Power Source: x2 AA batteries
Runtime: 20 hours
Display: 2.6-inch, sunlight-readable TFT display with 160 x 240 pixel resolution
Mapping: Built-in worldwide basemap with shaded relief. Maps can be upgraded to included detailed topographical content, satellite imagery, and turn-by-turn and marine navigation data
Storage: 1.7GB Internal memory. microSD slot
In the Box: GPSMAP 62s, Carabiner Clip, USB Cable, Quick Start Manual
Warranty: Two Years
Research Time: 9 Hours
The Garmin GPSMAP 62s is a great GPS for an outdoorsman/woman. Selling for around $373, it’s a piece of gear that offers a balance of cost and features.
When I was nine years old, I got lost in the woods for a night. To make up for it, I ended up spending over a decade as an army cadet and reservist, picking up some solid old-school orienteering skills along the way. I never got lost again. Not everyone who camps, hikes or works in the wilderness is emotionally scarred into learning how to survive outdoors like I was. For most people, owning a handheld GPS device is the best way to get from point A to point B. Which one should you buy? Up until last week, I couldn’t have told you. I’ve never had much use for GPS. To educate myself on the topic, I started by talking to Tyler Barrass at the Mountain Equipment Co-Op in Victoria, British Columbia. I asked him a simple question: What should an average Joe look for when he’s shopping for a handheld GPS device?
“You want to have an external antenna,” Barrass explained. “With the old-style models with the antenna in the face, you pretty much had to hold it level. You’d never get a signal in the city where there’s a lot of tall buildings, in canyons or thick foliage—you’re not really going to get a signal at all. An external antenna fixes a lot of those problems. You don’t have to hold it perfectly flat and you get a much better signal in covered areas.” He also made it clear that I should look for a handheld that has both internal and external memory. This provides the option to install maps and data downloaded from your computer at home, as well as the ability to slap a micro SD card into your GPS device that contains additional data like area-specific topographical maps, charts or city navigational data.
Outdoor Gear Lab echoed much of what Barrass had to say, and went on to recommend that if you’re serious about finding your way anywhere, you’ll also want to pony up the dough for features like a digital compass, a push button interface (because touchscreen-based GPS devices are slower to load, use more power and are harder to see in direct sunlight), and ensure that it’s built to survive the environment you’ll be using it in.
The Garmin GPSmap 62s has everything Barrass and Outdoor Gear Lab mentioned and more. Weighing in at 9.2 ounces it’s got enough heft that it feels solid when you hold it, but it's still light enough that jamming it in your hip pocket between uses is no big deal. It can run off of two AA batteries for up to 20 hours before they need to be swapped out.
With 62s' backlit 2.6-inch color transreflective screen, you’ll have no problem figuring out where you are night or day, even in direct sunlight. Its rugged, waterproof case protects it from the elements as well as the occasional case of the dropsies.
It has a well-designed eight-button and directional pad interface, and any of the GPSmap 62s’ functions can be accessed with one hand. It's got an external antenna, which gives it a better chance to receive GPS data when you’re navigating under thick tree cover, heavy snowfall or walking along the bottom of a canyon than a handheld equipped with an internal antenna. With 1.7GB of internal memory and a microSD slot, you’ll be able to upload navigational data from your computer or slap a memory card pre-loaded with mapping information into the GPSmap 62s while you’re out and about. It even has a barometric altimeter baked into it to ensure more accurate elevation readings.
The GPSmap 62s’ on-board software puts the handheld’s hardware to excellent use. The device supports topographical maps, subscription-based satellite imagery and BlueChart g2 marine navigation. With the purchase of a Garmin City Navigator NT pack, the GPSmap 62s can be used for turn-by-turn navigation. Thanks to the company’s Custom Maps software, you can even scan paper maps and upload them to the handheld. The device’s internal memory is capable of storing 2,000 waypoints/locations, 200 different routes and a 10,000 point track log with up to 200 different tracks. In short, it’s got pointing you in the right direction covered.