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Reviews > Navigation and Map Gear > GPS > Garmin GPSMAP 60CX > Owner Review by Dale Blunk

GARMIN GPSMAP 60CX
BY DALE BLUNK
OWNER REVIEW
May 17, 2010

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Dale Blunk
EMAIL: dblunk194@yahoo.com
AGE: 32
LOCATION: Terre Haute, Indiana, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 5" (1.96 m)
WEIGHT: 220 lb (99.80 kg)

I'm an outdoors addict that is returning to camping after a short break. I grew up being in the outdoors a lot and doing a lot of hiking and camping. I do a lot of car camping with the family now. When I backpack I use a pretty heavy pack because I like comfort and I like food! I am fortunate enough to have an abundance of nice hiking near my home so I am able to get a lot of day hiking in as well. I also like to do solo kayak trips of four days or less.

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Product Information
Manufacturer: Garmin Ltd.
Year of manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer website: http://www.garmin.com
Listed weight: 7.5 oz (213 g) with batteries
Weight as received: 7.27 oz (206 g) with Energizer alkaline batteries
5.61 oz (159 g) w/o batteries
Unit dimensions, WxHxD: 2.4" x 6.1" x 1.3" (6.1 x 15.5 x 3.3 cm)
Display size, WxH: 1.5" x 2.2" (3.8 x 5.6 cm)
MSRP: $349.99
PC interface USB (cable supplied), and serial

IMAGE 1
60Cx in case


General Information

The 60 Cx is a member of Garmin's very popular GPSMAP 60 lineup which features various different models, each having a different set of features from another model in the 60 series. This is a handheld, color screen, mapping unit designed for outdoor use. The "C" stands for the color screen and the "x" designates that the unit can accept various different maps through the micro SD flash memory card slot, which is located in the battery compartment.

The 60Cx has a well laid out series of buttons that makes it quite easy to use. On the top of the unit is the power button, which also controls the backlighting function and the brightness of the backlight (two levels.)
The largest button on the front of the unit is the 4-way direction control. This is an easy-to-use button that moves the cursor around the map screen and moves through the menus.
The next button on the front found moving clockwise is the "Page" button. This button moves through the different pages of the unit such as the Map page, the Compass page, the Setup page and other pages, which are user-definable.
The following button is the "Menu" button, which moves to the menu for the page that is currently being used.
The next button is the "ENTR" button, which is used to select items from the screen or select options in different menu tabs.
The "QUIT" button will exit the user out of a place or menu that the person does not want to be in.
The "MARK" button is a nice button to have on the front of the unit. Simply press this button to drop a waypoint on the map that I could then customize with a user-defined name and icon, such as "CAMP" and then choose a tent for my icon.
The last button on the front is "FIND," which brings up the menu to find nearby cities, campgrounds, or any other points of interests that have entered into the unit.

Getting Started
The 60Cx runs off of two AA batteries and accepts alkaline or NiMh. When started the unit is set for alkaline batteries, if NiMh is used then that battery type can be selected so the unit can more accurately display remaining battery power.
Also in the battery compartment is the Micro SD card slot. This slot opens quite easily with a spring assist and it was always easy for me to change SD cards with ungloved hands. Maps that are transferred from Mapsource on the PC to the unit are stored in the Micro SD as the unit has no internal memory. Maps can be purchased that are pre-loaded into micro SD cards and they are inserted here. I kept my North American NT maps (driving maps) on one card and my TOPO maps on a second card. There is only one SD slot so only one set of maps is available at a time.
Once the unit is turned on it will run through a start-up sequence which includes a welcome screen that is customizable by the owner. This screen will accept a large number of characters so I placed my name, address, phone number and that a reward would be available if the unit were found. This is a very nice feature as it caused my unit to be returned to me after being left at a geocache location, by my wife of course.
The 60Cx is highly customizable in each of the different screens. On the map screen the user can choose a host of different options such as "TRACK UP" or "NORTH UP" and if the user would like more or less details. I could also choose if I would like data fields such as speed, heading, or a combination of over 20 fields on the upper portion of the map screen. I took quite a large amount of time and set the unit up to my liking before heading out. It was during the set up process that I noticed how sensitive the unit was. I was in my living room sitting beside the fireplace when the unit was able to gather its location from the satellites and show me where I was at, correctly.
I am a bit of a tech junkie and I found the menus and the device quite easy to use and the user interface seemed to be well laid out. It was also helpful that I am familiar with Garmin's user interface.

FIELD USE

Location of testing: Arizona, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Tennessee, District of Columbia, United States of America; British Columbia, Canada
Description of location: Numerous days hikes on varied terrain and trails (and concrete) in all the areas listed above. This unit was used on overnight backpacking trips in Indiana, Illinois and Tennessee and a three-day kayak trip in central Illinois. This unit has been used over 100 times.
Weather conditions: Temperatures from below freezing to 95F (-4 C to 35 C). I have used this unit in high humidity, over 90%, as is common in central Indiana, and in the drier conditions found in Arizona. The unit was also used on cloudless days and during light rain showers.



Satellite Signal Performance

I found that a cold start for the unit (after being shut off for a lengthy period of time or having traveled a long distance with it being shut off) averaged around 30 to 45 seconds, depending on building cover and tree cover, which I found to be an acceptable amount of time.
The reason I like outdoors units is because they can do nearly anything. I loaded my 60Cx with North America NT maps, which work with the auto-routing capabilities of the unit in driving me where I want to go. When I get to a city I am not familiar with, one of these was Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, I was able to drive around and then get out and walk to the things I want to see with the same handheld unit. The unit was the perfect size to fit into the top of my shoulder pack. When I got to the trails I wanted to hike that morning I was able to shut the unit off, switch cards, and then turn the unit back on and go hiking with my TOPO maps running. A warm start like the one I just listed gives almost instant satellite lock.
On an overnight trip in the Smoky Mountains (Tennessee) I never lost satellite lock, even on a steep face in heavy tree cover. My 60Cx almost always hung from the shoulder strap of my pack during those two days. When my group stopped to take in a breathtaking vista we noticed that the only GPS with a lock was mine, it was also the only Garmin in the small group. When we stopped to camp that night I shut the unit off and the next morning it picked up satellite location is less than a minute and was accurate to the location from the night before.
Overall I found the ability of the unit to find and hold a GPS signal to be outstanding. I was always happy to look at my screen and find that I had reception, even in my house or in tree cover and in downtown major cities. During my trip to Canada from the United States the 60Cx held signal for the entire flight, but I did have a window seat.

Battery Life

I found the battery life to be as long as or longer than the 18 hours that the Garmin site lists. I never did any stopwatch testing but I did leave the unit on overnight intentionally during an overnight kayaking trip in which the battery life was approximately 19 hours.
On backpacking trips in both Tennessee and Indiana I used the unit for well over 12 hours of continuous on time, without using the backlight, and still had plenty of time for geocaching when the trip was over.

Screen Readability

The screen is shiny and easily reflects the light in certain conditions. Once in a while I would find that the reflection made the screen difficult to read but a simple and quick shift of the screen angle made it easy to read again.
In direct sunlight the screen is as sharp and as crisp as if the backlight was on full in the darkness. I found that direct sunlight made the screen quite easy to read.
At night the background color of the map turns to black. I use a headlamp quite often and I would use that when messing around camp at night to read the screen and that worked fine. When I did use the backlight I found that there are two levels, one dim and one bright, which are both quite easy to read in the darkness. When driving and the unit is plugged into a 12v source the backlight comes on automatically. When driving at night the backlight is almost too bright on bright so I usually used the dim setting and it was quite easy to read.

Maps
Garmin makes a wide variety of maps for the 60Cx ranging from driving, to TOPO, to foreign maps. The TOPO maps are available in ranges from 1:100,000 to 1:24,000 USGS equivalent.

Accessories

IMAGE 2
60Cx in bike mount


I used several of the accessories and liked them all. The suction cup car mount held quite well and only fell off after extended periods (two weeks plus) in my black Jeep. It was easy to position and very adaptable for different angles.
I also used the handlebar mount so the unit could be used on my mountain bike and found that the mount held the unit quite well and I never had the handlebar mount lose the device.
I used a neoprene sleeve case, which protected the unit's screen and buttons well but made the 4-way direction button a little harder to use as occasionally it would go in a different direction that the one desired but I still continued to use the cover.

SUMMARY


I found the Garmin GPSMAP 60Cx to be a great handheld unit that offers a lot of features and customization along with a large selection of maps.

After extended use in a variety of different conditions for various different needs I have grown to depend on this unit and its ease of use. If anything was to happen to my 60Cx today I would purchase another one tomorrow, it simply meets all my GPS needs in one device.

THINGS I LIKE

Pros
- Great reception
- Good screen
- Rugged
- Good function buttons on front leave little need to thumb through menus
- Auto-routing while driving

THINGS I DON'T LIKE

Cons
- Need to buy additional maps to make the unit fully functional.
- Need a "skip cache" in Geocache mode.
- Can't flip between TOPO and driving maps easily.

SIGNATURE

Dale A. Blunk

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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