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Garmin GPSMAP 67i: Coms & Nav All-In-One [Hands-On Review]



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You don’t need to be Survivorman to know that two core elements to your well-being are the ability to communicate and the ability to navigate. 

While modern smartphones have amazing processing power, beautiful touchscreen displays, and excellent user interfaces, they’re battery hogs, susceptible to damage, and dependent on cellular network coverage. Sometimes, purpose-built tools hit the spot.

Garmin got its start in 1989 with innovative GPS navigation products for the aviation industry and has expanded since then into the outdoor, sports, and wearable segments. But navigation, whether for planes, vehicles, or boats, has always remained a constant. 

Their latest handheld GPS unit, the GPSMAP 67i, combines navigation and satellite communications in one rugged package.

It feels like a really chunky old-school mobile phone, with a 2.5×1.5-inch color display and a collection of rubber buttons — a four-way D-pad and eight buttons for specific functions. The display isn’t a touchscreen, so it’s not convenient for navigating maps and entering text, but it’s very robust. 

Same with the buttons, which will work no matter the weather, though they’re small and can be hard to distinguish with thick gloves. It’s rugged, waterproof rated to IPX7, and compatible with night vision. It also has a built-in LED flashlight for signaling or administrative uses.

Battery life is impressive, with up to 165 hours in tracking mode and up to 425 hours in low-power expedition mode with satellite comms enabled; if you turn it off, you can get up to 840 hours in expedition mode. 

The internal lithium-ion battery recharges via USB-C. There’s 16GB of internal memory, expandable via a microSD card slot, but unfortunately you’re limited to using 32GB cards. The 67i boots up quickly and is responsive; you can customize it and add additional apps as well.

As you’d expect from a Garmin, there’s a full suite of mapping, navigation, and tracking features, backed by multi-band GNSS support — the 67i accesses the GPS, Galileo, QZSS, Beidou, and IRNSS global navigation satellite systems. This provides better accuracy to pinpoint your position where signals are weak, reflected, or may not penetrate. The 67i locks on to GNSS signals pretty quickly, too. 

You can utilize preloaded topographic maps, subscribe to premium maps, download satellite imagery, or load your own custom maps. You can mark waypoints, create courses and routes, and access all other functions on the device, but the small non-touch screen makes it cumbersome. 

If possible, using the Garmin Explore app on your smartphone and syncing to your 67i is a lot easier. The unit can provide navigational directions and alerts if you stray off course. It also tracks and records your activities, which you can save and review later. The TracBack feature allows you to retrace your steps in case you get in trouble or need to go back the way you came.

Garmin’s inReach line provides global two-way messaging on the Iridium satellite network. The 67i’s screen is plenty big for the brief text conversations you’ll have over satellite. You can also configure pre-set messages to send at the touch of a button. This is good, because the 

on-screen keyboard is annoying; you have to select each letter using the D-pad, and it’s shown in alphabetical order, with no option to use a QWERTY layout for most everyone who’s used to a typical keyboard. Alternately, you can use the Garmin Messenger app on your smartphone for a normal text messaging experience. Weather forecasts are also available.

You’ll need an inReach subscription, from $15 per month for a “Safety” plan for light users up to $65 per month for an unlimited “Expedition” plan, with discounts for signing up for a year. If you rarely need satellite service, you can get a “Freedom” plan with a $35 annual fee that you can turn on and off and pay for a month at a time only when you need it. 

In case of a serious emergency, you can hold down the dedicated SOS button to send a distress signal to Garmin’s coordination center, which is staffed 24/7 to dispatch search and rescue.

We’ve used Garmin’s excellent and tiny inReach Mini satellite communicators for years all over the globe. If you don’t mind the extra bulk, the 67i provides all that and more in an all-in-one device. It’s definitely worth a look. 

Garmin GPSMAP 67i

  • Make: Garmin
  • Model: GPSMAP 67i
  • Dimensions: 2.5 by 6.4 by 1.4 inches
  • Display: 1.5 by 2.5 inches, 240 by 400 pixels
  • Weight: 8.1 ounces
  • MSRP: $600
  • URL: garmin.com

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