Review Snapshot
Pros

Easy to use, extremely accurate and the geotagging is simply a blast to play with. This unit can be used on any type of vehicle and the different battery options are great. Access to the Garmin BaseCamp is a plus.

Cons

Unit is fairly big and expensive. For what it does, you can overlook these probably.

Verdict

The Garmin Montana 650t is the best GPS unit I've ever had the pleasure to use and it's a must have if you're a serious outdoor enthusiast.

Reviewed by:
Robert Sunset : I'm a Father of four with another one on the way in September. I'm a gamer, wr...Member Reputation 80 • 46 active Krits
Garmin Montana 650t from Garmin
Garmin Montana 650t Review
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Garmin Montana 650t detailed information
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REVIEW: Garmin Montana 650t Hiking GPS (Waterproof, U.S. Topo)

It's rare to give anything a 10/10 rating but the Garmin Montana 650t Hiking Gps deserves this high mark for many reasons. This is an expensive piece of hardware so I wasn't able to clear purchasing it with the wife but I was given a 4 hour test drive of this unit from my friends at the local sporting goods store that I frequent. They made me keep it inside a plastic baggie but I think I was still able to garner enough information for the bulk of this review with this hands-on experience combined with lots of research.

First Hand Experience

The Garmin Montana 650t is probably the coolest piece of outdoorsman hardware ever made as of 2012 and we'll go into detail there in a bit. For my personal test drive I set out to a nearby trail system that included a 1 mile hike through rugged terrain to a small lake then back to the store to upload the information gathered by the unit along the way. I was given a rechargeable battery that I stuck in the back and off I went.

I kept the unit on the entire time I was hiking up the trail but before I left the car I added a couple waypoints at regular intervals to see what would happen. This unit has a few modes so I switched it to a screen that's basically a large compass that shows me which way I should be going, how fast I walk and how long it will take to get there. I'm an information addict so I fell in love with this simple interface and kept it in my hand most of the way up the trail. It beeped and updated when I hit a waypoint or split in the trail so I looked and it kept me on track perfectly. I flipped to and from the topographical map screen now and then but was hooked by the compass the most.

When I reached my destination, I bent the rules and removed it from the bag to snap some pictures as I walked around the small lake. I returned to the car, then flipped on the city navigator to take me the short drive back to the shop. Allegedly you can have Darth Vader give you directions but I didn't have time to find that so I left the normal voice. I returned to the shop, uploaded the pictures to the BaseCamp system provided by Garmin and looked at the results. 

What I ended up with was an amazing display featuring a map of where I'd been, my walking time, the pictures I took arranged in a gallery alongside their corresponding map markers and tons of other neat stuff I'd probably fiddle with for hours at a time. The pictures seemed to be pretty clear for a non-camera device so that was impressive.

Basically I couldn't think of a single area of this device that could be cooler, easier to use or simply more fun to mess with. This is a five-star piece of hardware and I was blown away. Let's take a look at the features.

Features of the Garmin Montana 650t Hiking GPS

Rugged 4-inch Screen - The screen is very clear, easy to read and responds very smoothly when you touch it. Even through a plastic ziplock it responded much better than I expected. You can find information quickly so you can get back to your outdoor or highway adventures.

Picture Geotagging - One of the most fun aspects in my opinion is the picture geotagging. Whatever you take a picture of is immediately tagged, mapped and categorized for later use. This is an amazing feature if you like to trek to out of the way fishing holes or hot springs only to forget where they are and never find them again. This has happened to me more than I'd ever admit over the years. See something interesting? Take a picture of it and you'll always be able to find that exact spot with ease. This feature has been around a while but for some reason, the clarity of it here made it more appealing.

Mounts - You can mount this unit on your car, truck, SUV, boat, ATV and probably even your airplane if you wanted to. That's pretty handy as some GPS units never seem to fit a mount properly and duct tape looks silly on your dash and leaves marks.

Maps, Maps and more Maps - Garmin knows their stuff and you can download TOPO maps, road maps, marine maps, or opt for the BirdsEye satellite maps though that's a paid service. You can buy BlueChart cards as well. The Garmin Montana 650t uses the cheap and easy to use MicroSD format so you can fit a massive amount of information on a tiny card.

Wireless Garmin Connectivity - Do you have a Garmin watch or a friend with a Garmin GPS product? You can instantly send them information making for some amazing possibilities if you're a geocacher, hiker sharing a secret spot or hide and seek enthusiast.

3-Axis Tilt - You can hold your 650t any way you like and it will always point you in the right direction. This is a neat feature that more and more GPS units are implementing and that's a good thing. This also works as an altimeter and barometer.

Battery Options - Most GPS units force you to use one type of battery power and it's almost always their overpriced rechargeable unit. The Garmin Montana 650t lets you choose either the rechargeable pack or 3 AA batteries. It's nice to have options, especially on a long hunting/fishing/camping excursion or boat trip.

User Testimonials

SD (Amazon.com)

"I have owned 5 other Garmins in my time since I started Geocaching and from product to product moved up the line.The Montana is by far the best GPSR I have ever owned It is on the expensive side so I am always worried about something happening to the unit. The ability to create shortcuts is awesome and saves a lot of time. Sat. lock is much quicker and better then the Oregon. Garmin is finally getting where a they should have been a long time ago."

Nobody48 (BestBuy.com)

"I use the Montana on my Dual Sport bike and love it. Picture quality is excellent. It doest show up great on the GPS but once you down load it the picture is great. Mapping is easy and with bluetooth downloading sharing trails is effortless. The 4" screen makes it easy to see while riding.

I would recommend this to a friend!"

The Bottom Line

Looking over some other reviews, most people seem to really love the Garmin Montana 650t Hiking GPS unit. There may be some software issues but once you start it up you can get the free updates from Garmin that makes everything perfect. I didn't experience any issues when I tried it right off the store display so your usage may vary in this department.

This is a AAA product that is second to none in its field. If you spend a lot of time hiking, biking, camping, fishing or geocaching and can afford it, this is THE unit to have. Hands down.
Date Reviewed: April 21, 2012, 7:48 pm
Reviewed by Robert Sunset
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