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The Best GPS For The Wild: Garmin Oregon 600 Review

Sometimes you just can’t ignore the benefits that a traditional GPS unit can provide. You can get apps on your smartphone or use other devices to simulate what a GPS can do, but not in such a reliable way. Never has that been more true than with the Garmin Oregon 600! It is a worldwide GPS that will help you be able to find your way in virtually every area of the world today. Featuring a 3 inch screen that is easily viewable even in direct sunlight, this GPS has a capacitive touchscreen that also has multi-touch capabilities.
Garmin Oregon 600
Does this GPS unit live up to the hype? Are the features that you’ll receive with the Garmin Oregon 600 worth the MSRP of almost $400? Let’s take a look and find out!

What Are the Key Features of the Garmin Oregon 600?

The first thing that is noticed with the Garmin Oregon 600 is that it keeps users connected in a wide variety of ways. It begins with the dual-band GPS and GLONASS satellite positioning that eliminates the traditional coverage gaps that a lot of other GPS units have. When you’re out in the backcountry, you’ll still be able to find your way out when you’re done with your adventure.

It’s also been constructed with a number of sensors that give you some of the specific information that you need, no matter what way you’re actually holding the GPS unit. With the accelerometer and 3 axis compass, in many ways it feels like a small, compact mobile phone that you’d take along for a trip. The only thing missing is a built-in camera… and you can get that too if you go for more than just the base model!

There’s also a barometric altimeter that will help track changes in pressure so you can always know what the exact altitude is where you’re at. Add in the satellite prediction technology and you’ll be able to know an exact approximation of your location, even when you’re in a canyon or under heavy cover.

You can also utilize Bluetooth or ANT technology with the Garmin Oregon 600 so you can stay connected to family and friends while you’re out exploring. This allows you to share the routes that you’re taking wirelessly, show tracks and waypoints, and even utilize custom maps in order to show off your adventures. That makes it perfect for geocaching, but also adds a safety component because you can share your anticipated hiking route with loved ones in case something happens on a hike and you don’t return as anticipated.

The final key feature to consider with this GPS unit is its dual battery system. You can power it using 2 AA batteries or there is a NiMH battery pack that is charged by the Oregon as well. The battery pack is optional with the 600 model, however, so you’ll have to purchase it separately.
Garmin Oregon 600-1
Are There Any Advantages to Using the Garmin Oregon 600?

It’s the amount of data that the Garmin Oregon 600 can contain that is its primary advantage. You can upload your own custom maps so that you can take on whatever adventure that comes to mind. Want to replicate the old Appalachian trail? You can do that. Want to do the famous Pacific Crest Trail? Done! This GPS unit holds up to 4 million custom maps so you can track your location in relation to whatever map you need anywhere in the world!

There’s also the BaseCamp software included with the Garmin Oregon 600 that will let you organize your waypoints, maps, and adventures all in one easy to use spot. This is where you can share everything with your loved ones and the software includes the traditional contour lines and elevation profiles that experienced adventurers are going to love. Investing in the BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription is a good investment because it allows you to transfer an unlimited amount of images directly to your GPS unit.

It’s also really nice to have the GPS unit be able to be charged by USB. With the included charging cord, you can get a battery boost if you’ve invested in the optional pack just by plugging it into a laptop or other device. There’s also a carabiner clip included with the design so you can hang the GPS from your belt instead of having to throw it into a pocket.

You can’t beat how easy it is to learn how to use the Oregon 600 either. You just swipe between screens and interact with the various selections. It’s fun to play with and after awhile, it even becomes intuitive and that makes it one of the best GPS units available today from a usability standpoint.

Could Any Improvements Be Made to the Garmin Oregon 600?

The one primary improvement we can see making with this particular GPS unit would be to make the included maps routable. You’ve got to download additional option from third party vendors to get this functionality from the Garmin maps, so it is easy to understand why users would download their own free maps instead of investing into the detailed Garmin ones.

For some reason, the software also tends to freeze sometimes when using this device. This seems to happen to users who get bad memory chips, which can happen to any modern technology, but should be something to keep an eye out for with a purchase.

The battery life on the Garmin Oregon 600 is rated to last up to 16 hours, but for most practical uses it is more like 2-3 hours. To achieve the longer life, you’ve got to minimize all of your settings to the lowest possible point and do zero multitasking with the device to achieve battery life of that approximate length.

Although it does have a few minor flaws that could be troublesome for some specific uses, the Garmin Oregon 600 does bring a lot of good things to the GPS market. If you want a device that will work for geocaches, backcountry trips, or traditional GPS needs, then you may find that the investment into this device is worth the cost.

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