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Hands-on Gear Review

Garmin Oregon 700 Review

Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $400 List | $349.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
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
Bottom line:  Straightforward function meets glitzy features in a unit that's great for a range of activity in reasonable weather conditions.
Editors' Rating:   
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Battery Life (hours):  16
No. of Waypoints:  10,000
Saved Tracks / Points per Track:  250 / 20,000
Manufacturer:   Garmin

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 function a lot like a smartphone, making them intuitive for the casual user. It 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. A relatively large, bright display is a nice bonus. The 700's 16 hours of battery life is on the shorter side, but since you can switch out AAs in the field, it's essentially immortal. Compact and light, it's also easy to toss in a backpack or jacket pocket. This unit is among our favorites for gloveless weather, where the touchscreen really shines. When it's colder out, it's a little less reliable, particularly if you're using alkaline batteries.

It baffles us that the 700 stores two to five times the number of waypoints of the other units tested. It's hard to imagine that many users need 10,000, along with 250 tracks with up to 20,000 points each. We'd rather pay less for less. The less expensive Garmin GPS MAP 64s has glove-friendly buttons and is more reliable but takes longer to use. The slightly more expensive Garmin Montana 680 has excellent speed, accuracy and reception and the largest display we've tested. The biggest downside is its bulk.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Handheld GPS Review

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Clark Tate

Last Updated:
Monday
March 19, 2018

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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 you can get an Oregon 750 with or without preloaded topo maps (that's what the t stands for), the Oregon 700 doesn' t offer a t version. This doesn't really bother us because we'd rather get a smaller scale map than the 1:100k topo that comes preloaded.

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

Reception


Garmin claims that the Oregon 700's reception benefits from a redesigned antenna. It works well enough for our front and backcountry purposes. The Oregon 700 isn't necessarily the fastest or most accurate GPS unit we've tested, but it does the job well enough that we have a hard time telling. At this point in GPS technology, speed, accuracy, and reception are all pretty darn good.

Ease of Use


The Oregon 700 really stands out with its modern touchscreen interface and straightforward menus. You can navigate with the swipe of a finger or zoom out by shrinking the screen with two fingers, like a smartphone. It's nice not to have to reprogram your brain to work a new small screen.

The top button is both the power and menu button. You can rearrange the menu however you'd like to make sure the functions you use are at your fingertips. The lower button is a shortcut to take a waypoint. Shifting the unit sideways gives you a reasonably sized keyboard to rename the spot. 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.

Navigation
Navigating with the Oregon 700 is straightforward. You can preplan a trip on Google Earth, on Garmin's BaseCamp software, or on your GPS. You can then follow predetermined tracks or waypoints. There is also a TracBack feature that will let you retrace your steps if you find your self in a box canyon, or if you just lost a glove. Friends and family can follow you along your route with Livetracking. Slightly creepy, kinda cool.

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.

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.

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 and Reliability


It's nice that this unit can be customized to give you information that is specific to your activity, like geocaching or biking. This makes it easy to switch between the needs of multiple adventures.

With no camera or flashlight, this doesn't have all of the features currently available in GPS units, but it's darn close. An electronic compass keeps your bearing whether you're moving or standing still and a barometric altimeter keeps an accurate account of the heights you reach. Wireless wi-fi, Bluetooth and ANT+ capability allows you to send real-time track information to friends, share location data, and get weather and phone notifications. When you combine this with its large and bright screen and straightforward functionality, this makes the Oregon 700 a very versatile GPS unit for fair weather use.

We don't like taking it out in adverse conditions though, particularly in colder temps. The unit works with thin, textured gloves, like mountain bike mitts, but is useless if you're wearing an insulated ski glove. Taking a glove on and off frequently when it's frigid out isn't fun. For winter travel we prefer buttoned options over a touchscreen.

You can adjust the touchscreen sensitivity between normal and glove via Setup > Accessibility. We couldn't tell much of a difference either way. Both worked well with tacky mountain biking gloves and not at all with bulky snow gloves.


The Oregon 700 is pretty reliable. 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.

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

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.

Best Applications


This unit will serve you well for any adventure that doesn't involve wearing constantly wearing gloves or really cold temperatures. That said, it's overkill for short casual geocache outings or on-trail hikes, where a smartphone app would likely do the trick. But our smartphones are also overkill for phoning a friend. We like what we like.

Value


The $399.99 price tag is the biggest detractor from whole-heartedly recommending this device to a wide range of users. There are less expensive options that are as good at navigating, they're just a little less intuitive and pleasant to use. For a better value, check out the Best Buy winner in the full handheld GPS review.

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 if you can afford it.
Clark Tate