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Garmin Oregon 700 Review

Straightforward function meets glitzy features in a unit that's great for a range of activity in reasonable weather conditions
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Price:  $400 List | $239.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Smartphone-like touch screen, solid reception, activity specific profiles, wireless messaging and communication, tons of waypoint storage
Cons:  More waypoint storage and features than most need, battery hungry, hard to use with glove, can freeze up in cold
Manufacturer:   Garmin
By Clark Tate ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 19, 2018
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79
OVERALL
SCORE


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

Our Verdict

Simple to use with loads of useful features, the Oregon 700 is Garmin's most affordable GPS unit in the Oregon series. This series boasts dual-orientation touchscreens that functions a lot like a smartphone, and also offers customizable profiles for a range of activities - it's great for those that want to track multiple activities, like hiking, biking, and fishing. The 700's 16 hours of battery life is on the shorter side, but the unit sports a relatively large, bright display. Curiously, the Oregon 700 can store 10,000 waypoints, which is leaps and bounds beyond any other touchscreen, and perhaps excessive for most. This unit is among our favorites for gloveless weather, where the touchscreen really shines. For those who are used to the controls of a smartphone and modern electronic touchscreen displays, look no further than the Garmin Oregon 700.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Garmin did away with their Oregon 600 series, it's all 700's now. The 700 series offers an aggressive amount of track and waypoint storage. While it doesn't come with pre-loaded maps, this doesn't really bother us because we'd rather get a smaller scale map than the 1:100k topo that comes preloaded. The 750 also comes with an 8-megapixel camera.

We've yet to have trouble getting reception in the field.
We've yet to have trouble getting reception in the field.

Reception


The reception of the Oregon 700 is quite good, and it is likely you will only experience a slight difference in performance under the deepest cover. Like most of Garmin's GPS units, it can access both the GPS and the GLONASS satellite networks, and with the improved antenna from the 600 series, this unit does pretty darn well. While there are similarly priced models that offer absolute accuracy for the same price, don't expect the same touch-screen performance that this unit provides.

Ease of Use


Since all but the most stubborn Luddites these days have smartphones, the Oregon 700 is an easy and intuitive unit to use. After turning on, the pre-set activity profiles pop up, and upon selection show a map of your location. You can swipe left or right to show different information (altitude, time/distance, compass, etc.), and shrink or expand the map with two fingers. The power button also acts as a menu button, and the other one marks a waypoint. It's nice to have continuity in all the electronics in your life — but if you expect to use this GPS unit in cold, or really any weather that requires gloves, we suggest looking elsewhere.

The Oregon 700 presents a number of different activity profiles when turned on  each of which are customizable. The screen also self orients.
The Oregon 700 presents a number of different activity profiles when turned on, each of which are customizable. The screen also self orients.

The Oregon 700 also has some connectivity to your smartphone, like active weather (which does use cellphone data), VIRB remotes for Garmin cameras, and live tracking. New users were confused about how to find a menu or how to start a track for a minute. They did consult a number of useful YouTube videos. Once you get the basics down by playing around in a parking lot, it becomes fairly intuitive. Finding all the details from there on out is easier. That said, there are a lot of random functions that it takes time and an internet connection to sort through.

Even in this bright light  it's easy for the tester to see the screen and use it to navigate.
Even in this bright light, it's easy for the tester to see the screen and use it to navigate.

Display Quality


The Oregon 700 really maximizes pixel real-estate, fitting a 1.5 x 2.5-inch 240 x 400-pixel display on one of the most compact units in the test. Garmin claims the screen is sunlight-readable, and we didn't have any problems reading it in any lighting. It self-orients between portrait and landscape mode and is, overall, one of the best displays we've tested. You can also reduce screen brightness to save battery.

Here we compare the base map on the Oregon 700 to that on the Gaia GPS App. Gaia wins this round  but with a better topo map uploaded  the Garmin holds up better. The 700's screen is on the small side for satellite-based navigation to be pleasant.
Here we compare the base map on the Oregon 700 to that on the Gaia GPS App. Gaia wins this round, but with a better topo map uploaded, the Garmin holds up better. The 700's screen is on the small side for satellite-based navigation to be pleasant.

Speed


Quick to respond to touchscreen commands it also redraws maps quickly and is fast to find satellites. There is little to know lagtime frustration with this device. To further decrease your satellite finding times, you can also download extended prediction orbit (EPO) files. These predict satellite paths and help the GPS find them, and your position, more quickly. You can choose to slow down map drawing speed if you need to save battery life.

Weight and Size


The Oregon 700's 2.4 x 2.5 x 1.3 dimensions fit easily in the hand. Garmin claims the unit weighs 7.4 ounces with batteries. We weighed it at 6.8 oz with batteries and its carabiner mount. Packability is one of the most important elements of a safety device. If you don't bring it, it won't do you any good. We never have any qualms about clipping the Oregon 700 on our bag.

If your adventure is warm and dirt-free enough to avoid gloves or take them off comfortably  the Oregon 700 is a good choice.
If your adventure is warm and dirt-free enough to avoid gloves or take them off comfortably, the Oregon 700 is a good choice.

Versatility


In some ways, the Oregon 700 is really versatile. The activity profiles that pop up to start with are really nice for a quick start function, and they work well for those specific activities, and it's easy to switch from one to the other. Each profile is also customizable, and it's easy to add things like topo maps, plan trips either on your computer or the unit itself if you're planning ahead.

It doesn't have a camera or flashlight, unlike the Oregon 750 model, but odds are you're probably also hiking with your smartphone and don't need to spend the extra $100 to have these on your GPS. With the wifi, Bluetooth, and ANT+ connectivity this unit, plus the big screen and intuitive functions, it makes for a pretty sweet setup for fair weather use.

Like the other non "t" models  the Oregon 700 requires you to download topo maps separately.
Like the other non "t" models, the Oregon 700 requires you to download topo maps separately.

However, it's a bit of a different story when it comes to cold or moisture. If you've ever tried to use a smartphone when it's raining you'll know that touchscreens are rather lacking as soon as a bit of water gets on the screen. The same goes for snow, and it's a pain to be taking off gloves when it's cold out, so this device doesn't work well for things like ski touring. The biggest problems we ran into is that it blows through standard alkaline batteries in no time and the device can freeze up in cold weather. To be fair Garmin mentions that lithium or NiMH packs are recommended with this device. Alkaline batteries also tend to lose capacity in frigid temperatures. Lithium batteries are better in the cold.

Light and easy to carry the Oregon 700 is ready for most adventures. Clipping it outside dense clothing or your pack improves reception.
Light and easy to carry the Oregon 700 is ready for most adventures. Clipping it outside dense clothing or your pack improves reception.

On occasion, the screen sensitivity is annoying. The unit will jump to another screen with an accidental tap or swipe. You can lock it by tapping the Menu button and tapping the lock icon in the center of the dark bottom bar.

Value


The biggest detractor from whole-heartedly recommending this device to a wide range of users is the hefty price-tag. There are less expensive options that are as good at navigating, they're just a little less intuitive, and don't have the same comfortable feeling of using a smartphone.

Conclusion


The Oregon 700 is a high-class, easy-to-use GPS device that works reliably in the weather most of us want to enjoy. This is a great option for a GPS unit with touch-screen capability, if you can afford it.

Clark Tate