Garmin GPSMAP 64st Review – Better Than You Think
While traditional Garmin navigational systems are now beginning to be a thing of the past, handheld devices are having a spike in their popularity in recent years. Taking note of that, Garmin has increased its research and development efforts towards better and more compact GPS trackers. The Garmin GPSMAP 64st is one of the better handheld models on the market thanks to its long battery life and easy to use interface.
If you want to learn more about GPS trackers and maybe check out some of the top models for this year, head over to my full Guide on the topic. Now, let’s jump into this!
Overview & Features
Design and Durability
The very first thing that will catch your attention here is the bulky but ergonomic design of this tracker. And while it fits in your palm, it does weight a lot, especially with its full set of AA batteries. The front of the tracker houses a fairly large display and a plethora of buttons that make the user experience better. With a footprint of an older walkie-talkie, this will feel a bit weird in your hand at first but it actually manages to provide you with lots of grip and one-handed usability.
The durability here is, without a doubt, a strong point. The 64st is IPX7 certified meaning it isn’t officially certified for dust resistance but is waterproof up to 1 meter for 30 minutes. While there isn’t a dust-proof rating, the tightly sealed body will give you the confidence you need to take it outdoors no matter the weather or terrain.
If you want something quite different in terms of its design and also easier to bring along on a hiking trip, I suggest checking out my Garmin Foretrex 401 Review...
In terms of tracking, this device really shows you the top of Garmin’s capabilities. It uses a high-sensitivity receiver with a quad-helix antenna that works with both GPS and GLONASS signals automatically switching between the two depending on the location and signal strength. All that information is managed by the high-speed processor and 8GB of internal memory. If you’re into geocaching, there also are 250,000 preloaded caches here. One more thing you have preloaded here are the TOPO U.S. (or Canada) 100k maps along with a 1-year subscription to BirdsEye Satellite Imagery services.
The GPS receiver works in combination with the 3-axis compass inside and with a barometric altimeter. There also is an accelerometer on the inside that works with the other sensors. You can even use outside sensors that will connect either through Bluetooth or the ANT+ connectivity options. All these make sure that you have an accurate reading on your exact spot at any moment. The 64st also supports additional mapping such as TOPO US 24k, City Navigator NT, BlueChart G2, BirdsEye Satellite, Garm, and others.
On the software side, you get BaseCamp pre-installed here. It allows you to plan yoru trips and organize your routes, tracks, and waypoints. It will display your topographic data in either 3D or 2D depending on your settings. BaseCamp also gives you the terrain contour lines and different elevation profiles. When you pair that with yoru BirdsEye subscription, you can transfer unlimited amounts of images to your 64st.
The display is definitely a selling point here as it is vibrant and very easy to read, even under direct sunlight. Unlike some other cheaper Garmin models, this one is fully-colored and also quite large relative to the size of the tracker. Of course, it isn’t as large as the ones on the Montana models but is still a great addition to the model. The one here is 2.6 inches with a 16:9 aspect ratio.
In terms of its battery life, the 64st really performs well compared to other high-capacity GPS trackers. It can score up to 16 hours with normal AA batteries but you can easily extend that by using some 2000+ mAh NiMH ones. Of course, the NiMH batteries will be much more expensive but will also be rechargeable and you can bring a few more along for the journey and recharge them all afterward. You can even bring a portable charger if needed.
In real-life tests, with normal non-rechargeable AA batteries, the 64st rarely exceeds 15 hours, especially if you’re using it to its fullest extent.
The connectivity here is excellent, at least on the 64st model. The base model and the 64s come with fewer options but we will mostly focus on the 64st here. It comes with ANT+ and Bluetooth as standard. These allow you to connect to various outside devices and different other trackers to integrate within third-party apps. Sharing information is also relatively easy and fast here. You can pair your Garmin 64st with heart rate sensors, temperature sensors, cadence ones, or even use it to control certain action cameras (not available on the base model). You can also wirelessly connect with your smartphone and upload information via the Garmin Connect app. You can also share live tracking information and routes.
Ease Of Use
Using this GPS tracker is extremely easy thanks to its many hard buttons at the front. While I agree that the touch screen would’ve made things easier, some people still prefer old-fashioned hard buttons for all of their features. The center control button surrounded with all the additional smaller function buttons is laid out perfectly even for people with gloves to be able to use it.
There aren’t a lot of additional features that I haven’t gone through already apart from a few like the smart notifications which aren’t available on the base model and the carabiner clip on the back. It really comes in handy if you want to clip-on the tracker to your trousers walkie-talkie style. The 64st comes with 2 rechargeable AA batteries and a USB charging cable.
One additional feature that I really like is the built-in camera. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come on the st models but only on the 64sc ones. It is an 8megapixel one that doesn’t have the best quality and isn’t ideal for low-light conditions but is excellent for quickly catching geo-caching photos of various locations. The tracker will automatically geotag them as well if you want to show them later and assign them to certain routes of yours. The autofocus works fairly well but you might struggle a bit with framing your picture due to the smaller display size.
While the base 64st model offers plenty of features and functionality, there are 4 more options you can choose from. These add things like ANT+ transfer protocols, Bluetooth, rear-facing camera, and TOPO maps of Canada and the USA. All these are great and the ANT/Bluetooth features allow your tracker to connect better with other devices but these higher model versions are also much more expensive and not such a great value for your money.
The base model is the GPSMAP 64, while the ANT/Bluetooth features come only on the 64s model. The 64st (which we are reviewing here) is the top-of-the-line version which comes with all the bells and whistles, including a GLONASS receiver and some better internals.
Advantages & Disadvantages
- Long-lasting battery
- The base model is quite feature-rich
- Great value for your money (base model)
- Very easy to use
- Good display
- 3-axis compass
- Durable construction
- The model options with more features are quite expensive
- Can feel a bit heavy in the hand
- The variety of models can make your choice unnecessarily complicated
Now, let’s see how the 64st compares to another good handheld GPS model from Garmin…
Garmin 64st vs Garmin eTrex 30x
The main difference between the eTrex series and the 64 series is the layout. While the 64st takes a more traditional approach. the eTrex trackers are smaller in comparison and have their buttons on the side for easier one-handed use. Their displays are pretty comparable in size but the one on the 64-series is far more vibrant and easier to read during the day. While it is smaller, the eTrex 30x has similar tracking capabilities without the high-sensitivity GLONASS option that the 64st has. As a whole, the 30x is a better choice for beginners and people looking to get a solid tracker on a budget, while the 64st is for people that are looking for the best possible performance for their money without going for a full-sized GPS receiver.
You can check out my review on the Garmin eRex 30x by clicking here!
Conclusion & Rating
The Garmin GPSMAP 64st is a highly potent tracker that has all the bells and whistles of modern Garmin models and is easily one of the most functional in its class of small highly-portable tracking devices. It is a bit bulky and heavy but that also makes it easier to grip. In terms of navigation and tracking, it does put all of its sensors and high-sensitivity receivers to use in order to provide you with an extremely accurate signal throughout its 15-20 hour battery life. As a whole, there aren’t many downsides here apart from the price and the fact that it can weigh as much as half a pound with NiMH batteries inside. We gave it a solid rating of five out of five stars.