Is the Garmin GPSMAP 66i Worth Buying? In-depth Review

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Are you excited about your next hiking trip? Ready with all the important stuff, but still confused about which GPS communicator to carry? Several devices in the market are bound to leave you dazzled.

But worry not. We have carried extensive research and come up with the best device that could be your companion to your next hiking trip.

Want to know which gadget we are talking about? Then scroll ahead and find an answer to all your questions.

So let’s get started.

Garmin GPSMAP 66i
298 Reviews
Garmin GPSMAP 66i
  • Large 3” Sunlight-readable color display for easy viewing
  • Trigger an interactive SOS to the geos 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center; two-way messaging via the 100% Global Iridium satellite network (satellite subscription required)
  • Preloaded Garmin TOPO mapping with direct-to-device Birdseye satellite imagery downloads (no annual subscription); includes multiple global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) support and navigation sensors
  • Cellular connectivity lets you access active weather forecasts and geocaching live
  • Compatible with the Garmin explore website and app to help you manage waypoints, routes, activities and collections, use tracks and review trip data from the field

Brief Overview

The Garmin GPSMAP 66i is a multi-activity GPS hand-held device. It is a very solid and sturdy device that is built for outdoor use and navigation. It consists of in-built InReach satellite communication making it one of the top-of-the-line gadgets.

Garmin Ltd. is well known for providing communication, navigation, and information devices that are enabled by GPS technology. Five segments that are operated by Garmin Ltd. They include aviation, auto, fitness, marine, and outdoor.

The GPSMAP 66i is one such outdoor product from Garmin Ltd. It comes with several advanced features and technology that we shall discuss in the Garmin GPSMAP 66i review.

Who is the product for?

The GAPMAPS 66i is a wonderful backcountry tool that brings together high-detail mapping and navigation with two-way satellite communication in a single device. Thus, this device is for every adventure enthusiast who loves hiking, skiing, mountain biking, kayaking, surveyors, hunters, and geocaching. This device is best suited for all those who spend several days in harsh outdoor conditions.

With its advanced features, you can have greater peace of mind traveling to areas with no cellphone range. So whether you are a travel guide or a traveler at heart, this device is the one for you.    

​Specifications

​Weight

​241 gm. (with batteries)

​Screen size

​3.8 x 6.3 cm & 3” diagonal

​Screen type

​TFT

​Battery type​​​​

​Rechargeable lithium-ion

​Battery life

​​Up to 35 hours on standard mode or 200 hours on expedition mode

​Compatibility

​​Compatible with Fenix 5 Plus series and Instinct GS watches

​Built-in memory

​16 GB

​Tracklog

​20,000 points, 250 saved tracks, 300 saved activities

​Waypoints and routes

​10,000 waypoints/250 routes

​Wireless compatibility

​Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, ANT+

​GPS and multi-GNSS receiver

​Yes

​Worldwide basemap

​Yes

Garmin GPSMAP 66i Review: Key Features & Benefits

​Interactive SOS

GPSMAP-66i

Setting out to secluded mountainous regions on the expedition can have you stranded in emergencies. This is where the GPSMAP 66i enables you to use the Iridium satellite network.

This immediately triggers an SOS to GEOS, which is a 24/7 emergency monitoring-and-response center. As soon as you send a message, you will be replied and your location will be tracked immediately. Next, a local rescue will be sent to your location.

​This feature will also allow you to send text messages to the emergency response personnel and also receive confirmation.

Two-way satellite communication with InReach Technology


This handheld GPS device operates on the Iridium satellite to give you the best possible coverage. You can send and receive text messages and emails in real-time. Whether you are in the middle of an ocean or on top of a mountain, you can stay connected to the outside world.

You can also send preset and customizable texts to your family and friends at preset intervals. This will let them know that you are safe. Just like texting, communication through the GPSMAP happens in real-time.

Top-notch navigation and mapping technology


You will find preloaded TOPO maps of the U.S. and Canada on the Garmin GPSMAP 66i. Additionally, it also features an SD card and lets you load the device with more maps for flexibility.

With the built-in Wi-Fi, you can also download BirdsEye aerial imagery in high-resolution. No subscription is needed for using the Wi-Fi. With this wonderful device, you can calculate the trial and routes precisely and also leave behind a breadcrumb trail. This would aid you in returning the same way that you came.

High detail tracking


To keep your loved ones updated about your whereabouts and safety, this handheld GPS device has a live location tracking feature. Your location is sent to the MapShare tracking page every 10 minutes.

This feature is very useful as your friends and family can be well-informed about your adventure, and also send and receive messages in real-time. And the best part is that you can even embed your MapShare page to your social media account.

ANT+ wireless technology


The wireless technology on the device helps you to easily pair the gadget with Garmin-compatible devices like the Garmin Fenix 5 series watch. Thus enabling you to send and receive messages and also trigger an SOS if required.

Various sensors


You can also take advantage of various sensors like the altimeter, barometer, and compass. By showing you the short term changes in wind-pressure, the barometer can alert you about weather changes on the way.

With the help of altimeter, you can precisely know the elevation data and accurately monitor the ascent and descent. The device comes with a 3-axis electronic compass that shows you accurate bearing whether you are moving or not.

Other features include the following;

  • Know the sunrise, sunset, moonrise, and moonset with the sun and moon features.
  • LED flashlight and SOS beacon
  • 250,000 preloaded geocaches
  • Shock-and impact-resistant
  • Water-resistant up to 1 meter (up to 30 minutes)
  •  Photo-viewing ability

Pros

  • ​Rugged gadget ideal for harsh environments
  • ​Accurate size fits perfectly in the palm
  • ​Top of the line hardware and chipset
  • ​Compatible with Garmin explore website and app
  • ​More screen pixels for better reading

Cons

  • ​A bit pricey
  • ​Some users faced firmware corruptions
  • ​Modern USB connection missing

​Garmin GPSMAP 66 i ​VS. others

​GPSMAP 66i vs. InReach explorer

The Garmin GPSMAP and InReach explorer are very similar GPS handheld devices. There are quite a lot of common features in both. However, they differ on the following grounds.

GPSMAP 66i: Navigation GPS with full features and InReach capabilities added.

InReach Explorer: This is an InReach satellite communicator with limited navigation features.

GPSMAP 66i: It can store 250 routes and around10, 000 waypoints.

InReach Explorer: It is capable of storing 500 waypoints and 20 routes.

GPSMAP 66i: It can route you on trails.

InReach Explorer: The explorer can route you only on straight lines.

​GPSMAP 66i vs. GPSMAP 64

It would be wise to upgrade from GPSMAP 64 to GPSMAP 66i if you are looking for added features.

GPS MAP 66i: It comes with InReach communication for two-way satellite communication.

GPSMAP 64: It lacks an InReach communication feature.

GPSMAP 66i: Comes with a built-in memory of 16 GB.

GPSMAP 64: The built-in memory is only 4 GB. Thus, you may run out of memory with your tracks, waypoints, etc.

GPSMAP 66 i: Comes with a screen size of 3.8 x 6.3 cm/ 3” diagonal. This makes it better to view the details on the device.

GPSMAP 64: Screen size of GPSMAP 64 is 3.63 cm x 5.4 cm

Customer ​Reviews

This Garmin GPSMAP 66i hiking GPS gadget is everything that adventurous people should own. A lightweight device with decent screen size and some wonderful mapping and navigation features make it one of the top in the line. And the best part is, it is lightweight and won’t take much space in the backpack too.

​The device is a great one and works just as claimed by Garmin. However, some users found a few small bugs with the software. But overall, this device is just amazing.

Final ​Word

After the Garmin GPSMAP 66i review, we can say that if you are looking for a rugged design and strong handheld GPS device, then Garmin GPSMAP 66i is the one you should be eyeing. It is one of the best handheld devices out there to be with you on your adventure trips.

It is more than a smartphone and also features InReach capabilities. Thus, it can be the most ideal choice for you. It comprises a host of features like good screen readability, water-resistance, built-in memory, live location tracking, ANT+ wireless technology, and much more.

​So what are you waiting for, go ahead and make this wonderful gadget your travel companion and you will love your expeditions even more.

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Tim Fox

Tim Fox

Since the age of 10, Tim, a writer at Outdoor With J, has enjoyed camping in the great outdoors. Although he loves the peace and quiet of the outdoors, he also likes his creature comforts. Tim’s mission is to make camping a fun and comfortable experience for all. You can find more about him here

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