Garmin GPSMAP 67 and 66 review
The GSMAP in Switzerland.
Garmin’s GPSMAP is without any doubt the best outdoor GPS-handheld for hikers. This device is available since 2004, in a series of successful versions: the 60, 62, 64, 65, 66 and now (2023) the 67.
In this article we compare the new 67 version with the previous 66 version. We also publish the results of our battery test and we give a summary of the main advantages and disadvantages of the GPSMAP.
Basically, both models GPSMAP 66 and GPSMAP 67 are very similar. If you are the proud owner of a 66, keep it. If you need a new GPS, you have no choice: buy the 67, as Garmin does not sell the 66 anymore.
The GPSMAP 66st and the GPSMAP 67
GPSMAP 66 versus GPSMAP 67
Let’s have a look at the most important differences between the GPSMAP 66 and the GPSMAP 67.
The GPSMAP 66 has sensors for several networks: GPS (USA), GLONASS (USSR) and Galileo (Europe).
The GPSMAP 67 adds QZSS (Japan), BeiDou (China), IRNSS (India) and Multi-band frequency support. This makes the 67 much more accurate than the 66.
But honestly, I have been hiking all over the world with my 66 and never had an issues to find my position. More accuracy in locating your position may be useful for geocachers or army people, but hikers can do without.
Battery life of the GPSMAP
The main difference between the 66 and the 67 is the battery. The GPSMAP 66 has two replaceable AA batteries, the GPSMAP 67 has an internal Lithium battery.
- When the AA batteries of the 66 are low, you replace them and you are back on track. Just put some AA batteries in your pocket and you will never have a power issue.
- When the internal battery of the 67 is draining, you must reload it. Fortunately, the internal battery is very powerful so you can walk for several days without reloading it. But battery power can be an issue if you are thru-hiking for several days, far away from human civilization, with no access to a wall outlet.
Let’s have a closer look at this potential power issue and find some solutions.
According to Garmin, battery life is up to 16 hours.
This matches perfectly to my personal experience in the field. I can walk 16 hours (= 2 walk days) with my GPSMAP 66 before I must replace the batteries.
- On a 2 day hike, I need 2 AA batteries.
- On a 4 day hike, I need 4 AA batteries.
- On a 8 day hike, I need 8 AA batteries.
For longer hikes, I take more batteries or I charge the batteries with a solar panel.
According to Garmin, battery life is up to 180 hours in default mode, 840 hours in expedition mode. These figures are impressive, although not very useful for hikers who are using their GPS for navigating. I use my GPS not only to record my track, but also to navigate, save waypoints, consult trip statistics, and view my track profile.
To my personal experience, I can walk 24 hours (= 3 walk days) with my GPSMAP 67 before I must reload the internal battery. For longer hikes, I carry a power bank. With a 10.000 mAh power bank, I can reload the internal battery two times.
- On a 2 day hike, the internal battery has sufficient power.
- On a 4 day hike, I need a 5.000 mAh power bank.
- On a 8 day hike, I need a 10.000 mAh power bank.
For longer hikes, I take a second power bank or I charge the power bank with a solar panel.
A few more things to consider
The 66 weights 240 gr (incl battery and carabiner), the 67 weights 260 gr (incl internal battery and carabiner). A power bank of 10.000 mAh for the 67 weights 240 gram, 6 spare AA batteries for the 66 weight 120 gram.
That makes a difference in your backpack: for a 8 day hike with the 66 you carry 330 gram, with the 67 you carry 500 gram. The difference is 170 gram.
You also have to take into account that rechargeable batteries don’t last forever. We have no idea how long the internal battery of the 67 will last, and Garmin did not publish a maintenance plan. Let’s hope that we don’t have to buy a new device when the battery is degrading.
Lithium Ultimate AA batteries of Energizer and a power bank of 10.000 mAh of Xtorm.
Although the specs of the screens of both the 66 and the 67 are the same, to my experience the screen of the 67 is brighter.
As a result, you can set the brightness of the screen of the 66 lower which saves your battery.
The GPSMAP 67 comes with the pre-installed TopoActive map of the continent where you buy your device (North America in the US, Europe in the EU). This map is very detailed, and it has a great layout. The big advantage is that you can use this GPS out of the box, without having to install a map yourself. One disadvantage is that the TopoActive map does not show contour lines. If you want to see contour lines, you can install the free OSM maps on your GPS.
The GPSMAP 66 has several versions: the ‘66’ has no pre-installed map, the ‘66 st’ comes with the TopoActive map pre-installed. The advantage of the 66 without a pre-installed map is that it has a DEM (Data Elevation Model) that shows elevations worldwide. The pre-installed map limits the DEM model to one continent. Which is the case of the 67: as you buy your device always with a pre-installed map, the DEM model is limited to the continent where you buy the GPS.
For both devices you can also buy and install Garmin’s ActivePro maps, which show even more detail. These maps are great, but a bit expensive.
GPSMAP 66 and GPSMAP 67 : battery life test
We tested the GPSMAP 66 and the GPSMAP 67 in exactly the same way: we performed real life mixed activities, from hiking to trail running and race biking.
The GPSMAP 67 started with a 100% battery, the GPSMAP 66 started with 2 brand new Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA batteries.
Settings: screen brightness was at ‘80%’ (you can save power if you keep this setting lower), recording track was ‘less frequently’.
The GPSMAP 66 AA batteries were low after 16 hours (GPS was dead), the internal battery of the GPSMAP 67 was low (10%) after 24 hours.
Our conclusion: you can hike for 2 days with a GPSMAP 66 (2 x 8 hours) and 3 days with a GPSMAP 67 (3 x 8 hours). Then you have to replace batteries (66) or reload the internal battery (67).
This matches our field experience.
We hike for 2 days with a GPSMAP 66 (2 x 8 hours) and 3 days with a GPSMAP 67 (3 x 8 hours).
But you can extend the battery life if you use your device more economical.
When we walk a mountain trail, we check our device less frequently, which saves power.
We also tested the charging of the internal battery of the 67 with a power bank.
With a Xtorm 10.000 mAh power bank we could charge the battery 2 times.
Overall appreciation of the GPSMAP
I am using the GPSMAP for more than 10 years now. I started with the 62 model. After years of abuse, I finally destroyed it and switched to the 66. In 2023, I used the GPSMAP 67 for test purposes, while my 66 is still doing fine.
What I like about the GPSMAP
It survived when I dropped it from my race bike in the Alps, going down a hill at 60 km/hour. And although it fits well in the hand and you can fasten it with a carabiner to your backpack, I dropped it in a river in Greenland (which it also survived).
It’s amazing accurate
The sensor receives signals from 3 to 6 different satellite networks (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, BeiDou, IRNSS) and there is Multi-band frequency support.
I like the buttons
Once you get used to the buttons, you can operate the device very fast. Much faster than a touch screen.
It has a long battery life
Compared to an app on your mobile phone, the battery survives at least 3 times longer. I really hope that Garmin will produce a GPSMAP 67 also with replaceable AA batteries, which is more convenient on multiple day hikes.
Great digital maps
You can use the pre-installed TopoActive maps, you can install Garmin’s ActivePro maps and you can install non-Garmin maps such as the free OSM map on an SD-card.
Integration with Garmin’s Basecamp and Garmin Explore
I use Basecamp to prepare all my hiking trips. Although Basecamp is not very user friendly, once you start to know the software, it works great. The alternative is to use Explore on your mobile, although the functionality of this app is limited. For accurate altitude profiles, I export the GPX-file to Outdooractive.
Satellite communication for emergencies
With the ‘i’ (inReach) option, you have a device that is currently the best option to communicate with your friends at home or to call a rescue in case of emergency.
What I don't like about the GPSMAP
The screen is ok, but it could be better
The screen is a bit small compared to my iphone, although this is not really an issue as my position stays in the centre of the map when navigating. But it would be nice to have an optional touch screen when scrolling through a digital map, just like Garmin’s Phenix 7 outdoor watch.
The user interface is outdated
Yes, the user interface is very old fashioned, especially if you compare it to an app on your mobile device. Fortunately, you get used to it and then you forget about the layout and even start to like it.
The GPSMAP 66st and the GPSMAP 67