The GPSMAP 62s has now joined me for some geocaching adventures, at night no less! I was previously using a Garmin Colorado 300. My sense is that Garmin has worked hard to make this a geocaching friendly GPS receiver. Even though I think it is a excellent GPSr for geocaching it is going to take some getting used to.
As expected the accuracy is very good. The 3-axis compass is a real treat! As Ed from Treknschmidt commented last night “that feature alone is worth the upgrade”. I don’t know if I agree with that but it is very, very helpful. The 3-axis compass decreases the amount of time you spend in the circle dance trying to figure out which way to the cache when you are standing still.
Unlike my Colorado the GPSMAP 62s does not need to have the screen brightness reset every time the unit turns on. The system remembers your last brightness setting. To compensate there is a setting that allows the system to turn off the screen completely after a set period of viewing. Pressing any button turns the screen back on. This has a dramatic effect on the battery life. I have left my unit on overnight and it still had power the next day. I did run in to a problem today in that there is no indication the unit is on when it is in power save mode. As a result it completed drained my batteries having for a couple of days. I’m not exactly sure when it ran out of power.
Garmin has introduced a new feature called dashboards. A dashboard sits at the top of the screen and shows data that is relevant to the activity you have the GPSr set to. For instance the geocaching dashboard always shows nearest geocache. This can be a little annoying. If you find it frustrating just change the dashboard. This is a case where the GPSMAP 62s is trying to be helpful. The geocaching dashboard also shows a compass heading, distance to the cache and the number of finds you have. A quick way to get the time for sunset or sunrise (depending on which is next) is to switch to the recreational dashboard.
New Features By Screen
Curious to know how far a cache is from the road? With the new features you just select measure distance from the map menu. Select the cache and move the cursor to the road and now you know how far from the road it is. Just remember the shortest distance between two points may be a straight line but that doesn’t always make it the fastest! There are two waysmeasure distance: move the cursor and see distance from where you are to where the cursor is on the screen, also shows latitude and longitude or you can click point and then move the cursor. This measure the distance from the cursor to where you move the cursor too.
This is a handy feature when you need to move in a specific direction. Just point the GPSr to where you want to go, lock in that direction and you are set. It has limited utility but is helpful if you in the woods or on the water and know you want to head in a given direction until you reach some point like a road.
The geocache page is how you gain access to all of the geocaching relevant information. This page starts by giving you a list of geocaches that you can find. As with some of the other interface changes this page takes some getting used to.
I was going to write that the only way to get to the cache info is to select “go” once you have selected the cache. This is not true. You can see the cache info form the “go” page by selecting MENU > View Geocache (or Review Point). I only figured this out today as I was getting ready to write the section on “Next Stage”.
The Next Stage feature is very handy for completing multi-stage geocaches. From the Geocache page you can press the option to “Enter Next Stage”. At first you are presented with a screen to enter the next stage coordinates. The coordinates from the last stage are already entered reducing the amount of time required for data entry. Once you select done a new waypoint is created called “Next Stage”. Unfortunately you cannot edit the title of this way point. That could get a little confusing. The “Next Stage Waypoint has all of the same details as the original cache entry. You can only have one “Next Stage” cache so if you want to keep the subsequent coordinates you should use the “Save as Waypoint” feature discussed below. (Thanks to Scott at GPSFix for adding that comment.)
An alternative to using the “Next Stage” feature is to “Save as Waypoint”. You access this feature by pressing MENU from the geocache page. Here is a tip if you want to save the final coordinates for a multi-cache. Use the Next Stage function to create a new cache entry. From that entry save it as a waypoint. You can then edit the title of the waypoint. The only downside is that you have created a waypoint and not a cache. This entry will not show up when you select FIND > geocaches.
Ever since I used my Colorado I’ve liked just moving over a 500+ pocket query onto the unit. The GPSMAP 62s makes this even better by adding the ability to filter caches on the unit itself. In this way you can load the unit up with 2000 caches and then filter them as you require. I have one filter called uncomplicated. This filter removes puzzles, multis and high difficulties. I use this filter when I’m out and about and I want to increase my chances of getting a find.
I wasn’t overly happy with the calendar on my Garmin Colorado. The calendar on the 62s is much more intuitive. Move the cursor to a specific date and see your activity for that day. It is simple but effective.
- No Stop Navigation icon. You have to press find, then stop navigation. It takes some getting used to.
I like the Garmin GPSMAP 62s. There are enough new features that upgrading from a Colorado was worthwhile. If you are still using a Garmin GPSMAP 60 then upgrading to this unit will be a welcome change. I have never owned an Oregon so I’m not sure what features are not available on those units. I know that Oregons support the Chirp. It might be harder to justify an upgrade if you have an Oregon.
I am probably missing a helpful feature or two. Please let me know in the comments if you think there is anything that I should add.
Visit this link for my other thoughts on the Garmin GPSMAP 62s.
NOTE: Follow this link to my Flickr photostream for more more screen captures and images of the Garmin GPSMAP 62s.