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One last handheld. AA powered. Durable hardware. General purpose. Street map with navigation. What to get?

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Most common use is hiking, for which I want a more readable display than my iPhone and freedom from battery worries. But all of this too:


  • establishing an accurate position of something
  • multi-day cycle ride navigation along a pre-established route
  • recording the route of a car trip (not necessarily navigating it)
  • boating
  • hopefully in the future: flying an ultralight plane.


I am familiar with the use of the eTrex 20 (this search is prompted by mine breaking) and Garmin’s cycling products like the Edge 520. So I would prefer a Garmin to preserve the value of my knowledge. Doesn’t look like there’s much competition left anyway.


Not against getting an old model if I can find a new-old-stock one or a used one in perfect condition.


I live in Europe if it matters.


Sort of thing I’m wondering about:


  1. Does the Russian war change anything about the value of Glonass? Any risk of Glonass reception being a positive detriment?
  2. There are many new Garmins since I last looked years ago, but many of them seem not to work on AA cells. That’s a must for me, not least because I want this to work for 10 years and ideally 20. Is there an easy way to figure out which of the GPSMAPs, for example, run on AAs?
  3. I want topo maps for life. But it would be great if I could also load up-to-date street maps and have the device program a route to an arbitrary destination without needing a phone, computer, or internet connection. What’s my best long-term bet for that? The eTrex 20 had a rudimentary navigation feature with City Navigator maps, but it was so slow to find a route as to be practically useless except over walkable distances.



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My post hasn’t been approved by a moderator yet (still hope it will be), but I’ve spent the day since writing it getting a handle on what’s out there.


I’m currently leaning toward the GPSMAP 65s or 66st. Garmin’s website is spectacularly bad at highlighting the useful differences, but after hours of digging I think the 65s has a better (more accurate) GPS receiver but lacks the 66st’s BirdsEye (satellite imagery). Is that about right?


However, it looks like BirdsEye would need an internet connection over a phone. If so, it may not be worth much to me. If I have a phone with battery to spare, and the phone has internet, I can just use my phone to pull down any amount of satellite images via Google Maps.

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If you're using Google (or pretty much another other commercially refined map) you need to be sure you're compliant with the relevant


There are many governmental agencies in many countries that can provide imagery or DEM graphs to remix in applications like this. Check with your local cartographic authorities like regional governments or universities or mapping companies.

Garmin doesn't really have any competition left and has kind of left the handheld hiking business afloat for several years. 

Montana is bulky and expensive, but the last of their touch screens.
64, 65, 66 are so are nearly indisinguishable. When we compare the three the can be compared, we see the "65" doesn't have sesnsors - we knew that because it doesn't have an "S" in the name, which is about the only thing they've held constant. It used to be that "x" meant "expandable via SD card", but their little table doesn't show that. 65S, having a bigger number, supports more GPS constellations - but how many is "enough"? We've been successfully finding tupperware in the woods since there was only one. Sure, more SV's is "better", but it's hard to say that everything before some specific model wasn't enough.

Few of us are in a position to predict war outcomes. In fact, as a moderator, I'd rather we not.

Loading data without a connection ... is going to require a connection of some kind. If you want to tether your laptop to your phone to preprocess the imagery and download it to your GPS, that's up to you. None of these exactly has a cellular modem in them. Units have been big enough for many years to hold vector map data entire counties and even continents, but infinite raster storage is still out of range. I'll say only that Google Maps, for example, has an option to download map data but not to download image data. For any non-trivial area, it's HUGE (I have some relevant professional background in this area and will stick with "HUGE" as the relevant unit of measure.) Many of us have successfully navigated a couple or several countries/continents using only what our device holds, but it does require some amount of planning as we tend to not spontaneously cross oceans for most of us. I guess if you're a spy that doesn't know his or her next deployment, a pocketful of pre-generated OSM maps for your territories should be in the bag that M hands you when you receive your assignment. That might be a nudge for a unit with an "X" in the name, if it still means "expandable" - you could have multiple cards, each loaded with unique large areas.  Personally, I was in the geo-imagery business for many years and still really only found it necessary while hunting geocaches a few times, but having maps not close to me WAS valuable many times.


So I'd cross off the 65 for not having "S". (I DO find the compass useful.)
From the best I can tell, 64XS has expandablle memory and 65S has more radio bands.  Then again, https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/715085 says that 65S has a memory slot. So much for consistency in their naming. {shrug}
I've already hinted which of those two I'd find more useful. Seems that 65 also has an extra 8GB of base memory, but unless they've upgraded their on-board USB implementation to at least USB 2 speeds (2000 - they hadn't done so as of their models from 2016 and I've quit following them because there's so little to follow) transfering 8GB over a 12Mbps connection would be torture - that was a LEADING reason to keep maps on cards in that time, in fact. Surely they've updated their USB choice by now. Surely... Then again, it looks like 65 was introduced in 2020 and I don't see much in this space since then.  Maybe someone with a 64 or 65 can chime in on whether updating internal maps is torture. They never did "fix" that even in the Oregon lines unless it was the very final models, IIRC.

On the battery thing, I think they pitch that their units CAN take their overpriced two-batteries-in-a-dumb-little-clip module to allow them to be recharged but CAN be run with commodity (or even Lithium) cells, if you'll forgo the in-unit charging. (Allowing charging anything they don't approve is a liability problem for them when they explode.)  You can download the individual manuals to be certain, but all the doc I saw showed that the models a geocacher would consider took AAs. Their more exotic devices like the 276, that need more power than you can get from a reasonable quantity of AA's, may require non-standard cells. (I'm not testifying that this device DOES, but other low-end marine products from them in this general space did...)

Finally, yes, first submissions are held by a moderator (and it's not only not me, it's not even often me just because other mods are faster on the general trigger) for review. You wouldn't believe the spam that comes through otherwise.

It also catches my eye that your post doesn't mention geocaching and your profile shows no hides and no finds. This really isn't a general purpose GPS support group. I probably should have noticed that BEFORE I typed all this stuff, eh?

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