Garmin GPSMAP 66i Satellite Communicator Reviewed

by adster988
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It’s early March 2021 and there’s extra snow than they’ve had in 50 years within the mountains southeast of Whitehorse, Yukon. I’m alone, exploring the world across the off-grid log cabin the place I’m dwelling for a pair weeks together with my spouse and our toddler. I’m effectively right into a mouth-long journey within the Yukon the place I’ll winter camp, snowshoe, and snowmobile extensively in distant areas.

It’s windy, and I’m snowmobiling by means of a big stretch of alpine tundra. The path I’m on is blown over and onerous to observe. I’m returning to the cabin the place I’d advised my spouse I’d be residence for dinner, however I’m already operating late and shedding gentle. Making an attempt to make time, I’m going off the hard-packed path and my machine begins to sink within the deep snow. I pin the throttle to compensate and buzz by means of the deep powder, placing each toes on the within runner to steer the machine again onto the packed snow of the path however my flip is a bit of too tight. That’s after I run up on high of some dense bushes and get caught. Hopping off, I fall as much as my waist in fluffy sugar snow. Pulling out my shovel, I do know it’s going to take me some time to get out; even after I’m completed shoveling, I’ll have to start out reducing away in any respect the branches beneath the machine’s monitor if I would like any probability of getting traction.

Jim Baird

With a Garmin GPSMAP 66i in my pocket, earlier than I begin digging, I pull it out and shoot a satellite tv for pc textual content message to my spouse: “I’m high-quality however I simply bought caught so I’ll be late.” My spouse is again on the cabin (which can be out of cellular phone vary) and she or he pings me again utilizing her InReach satellite communication device. She says she’ll wait up. Relieved she doesn’t have to fret, I take off my parka and begin shoveling.

Utilizing the shovel and a folding noticed I all the time carry within the snowmobile, it takes me a half-hour (and quite a lot of elbow grease) to free the sled—by some means nonetheless making it again in time for tasty moose burgers gifted to us by a neighborhood hunter.


What It Is

Having significant experience utilizing handheld GPS units and sat communication gear over time, I used to be excited to find the 66i earlier than heading off on this Yukon journey. What makes the 66i so good is that it has all of the capabilities of a high-end handheld GPS machine, merged with these of a complicated satellite-messaging machine.


Jim Baird tests the Garmin GPSMAPS 66i while snowmobiling in the Yukon.
Jim Baird

Why We Like It

This machine has many options however under I’ve included an inventory of the principle 66i options I used most.

1) Maps

The machine comes with preloaded topographic maps, however you may also load satellite tv for pc imagery and extra topographic maps into the machine.

2) Monitoring

Within the discipline when I’ve ample battery energy, I go away monitoring on. This implies the machine will preserve a file of my progress, which all the time offers me a simple breadcrumb path to observe again residence. After a number of days of exploring a given space, the a number of tracks saved within the unit create an correct path map as effectively.

3) Waypoints

I mark a waypoint to get me to (or again to) one thing particular like an ice fishing gap.

4) Sat Comms

The 66i has satellite-texting functionality that enables me to not solely talk with my spouse’s InReach machine, however I may also interact in two-way textual content messages with any cellular phone, and ship and obtain emails too. Emails and texts to cell telephones are despatched with an accompanying hyperlink that enables the receiver to view the precise location of the sender and observe his or her progress on a map. The 66i may even ship a map hyperlink and textual content submit to Fb and Twitter, permitting others to observe your progress as effectively.

6) SOS

Probably the machine’s most important save-your-bacon characteristic occurs to even be the one you by no means need to have to make use of. If and when shit actually hits fan, you’ll want the interactive SOS button. This sends a sign to an emergency monitoring station that may facilitate a rescue anyplace on the earth.


Jim Baird tests the Garmin GPSMAPS 66i while snowmobiling in the Yukon.
Jim Baird


This can be a rugged out of doors machine and due to that final sturdiness, its interface isn’t as user-friendly as a smartphone’s, for one. That downside is principally as a result of it doesn’t have a touchscreen, so texting and map panning take longer. There may be additionally an odd glitch within the firmware, which implies that each every so often, you want to flip it on and off to reboot. Notice that this challenge will doubtless not persist as new firmware updates grow to be accessible.

This machine affords extra piece of thoughts, however don’t let it offer you a false sense of safety when you’re within the backcountry. No machine (or piece of substances for that matter) ought to take the place of experience and skill.


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