Hunters are starting to learn the value of a quality handheld GPS unit. However, the buying process can be very intimidating to say the least. There are a number of company’s selling units and those company’s also sell many different models that are all designed to do different things. I personally am a fan of the Garmin handheld units as they are accurate, easy to use, and there are units to fit any budget.
Last hunting season I decided that I wanted to upgrade my older Garmin 60csx unit for something that had a slightly larger and clearer screen. After a lot of research and multiple stops to my local outdoor retailer, I had finally settled on the Garmin Oregon 650t. I have been using it regularly for everything from hunting to ice fishing. This was a serious upgrade from my old unit.
The Garmin 650t boasts a 3” touch-screen display with a 240 x 400 pixel resolution. The screen is very bright and easy to read in any lighting conditions. This was one of the first upgrades I noticed when comparing my two units. The colors and detail are so much better and clearer on the Oregon compared to my 60csx. The only difference between the two that I would give thumbs up to the 60, 62, and 64 series of units are the external buttons for navigating the menus and scrolling on the map. A user can use all functions on the 60, 62, and 64 with gloves on while the touch screen on the Oregon requires you to have a bare hand. This proves difficult when the temperature starts to dip. However, the touch-screen functions just like modern smart phones.
The Garmin 650t uses a high sensitivity receiver which I have found works great no matter the terrain you are in. Some lower end models will easily lose satellite signal when under a tree canopy or in a canyon. The receiver uses the standard satellite as well as GLONASS tracking. This helps to improve accuracy however it does shorten the battery life. I have used my 650t with GLONASS on and off and personally haven’t noticed much difference in how accurate the position is.
Like most of the higher-end Garmin units, the 650t features a 3-axis compass with accelerometer and barometric altimeter. The compass works regardless if you are standing still or moving. Most GPS units require the use to be moving in any direction in order for the compass to show a heading. The barometric altimeter works great when you are trying to track elevation gain and loss. I have found this feature to be fairly accurate.
Unlike most units, the Garmin 650t also features a great topography map of the United States as well as a worldwide basemap. For the hikers and hunters this could prove to be very valuable information when route finding. However, for the hunters I would strongly suggest purchasing a map chip from onXmaps. They provide you with a better topo map as well as boundaries of public and private land. This is extremely beneficial for the public land hunter or those looking for information about private land. The 650t features a standard microSD slot located underneath the battery. Internal memory for the unit stands at 4GB.
My favorite feature on the Garmin 650t is the dual power source. The unit will run on standard AA batteries; however I would highly recommend lithium ion batteries for the longest run time. The 650t also comes with a rechargeable NiMH battery pack. Batteries can be expensive and modern electronics eat them up quickly. The rechargeable battery pack provides up to 16 hours of continuous use. If you run out of juice in the field, you can remove it and put in some AA’s and continue on your way. The battery pack recharges while inside of the unit from a standard USB plug. This is great for those users that have a system to recharge electronics while back at camp or even in your vehicle.
Garmin makes some of the best handheld GPS units on the market. No matter the price range or the features you are looking for, there is a unit that will fit the bill. They make simple units to handhelds that also function as a two-way radio. The Oregon 650t has suited my needs very nicely. It doesn’t matter if I am hiking in the backcountry of a National Park or hunting public land in Wisconsin, I always have my Garmin Oregon 650t with me. If you are a hunter, you will want to pair your new unit up with a map chip from OnXmaps for the enhanced functionality it provides.