Garmin GPSMAP 62st Handheld Reviews

Garmin GPSMAP 62st Handheld

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Amazing Performance and Function

Nov 8, 2010 (Updated Nov 30, 2010)
Review by  
Rated a Helpful Review

Pros:- Satelite imagery is great
- Battery life is amazing
- Very accurate

Cons:- Battery life indicator needs fixed

The Bottom Line: This is a great GPS for field work and has a lot of nice features for avid geocachers.

I had been wanting to replace my, very, very old Delorme GPS for a long time but was very picky about making the change since I wanted a unit that would cover all my needs both for work and outdoor recreation.  I am an environmental consultant for the mining industry and an avid hiker so I wanted a unit that I could use in the field for cataloguing geologic information with enough accuracy to incorporate into my geophysical reports  but one that would be small enough to use for fun on the trail.  No one product could reasonably be expected to have survey grade precision and be small and simple enough for hiking and geocaching but this model strikes an acceptable balance.

The model comes loaded with Garmin's 100k US topo maps and can be upgraded by purchasing their 24k series, which I have since done.  The 100k is good for establishing the general lay of the land but I like the 24k because I need to pinpoint some of the more subtle features in the topography.

The two things that I like most about the unit is the very long run time (when powered by lithium batteries) and the ability to display high-resolution satellite photography via the available Birdseye subscription (about 20 bucks a year).  I can leave the unit on all day long for three days in a row (turning it off at night) without draining the batteries, a huge improvement over my old model which would devour a set of alkalines every two or three hours.  Turning on the battery save mode will shut down the screen to save batteries, you can turn it back on by hitting any button. I do not know how much longer the batteries will last with this feature, since my tests were at full screen brightness running full time.  The satellite imagery allows me to navigate right to individual buildings, trees or even large rocks that I want to investigate.  The topo alone does not provide that sort of info. There is an available slot for a micro-sd card that allows you to upgrade the device's built in 500 megs of memory.

The waterproof rating of the device meets the standard of one 1/2hour submerged one meter deep. This means that you can have it out in the nastiest rainstorm with no fears of damage, so long as the water resistant port cover is securely closed.

The interface is the standard push button type and I have successfully worked the buttons with gloves on.  All of the navigational screens can be customized with large or small windows that allow you to add data to your screen of choice.  My personal favorites are distanced travelled and distance to destination running on the map screen.  Having any more than two added windows severely cuts down on your ability to see the map so it is best to customize an additional screen with the other features that you want handy.  One of the selling points of the unit is the ability to go "paperless geocaching" I have yet to use this feature and would appreciate hearing from anyone that has.  There are also settings for foot or auto travel, both of which I have tried, although my main use is for when I am on foot.  The auto feature provides a slightly different view which I find awkward but their road system coverage is more than adequate for finding your next turn.  Of course the GPSmap 62st has all the usual features including sun and moon, hunting and fishing, average speed etc.  Those features can be found on many other models so if that is all you want this is probably too much GPS for you.  The things that set this unit apart, for me are the quad antenna which very quickly establishes position (even indoors!) and improves accuracy, the large screen which is very easy to read, especially when looking at satellite photos, the water resistant feature, the large amount of memory (when equipped with the sd card, not included), satellite imagery and the impressive run time for lithium batteries

The unit works with many different software platforms including Terrain Navigator Pro (the most recent version) and the data is readily imported into GIS programs like ArcGis.  If you do not have an existing program, just go to Garmin's website and download their Basecamp software for free.  The casual user will get all the utility out of that program that is needed and Garmin provides regular updates, once again at no charge.  It is with the Basecamp program that you can access the Birdseye features, for a very small yearly fee.  I can't stress how much more useful this feature makes the unit, it is like having Google Earth in the palm of your hand and the extra micro-sd card allows you to store literally thousands of square miles of satelite info.

The unit comes with a usb interface cable and a very sturdy carabiner clip so you can hang it from your belt or packstrap. 

I rushed out and got mine the first week they were available (July 2010) and have used it almost every day since then with absolutely no problems, even after having dropped it a few times.

As with many units available these days the 62st is loaded with a huge array of places to visit from points of interest to shopping malls.  I just used this feature the other day to find an outdoor equipment retailer in a large city that I would never have found without it.

The only very minor negative point is that the battery meter does not seem to recognize the power drop for lithium batteries until they are nearing exhaustion, hopefully they will put out a software upgrade to remedy this.

Recommend this product? Yes

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