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      Garmin 66i     

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schweady
distinguished member(7205)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
06/08/2019 08:47PM  
Garmin 66i
Supposedly, it's a combination of the best handheld gps that I know of yet (Garmin 66st), and the inReach satellite communication technology with which I am just beginning to get familiar (DeLorme iReach SE owner here).

At first, I kicked myself for recently jumping on a deal on the DeLorme. At least I have -- so far -- failed to find a 66st at less than full price. Anyway, I was initially convinced that this shiny new item would make me want to sell off both my 64st and my new inReach.

Then, a couple of things stuck out as perceived limitations of the 66i...
* Rechargable vs replaceable batteries - the 62, 64, and 66 series use 2 AA batteries. Easy to carry a few spares to last for the entire trip. The 66i's rechargeable batteries (just like the inReach) requires bringing an extra power pack, such as an Anker, etc, to recharge.
* Extending battery life comes at a cost - reducing the number of points along a track might save battery power but it makes the recorded track an inaccurate, jagged path... not exactly the smooth trails I have saved in my trip diaries from previous trips.
*oh, and the $600 price tag...

I guess I'll just go another year with my 64st and DeLorme inReach SE.
 
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06/09/2019 07:53AM  
I figured this as a next step for Garmin. Still not quite right though. The GPS portion is fully up to the 64's standard, the tracking and comm of the sat messenger up to industry best. No real reason not to design a power supply compatible with current replaceable batteries and a suitable lithium power pack to cover both uses.
Then there is the replacement of 2 single purpose gear units with a multi purpose item, if it fails both uses are toast.
I like the single purpose units for reliability, and will stay with separated mapping/navigation and emergency comm.

butthead
 
mx353
member (13)member
 
07/15/2019 01:23PM  
The Garmin gps I own is about 14 years old :-) I'm ready for an upgrade and the last several BWCA trips I have taken we have rented an inReach unit from outfitters. This new 66i looks like it is the best of both worlds. I realize the 66i is just out, I wondered if any members had any first hand experience with this unit yet? And or the 66xt to get feedback from the gps side...
 
07/15/2019 02:31PM  
None first hand. The spec show the effect of more memory boosting waypiont route and track numbers, bigger screen, still can use custom maps and now the Garmin Topo Application for Inreach. The change from common battery type to internal lithium can be taken either as an improvement or detriment. Until I lay hands on that's the gist.

butthead
 
mx353
member (13)member
 
07/15/2019 03:10PM  
butthead: "None first hand. The spec show the effect of more memory boosting waypiont route and track numbers, bigger screen, still can use custom maps and now the Garmin Topo Application for Inreach. The change from common battery type to internal lithium can be taken either as an improvement or detriment. Until I lay hands on that's the gist.


butthead"


Thank you for that info. Are the topo maps that are installed adequate for bwca navigation (ex: entry points, portages, campsites) or is there other ways to get that information and upload. I currently have the campsites loaded on my old etrex (I believe from your generosity).
 
07/15/2019 06:22PM  
Should be easy to do, swap the chip if it's there. If on internal memory copy to a computer and then to a chip. File types and storage system are basically the same. Operating system is different but compatible. The Inreach is a separate system and not compatible with some exceptions.
Those files are still viable and links are in this thread forum. .gpx file for BWCA and Quetico

butthead
 
TechnoScout
distinguished member (379)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/31/2019 12:42PM  
mx353: "The Garmin gps I own is about 14 years old :-) I'm ready for an upgrade and the last several BWCA trips I have taken we have rented an inReach unit from outfitters. This new 66i looks like it is the best of both worlds. I realize the 66i is just out, I wondered if any members had any first hand experience with this unit yet? And or the 66xt to get feedback from the gps side..."

I just got one. Activated it today in preparation for a trip in 8 days. I have owned several generations of garmin units. So far, I like this one. Seems to be more accurate than my previous units and also acquires satellites much faster.

To use the inreach texting feature, it is best to link it to a smartphone since you have all your contacts available there and you have access to a keyboard.
 
TechnoScout
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08/31/2019 12:51PM  
schweady: "Garmin 66i
Then, a couple of things stuck out as perceived limitations of the 66i...
* Rechargable vs replaceable batteries - the 62, 64, and 66 series use 2 AA batteries. Easy to carry a few spares to last for the entire trip. The 66i's rechargeable batteries (just like the inReach) requires bringing an extra power pack, such as an Anker, etc, to recharge.

I am bringing several Anker packs

* Extending battery life comes at a cost - reducing the number of points along a track might save battery power but it makes the recorded track an inaccurate, jagged path... not exactly the smooth trails I have saved in my trip diaries from previous trips.

The low tracking sample rate only impacts what is sent to the satellite. The unit tracks just like the older units...setting time interval or distance.
 
08/31/2019 12:56PM  
Speed of booting, almanacing (?my terminoligy?), and acquisition are all improvements related to the operating system changes made after the GPS60 series, and latest chipsets. CEP is usually not device limited by GPS system capabilities.
Only real improvements are via military codded GPS receivers and commercial/scientific GPS units which use much higher sampling rates/frequency. A CEP of 2 meters is normal. I have seen and discussed with road survey folk (BIL) is a 20 year veteran Cook CO ILL surveyor the units are FAST and PRECISE (I believe CEP in feet not meters), but very costly!

How do you like the larger screen?
Do you use the Birdseye subscription (I do and like much)?
What was your latest Gamin, for comparrison sake?

If I upgrade it will not be for the sat messaging, but for the parts upgrade from my 62st. I prefer a true PLB for emergency use.

butthead
 
TechnoScout
distinguished member (379)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/31/2019 01:32PM  
Speed of booting, almanacing (?my terminoligy?), and acquisition are all improvements related to the operating system changes made after the GPS60 series, and latest chipsets. CEP is usually not device limited by GPS system capabilities.
Only real improvements are via military codded GPS receivers and commercial/scientific GPS units which use much higher sampling rates/frequency. A CEP of 2 meters is normal. I have seen and discussed with road survey folk (BIL) is a 20 year veteran Cook CO ILL surveyor the units are FAST and PRECISE (I believe CEP in feet not meters), but very costly!

This thing will output a raw format of the data (don't recall off hand what that is), so I have in the back of my mind, doing some post processing to better accuracy. Start with a known reference point and work from there. Not for BWCA tracking but kinda homebrew surveying (metes and bounds of my property).


How do you like the larger screen?

I like it a lot! Better if it were the size of my ipad mini!!!

Do you use the Birdseye subscription (I do and like much)?

I think this thing came with a limited subscription to Birdseye...know nothing beyond that at this point.

What was your latest Gamin, for comparrison sake?

I have an old 60CS but my latest was a Vista HCx


If I upgrade it will not be for the sat messaging, but for the parts upgrade from my 62st. I prefer a true PLB for emergency use.

Not sure I would have bought it, were it not for the sat feature

My ulterior motive is to convince my wife to let me do a solo trip...we'll see.


 
mx353
member (13)member
 
08/31/2019 09:54PM  
I actually bit the bullet and bought the 66i and received it yesterday. It looks like the birdseye subscription is good for life... Other then it taking several hours to register the inreach communication part of the gps everything has been very smooth. I'm honestly blown away by how cool this unit is, although I'm easily impressed because my prior gps was a etrex I had for 14 plus years lol... I'm downloading a software update as we speak, once I get some first had experience I'll update everyone.
 
joewildlife
distinguished member(515)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/31/2019 10:45PM  
Count me jealous of the 66i. I bought an InReach just a month ago but didn't know the 66i existed. If I had, I might have forked over the extra $150 to get the 66i.

So in the meantime, I use a 78s. I have used it 3x doing the Everglades Challenge in Florida, when a GPS is pretty damn crucial in my mind. I loaded the Garmin G2 Bluewater chip, which has the NOAA marine charts. I have LOTS of waypoints and tracks to follow through the course. For the EC, I am required to have a PLB, so I have a ACR ResQLink for that. Also a SPOT for tracking, so I have a Spot3. Spot3 is great for tracking because one set of batteries will surely last the entire event. Set and forget. So to do the EC I take in three electronic devices, (spot plus gps plus PLB) PLUS a VHF. Word is the Chief of the EC will set up the race tracker to use the InReach. I DO want to avoid another year's subscription for the SPOT but if I use the InREach instead, gotta carry a battery bank to recharge so there is no advantage there. Only advantage of the InREach over the SPOT is the 2 way texting ability.

I use the 78 in Quetico with the Garmin BWCA/Quetico TOPO chip.
I use the 78 in Woodland Caribou with the Garmin TOPO Canada chip.
InReach can't take the place of the 78 because it can't handle all the waypoints and tracks, it is just not a great GPS. So I take the InReach JUST for the 2 way satellite communication and the 78 for the GPS. Seems like I'll keep it this way for awhile.

Joe


 
TechnoScout
distinguished member (379)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/01/2019 11:13AM  
A couple of things I have observed playing with this thing.
I have NOT read the manual so bear that in mind as you read my comments...lol

1) I initially thought the best way to use 2-way com was to use the Garmin Explore app on my android phone. It works. Plus you have the benefit of all the contacts on your phone. The 66i can store contacts on the unit but I do not know if there is a way to download them from the phone to the unit or web to unit or some other way. However, I only want a small group of contacts anyway, so I manually entered them. It was easy enough.

Of course, I figured entering a text message using the phone would be much easier, and in fact it is. But, the 66i text interface is not bad and really pretty quick. It has text prediction that works well. So, I will take my phone on the trek, but I don't think I will use it as my text interface as I am happy with what is on the unit itself. Only need to keep ONE think properly charged.

2) Sat com is better than I might have expected. I sent and received several texts while sitting in my house (composition roof--not metal). Really did not expect that. The unit warns you to seek clear sky. There is an unpredictable delay from initiating a message and when it is actually sent. Sometimes pretty quick--within minutes. Other times it takes many minutes.

3) At some point Garmin changed terminalogy. Instead of turning on "tracking" you turn on "recording." Confused me at first but now I get it.


 
TechnoScout
distinguished member (379)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/24/2019 08:20AM  
Back from my trip using the 66i. Here are my observations.

I did not tether it to my cell phone. I used the handheld text entry ability of the unit. It is clunky and has poor text prediction but it works reliably. Even though it is clunky and tethered to a cell phone would be easier entry, I would still just use the handheld.

InReach communication back home was flawless. Sometimes it took longer to send a message than others, but that is understandable.

LiveTrack operation was also flawless. Friends back home watched our travels.

Recording worked fine. It is a little strange compared to the older Garmins. Seems that it is always recording. You must STOP and DISCARD if it is recording you sitting at the fire grate drinking a shot of Jameson. Fine. Just remember to do that before heading off to your favorite fishing spot.

The unit acquires Sat signals very quickly and I never lost them.

Over an eight day period, I recharged the unit multiple times using an Anker 10Ah battery pack (it never drained to zero...I was just topping off). I drained one Anker and barely started on the second for the complete trip. This is not scientific, but perhaps useful. I had the Freedom Plan that sent lat/lon every 10 minutes. Often times I just left the unit on to receive messages at random times. I probably sent 50+ text messages begging for weather data!! My instinct from these crude data is that the unit is very efficient.

Back home...I wish Garmin still had Windows SW to extract the stored data. Unless I am missing something, you must log in to Garmin Explore and upload data to the cloud and then you can export it to Google Earth, etc.

Overall...I am very impressed. Yes it is expensive. Yes the data plans are expensive. Worth it for me.
 
09/24/2019 11:30AM  
"Garmin still had Windows SW to extract the stored data."

Have you used it in conjunction with BaseCamp?
It should hookup with a UBS cable direct to a computer and tranfer to the BaseCamp program. This results in a variety of .gpx files common to many platforms.

butthead
 
TechnoScout
distinguished member (379)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/24/2019 12:27PM  
butthead: ""Garmin still had Windows SW to extract the stored data."


Have you used it in conjunction with BaseCamp?
It should hookup with a UBS cable direct to a computer and tranfer to the BaseCamp program. This results in a variety of .gpx files common to many platforms.


butthead"


Yay! It does.
 
mx353
member (13)member
 
09/24/2019 01:06PM  
I got back last week from a 5 day trip to the BWCA with the new 66i. I thought it might be helpful to add to the other reviews although my findings sound very similar.

As far as the navigation goes... All that I added to the base pre installed maps that the 66i comes with was the campsite waypoint database that butthead shared. I was happy that the stock maps gave me enough detail to easily navigate. Even some of the portages were on the stock maps! The gps acquires satellites very quickly, usually within a matter of seconds. I used the usb cable and basecamp to load over the waypoints. I have downloaded some birdseye imagery but did not use it for this trip because the mapping was adequate. It is easy to download directly to the device though if needed (and "free").

The main reason for my purchase was for the inReach capabilities. Every evening at a pre arranged time I would send one of the "free" preset messages that everything was going well. I also had many replies and both the send and reply's were always made within a few minutes of each other. I always sent messages in the evening from within the tent. I was very happy with the performance of that function. I used the GPS stand alone (not tethered to a phone) and the texting is a bit clumsy when I am used to a smartphone, but it's very adequate for the nature of my intended use. It's the greatest thing in the world to be able to leave the cell phone at home!!!

As far as my battery life from the 66i goes... From the fully charged state I was down to 25% life by the time I made it back to the car. I primary navigated by map and compass but would use the GPS maybe an hour or so during the day and each night I would use the gps once again an hour or so sending and receiving txts back home to the fam. It looks like I averaged 5 txts a day. I took the 10k Anker battery pack but never used it while in the BWCA. Once back home I did charge the 66i back to full and it only used 25% of my battery pack. So, with intermittent use I could go roughly 20+ days with that set up. I know that is very rough and not very scientific but hope it helps give everyone some estimates :-)

The only thing that was really lacking was the weather information. I spoke with Garmin a couple weeks ago and they assured me that the weather functionality will be available with an upcoming update scheduled for sometime this fall.

Every person's situation is different, I have young children I trip with or my wife and I trip and leave our children with grandparents. Either way I, wife and grandparents like to have a way to communicate if needed. So, for me this is the perfect use of an available technology. Like I said I enjoy primarily navigating by map and compass and have for years. But, the ability to be able to chuck the phone and have a powerful tool that I can use when I want, on my terms is great!
 
brotherbear
member (33)member
 
10/18/2019 02:13AM  
TechnoScout:
Recording worked fine. It is a little strange compared to the older Garmins. Seems that it is always recording. You must STOP and DISCARD if it is recording you sitting at the fire grate drinking a shot of Jameson. Fine. Just remember to do that before heading off to your favorite fishing spot.


Go to main menu -> recording controls -> press the menu button -> activities setup -> and turn Auto Start off
 
TechnoScout
distinguished member (379)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/18/2019 08:17AM  
brotherbear: "TechnoScout:
Recording worked fine. It is a little strange compared to the older Garmins. Seems that it is always recording. You must STOP and DISCARD if it is recording you sitting at the fire grate drinking a shot of Jameson. Fine. Just remember to do that before heading off to your favorite fishing spot.



Go to main menu -> recording controls -> press the menu button -> activities setup -> and turn Auto Start off"


Awesome. Thanks!
BTW, one of the other features on this unit which I really like is the ability to lock keys. Maybe this is on earlier Garmins too, dunno. Without this feature, it is easy to punch a key inadvertently and create an unwanted waypoint or something else more troubling.
 
mx353
member (13)member
 
11/02/2019 08:47PM  
FYI: Garmin has now released an update which allows the user to obtain an inReach weather forecast. Just updated and tried it and it works perfect. Very impressed with even the basic weather forecast. Can't wait to utilize this in the BWCA!!!
 
SinglePortage
distinguished member (211)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/04/2019 09:19AM  
My mom wants to buy me an In-Reach for Christmas this year because I go on so many solo canoe camping/hiking trips and she worries. This unit sounds perfect since my GPS is 20+ years old. I am sure that any limitations that this unit has compared to the best stand alone units will not even be noticed by me.

Does the 66i use rechargeable batteries or a battery pack? I like that it is rechargable, but it would be great if you could carry extra batteries also.
 
TechnoScout
distinguished member (379)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/04/2019 10:15AM  
SinglePortage: "My mom wants to buy me an In-Reach for Christmas this year because I go on so many solo canoe camping/hiking trips and she worries. This unit sounds perfect since my GPS is 20+ years old. I am sure that any limitations that this unit has compared to the best stand alone units will not even be noticed by me.


Does the 66i use rechargeable batteries or a battery pack? I like that it is rechargable, but it would be great if you could carry extra batteries also."


Rechargeable via USB Micro. I took a 10K AH Anker battery on an 8-day trip using the Sat plan and never depleted the Anker while charging the 66i.

I was/am very happy with the 66i. I used it stand-alone rather than tethered to my Android. The text prediction is weak, but that is no big deal. All else worked great.
 
SinglePortage
distinguished member (211)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
11/04/2019 10:35AM  
TechnoScout: "SinglePortage: "My mom wants to buy me an In-Reach for Christmas this year because I go on so many solo canoe camping/hiking trips and she worries. This unit sounds perfect since my GPS is 20+ years old. I am sure that any limitations that this unit has compared to the best stand alone units will not even be noticed by me.



Does the 66i use rechargeable batteries or a battery pack? I like that it is rechargable, but it would be great if you could carry extra batteries also."



Rechargeable via USB Micro. I took a 10K AH Anker battery on an 8-day trip using the Sat plan and never depleted the Anker while charging the 66i.


I was/am very happy with the 66i. I used it stand-alone rather than tethered to my Android. The text prediction is weak, but that is no big deal. All else worked great."


Thanks. I am going to let her know about the 66i.
 
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