Garmin GPSMAP 66s & GPSMAP 66st First Impressions Review
Garmin released the successors of it’s top-selling GPSMAP 64 series: GPSMAP 66s & GPSMAP 66st!
The new GPSMAP handheld GPS devices provide a lot of new features like:
- 3″ screen with 240 x 400 pixels,
- multi GNSS support (GPS / GLONASS / GALILEO),
- several wireless interfaces (ANT+ / Bluetooth LE / Wi-FI),
- Garmin Connect IQ apps, data fields & widgets
- and more new stuff …
but they are still rugged and all-round GPS handhelds for severe conditions!
What are the differences of the GPSMAP 66s compared to it’s predecessors GPSMAP 64s and GPSMAP 62s?
Compared - GPSMAP 66s - GPSMAP 64s - GPSMAP 62s
|GPSMAP 66s||GPSMAP 64s||GPSMAP 62s|
|Physical dimensions||2.5″ x 6.4″ x 1.4 / 6,2 x 16,3 x 3,5 cm||2.4″ x 6.3″ x 1.4″ / 6,1 x 16,0 x 3,6 cm||2.4″ x 6.3″ x 1.4″ / 6,1 x 16,0 x 3,6 cm|
|Weight (with batteries)||8.1 oz (230 g)||8.1 oz (230 g)||9.2 oz (260 g)|
|Sensors / devices (external)|
|Connected features (*: Bluetooth, **: Wi-Fi)|
|Connect IQ||Apps, widgets, data fields||no||no|
All GPSMAP 66 models include now ANT+, Bluetooth LE, Wi-FI and USB for connectivity with smartphones (Bluetooth), wireless home networks (Wi-Fi), sensors (ANT+, Bluetooth) or even desktop PCs (USB).
- Activity uploads to Garmin connect (*/**)
- Software updates (*/**)
- EPO downloads for a faster satellite reception (*/**)
- Geocaching Live for wireless integration with Geocaching.com (*/**)
- Active Weather for up-to-date forecasts and animated weather radar (*/**)
- Smart notifications (*)
- Connect IQ (*)
- LiveTrack / GroupTrack (*)
- BirdsEye Direct imagery (**)
*: Bluetooth, **: Wi-Fi
One of the interesting new features is the compatibility with the Garmin Connect IQ platform. Users can customize their devices with data fields, widgets and apps, which can be helpful while cycling or hiking.
Connect IQ is not yet available for the GPSMAP 66 series, but we experienced that you find a lot of gimmicks and nonsense apps in the Connect IQ store – but also some highlights like routeCourse or the highly recommended gimporter (importing FIT/GPX files from an Android device). These apps will hopefully be available for the GPSMAP 66 in the next future.
The new 3″ display – inherited from the Oregon 7×0 series – is absolutely brilliant, even under difficult light conditions. The GPSMAP 66s/66st has similar physical dimensions compared to the GPSMAP 64s, but the bigger screen results in a different housing design (see picture above). So the GPSMAP 66s/66st might not be the perfect device for small hands!
The GPSMAP 66s/66st has the same keyboard layout as all GPSMAP devices – with an exception and one negative aspect. The power key is now located near the GPS antenna; when using the 66s with one hand it is a hassle to leave the battery save mode, as this operation is only possible by pressing the power key (all other GPSMAP devices allow to press any key).
Garmin claims a battery life up to 16 hours. Using “black” eneloop 2.550 mAh batteries we get:
Power Mode* (hh:mm):
- GPSMAP 66s: 05:15, 05:00, 05:25
- Oregon 700: 05:35, 05:30, 06:03
Energy Saving Mode** (hh:mm):
- GPSMAP 66s: 18:15, 15:55
- Oregon 700: 20:35, 17:50
* Power mode: display always on, max. backlight, GPS & GLONASS, track recording, active navigation, ANT+/Bluetooth/Wi-Fi off.
** Energy saving mode: battery save on, GPS only, track recording, no active navigation, ANT+/Bluetooth/Wi-Fi off.
In practice you get a battery life between these minimum / maximum values – depending on your usage.
The GPSMAP 66s has 16 GB internal storage (15,44 GB are usable, eg. for maps and GPX/FIT-files), expandable by a Micro-SD card (up to 32 GB).
What we really love: Garmin has improved the user interface compared to it’s predecessors – some examples:
- Recording controls: Direct access to this important function by the ENTER key (screenshot bottom left).
- Power key: Opening a status page with functions like backlight control, Connect IQ widgets, bluetooth status, …
- Satellite page: Different views for each GNSS.
- Page ribbon: Now visible at the lower part of the display.
- Trip computer: Pressing the + / – keys changes dynamically the number of data fields (screenshots below).
In addition, the map drawing is slightly faster!
The GPSMAP 66 series has also some new functions – We especially like:
- New waypoint naming: You can define a prefix like “2018-Bavaria-” and a numeric suffix like “0001”, every new waypoint gets the name “2018-Bavaria-0001”, “2018-Bavaria-0002” …
- A very bright LED flashlight and SOS beacon.
- The inReach remote function for controlling your inReach Mini device.
Our map provides a track recorded with various Garmin handhelds (Oregon 700, GPSMAP 64s, Hike 1: all devices GPS & GLONASS, Hike 2: 64s/Oregon GPS & GLONASS, 66s GPS + GALILEO, Hike 3: 64s GPS & GLONASS, 66s GPS + GALILEO, inReach Mini: GPS). You can use this for GPS accuracy data comparisons and making up your own mind.
What did we find out?
- GPSMAP 66s & GPSMAP 64s are on the same high level, no difference between GPS + GLONASS or GPS + GALILEO.
- Oregon 700 tends sometimes to a slight GPS drift (e.g. in a steep-sided valley, see waypoint 2018-BAY-007); overall, its GPS accuracy is on a very good level compared to the GPSMAP devices.
- inReach Mini can not match the GPS accuracy of the GPSMAP devices, but is on a very good level too.
Recording: Trip 1 every 10 m; Trip 2 & 3 auto normal
GPS: *: GPS + GLONASS; **: GPS + GALILEO; ***: GPS
Garmin GPSMAP 66s / 66st
SUMMARY: The Garmin GPSMAP 66s and GPSMAP 66stAmazon.com are like their predecessors the best all-round navigation devices for severe conditions on the market. We enjoy the brilliant display, its feature set, the improved user interface, the connectivity options and the GPS accuracy.
The rugged GPSMAP 66 series is highly recommended for different outdoor activities like hiking, mountaineering and geocaching.
GPS accuracy & fast satellite reception
Buttons with click feedback
Full set of navigation features
Availability of maps
Garmin Explore App
Not so good for small hands
Disabling battery save mode, only by pressing power key (especially with gloves)
No two data field option for map page
Current firmware 2.50 still with some bugs
- GPS 100% 100%
- Battery 60% 60%
- Display 100% 100%
- Handling 80% 80%
- Navigation 80% 80%
- Features 80% 80%
- Maps 100% 100%
- Final Verdict 90% 90%