Opinions regarding the Garmin GPSMAP 64

Anyone used/bought one ?

Interested to know what you think of it, or its preceding models. I know there are free options with loadable maps from various sources.


Hi Jonathan
I have the GPSMAP64 and have been very impressed with it. I have only had it for about 3 months but in that time have put it through its paces. Well impressed with its accuracy to within a few feet due to using the dual US & Russian GPS sat systems. I use it with free open source mapping software which I find more than adequate. My only gripe is that it is not compatible with the version of Memory Map that I am using - but that’s an issue for me to resolve.

73 Glyn

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Hi Jonathan

Had a GPSMAP 62 for several years and found it excellent. Came with 1:50000 OS mapping of GB. Biggest annoyance is probably low battery alarm to dead is about 2 minutes :frowning: but easily countered by replacing the (NiMH rechargeable) batteries regularly!

Gerald G4OIG has just had a GPSMAP64, not really had chance to compare yet, not sure what the differences are.

73 de Paul G4MD

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This is a slightly OT question, but out of curiosity what are the advantages to carry a separate GPS receiver with you, when nowadays (all?) mobile phones provide also position information?

Possible Pros:

  • Enhanced robustness???
  • Increased position accuracy???
  • Better GPS signal sensitivity???
  • Fallback / backup device if mobile phone is not working
  • Longer battery lifetime???

Possible Cons:

  • Additional weight (2 chocolate bars :wink:)
  • Separate mapping material???
  • Another device that will be forgotten to be charged
  • Small mapping display (compared to mobile phones)???
  • Another manual that you left at home when you urgently need it

What are your experiences?

Stephan, DM1LE

All of the PROs none of the CONs. My GPS gives me better accuracy and smaller screen is not an issue. Weight for weight give my a GPS over 2 chocy bars any day.

73 Glyn

Hello Stephan,

After thinking I could depend on a phones inbuilt GPSr receiver I found this was not to be the case. Sure Orux is brilliant software, buts its only as useful as the receiver within the phone.

As MM0FMF pointed out in another thread recently to some useful depth, the sat fix is assisted on a smart phone which means it has a high dependency on mobile data being available. Most cases this is not an issue in Wales, but sometimes it is.

Batteries are not much of an issue. All my stuff can be recharged back onto my radio battery. Personally I value knowing exactly where I think I am more then playing radio on the summit, so its a pretty important device to have… Along with a compass of course.

Thanks Paul and Glyn. Apparently Santa knows…


I would also add extra expense to the Cons list. If you already have one, that’s a different situation but for someone starting out that extra €100-€250 (€200-€330 for the Garmin GPSMAP 64 / 64S) cost could be prohibitive.

I guess it depends where you are going as well. I have taken a good old compass on just about every activation I have made and never needed to use it. I also do not have a separate GPS, preferring to print out detailed maps and take them with me for summits that are not well signposted.


OK, I will search for Andy’s comment on the reflector. My experience concerning the sat fix is, that it’s an optional feature, that I’ve used rarely. Of course it speeds up the initial sat fix significantly, but it’s less helpful for successive position determination in the nearby area. Therefore in all my cases a first assisted sat fix at the car park and successive localisation without assisted mode did work. Of course that’s only my experience mainly here in Central Europe.

Very good point, a ‘good old’ compass without batteries is still a very reliable tool for navigation. Just pointing in a direction with the help of the compass, maybe in dense fog, is deadly simple, but to locate someones position needs some knowledge and continuous practising, how to perform the methods “vorwärts einschneiden” and “rückwärts einschneiden”; sorry I do not know the proper English terms.

Also a valid argument, but everybody must weigh up for himself whether being able to safely return from a summit is worth the costs of proper equipment.

Stephan, DM1LE

In order to alleviate this problem and also to conserve battery life in the phone I use a standalone GPS receiver NOKIA LD-3W BLUETOOTH GPS. These can be bought from a well known internet auction site for about £15.
I put it in the top of the rucksack and use an app bluetooth gps for my android phone this in combination with Viewranger gives superb accuracy and detailed mapping without the use of mobile data or internal GPS in the phone.

Victor GI4ONL

p.s. it only weighs a few grams

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Stephan, these are known as forward- and back-bearings in English…

On your comment re-safety - every time - it depends upon the complexity of the ascent and decent and if there is the chance of low cloud or fog, I can see where the cost of a GPS is paid-back very quickly on a complex route or where visibility becomes a factor.


Stephan, I’ve used both.

Normally I use a Garmin Vista HCx from 2008 (still perfect) with the MCOS terrain overlay. (Moutaineering Club of Scotland) I use that in conjunction with the official UK 1:50000 and 1:25000 terrain maps. I use a paper map with the GPS as backup up. My phone is in my pocket when walking switch to Airplane Mode till I get to the top. This is to save the battery in the wilds of GM where there is no mobile signal unless you are well placed.

This year in France, Luxembourg, Belgium Ireland and Lanzarote I’ve used my phone (Moto G XT1039) with Orux Maps and the Openstreetmap maps in hiking mode. The maps have contours and terrain data but at much lower levels of detail than my UK maps. The trail info is very accurate though.

The Garmin always shows data and I can use a backlight if I need. So I can unclip it from my belt and look at highway mode (it shows if I am going the right way and how far off my programmed route I am) or I look at the map grid and transfer my position to the paper map. It is waterproof to IP65 ot IP67 (can be submerged in water). I can use it with gloves on.

The phone GPS is accurate with position info. In the country side you only hear few cell sites, so the navigation is GPS. In towns, high accuracy mode uses Wifi and cell information to augment the GPS signals. The issue is I take the phone from my pocket, flip open the case, hit the power button to wake it up, swipe the code, then the GPS app appears then you need to hit the show my position button or wait for an update. When still, the update rate is slow. Also auto screen rotation will annoy you if you don’t hold the phone just right.

The phone is not IP65 so I would be concerned in bad weather and using it is harder and would involve gloves on/off a lot. The accuracy of the free maps is wonderful. I played with it in Luxembourg/France/Belgium this summer and trusted in on EI/IE-072. Many tracks were shown for this easy summit. I used the access road to climb the summit and came down using the GPS and network of trails. It was spot on. Likewise, I used it in Lanzarote where again the accuracy was good. The issue is important detail is missing from the free maps which resulted in an “exciting” time on a very exposed path on Montagne d’Hortus F/PE-309.

My GPS takes AA cells and runs for 24hrs on fully charged NiMHs. The phone battery lasted well but is not swappable. I have a phone charger with me which is a 4000mH LiPo and inverter with captive USB cable. So I can charge the phone when away from mains power. Also I have a good phone package with lots of included data. My provider gives me “free” roaming in many countries, so in France, Spain (Lanazarote), Ireland, Switzerland I can use my UK data allowance and not worry about data charges, it makes a world of difference because you can use the phone and let it do what it wants and not worry about a nasty bill.

I find the phone harder to use and less designed for outdoor abuse. If I didn’t have a standalone GPS I think I would still buy one even with the phone doing a good job.

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Actually no - the phrases “vorwärts einschneiden” and “rückwärts einschneiden” are to be read in the context of using map and compass to either:

  1. identify a distant feature when one is certain of one’s own position (“vorwärts einschneiden” / forward bearing), or
  2. ascertain one’s own position by taking bearings on known distant features (“rückwärts einschneiden” / back bearing).


Not always! If one is in a situation where the terrain is such as to introduce errors in the GPS system (e.g. by reflections off nearby slopes), or to reduce the visibilty of the GPS satellites to the degree where one can no longer get a stable or reliable reading, then good old mountain-craft, map-and-compass work and one’s five senses will have to be called into service to get one to safety.

An example: I did the Blauberg summit (Halserspitz DL/MF-031) from the north-eastern side, and then the ridge westwards in deep winter in very good visibility one February a dozen or so years ago. As I reached the point at the end of the ridge where the path turns northward to descend toward Wildbad Kreuth, night fell and a thick fog suddenly sprang out of nowhere to envelop me. Deep snow lay everywhere, the path was nowhere visible, I’d never been there before and had to somehow find, and then traverse, the steep 500 meter descent in the dark.

So, map and compass-work, and hearing a stream falling to my right, which I guessed to be the stream marked on the map, plus a feel for the poorly defined, and heavily-wooded, steeply-descending ridge (situated between two enclosing steep slopes) which the path was supposed to follow, enabled me to work my way cautiously to a point about 2/3 of the way down where I found the first red mark to confirm I was on the right track. Unfortunately at that point there were about ten meters of iced-over vertical rocks to navigate in the pitch-black and thick mist but, with the help of the ice-axe and head-torch, I was able to overcome that difficulty. After that it was fairly plain sailing in ever-gentler slopes to the valley floor.

Now, in such a situation - navigating down a difficult path in a steep-walled valley - I would argue that GPS would have been totally useless. Good mountain-craft is not to be sneezed at…


Sorry Stephan - Rob is of course correct,
You’re correct - I read these two expressions out of context i.e. related to the use of the GPS equipment. I also read einschneiden as enschieden (decide) - Oops - sorry all.


Make sure he gets the S version for you Jonathan. The 64 is cheaper and doesn’t have so many features.

I can’t really report on mine as yet as it is a “Santa came early” situation. Having tried it out locally though, it does seem very responsive and accurate. I am currently using the free open source mapping software (pending sufficient funds being available for the OS maps) and locally not all the paths are shown, probably because the interest in the use of GPS over the local pathways is minimal. It’s hardly rugged country hereabouts!

73, Gerald G4OIG

Thank you all for your detailed replies.

Yes, depending how often you are using GPS for navigation, this seems to be one of the most important advantages: modern mobile phones are difficult to handle especially in winter if you wear gloves. GPS receivers are definitely designed for efficient handling of navigational tasks. And also robustness is far better implemented for GPS receivers than for mobile phones. I should know, I lost my last non-waterproof mobile phone during a SOTA activation of Moel Siabod, when some rain drops hit my phone. Fortunately I did not have to rely on this device for navigation :wink:

Thanks Rob for the translation, I never understood why in German the term “einschneiden” is used for these navigation techniques :confused:

Interesting tour, especially in winter. I guess you descent went down to the terrific “Wolfsschlucht”. I know the ascent and descent from the north side only during summer. During winter, at least up to now, I thought, a ski tour from the south would be more appropriate.

Jonathan @G2HFR I hope you forgive me that I’ve temporarily hijacked your thread :wink:
Today I’ve seen your spot on SOTAwatch on 20m SSB and hoped for a summit-to-summit, unfortunately I didn’t hear you.

Stephan, DM1LE

Ah its just the 64 - he tells me ;). Yes the price varies to almost double in some cases for the ‘S’ version of the GPSMAP.
I am sure it will help in Scotland though Gerald.

The phone being a SII loaded with Orux maps got me safely down with ease in thick visibility < 2m and dark conditions tonight on Yr Eifl GW/NW-075 keeping me on the path all the way.

If it was wet then it would have been a worrying problem. Water and capacitive touch screens do not mix well. Whats worse if you push the power switch to log out and re-log in again hence resetting the touch you loose the GPS fix which can take much time to recover in some cases.

Regarding the bluetooth separate receiver option, I did consider that but the above problem doesn’t go away. I have also had the SII do strange things when wet generally such as loosing the microphone function temporarily.

Map(s) + Compass + phone + Garmin and a good head torch should provide a plethora of options for navigation one any one Activation I think.

I didn’t actually make it onto 20m today. I did 10m which wasn’t fantastic. The 20m spot was a dash at trying to alert Allan and Simon that I was near the top as they had already came up.
Not the best choice of bands. 60m wasn’t great either, should have gone onto 40m prehaps on the first one.


Well, it comes originally from mathematics/trigonometry - from the German Wiki:

Aufgrund der anschaulichen Darstellung als Schnitt zweier Geraden erklärt sich auch der Begriff „Vorwärtsschnitt“ oder „Vorwärtseinschneiden“.

But you knew that anyway, right? :smile: