The Garmin GPSMAP 64st Navigator is a great tool to plan hikes together with Garmin BaseCamp. For hiking the Skåneleden trail its been perfect to navigate with and I have been very pleased with its performance.
I purchased the Garmin GPSMAP 64st navigator in October 2016. The device, out of the box, does not include any batteries. I purchased two Garmin rechargeable NiMH battery packs. You don’t need these battery packs to operate the device as you can also use two AA batteries.
- 2.6″ (6.6 cm) sunlight-readable colour screen
- High-sensitivity GPS and GLONASS receiver with quad helix antenna
- 3-axis compass with barometric altimeter
- Wireless connectivity via Bluetooth® technology
- Physical dimensions 2.4″ x 6.3″ x 1.4″ (6.1 x 16.0 x 3.6 cm)
- Weight 8.1 oz (230 g) with batteries
- Dual battery system: 2 AA batteries or optional NiMH pack (not included)
- Battery life 16 hours
- Water rating IPX7
- Memory/History 8GB
- Storage microSD™ card (not included)
- GPSMAP 64st
- USB/charging cable
- carabiner clip
- preloaded recreational map of Europe
- OSM North Europe map loaded on a micro SD memory card
My navigator came with a preloaded recreational map of Europe plus a OSM North Europe map loaded on a micro SD memory card. I don’t use either of these.
I live in Denmark and my hiking adventures are either in Denmark or Sweden. I purchased the following Topo maps from Garmin’s webshop and downloaded them directly to my device’s memory via the USB cable.
- TOPO Danmark v4 PRO
- TOPO Sweden v5 PRO
I did not buy the Topo map SD memory card versions. The maps that I purchased can’t be loaded on any other device. I don’t like this system and I regret not ordering the SD memory cards instead. However, the maps work very well and I have never had any issues. I paid a lot of money for the maps and I can only use them on this device. If I loose my GPS or it breaks down and it can’t be repaired then I’ve lost my maps too. If I’m going to purchase more maps in the future then I will order the SD memory card versions. Then I can use them on any Garmin device. When I registered my GPSMAP 64st I received a 10% discount code from Garmin and I used that code with my map purchase.
I don’t use the carabiner clip that came with the device. I store my GPSMAP 64st in a Tread Lite Gear Dyneema X Grid backpack strap bottle pocket. I call it my GPS pocket.
When I organise my hikes I use the Garmin BaseCamp program, downloaded free from Garmin to my computer, to plan my tracks. Connecting the Garmin GPSMAP 64st navigator to my computer first, via the USB cable, I then use the saved maps in the memory on the navigator. Once the desired track is completed I save it to my computer and the device. You can print all the maps you want in the required scale or save them as a PDF and load them on your smartphone too.
I can then either use the GPSMAP 64st to navigate with or just use it to check my location when I’m in the wilderness. I have been section hiking the long distance trail called Skåneleden in Sweden for the last three years in my spare time. I have used the GPSMAP 64st on most of these hikes. It’s quite handy on the Skåneleden as the trail tends to be not maintained in some areas and it is easy to get off the path. The GPSMAP 64st is very helpful in this situation. It’s good for two, three or four-day hikes, but for longer trips with open landscapes then a map and compass would be best.
I wanted to track my journey and also use my Garmin GPSMAP 64st for checking my position when necessary. I was traveling alone and promised my family that I would have both the GPSMAP 64st and the DeLorme inReach SE satellite communicator with me at all times. This was agreed when I announced that I would be doing the hike. However I navigated with my map, compass and the Topo GPS App on my iPhone instead. I hardly used the Garmin GPSMAP 64st. After the second day it was not used and I did not track the rest of my journey.
The DeLorme inReach SE satellite communicator can be connected to my iPhone via an App and it functions similar to a GPS as it can also show my exact position.
The King’s Trail or Kungsleden, sometimes called hiker highway, is a well trafficked and marked trail. For trails like this (not in extreme weather conditions like the middle of winter in a snow storm) I would not deem the use of the GPSMAP 64st necessary. However, get off these well-marked and used trails and the situation is a different one. Here the GPSMAP 64st can be used to check your position and if the weather turns bad then it is a great backup to have.
In the above figure two you can see my next planned adventure in Swedish Lapland. I used both the GPSMAP 64st containing the TOPO Sweden v5 PRO map and Garmin’s BaseCamp to plan and save this track. In some parts of this track I might not see any people for some days. This is not a well trafficked trail like the Kungsleden. I’ll be packing my GPSMAP 64st and the DeLorme inReach SE satellite communicator for this hike.
I have used the GPSMAP 64st in all types of weather. In the winter season using the device with gloves is an easy task. The buttons are large enough so that it is not necessary to remove your hand protection. In freezing temperatures the device runs all day and I have not experienced any difference in performance. Likewise, using rain mittens in pouring rain the GPSMAP 64st gets the job done.
The Garmin rechargeable NiMH battery packs take anywhere between 5 – 7 hours to charge. I have two packs so I need a whole day to make sure the packs are ready for my next hike. After two year’s usage the packs still hold their charge. One pack will last the first day and some hours the next day. I always have the extra pack with me so I just change them over and I’m good to go again. If I have anything to complain about it is the long charging time, but the batteries hold their charge so this is probably a good thing.
You can connect the navigator wirelessly via Bluetooth to a smartphone. It has several Bluetooth connected features for a compatible smartphone:
- Phone notifications: Displays phone notifications and messages
- LiveTrack: Allows friends and family to follow your activities in real-time. You can invite followers using email or social media, allowing them to view your live data on a Garmin Connect tracking page.
- Activity uploads to Garmin Connect: Automatically sends your activity to Garmin Connect as soon as you finish recording the activity.
I used it once connecting it to my iPhone. It worked as it should but I didn’t feel I needed these features and both devices used more battery when they were connected via Bluetooth. In fact, it annoyed me with the notifications and beeping all the time. I quickly deactivated this function.
The Garmin GPSMAP 64st Navigator is a great tool to plan hikes together with Garmin BaseCamp. For hiking the Skåneleden trail its been perfect to navigate with and I have been very pleased with its performance. I also like to analyze the recorded tracks when I’m home again. The data shows times, heights, length walked, standing still time etc. This is very useful when writing trip reports and for future trip planning.
In conclusion I would sum up by saying that the GPSMAP 64st is:
- reliable for four-season usage: incredibly durable and easy to use in all-weather conditions
- the quad-helix antenna is very accurate down to 3 meters
- easy to use
Photos here on Flickr
Thanks for reading