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Garmin GPSMAP 66i Satellite Communicator Reviewed

It is early March 2021 and there’s more snow than they’ve experienced in 50 years in the mountains southeast of Whitehorse, Yukon. I’m alone, exploring the area close to the off-grid log cabin in which I’m residing for a couple months alongside with my wife and our toddler. I’m perfectly into a mouth-long excursion in the Yukon in which I’ll wintertime camp, snowshoe, and snowmobile extensively in distant spots.

It is windy, and I’m snowmobiling via a big stretch of alpine tundra. The trail I’m on is blown over and hard to follow. I’m returning to the cabin in which I’d advised my wife I’d be home for supper, but I’m currently working late and losing mild. Hoping to make time, I go off the hard-packed trail and my machine commences to sink in the deep snow. I pin the throttle to compensate and buzz via the deep powder, placing both equally feet on the inside of runner to steer the machine back onto the packed snow of the trail but my change is a minimal much too limited. Which is when I operate up on best of some dense bushes and get trapped. Hopping off, I fall up to my waistline in fluffy sugar snow. Pulling out my shovel, I know it is going to consider me a although to get out even right after I’m completed shoveling, I’ll have to start out chopping away at all the branches underneath the machine’s track if I want any opportunity of finding traction.

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

With a Garmin GPSMAP 66i in my pocket, in advance of I start out digging, I pull it out and shoot a satellite textual content concept to my wife: “I’m high-quality but I just acquired trapped so I’ll be late.” My wife is back at the cabin (which is also out of mobile mobile phone array) and she pings me back employing her InReach satellite interaction unit. She states she’ll wait around up. Relieved she does not have to fret, I consider off my parka and start out shoveling.

Making use of the shovel and a folding observed I usually provide in the snowmobile, it requires me a fifty percent-hour (and a large amount of elbow grease) to free the sled—somehow however earning it back in time for tasty moose burgers gifted to us by a local hunter.


What It Is

Having sizeable encounter employing handheld GPS devices and sat interaction machines over the years, I was excited to explore the 66i in advance of heading off on this Yukon adventure. What tends to make the 66i so good is that it has all the capabilities of a substantial-end handheld GPS unit, merged with those people of a advanced satellite-messaging unit.


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

Why We Like It

This unit has several characteristics but below I’ve incorporated a listing of the key 66i characteristics I used most.

1) Maps

The unit comes with preloaded topographic maps, but you can also load satellite imagery and supplemental topographic maps into the unit.

2) Tracking

In the subject when I have sufficient battery power, I go away monitoring on. This signifies the unit will hold a history of my progress, which usually provides me an uncomplicated breadcrumb trail to follow back home. Right after a handful of days of exploring a offered area, the various tracks saved in the device produce an correct trail map as perfectly.

three) Waypoints

I mark a waypoint to get me to (or back to) some thing specific like an ice fishing hole.

4) Sat Comms

The 66i has satellite-texting ability that lets me to not only communicate with my wife’s InReach unit, but I can also interact in two-way textual content messages with any mobile mobile phone, and ship and obtain e-mail much too. E-mails and texts to mobile telephones are sent with an accompanying link that lets the receiver to perspective the correct spot of the sender and follow his or her progress on a map. The 66i can even ship a map link and textual content write-up to Fb and Twitter, making it possible for many others to follow your progress as perfectly.

6) SOS

Potentially the device’s most critical help save-your-bacon element occurs to also be the a person you by no means want to have to use. If and when shit really hits lover, you will will need the interactive SOS button. This sends a sign to an crisis checking station that can facilitate a rescue everywhere in the entire world.


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


This is a rugged out of doors unit and simply because of that supreme longevity, its interface is not as user-pleasant as a smartphone’s, for a person. That drawback is largely simply because it does not have a touchscreen, so texting and map panning consider extended. There is also an odd glitch in the firmware, which signifies that each after in a although, you will need to change it off and on to reboot. Take note that this difficulty will very likely not persist as new firmware updates turn into readily available.

This unit features more piece of brain, but never enable it give you a fake sense of stability although you’re in the backcountry. No unit (or piece of gear for that subject) need to consider the put of encounter and skill.

[$600 garmin.com]

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