Gear Reviews

Gear Guide 2012: Garmin GPSMAP 62stc

A top-performing GPS unit with photo-location capabilities.

Great things do come in small packages. Take the pea-size digital camera inside this top-performing GPS unit. The new photo-location capabilities enable hikers to savor the scenery rather than staring at a screen. “Instead of constantly trying to type out cryptic waypoint descriptions along the trail, I can simply take a picture of what I want to record,” raved one tester. “Since the location is embedded into the file, I can look that up and add a more detailed note back home.”

The autofocus camera captures 5-megapixel images (the quality is okay for web viewing, not great for printing), plus their lat/long coordinates; it places a corresponding photo icon on the LCD screen map. Click on the icons to view your shots on the 2.6-inch color screen, or to navigate back to that spot. Even better: In addition to intuitive menus and pre-loaded 1:100K topo maps of the entire U.S., the waterproof 62stc has advanced features like a tilt-compensated, three-axis compass (displays accurate headings even when you’re stopped or aren’t holding the unit level) and a barometric altimeter*. And thanks to the high-sensitivity GPS receiver, our testers recorded clean, continuous tracklogs even when the unit was stored in reception-challenged places like packs and jackets.

At home, connect to your computer’s USB port and easily drag GPS data and image files to your hard drive; no proprietary software is required. $600; 7.7 oz.; 3.5GB internal storage (200 tracks); microSD slot; 2 AAs;