In this review we take a closer look at the Garmin GPSMAP 64sx outdoor GPS handheld! The GPSMAP 64sx was launched together with the GPSMAP 64x in summer 2019. A surprise for us, since 2018 already saw the introduction of the GPSMAP 66 series – handheld devices that could have been considered as the successor to the 64!
We are happy that the GPSMAP 64 devices are still alive – they are among the most popular GPS devices on the market and have been inspiring GPS-savvy outdoor enthusiasts for many years! Furthermore, compared to the GPSMAP 66s, the GPSMAP 64sx has its advantages:
• A handier housing
• Connection for an external GPS antenna
• Exit battery save mode with each key
• No mix of GPX tracks and FIT activities
The GPSMAP 66s scores with a larger high-resolution display, comprehensive connectivity and an immense mix of features!
Which new features has Garmin added to the GPSMAP 64sx?
Compared to its direct predecessor – the GPSMAP 64s – the GPSMAP 64sx offers in addition:
• Small cosmetic changes in the setup (menus: Tracks, Reset)
• More internal memory: 8 GB vs. 4 GB (7.7 GB vs. 3.2 GB available).
• EPO download: file EPO.BIN (Extended Prediction Orbit) for faster position acquisition.
• GNSS: In addition to GPS and GLONASS, GALILEO is now also available; so you have the options:
- GPS + GLONASS
- GPS + GALILEO
WAAS/EGNOS can be activated as usual.
However, further technological innovations from our wish list are missing, e.g. a modern USB connection (Micro-USB or USB-C instead of the built-in Mini-B). One reason for this could be a differentiation from the GPSMAP 66 series.
But what’s really a pity: With probably little effort Garmin could have added some improvements to the menu, e.g. functions to browse and sort the tracks in the track manager.
GPSMAP 64sx Review – GPS Receiver
All Garmin GPSMAP handsets with the typical Quad Helix antenna set the standard for GPS reception. This also applies to the GPSMAP 64sx, whose reception performance can be further increased by using an external GPS antenna.
When synchronizing with the Garmin Connect App – which requires a smartphone connected via Bluetooth – the file “EPO.BIN” with current satellite data (A-GPS, assisted GPS procedure) is transferred to the 64sx. According to the Garmin support pages, such data is valid for up to 14 days; regular synchronization is therefore advisable. For comparison, the GPSMAP 64s has a HotFix* satellite prediction, so it doesn’t need an external file.
But our GPSMAP 64sx test copy always needs – for whatever reason – much longer than the 64s to determine its position after switching on: For example 03:30 mm:ss vs. 00:26 mm:ss! However, other users do not report this problem.
The situation is different with track recordings, which are typically very accurate.
*: HotFix satellite prediction technology is a feature available on automotive devices to decrease satellite acquisition time dramatically. By using data collected over the period of a few days of regular use, the device will predict the position of the satellites for up to 3 days. If the GPS device has not been used for a few days it will acquire the satellites normally. (Source: Garmin Support)
Several GNSS settings (left to right):
- GPS + EGNOS
- GPS + GLONASS + EGNOS
- GPS + GALILEO + EGNOS
GPSMAP 64sx Review – Battery Life
Garmin specifies 16 hours as battery life. We have tested the 64sx with eneloop batteries. In our standard modes we get the following times (in hh:mm):
Energy saving mode (all consumers off, e.g. display backlight, GPS only)
Power mode (all consumers on)
(* “white” eneloop batteries; ** “black” eneloop pro batteries)
Depending on the use case, the times you can expect are between these values. The 16 hours given by Garmin are therefore very realistic.
The GPSMAP 64sx can also be used with the Garmin NiMH battery pack, which is rechargeable in the device but is quite expensive and the charging process takes some time. Other rechargeable batteries can also be used. It is sufficient to place a small piece of hard plastic on the switch in the battery compartment.
GPSMAP 64sx – Display
Short version: The 2.6-inch display is easy to read under all light conditions.
Resolution in comparison to other current Garmin handheld devices:
• GPSMAP 64sx: 1,940 pixels/cm² (3.6 x 5.5 cm, 160 x 240 pixels)
• GPSMAP 66s: 4,010 pixels/cm² (3.8 x 6.3 cm, 240 x 400 pixels)
• eTrex 32x: 4,987 pixels/cm² (3.5 x 4.4 cm, 240 x 320 pixels)
• Oregon 700: 4,010 pixels/cm² (3.8 x 6.3 cm, 240 x 400 pixels)
• eTrex Touch: 1,940 pixels/cm² (3.6 x 5.5 cm, 160 x 240 pixels)
In terms of resolution, the GPSMAP 64sx is at the lower end of the scale. The difference – e.g. between the GPSMAP 64sx and the GPSMAP 66s – can only be seen in a direct comparison. The lower resolution is not so essential for outdoor practice. The display size is more important, the 21% more surface area of the 66 is very helpful when viewing the map.
GPSMAP 64sx – Interfaces
• Highspeed USB (type Mini-B) for data exchange and power supply.
• ANT+ to connect to a heart rate, speed, cadence, combined speed/cadence, temperature sensor, Garmin chirp or VIRB action camera and to exchange data with compatible Garmin devices (transfer waypoints, routes, tracks & geocaches).
• Bluetooth for transferring photos and custom maps from device to device (analogous to ANT+) or connecting to a smartphone (functions: live tracking, smartphone notifications, EPO download).
A more feature-rich Bluetooth interface would be great, at least for downloading GPX files from a smartphone. Android users can do this via USB and OTG.
GPSMAP 64sx Review – Handling & Operation
The Garmin GPSMAP 64sx is easy to hold thanks to its slightly tapered housing. One hand operation is possible without any problems, the same applies to the use with (thinner) gloves – the GPSMAP 64sx is like the GPSMAP 66s a GPS device for winter use.
Exiting the helpful battery save mode is possible with any key. This gives the 64er a clear practical advantage over the 66er, where this is only possible with the on/off button.
As with all Garmin GPS handhelds, there are several pre-configured profiles for different outdoor activities to choose from. The 64sx can be expanded with additional individual profiles and at the same time personalised to a high degree.
The two screenshots on the right display our main menu for a “Hiking” profile: 12 applications, plus a map, travel computer and elevation profile page – that’s all!
GPSMAP 64sx – Functionality
The Garmin GPSMAP 64sx offers the “classic” functionality of Garmin handheld devices that has been proven over many years. This includes navigating with tracks, routes, waypoints, POIs and geocaches, but also the many small goodies such as proximity alarms, barometer, calendar and alarm clock – to name just a few.
Auto-Routing is based on Garmin’s ActiveRouting technology (figure top right). Depending on the activity (mountain biking, hiking, …) and the map, the route and the distance calculated by the device can vary.
Navigating with tracks is, as usual with Garmin, quite minimalistic – you simply have to follow the magenta-colored route on the map! Routing to the starting point of a track is only possible with some tricks, nor is there any warning when deviating from the track – other devices offer more (e.g. from TwoNav).
Various functions are available for special tasks, e.g. waypoint projection, Man Overboard (MOB), Sight ‘n Go and compass (CDI). Geocachers can also enjoy paperless geocaching.
To sum up: The GPSMAP 64sx can handle any task! However, mastering all navigation functions requires some training and practice.
GPSMAP 64sx In-Depth Review – Maps & Accessories
The Garmin GPSMAP 64sx only comes with a pre-installed base map. This is surprising as even the eTrex 32x has Garmin’s TopoActive map installed (an OSM based map of Europe). However, there is enough storage space – almost 8 GB internal and an optional MicroSD card (up to 32 GB) – for additional maps. This can be free OSM maps, one of the many commercial Garmin maps, BirdsEye satellite images, custom maps, nautical maps or others.
The scope of delivery is minimalistic. There is only one USB cable in the sales package. At least one carabiner clipAmazon (Amazon) for attaching to the backpack could be included. This practical and recommendable holder costs another $25.-, a simple handlebar holder for bicyclesAmazon (Amazon) costs $9.-. The predecessor also had a yearly subscription for BirdsEye satellite images on top.
Garmin GPSMAP 64sx
Garmin GPSMAP 64sx Review – Summary
With the successor of the GPSMAP 64s, you get a rugged GPS handheld that does credit to the proven GPSMAP 64 series. The GPSMAP 64sx has all the features of the last generation, enhanced with a few fine details. The GPSMAP is still suitable for any outdoor activity – we would prefer the new eTrex 32x only for weight-optimized tours.
If you can not decide between the GPSMAP 64sx Amazon (Amazon) and the GPSMAP 66s, you can make your decision based on the following suggestions: Do I need the additional functionality of the 66er? Is a larger display important for me? Do I accept the slightly more bigger case of the 66? Whatever you decide, you can’t really do anything wrong!
Outdated USB interface
- GPS 80% 80%
- Battery 80% 80%
- Display 80% 80%
- Handling 80% 80%
- Navigation 80% 80%
- Features 80% 80%
- Maps 100% 100%
- Final Score 80% 80%