GPS Review, Time for a New One

April 7, 2011 | By | 1 Reply More

The Garmin GPSMap 60CSx (Garmin photo).

Maybe it’s different out in the vast open expanses of the Midwest and West, but out here in the wooded East, you need a GPS…and we’d encourage you to have one wherever you hunt. In fact, you and whoever you hunt with should each have one.

A good one.

The GPS we’ve used for years is a good one: the Garmin GPSMap 60CSx.

Why is it good? Ninety percent of the reason is because it gets a signal, no matter where we are. Deep in a canyon, in the woods, whatever, wherever, we get a signal. And if your GPS can’t do that, why have one?

(We have hunted with guys who have carried GPSs that can’t get a signal in the woods, including some lower-end Garmins. At that point the unit is just dead weight. Maybe okay for navigating local treestands, but not okay for Serious bird hunters.)

As Garmin notes about the 60CSx: “High-sensitivity GPS receiver gives you improved satellite reception even in heavy tree cover or deep canyons.” Yep, works as advertised. In fact, the folks at Outside magazine agree with us that it’s the best “backcountry” GPS.

Beyond that, it’s tough – durable. Rain doesn’t kill it, dropping it doesn’t kill it, getting whacked with brush all season long doesn’t kill it.

Ours have run great for years, no issues. Plus battery life is decent.

The only real negative we have about the 60CSx is that you should, whether you realize it or not, reset the compass every so often, especially when you’re about to count on the GPS to get you out of somewhere. Sometimes it can be off.

(We navigate by using the GPS, memory and gut feel. We carry compasses and sometimes printouts/copies of paper maps as backups.)

What’s Next?

The 60CSx is a great unit, but…we’ve outgrown it. Or we want to because we want our GPSs to have satellite maps.

Satellite maps are such a big part of our scouting and hunting now, we’d need them on our GPSs – because we know our hunting would be better and more efficient with that capability.

You might be thinking, Wake up and smell the thornapples, guys, that capability already exists. Well, yes…and no.

For one thing, these newer units have not gotten great reviews from hunters. Some negatives we’ve read about are that the displays aren’t bright enough to read in dense woods or on rainy days, and that the ones with touch screens get “touched” accidentally as they’re jostled around.

The Oregon 550t (Garmin photo).

In fact, Brendan bought the Garmin Oregon 550T before our Tennessee hunt in February, tested it for a day and returned it because of the display issues. We get that a bright display sucks battery juice, but if you can’t read it, what good is it?

As a substitute he bought an iPad, which was great for game-planning in the truck…but only from saved images because it couldn’t find a 3G signal in the woods.

Bottom line is that the newer GPSs have big displays and some cool features, but are oriented more toward the geocaching crowd than hunters.

One Possibility?

Check out the reviews of GPS units below, which appeared in the April ’11 edition of Outside magazine. Of those three units:

> We don’t need the sat-phone cabability of the DeLorme.

> The touch screen of the Magellan makes us nervous, and the fact that it eats batteries is no good.

> The Garmin GPSMap 62st sounds like it might be almost what we’re looking for.

The 62st (Garmin photo).

We checked it out on the Garmin website and here’s what we found:

> It has basically the same-size screen as the 60CSx – not great.

> Like the 60CSx, the screen is not a touch screen, which is good (try doing that with a wet screen and gloves on).

> It comes preloaded with topo maps and you can get satellite images on it – though only with a subscription (boo).

> Most importantly, it “employs a quad helix antenna for unparalleled reception” – which we hope means its reception is at least as good as the 60CSx.

> In case you’re feeling generous and want to share some covers or spots with a buddy, this sounds cool too: “With GPSMap 62st you can share your waypoints, tracks, routes and geocaches wirelessly with other compatible Garmin device users. So now your friends can also enjoy your favorite hike or cache – simply press Send to transfer your information to similar units….”

Sat photo view on the 62st – this is what we want to see! (Garmin photo)

At the time we bought the 60CSx, it was the top of the line. Sounds like the 62st has taken over that spot, at least on the Serious hunting side. So we’ll be testing at least one of these units this season and will of course report back.

More

> The downside of the 62st is the price: $549.99 MSRP, about $470.00 street price. Is that worth it for another few birds or saving your butt? Of course!

> No longer the top dog, the 60CSx is $399.99 MSRP, about $220.00 street (like here at REI). So if you need to upgrade, maybe that’s a good choice. Though it now seems to be “old tech” at Garmin, we know it works.

> Looks like the 62s is the same unit as the 62st without the preloaded topo maps, and it’s about $100 cheaper.

> Why are we just talking about Garmin? We haven’t found anything better (yet?).

Recent GPS reviews from Outside mag, click to see way bigger.

Category: Garmin, GPS, Reviews

Comments (1)

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  1. Glen Bahde says:

    Kansas, South Dakota, New Mexico and many more states are putting there Walk in Areas and WMA’s availible for the Garmin. I am not sure what other brands they do this for. this sure came in handy when determining a boundary last year. Also Blade Tech is sitting on mil spec holsters for this model of garmin. I have one strapped to my vest with a gear keeper tagged to the unit. both have saved my garmin. Here is the link for the gps pouch by blade tech order with the lock tek

    http://www.blade-tech.com/Garmin-GPS-pouch.-Series-60-w-Tek-Lok-pr-1062.html

    Here is the site for gear keeper. http://gearkeeper.com/firearms/militarygearteth.html

    http://gearkeeper.com/electronics/dogtrainingtrans.html

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