp in these high light conditions. The Montana 680's screen is large but produces glare on high light days  as does the Magellan. These are the three touchscreens we tested.
Here Kelly and Dan compare the screens of the (left to right) Garmin Montana 680, Magellan eXplorist 510, and Garmin Oregon 600. The Oregon's screen was the easiest to see and crisp in these high light conditions. The Montana 680's screen is large but produces glare on high light days, as does the Magellan. These are the three touchscreens we tested.

This display itself is about 2.5 inches with a 240 X 400 pixel resolution. We also liked the screen's dual-orientation - switching from landscape to portrait depending on how it is held.

This screen works just fine with a little bit of water. Pictured here is the Oregon 600's barometric altimeter settings in portrait mode.
This screen works just fine with a little bit of water. Pictured here is the Oregon 600's barometric altimeter settings in portrait mode.

The only downside of the display is its sensitivity. Only a few droplets of water caused it to go from one display to another - almost erratically. That said, there is a screen lock option that comes in very handy when encountering hard rain or difficult weather. In all, we were impressed by the display's size, resolution, and its durable mineralized glass cover. It was head and shoulders above the rest.

Entering waypoints is made easy with the dual-orientation screen. Here we see it in landscape mode. You can also lock the screen.
Entering waypoints is made easy with the dual-orientation screen. Here we see it in landscape mode. You can also lock the screen.

Speed


The touchscreen is incredibly sensitive, making this a very fast unit. We were able to quickly mark and log waypoints and toggle between menu options. The electronic compass and map redraw was also very fast with little to no delay.

The electronic compass is quick to respond and doesn't require you to move to find direction.
The electronic compass is quick to respond and doesn't require you to move to find direction.

Weight and Size


The Oregon 600t is our third lightest unit, weighing just 6.95 oz. The unit stows away easily in a chest pocket or large pant pocket without weighing you down.

Small enough to store in a chest or pant pocket. Also feel free to girth hitch a lanyard to the bottom to wear around your neck.
Small enough to store in a chest or pant pocket. Also feel free to girth hitch a lanyard to the bottom to wear around your neck.

It also has a girth hitch point on the bottom to attach a lanyard if you want to wear it around your neck.

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


When evaluating versatility we considered additional features, reliability, weight, and size. We also performed a freezer and glove test to determine the limits of each units use!


The Garmin Oregon 600t features a few fancy extras like wireless communication, a barometric altimeter, and electronic compass that make it far more versatile than units without these features. However, it does not feature a camera, video, or voice recorder to fully document adventures.

Sarah navigates in the Badlands  South Dakota
Sarah navigates in the Badlands, South Dakota

We also learned this device isn't really suited for extremely cold temperatures. After putting all units in the freezer overnight, the Oregon 600t was the only one to freeze up. All other units were fine. We also experienced this 'freeze up' during another test that didn't involve any extreme conditions. This makes us question the reliability of the unit.

Here we perform a glove test. The unit responded to thin gloves like those pictured here and did fine. However when wearing thicker gloves  the unit was useless.
Here we perform a glove test. The unit responded to thin gloves like those pictured here and did fine. However when wearing thicker gloves, the unit was useless.

When using thin gloves, the unit operated easily and without issue. When we increased glove thickness, the Oregon 600t was rendered useless. In these situations we would recommend a buttoned unit. Overall versatility is good for all weather conditions and activities - with the exception of extremely cold temperatures.

The elevation profile can project elevation for both planned and tracked routes.
The elevation profile can project elevation for both planned and tracked routes.

Best Applications


We would limit its use to all weather except seriously freezing situations.

Lost in a whiteout? Having the Oregon 600 on hand to retrace your tracks may help you get back to safety.
Lost in a whiteout? Having the Oregon 600 on hand to retrace your tracks may help you get back to safety.

Value


Even though we love this unit, we aren't thrilled about the $399.99 sticker price. The Oregon is unique in its screen functionality but we think there are other units with better value. Overall, we think the price is on the high side, but you may decide the modern screen is worth it.

What's in the box? Garmin Oregon 600 unit  adaptable carabiner clip  USB cord  user manual. No batteries included.
What's in the box? Garmin Oregon 600 unit, adaptable carabiner clip, USB cord, user manual. No batteries included.

Conclusion


The Garmin Oregon 600t features a sleek touchscreen display that has the same look and feel as your smartphone. This GPS unit will be joining us on many adventures to come.


Amber King