Cumbyrocks reviews the Garmin GPSMAP 62s

Garmin GPSMAP 62s

Happily my first field experience with the Garmin GPSMAP 62s was it being tossed 10 metres into a blackberry thicket.

Despite what you are thinking the GPSr landed safely in my hands and I have been in love ever since. Undoubtedly you are now also wondering what I was doing standing 10 metres into a blackberry thicket. I’ll come to that soon.

The Garmin GPSMAP 62s, in my humble opinion, is the GPSr traditionalists handheld. None of this nancy fancy touch screen stuff. We want a standard sized screen that you navigate with buttons. And on top we want a kick arse antenna jutting out from the top to show that this is a seriously accurate piece of machinery. This ain’t no smart phone internal GPS the Garmin GPSMAP 62s’s antenna is so big it’s bursting out of it’s casing. This is a manly GPSr, for real men.

It’s tough. So tough you don’t hesitate to blindly throw it 10 metres over a bush and into a blackberry thicket without being able to see the

Great mapping

intended receiver on the other side. Would you do that with the Oregon 450 or Magellan eXplorist 710? I doubt it.

This GPSr has everything a geocacher or GPS enthusiast could want (Supports paperless caching; waterproof; 3-axis tilt- compensated electronic compass; automatic routing; helix antenna; supports Custom maps, BirdsEye® Satellite imagery, and photo navigation; high- sensitivity receiver; high-speed USB and NMEA 0183 compatible; uses micro-SD card; 1.7 GB memory; barometric altimeter; hunt/fish calendar; sun/moon information; tide tables; area calculation; custom POIs; unit-to-unit transfer; chirp compatable) but the two things I experienced that I felt were most important were the accuracy and the compass.

The accuracy, even under thick tree cover, is exceptional and probably the best you could hope for from a personal handheld GPSr. Of course even the most accurate GPSr won’t guarantee you’ll land spot on ground-zero and instantly find the cache but there is a high level of satisfaction in knowing you are more than likely in the right place, even if the cache owner’s GPS is then wrong. Not worrying about the GPSr losing satellite reception also helps improve the pleasantness of the whole experience.

The electronic compass - pointing in the right direction even when you're stopped!

Until today I hadn’t realised the benefit of an electronic compass. I’d insanely thought that it was no more difficult to just keep moving. I was wrong. An electronic compass is to a GPSr as power steering is to a car. It provides you with an immense amount of control and ease of use. And that’s kind of important when you are 10 metres into a blackberry thicket.

As to why I was in the blackberry? The family and I ventured forth to complete the confluence point come geocache GC2C58E Lots of Zeros by Guwapo. This confluence-cache is a lovely walk in via forestry roads and then an easy 40 metre trot through the bush to the cache site. There is a little bit of thorny stuff along the way but pretty easy to step over or on. The cache is fortunately located just inside a thicket of dense bush that contains a fairly good amount of blackberry. All of our GPSr’s showed the confluence point to be 10-15 metres away (not unreasonable considering the variation in different GPS units and the dense tree cover) and as the intention was to log the confluence on the Degree Confluence Project we elected to bush bash out way through the blackberry thicket to our GZ.

Speaking of Blackberry’s, don’t for a minute think I have lost my love for my favourite geocaching tool. I was impressed by the way my Blackberry Bold 9000 performed against the 62s. It maintained a good satellite signal and a high level of accuracy in dense tree cover. The 62s might have been more accurate but the Blackberry was not far behind. However, as I have subtly expressed in other posts the time to shift from an excellent smart phone to a more serious geocaching tool is fast approaching. Quite possibly the Garmin GPSMAP 62s will be my next purchase…who would have thought!?!


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  1. Erickson

    I love the 62s. But there are still some firmware glitches to be worked out – my unit loses gpx files in the internal memory if I am not careful. The black paint on the keys is wearing away. And if a squeaky case bothers you it may be problematic. But other than that, it has performed wonderfully

  2. sue gribble

    can anyone tell me PLEASE how to erase excess geocaches-I think I am overloaded-any help much appreciated

    1. kjwx

      I own a Garmin 450 so can’t speak from personal experience but I believe there’s a Delete button in the cache menu. Alternatively you should be able to connect your GPSr to a PC and remove individual GPX files from the GPX folder, which lives in the main Garmin folder. Hopes this helps.

  3. Bob

    If you are a professional map-maker, or GIS user, read this. I bought a Garmin GSmap62 about 7 weeks ago and have had to replace it with a 60csx, for good reason.

    My new Garmin GPSmap60csx arrived yesterday and I have just put it through its paces with my 3 freeware programmes for downloading waypoints and tracks into Mapinfo.

    Garfile is sweet, creates a .mif filefor all waypoints and tracks in the GPS that with the flick of a finger one imports to MapinfoI and then opens as a .tab file in Mapinfo.

    DNR Garmin is just as sweet and saves the .gpx files as a single .dbf file which requires one to use Table and Create points when opening it in MI.

    GPSU will likewise create a single .dbf files amongst many others.

    DNR Garmin and GPSU both create .shp files which I think are what are needed for Arcview/ESRI.

    The newer model GPSmap62s did none of these things and I had to go a very roundabout route saving each single .gpx waypoint file as an .xml file in separate pages of Excel, cutting and pasting each separate .xml file into one page of Excel, saving the .xml files as .xls and then opening .xls in Mapinfo before opening Table and Create points.

    The moral is buy the GPSmap60s series (the csx has all the bells and whistles, and the sx means that it good for rainforest and tight gullies as the aerial is Extra Sensitive) and download the freeware Garfile. Couldn’t be more easy. The GPSmap60csx can be had through ebay,, new, for $298 BuyItNow price plus postage. Other ebay dealers may be around $305-325 using ByItNow. Amazon.com are even cheaper.

    The proof is definitely in the pudding-if you make maps/GISes using GPSes, don’t touch the GPSmap62s even if it is the latest, with slightly nicer page displays and buttons and an equally good aerial.

    1. Ken

      Why is would a “professional” map-maker be using exclusively free tools? Admittedly, DNR Garmin doesn’t read from the 62 series but neither does MapSource. Use BaseCamp, save the file as GPX (which BaseCamp does much better than MapSource), and then continue to use your free tools to convert the GPX to what you actually need.

      Having owned both, I vastly prefer the 62s for the better screen resolution, faster operation generally, paperless geocaching, and particularly the ability to load custom raster images.

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