Garmin GPSMAP 66i – I like it

You can see that the battery is still 3/4 full after 9 hours being on.

A while back in 2017 I wrote about the Garmin 64s that I had bought but wasn’t really happy about some of the workings on it, even if it did get better with updates after a rather long wait….

This year I bought the Inreach 66i model, basically the same, but most of my gripes with the 64s have been corrected also it has Inreach capabilities, now what the hell is that?

In a nutshell, it means that the device is capable of calling for help (calling not vocal like a telephone, it sends a ‘I need help message’ when you push a certain button, even without a telephone network available as it uses satellite coverage and not a telephone network.

I’ll try very briefly to explain but there are lots about in on the web and better written than me.

Last year while out trekking I got caught out in an area with no telephone network what so ever, yes yes this does exist and so I couldn’t get hold of my wife just to say all, all okay, no problems, tent up, etc and of course if I had hurt myself, fallen down, broken a leg etc, well I would just have to wait hoping for passers-by, no telephone network, no way of calling for assistance. My last couple of treks, I noticed quite a few places with no network.

So I decided on the Garmin Inreach 66i, quite expensive to purchase, just over 500 euros plus the cost of the Inreach ‘plan’.

Inreach subscription costs : once a year about 50 euros and monthly subscription, (three different plans to choose from concerning the monthly subscription), starting from around 20 euros per month, the monthly plans can be suspended when not being needed.

In other words, if you use it twice a year for treks in two different months  where you want the Inreach capability, the cost would be the yearly cost + 20 + 20 euros, so not the end of the world

You can use the 66i without the Inreach capability, but for the peace of mind especially if you go out alone like me, I feel it’s worth it. I actually used it once in June 2020 where I’d finished my daily trek, set up camp only to find no telephone network, so with the 66i just sent out pre-recorded SMS message to my wife to say all okay. Wife happy… so me too… 🙂

You can when subscribed to Inreach, not only ‘call’ for help but also sent SMS messages, and also tracking details so that somebody in my case my wife can ‘see’ where you are at all times, while out walking, very similar to LiveTrack on some Garmin watches

The 66i other than that is basically the same as the 64s, clunky interface if you are used to Garmin older models like me, then it’s not a real problem, but sometimes it’s a weird way of changing screen, getting into the settings etc, just takes some getting used to.

The screen is slightly bigger than the 64s and was perfect for reading the GPX trace that I had recorded to do the GR440. When I hike I always download the GPX trace to follow, just in case I need it.

Also, the battery life was far better, last year, I had to charge it every night, this year I could have managed two days or three so that’s a big improvement.

I like it, it’s like the 64s but better and of course newer, It’s tough, I just hang it from my rucksack and let it dangle away, but do add a screen protection film on it before you start using it though. For me there are loads of stuff that I’ll never use, best times for fishing, Geocaches etc, but it’s good and I like it

You can upload, which I do very often, GPX traces so that you can follow them while walking. Since 2020 I no longer use Basecamp as I’m now running Linux instead of Windows, (Garmin programs like BaseCamp on Linux are a no no) so I use a program called QMapShack, this works just fine with the 66i. I create, read, modify a GPX track on the computer with QMapShack them upload to the 66i

There’s a pretty active form on it for more help and details