There are numerous handheld or automotive-style GPS units on the market today, but only a select few that offer navigation and communication features. If you’re looking for a product that has an oversized screen, oodles of features, navigation, and two-way communication opportunities, you’re in luck. Garmin’s latest offerings are probably exactly what you’re looking for. In this Garmin review, we’ll check out the GPSMAP 66i and the Overlander and inReach Mini duo combo.
Garmin GPSMAP 66i: Handheld Nav and Comms in One
The Garmin GPSMAP 66i handheld backcountry tool combines GPS capability, navigation, and two-way satellite communication in a single product. Coverage is worldwide. Is it worth its price? We take a closer look to see for ourselves. In this Garmin GPSMAP 66i review, we examine the pros, cons, and usability features of this unit.
Garmin GPSMAP 66i Specs
This black with red highlights unit weighs a mere 8.5 ounces. It fits easily into your hand and has a carabiner to clip onto a backpack or jacket. The GPSMAP 66i is fairly compact, with dimensions of just 6.4 x 2.6 x 1.4 inches. The 66i includes a 3-inch display showcasing 240 x 400 colorful pixels on a glossy screen. While users can read it easily in most weather scenarios, full sunlight or high-contrast conditions can be a challenge.
This powerhouse Garmin product packs more features in it that are typically found in other products. The GPSMAP 66i has tracking ability, birds eye satellite imagery, and pre-loaded topo maps. It also boasts two-way messaging and SOS ability, a built-in compass, a long battery life, and much more. Garmin’s GPSMAP 66i is a true adventurer’s companion.
Also on board is a nifty Sight ‘N Go feature. This allows users to point it to the desired destination and project its waypoint or set a course to it. Users can even register it with geocaching.com in order to use it for geocache hunting.
GPS MAP 66i Use Cases
The Garmin MPSMAP 66i device can be held by a hand, clipped onto something, or inserted into a dedicated powered mount. We’ve used it hiking by clipping it to the exterior of our backpacks. But, it usually calls our 4×4’s front dash home (it needs a clear view of the sky to sync and track correctly).
The GPSMAP 66i has an IPX7 rating, meaning it’s appropriate to use in snow or rain. This Garmin unit is not intended for under-water activities, however.
Along with its IPX7 rating, the GPSMAP 66i also showcases a MIL STD 810G rating. This aids thermal and shock performance—it can withstand applicable environmental conditions.
Comms and Emergency Capabilities
As with other Garmin inReach products, the GPSMAP 66i uses the Iridium satellite network for communications. A paid subscription must be purchased for it to send and receive short text messages, emails, and/or text social media posts from anywhere in the world.
Depress the SOS button on the 66i and an emergency response center will respond back with a text. They will find your location and dispatch the nearest emergency personnel to you. The GPSMAP 66i doesn’t care if you’re in Death Valley with a flat tire or in the middle of nowhere with a medical issue. As long as it has a clear view of the sky, it will connect and can get you help from the outside world.
Another neat feature is the GPSMAP 66i’s LiveTrack system. This allows loved ones to keep track of you on your journey. Users can send out the device’s location via a web-based MapShare tracking portal or can post the link to social media. This system allows them to contact you, review your location, and send you messages in near real-time.
Users can alter the LiveTrack to track every 10 minutes all the way up to an “expedition mode” to save battery. Garmin states users can receive up to 35 hours at 10-minute tracking and up to 200 hours at 30-minute tracking (via the power saving mode) but we’ve never let the battery drain to the critical level. We have, however, set the GPSMAP 66i to ping every 30 minutes and it lasted a few days without needing a boost of juice.
On the GPSMAP 66i device, it can take a while to create messages, but once completed it successfully sends and receives messages from just about anywhere. Auto-suggest and auto-complete words features can help speed message creation times. The Garmin GPSMAP 66i also offers up customizable texts, preset messages, and can send preloaded messages at certain intervals as well.
A super useful feature of the GPSMAP 66i is connecting the unit via Bluetooth to the Garmin’s Explore app. The Explore app, when used on a smartphone or mobile device, can view maps, create routes, add waypoints, review completed tracks, quickly create messages, and so much more.
Garmin’s GPSMAP 66i: Yes or No?
After a few months of use all across the world, we’ve used the Garmin GPSMAP 66i to track us, communicate for us, and keep us on the straight and narrow. It’s a heftier price tag than other products, but when you have an all in one device, we say it’s worth it. [Check Price Here]
Garmin realized a need. Folks love off-grid trail adventures but they want to know where they are at any given second. Garmin’s hotly-anticipated Overlander is an all-in-one GPS unit designed for adventurers who like to take their vehicles everywhere. While on-road the device is great, like Garmin’s well-known vehicle-based GPS devices, the Overlander truly excels when navigating off-road.
What’s the Overlander About?
The Garmin Overlander is a powerful all-in-one GPS unit that keeps users on point, no matter where they are. TheOverlander showcases topographic maps including public land boundaries, numerous 4×4 treks and trails, and other relevant land use data. Additionally, this heavy hitter GPS unit contains pitch and roll gauges, a digital compass, a barometric altimeter, a track recorder, and more.
When paired with Garmin’s Explore app, users can find primitive campsites via pre-loaded iOverlander and Ultimate Public Campground campsites. Folks can even sync routes, waypoints, or tracks from this device to a smartphone.
Using the Garmin Overlander
The Garmin Overlander is intuitive and user friendly. The screen is oversized, 6.0-inches wide x 3.5-inches high, and is easily readable in just about any lighting condition. Its resolution is crisp, showcasing 1024 x 600 colorful pixels. The unit is also easy to handle.
Using the Overlander to find a location is relatively easy. Its voice recognition works well most times, but sometimes misinterprets even simple words. Once locked into a route, the Overlander gave excellent directions and even showed real-life street signs, trees, and intersections when displaying route directions.
The Overlander’s Bluetooth paired to my Samsung Note 8 smartphone in mere seconds. Garmin’s Explore app allowed us to download maps, sync waypoints, and routes, etc.
The unit comes with a RAM mount and ball adapter. Although heavy-duty and durable in design, it was challenging to mount in a few of our vehicles. The positioning didn’t seem to fit easily on the windshield in convenient locations. The suction cup windshield mount has also fallen off the windshield several times during our treks. While running over washboard roads it has also drooped down on the ball mount a few times. Care should be taken to make sure the mount is firmly affixed to the windshield. A little moisture, like a lick, of the suction cup before mounting helps make a secure long-lasting connection.
The Overlander also doesn’t allow its screen to stay on for long when using battery power. It simply goes to sleep quickly. Users need to find the slim, body-fitting power button and push it again for another round of screen activation. You get about 30 minutes of battery-powered screen time before the device goes dead, even during route guidance, before needing to be plugged in again. Additionally, the battery life could also be improved and the battery level indicator only shows when using it in off-road mode. [Check Price Here]
inReach Mini: Pint-Size Communicator
The Overlander has oodles of features incorporated in it and works extremely well for navigation, but it doesn’t offer any communication features. It is Garmin inReach compatible, however.
The Overlander easily paired with our Garmin inReach Mini satellite communicator. The inReach Mini is a diminutive device that measures just under 4 x 2 inches and weighs a mere 4.23 ounces. The screen display resolution is 128 x 128 pixels. It’s a great companion to the Overlander, or a stand-alone satellite communicator if you don’t need to view maps or use some of the other features the Garmin GPSMAP 66i offers.
The Garmin inReach Mini device requires a subscription. Once activated it offers two-way texting, SOS emergency communications, weather forecasts, and even basic text social media posting. The Garmin inReach and Overlander are a powerful combo that can guide you pretty much anywhere, and keep you connected while doing so.
Garmin’s Overlander and inReach Mini: Yes or No?
When the Garmin Overlander is paired with the Mini, it’ll give you lots of bells and whistles for the price. But, we wish the Overlander alone had inReach integration and better battery life for us to give it two thumbs up. Perhaps the next iteration of the Overlander will include that? Only time will tell. But, if you’re in the market for a robust on- and off-road GPS system that can guide you for future adventures, the Overlander should be considered. Is the inReach Mini a great stand-alone communicator or partner to the Overlander? Yes, it is. [Check Price Here]
Users need to gauge if the benefits of this duo outweigh the steep combined price tag. While most in-vehicle stand-alone navi systems provide only on-road commands, the Garmin Overlander supports all sorts of off-grid guidance. Armed with pre-loaded tracks from North and South America, remote camping areas, as well as public land boundaries, and much more, it’s hard to say no to it. The Garmin Overlander, when paired with the Garmin inReach Mini, is a serious overlanding duo worth considering.
Garmin GPSMAP 66i vs Garmin Overlander With inReach Mini
Both of these Garmin satellite navigation and communication tools are extremely powerful. The Garmin GPSMPA 66i is a super versatile and portable all-in-one solution for a wide range of adventures, both by foot and in-vehicle. The Garmin Overlander is a great navigation tool for overland vehicle travel and proves to be even more robust when paired with the Garmin inReach Mini satellite communication device. Each unit has its specialties, but if you’re looking for an on-the-go handheld, then the GPSMAP 66i is a sure-fire way to adventure. The Overlander, when paired with the inReach Mini, is a great navigational tool for your 4×4 excursions.
Garmin Overland Comms and Nav Device Summary
Which Garmin GPS navigation and satellite communication combo is best for you? We tested both and continually use the GPSMAP 66i for two-footed wanderings. Its oversized screen and ease-of-use texting ability make it a win for us in that department. The Overlander and inReach Mini, however, sets up any four-wheeled overland adventurer for success. Its robust capabilities can get you to where you need to go in an efficient and effective manner. If you’re in need of route-planning and waypoint logging, the Overlander is a better bet. It will help your adventure vehicle find its way back to your origin in a jiffy, should weather or trail conditions go south.
Garmin continues to impress us with its innovative satellite navigation and communication devices. We can’t wait to see what they come up with next!