Garmin GPSmap 62S
Although the video represents the Garmin GPSmap 62st, there’s little to separate the two devices
When you’re out hiking in the mountains, having a “Plan B” as far as navigation and safety are concerned is always a good idea. Before taking the plunge into the world of handheld GPS mapping devices I spent a few months examining the various possibilities, features and benefits on offer from the major manufacturers; after much deliberation settling on the Garmin GPSmap 62S.
It’s always worth while spending some time comparing what’s out there to ensure it offers you the best return of your investment. As I enjoy numerous outdoor activities I wanted a device which met my needs in terms of application across various activities.
Having spent the past six months using the Garmin GPS 62S I’ve really got to understand and appreciate just how useful these things can be. Want to know what’s it like?
GPS enabled devices and application are common place these days and choice is not something that will leave you wanting; smartphones, cameras and dedicated units offer a bewildering array of options however before we go any further a word of warning to the wise. Smartphones and the numerous GPS apps available are not necessary up to the task of providing the level of precision required when you’re scrambling up the side of a mountain, deep in a valley or traversing between peaks. Whilst the GPS technology is improving all the time in smartphones the GPS receivers built into such devices are tiny when compared to the might of much larger siblings; such as the Garmin GPSmap 62S for example.
The Garmin has a quad helix antenna and high-sensitivity, WAAS/EGNOS-enabled GPS receiver with HotFix® satellite prediction, or in laymens terms the GPSmap 62s has the power to identify your location quickly and accurately whilst maintaining signal even in dense cover, deep valleys or tall buildings.
The GPSMAP 62S is classified as a handheld navigator by Garmin and its main purpose is to navigate through even the most remote areas and terrain. There is a 3-axis-tilt-compensated compass and barometric altimeter
Having spent the past six months using the Garmin GPSmap 62S I’ve really got to understand and appreciate just how useful these things can be
which points towards your destination even when standing still and not holding it level. You can view elevation and profile on the altimeter screen and you can even plot barometric pressure over time to keep an eye on changing weather conditions. There are even a number of audible alerts that you can set on the device so you are not constantly looking down at the screen instead of enjoying what you went out for in the first place.
Another great feature is you can share your waypoints, tracks, routes and geocaches wirelessly with other compatible Garmin GPS handhelds. Simply press “send” to transfer your information to similar units to share your routes or download the file to your pc to share a route on your website…or someone else’s.
You can also use your Garmin while climbing mountains, riding your bike or even out on a boat with a myriad of mapping options that can be uploaded on the SD card and various mounts and accessories for multi-sport applications. The unit also supports BirdsEye satellite imagery, Garmin Custom Maps and photo navigation so you have a number of view options depending on your preference. I went for the standard Ordnance survey view as that is what I am used to but I did play around with the Birdseye imagery and it really is impressive I have to say. There is also the option to add geotagged photos, YouTube® videos, geocaches and notes, then share your adventure via email and social media. You basically upload your activity via the free BaseCamp™ programme to get started.
The 62 series comes with six profiles that allow you to customize the display for various activities. For example, you can have four data fields for biking and two for hiking. You could track up (map orients in the direction the GPS is pointed or traveling) for hiking and north up (north is at the top) for kayaking. Or you could have a specific profile that displays certain maps or custom maps, such as Yosemite National Park trails on top of aerial imagery.
Navigating with the Garmin is really straight forward after a little bit of time spent familiarising yourself with its interface. If you haven’t used a navigation device in the past then understanding the vernacular of the controls will take an hour or two to understand but beyond that its plain sailing. The menu can look a little clunky but its fast with no real lag time which is ideal when wanting a quick fix. When you preload a route before you set out, the Garmin has some nice features including distance to the next waypoint and destination which is really useful for orientating yourself and getting a feel for scale on the device.
We will be carrying on the test of the Garmin GPSMAP 62S over the coming months in more detail and situations, refer to the “First Impressions” tab for further information or visit the Garmin website for more details.
I have always been an advocate of pre-planning trips into the mountains in conjunction with a suitable (paper) map and a good compass. These simple tools are essential to navigate your way round any route and that is still the case today. I honestly believe there is no substitute for mountain craft and navigation skills which should always be utilised as your primary method of getting from point A to point B. The Garmin GPSmap 62S is there to enhance your experience as well as being a viable “Plan B” when things go wrong, and lets face it from time to time they do!
I have been using the Garmin for the last 6 months and I actually assumed it would be something I keep in my kit for emergency’s, which to some extent is true. I am sure it’s not just me that from time to time will be striding across a ridge at 3000 feet and above, soaking up the vistas only for the cloud to shroud me in a soggy grey atmosphere in merely 30 seconds; then to have that realisaton you really weren’t paying attention to your position as much as you should. Spending the next fifteen minutes crouched down, cloud all around, trying to work out exactly where you are in relation to a fast exit and perhaps more importantly any sheer drops.
This is where GPS devices, such as the Garmin GPSmap 62S, come into their own. I can honestly say without a shadow of a doubt, I’ve been more than thankful to have my Garmin with me on serveral trips over the last 6mths of ownership.
The Garmin GPSMAP 62S is fitted with a 2.6″ sunlight-readable colour screen and also a Built-in worldwide basemap with shaded relief as standard on the device.
The GPSMAP 62s has a great user interface and button configuration with the front panel having an easy to navigate multi-directional toggle that has the function buttons around it. The buttons are nicely spaced on the device so as to stop any two button hits when wearing gloves.
The unit takes 2 AA batteries which give it 20 hours use in one sitting and they sit snuggly beneath the rear panel and carbineer clip for attaching to your belt loop or pack.
With a quad helix antenna and high-sensitivity, WAAS/EGNOS-enabled GPS receiver with HotFix® satellite prediction, GPSMAP 62s has unparalleled reception to locate your position quickly and precisely and maintains its GPS location even in heavy cover and deep valleys.
The unit only weighs a mere 260g which doesn’t add much weight for your pack and also includes high-speed USB and a water rating of IPX7 enhancing the waterproof properties in even the most inhospitable climates. In addition to this it’s built like a tank and include a great loop attachment built into the rear battery cover AND a strong carabiner to attach to your belt, ruck sack or anywhere else you care to hang it.
This means it’s always safe and easily to hand when required. The screen is actually so clear – and seems to be clearer the brighter the sun becomes – you can glance down at it whilst still attached. The geek in me also loves the satin finish of the carabiner and the fact it’s matches the unit.
At the rear of the unit, obsured by a rubber seal is the mini-USB port and external antenna point.
I honestly think as tool to enhance your enjoyment of the outdoors and a genuine Plan B the Garmin really could save your skin if you get caught out on the mountain tops.
I have found that while I have been using the Garmin I have started to save waypoints and routes for a later date or to share with others. It is also nice to preload a new route before you set off so you have a readily available point of reference when you’re out on the hilltops If worldwide treasure hunts are your thing then release the pirate inside of you and take advantage of the Geocache capabilities.
I will no doubt continue to use the Garmin more and more over the coming months in conjunction with traditional navigation methods I am sure. The only downside for me personally is the cost of the additional mapping. I opted for a device bundled with an SDcard containing Ordnance Survey maps for the UK, which is sufficient for my needs in all honesty but the total cost really does start to increase if you want a more detailed or activity specific mappings and views.
Cost aside, having got use to and really loved and appreciated the benefits of a handheld GPS device I really don’t leave home without it and in fact would feel a little ‘lost’ should a neglect to leave it behind. It could just be the difference between walking back to your car or taking an impromptu ride in a helicopter…