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Garmin GPSMAP 66sr Review – All You Need To Know

Garmin GPSMAP 66sr – the brand new GPS handheld with Garmin’s latest satellite technology reviewed!

Garmin extends the popular GPSMAP 66 series – for 2020/2021 there are four models to choose from:

  • GPSMAP 66s – the basic model without pre-installed maps
  • GPSMAP 66st – like the 66s, but with additional topographic maps (depending on your country, not routable)
  • GPSMAP 66i – with inReach communication and routable TopoActive maps
  • GPSMAP 66sr – similar to the 66st, but with routable TopoActive maps, multi-GNSS & multi-band, internal battery and a few minor improvements
Garmin GPSMAP 66sr review
Garmin GPSMAP 66sr review

I have already talked about the GPSMAP 66s/66st in a detailed review – a GPS handheld device for a variety of outdoor activities, which features a large & excellent readable display, excellent GPS reception even without multi-GNSS & multi-band, button operation, extensive features and extensive connectivity – including wireless import of data (tracks, routes, waypoints, …) from a smartphone.

Now Garmin takes it one step further and adds a state-of-the-art GPS receiver with multi-GNSS and multi-band technology to the GPSMAP 66sr to further improve accuracy in difficult conditions!

Garmin has changed a few other things with the GPSMAP 66sr (compared to the GPSMAP 66s/66st), both in terms of technology and in the menu and functions.

Garmin GPSMAP 66sr
Garmin GPSMAP 66sr (Garmin alpine map)
Garmin GPSMAP 66s vs. GPSMAP 66sr
Garmin GPSMAP 66s vs. GPSMAP 66sr

Display – Garmin GPSMAP 66sr Review

I don’t want to go into detail about the display, as it is simply excellent.

But what is noticeable: The display is brighter than the GPSMAP 66s/66st display! If the backlight of the 66s/66st is set to 100%, the 66sr only needs 60% (*) to achieve the same brightness. At 50%, the 66sr needs only 10% (actually even less, but there is no 5% setting). At 100% the 66sr shines much more.

(*) subjective estimation

Battery – Garmin GPSMAP 66sr Review

The power is provided by an internal, not changeable lithium-ion battery, similar to the GPSMAP 66i. The change from AA batteries to a lithium battery is probably due to the energy-consuming combination of a 3 inch display and a powerful GPS receiver.

Not changeable – this might be annoying for some outdoor enthusiasts. Opposite to the 66s/66st, inserting new AA batteries is no longer possible. When empty, the only thing that helps is recharging via power bank or power outlet.

In my opinion the decision AA or fixed battery depends primarily on the use cases. If the main focus is on day or weekend tours or vacations with access to a power outlet, there is nothing wrong with the internal battery. Because Garmin specifies up to 36 hours as battery life – in expedition mode even up to 450 hours should be possible. With the 66s/66st it is 16 hours or 170 hours with one set of batteries.

Which factors have a particularly large impact on battery life?

I have tested the GPSMAP 66sr in two different settings.

When all consumers are on, the battery life is about 13 to 14 hours. Multi-GNSS & multi-band on or off does not make a big difference.

It gets interesting when the "battery save" mode is activated. The automatic shutdown of the display leads to a significant increase in runtime, the "GPS only" mode contributes additionally.

These are rather theoretical values, but they reflect the approximate range. In practice, the runtimes to be achieved are somewhere in between – depending on how you use the GPSMAP.

The 66sr can easily be used for several days.

Power mode, 100% backlight
Multi-GNSS & Multi-Band active
  • 13:21 hh:mm (11%)
  • 13:02 hh:mm (13%)
GPS only
  • 13:33 hh:mm (13%)
  • 14:18 hh:mm (13%)
Power mode, 50% backlight
Multi-GNSS & Multi-Band active
  • 13:37 hh:mm (7%)
GPS only
  • 13:27 hh:mm (10%)
battery save mode
Multi-GNSS & Multi-Band active
  • 42:37 hh:mm (7%)
  • 46:58 hh:mm (8%)
GPS only
  • 56:13 hh:mm (10%)

power mode: all consumers on (e.g. backlight, map orientation north up); battery save mode: all consumers off); in brackets: remaining capacity

Memory – Garmin GPSMAP 66sr Review

With the permanently installed Li-battery, there is also a change in the slot for the microSD slot. Instead in the battery compartment, it is now located on the right side; well protected under a rubber cover.

The microSD size may not exceed 32 GB – in combination with the 16 GB* internal memory, of which about 5.5 GB are still free, there is enough space for data and maps (see overview).

*the Mac-Finder shows 15.52 GB

  • 20,000 points per track log
  • 2,000 gpx files
  • 250 saved gpx tracks
  • 2,000 archive tracks
  • 300 saved fit activities
  • 10,000 waypoints
  • 250 routes (250 points each, 50 points for on-road)
  • Geocaches without limit (depending on the memory)
  • 15,000 map segments
  • 500 custom map tiles
  • 250 BirdsEye maps
Garmin GPSMAP 66sr
Garmin GPSMAP 66sr – GPS only mode

GPS Receiver – Garmin GPSMAP 66sr In-Depth Review

Thanks to multi-GNSS and multi-band, the GPSMAP 66st is expected to provide better accuracy in challenging reception conditions such as deep valleys, surrounding rock walls, street canyons and dense forest.

Multi-GNSS means the simultaneous reception of GPS (USA), GLONASS (Russia), Galileo (Europe), OZSS (Japan) and IRNSS (India) satellite signals. Since OZSS and IRNSS are only regional systems (Asia-Pacific and India), "only" GPS, GLONASS and Galileo satellites are available in most parts of the world.

The GPSMAP 66s/st – besides "GPS only" – allows the combinations "GPS + GLONASS" or "GPS + Galileo".

Multi-Band allows the simultaneous evaluation of L1 & L5 (GPS) or E1 & E5a (Galileo) signal frequencies; the GPSMAP 66s/st only provides L1 or E1.

To further optimize the position determination, the file EPO.bin with current satellite data is downloaded.

The following satellite settings are possible:

  • GPS only without multi-band
  • Multi-GNSS without multi-band
  • Multi-GNSS with multi-band
  • Demo mode (GNSS disabled)

The new technology leads to

  • a really fast position determination,
  • a GPS accuracy that is almost always "1.8 m" in the ideal case ("3 m" for the GPSMAP 66s/st),
  • no position drift when stationary and
  • to track recordings that can be a bit more accurate compared to the GPSMAP 66s/st

You can have a look at some tracks on the map below and form your own opinion. The logs are from some hikes in challenging environments: mountain valleys, deep forests and urban canyons (Munich/Germany).

The following screenshots show the satellite page in multi-GNSS & multi-band mode.

Note: An increase of accuracy from 3 m to 1.8 m is always achieved by activating multi-band!

GPSMAP 66sr - GPS
GPSMAP 66sr – GPS
GPSMAP 66sr - Galileo
GPSMAP 66sr – Galileo
GPSMAP 66sr - GLONASS
GPSMAP 66sr – GLONASS
To display the color coding, move the mouse pointer to "Tracks"; you can also hide individual tracks there.
Elevation plot

The new technology provides another advantage: no position drift.

The screenshots from the trip computer tell the differences (the devices are in a stationary state).

The GPSMAP 66sr shows no drift compared to the GPSMAP 66s.

GPSMAP 66s - position drift
GPSMAP 66s
GPSMAP 66sr - position drift
GPSMAP 66sr

Operation & Menu – Garmin GPSMAP 66sr Review

The robust and IPX7 & MIL-STD-810 tested GPSMAP 66sr is a keypad device par excellence – and therefore absolutely glove friendly. A further advantage is: since the keys are on top, it is also very easy to use on the handlebars of a bike.

However, there is one annoying thing I would not like to conceal. To end the important "battery save mode" (the GPSMAP turns off the display after a given time) you have to press the on/off button. When hiking, you need to move your hand or you need the help of the second hand – provided it is not used for other purposes.

Also, this unfortunate combination can occasionally cause me to turn the GPSMAP on by mistake, unlike the GPSMAP 64 or 65 series, which have a battery save mode that can be turned off with any button.

The keypad on top, the large display and the protruding helix antenna have advantages in operation, (map) overview and GPS reception. On the other hand, the case is relatively large, which should be taken into account when considering a purchase.

The menu with all its functions requires a certain amount of training.

However, the extensive configuration options – in combination with the various preconfigured profiles (hike, mountain bike, …) – lead to a target-oriented and practical operation.

For example, the "hike" profile can be configured differently than the "mountain bike" profile. The figures show an example of an individually configured main menu, in which the displayed applications are reduced to the most necessary.

GPSMAP 66sr - customized main menu
GPSMAP 66sr – customized main menu
GPSMAP 66sr - page ribbon
GPSMAP 66sr – page ribbon with additional important apps

Some GPSMAP 66 users may be bothered by the fact that the map page only has the options "large data field" (= one field) and "small data fields" (= four fields) for showing data. It would make more sense – analogous to the GPSMAP 64 or 65 handheld devices – to differentiate between "1 large", "2 small" or "4 small". With two fields there is more visible map area than with four fields. There is only one thing you can do: temporarily deactivate the data fields by pressing "MENU-Button > Hide Dashboard".

Since this point of criticism of the 66 series already exists since the beginning I must state: It’s a pity that Garmin doesn’t respond to such and other long existing customer requests, especially since an implementation should only require a minimal effort.

Apart from that, compared to the 66st or 66st almost everything remains the same – in the menu there are only a few cosmetic changes in a few places.

TopoActive Map – GPSMAP 66sr In-Depth Review

The pre-installed TopoActive maps of Europe and other parts of the world – based on OSM data – are in my opinion a very good introduction to the world of cartography and are a solid basis for navigation, especially with tracks.

In addition, they are routable (= automatic calculation of routes along the road network) and offer an extensive POI collection.

However, searching for addresses is limited to only a few countries (Europe: Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland).

Contour lines are missing – elevation data for the whole of Europe would just be some gigabyte more. But with some know-how you can install them for individual countries.

GPSMAP 66sr review - FIND menu
GPSMAP 66sr – FIND menu
GPSMAP 66sr review - countries providing addresses
GPSMAP 66sr – countries providing addresses

One argument for buying Garmin GPS devices is the huge range of additional maps – from commercial Garmin maps to free OSM. Of course, this also applies to the GPSMAP 66sr, there is sufficient memory available.

In addition to the pre-installed TopoActive, the 66sr includes a free subscription of BirdsEye satellite images; the download is via Wi-Fi. Whether the satellite images provide additional value depends on the region – in my experience they are less useful in the mountains.

Features – Garmin GPSMAP 66sr

A comparison chart (66s vs. 66st vs. 66sr vs. 66i) is provided by Garmin.

In this discipline, the GPSMAP 66sr offers all the outdoor features you would expect from Garmin – whether for a bike ride, a hike, a geocaching hunt or a kayaking trip:

Navigation with tracks / routes / waypoints / POI / geocaches / …, ActiveRouting (activity-specific routing along the route network of the map), Roundtrip-Routing (calculation of round trips), Back to Start, TracBack and specialties such as direct routing in combination with course (CDI) – the latter is a function that certainly only few users need, but which can be immensely important, for example when kayaking.

There are also altimeter & barometer functions, an integrated flashlight with SOS function, proximity alarms, wireless transmission from device to device, various calendars, extensions via Connect IQ … to name just a few.

Extensive smartphone connectivity is also available, but the question is whether functions such as weather reports are really necessary – a smartphone is on tour anyway.

In outdoor practice, there are only two frequently used online functions: live tracking via Garmin Connect App and data exchange with the smartphone, either via Connect IQ apps (e.g. with komoot) or via the Garmin Explore App.

There is an almost sensational innovation in the functions: The volume for the tones emitted by the beeper can now be regulated!

Levels 1 to 5 are available for key tones, system messages, turn warnings and proximity alarms – for all together and not separately for each type.

GPSMAP 66sr - tones volume
GPSMAP 66sr – tones volume
  • Large 3” sunlight-readable color display for easy viewing
  • Expanded global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) and multi-band technology allow you to get optimal accuracy in challenging locations, including steep country, urban canyons and forests with dense trees
  • Powered by internal Li-ion rechargeable battery, with up to 36 hours battery life in Standard Mode and up to 450 hours in Expedition Mode.
  • Access to BirdsEye Satellite Imagery with direct downloads and no annual subscription plus routable TopoActive mapping and federal public land map (U.S. only)
  • Go-anywhere navigation with 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter
(* = affiliate link / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases / image source: Amazon partner program)
×
Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on https://www.amazon.com/ at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

Summary – Garmin GPSMAP 66sr Review

With the GPSMAP 66sr (and the GPSMAP 65s) Garmin has launched an exciting new development. Multi-GNSS and multi-band do not lead to the absolute wow effect when hiking or cycling, but they still make the GPSMAP the ultimate outdoor handheld device in terms of accuracy.

Otherwise, the GPSMAP 66sr plays all the strengths of the GPSMAP 66 series: display, features, buttons, connectivity, …!

These features make the 66sr ideal for many outdoor activities – unless "small & light" is the key. Another sticking point is the built-in rechargeable battery, which is certainly a no-go for some users.

Pros – GPSMAP 66sr

  • Fast & very accurate GNSS receiver
  • Excellent & bright display
  • Battery life
  • Keyboard, glove friendly
  • Feature set
  • Preloaded maps
  • Connectivity (ANT+, Bluetooth, USB, Wi-Fi)
  • Smartphone connectivity

Cons – GPSMAP 66sr

  • Relatively large & heavy
  • Disabling the battery save mode
  • No USB-C

Rating – GPSMAP 66sr

  • GPS: 100%
  • Speed: 80%
  • Battery: 100%
  • Display: 100%
  • Operation: 80%
  • Navigation: 80%
  • Features: 80%
  • Maps: 100%
  • Score: 90%
  • Large 3” sunlight-readable color display for easy viewing
  • Expanded global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) and multi-band technology allow you to get optimal accuracy in challenging locations, including steep country, urban canyons and forests with dense trees
  • Powered by internal Li-ion rechargeable battery, with up to 36 hours battery life in Standard Mode and up to 450 hours in Expedition Mode.
  • Access to BirdsEye Satellite Imagery with direct downloads and no annual subscription plus routable TopoActive mapping and federal public land map (U.S. only)
  • Go-anywhere navigation with 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter
(* = affiliate link / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases / image source: Amazon partner program)
×
Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on https://www.amazon.com/ at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
Note: The articles may contain affiliate links. If you buy through these links I will receive a commission; thus you support the continuation of this website. There are no additional costs for you. It is up to you where and when you buy a product. I do not receive any information about the buyer.

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