Garmin GPSMAP 66i

8.8
8.8 score
[Editors rating (8.8)] = (TheGearHunt) score (8.8)/10


0
Editor rating: 8.8 / 10
User's rating: based on 0 user ratings
1 star
0%
2 star
0%
3 star
0%
4 star
0%
5 star
0%
Add your Rating
Editor’s Conclusion
Before you don your boots and head out on your first off-trail trip, you must consider which GPS handheld device to carry with you. The Garmin GPSMAP 66i is an excellent choice for adventurers wanting off-grid safe, and easy travels.

As one of the world's first consumer handheld GPS devices that includes a fully equipped GPS navigation tool and satellite text messaging system, it's an impressive piece of kit. The 66i does all you need it to in a lightweight package of just over half a pound without sacrificing its ruggedness or battery efficiency.

As a solid piece of outdoor kit, it's obvious why the 66i is Garmin's top handheld GPS unit. Customers should find the inReach satellite communication, GPS navigation, and new expedition mode user-friendly. Combining their GPS receiver with the inReach communicator in one device that weighs half of these two means you save on weight, use 50% less power, and cost slightly less than both combined. Let's see what else it can do.
Garmin GPSMAP 66i Review Facts
Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros

Durable

Well-built

Good battery life

Excellent features

Easy to use screen

Two devices in one

Cons

Expensive

Website and app needs upgrading

Some problems with functionality

Key Features

Basic Features

The Garmin GPSMAP 66i does what it's supposed to, with the basic features causing little problems. You can supplement the already sufficient 16GB of storage with a micro-SD card slot. Customizing the GPS device is also easy, so you only see what's essential to you. Downloading third-party apps and data fields from the Connect IQ store allows you to customize this navigation device even more.

However, some users are disappointed with the old, awkward interface Garmin has used on this unit for years. Using the GPSMAP 66i could be likened to using a smartphone navigation app like Gaia GPS, then using your grandmother's ancient Nokia. The Garmin Explore website and app could use some improvements in functionality to improve user experience.

Among Garmin's popular upgraded handheld GPS devices is the eTrex 22x, so make sure you check that one also.

Advanced Features

As mentioned before, this newest version of the 66i comes with extra features not previously seen. Aside from the already discussed GPS Receiver, inReach Communicator, and Expedition mode to save battery, this Garmin device also comes with Topo maps preloaded. With more detail and more trails, the maps are better than previous versions and more confident adventuring. In addition, loading OSM and other maps onto this GPS device is easy.

The inReach communicator is vital in letting you keep in touch with friends and family, letting them know you're safe. Getting in contact with emergency services to request emergency assistance in real-time is also simple with the inReach communicator. Operating on the Iridium Satellite also means you can text and email in real-time, no matter your location.

Use

The GPSMAP 66i suits anyone looking for a multi-activity handheld device. Providing detailed mapping, superb navigation, and two-way satellite communication, the 66i allows you to cover all your bases without multiple devices. Whether your passion is a hiking, mountain biking, skiing, or geo-coaching, this GPS handheld has you covered. Because of the reliable off-trail satellite communication, weather forecasts, and accurate mapping, the 66i is also perfect for anyone wanting to get off the grid in gnarly weather conditions.


Connectivity

You get a wireless device with the 66i due to its Wi-Fi-enabled capacity, which means connecting to your phone and other apps is easy. This also means keeping your software up to date and easy to use isn't difficult.

Accuracy

Its navigation capabilities are really where the GPSMAP 66i deserves its top marks.
Choose a location on the map and press go, or you can pre-plan your course at home and transfer the route over to the 66i.

Using the Iridium satellite network should also stop you from getting stranded in lonely mountainous regions. It enables you to avoid emergencies by immediately triggering an SOS to GEOS, a 24/7 emergency monitoring-and-response center. As soon as you send your message, you'll receive a reply that allows your location to be immediately tracked so a local rescue can be sent to your site.

Power Source

Coming with an internal rechargeable lithium-ion battery, Garmin seems pretty accurate in its battery usage estimation. The battery works as it should, and using Expedition mode means you get even more battery life out of this beast, potentially even weeks. This power quality is perfect if you're planning on super long treks.

Durability

One thing that's clear about the Garmin GPSMAP 66i is that it is built to last and withstand a hell of a lot. So drop it, sit on it, get it wet, and it will still work fine.

How do I know that? Because the 66i adheres to the IPX7 and MIL-STD 810G standards of robustness. To be classed as IPX7, the device must be submerged in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes, and MIL-STD 810G is a ruggedness guideline set by the US Department of Defence.

Display

I like the big and bright screen, which is surprisingly easy to read in the rain and direct sunlight. With three inches of screen, it's also easy to read. Of course, the 240 x 400 pixels resolution will never compare with the latest smartphone, but it does its job plenty well enough.

Ease of Use

Building in the GPS receiver and inReach communicator in one handheld device makes this one of the easiest ways to track your location and be contactable in case of emergency. This two-in-one method makes it one of the best gadgets on the market.

With an ergonomic design, the 66i fits well in hand and works well, with the functionality of the GPS mapping simple to use. The easy-to-navigate screen is one of the biggest positives. While the 66i does everything you need, some users seem to take issue with the functionality, claiming there are too many functions that ultimately make this device harder to use. But some like these modern and convenient features.

There is a slight sensitivity problem with the screen, meaning other screens can pop up when moving. This can be a little distracting but, you can stop this by setting the device to give alerts only when stopped.

Price

Although expensive at around $690, the 66i combines two devices and has many features, saving you from buying several handheld units. I would recommend this superior device that does everything you need on off-grid adventures, regardless of price, if you can afford it.

It would help if you also remembered that you'd need to pay a subscription fee to use the inReach functionality, with prices varying.

Bottom Line

If you need a reliable handheld unit to navigate the harsh and unpredictable outdoors, then the 66i is ideally suited to keep you safe in the outdoors. It's a top choice with excellent navigation, reliable inReach communication, weather forecasting, and great features. However, being on the pricey side means that most people who appear to get the most out of this kit need technical and powerful gear, such as hikers, backpackers, hunters, surveyors, and SAR Teams.