It’s early March 2021 and there’s extra snow than they’ve had in 50 years within the mountains southeast of Whitehorse, Yukon. I’m alone, exploring the realm across the off-grid log cabin the place I’m residing for a pair weeks together with my spouse and our toddler. I’m properly right into a mouth-long journey within the Yukon the place I’ll winter camp, snowshoe, and snowmobile extensively in distant areas.

It’s windy, and I’m snowmobiling by way of a big stretch of alpine tundra. The path I’m on is blown over and exhausting to observe. I’m returning to the cabin the place I’d informed my spouse I’d be house for dinner, however I’m already working late and shedding mild. Making an attempt to make time, I am going off the hard-packed path and my machine begins to sink within the deep snow. I pin the throttle to compensate and buzz by way of the deep powder, placing each toes on the within runner to steer the machine again onto the packed snow of the path however my flip is a little bit too tight. That’s after I run up on prime of some dense bushes and get caught. Hopping off, I fall as much as my waist in fluffy sugar snow. Pulling out my shovel, I do know it’s going to take me some time to get out; even after I’m carried out shoveling, I’ll have to start out reducing away in any respect the branches beneath the machine’s monitor if I would like any likelihood of getting traction.

Jim Baird tests the Garmin GPSMAPS 66i while snowmobiling in the Yukon.
Jim Baird

With a Garmin GPSMAP 66i in my pocket, earlier than I begin digging, I pull it out and shoot a satellite tv for pc textual content message to my spouse: “I’m tremendous however I simply bought caught so I’ll be late.” My spouse is again on the cabin (which can be out of mobile phone vary) and she or he pings me again utilizing her InReach satellite communication device. She says she’ll wait up. Relieved she doesn’t have to fret, I take off my parka and begin shoveling.

Utilizing the shovel and a folding noticed I at all times convey within the snowmobile, it takes me a half-hour (and numerous elbow grease) to free the sled—in some way nonetheless making it again in time for tasty moose burgers gifted to us by an area hunter.


What It Is

Having significant experience utilizing handheld GPS gadgets and sat communication gear over time, I used to be excited to find the 66i earlier than heading off on this Yukon journey. What makes the 66i so good is that it has all of the capabilities of a high-end handheld GPS machine, merged with these of a complicated satellite-messaging machine.


Jim Baird tests the Garmin GPSMAPS 66i while snowmobiling in the Yukon.
Jim Baird

Why We Like It

This machine has many options however under I’ve included a listing of the principle 66i options I used most.

1) Maps

The machine comes with preloaded topographic maps, however you can too load satellite tv for pc imagery and extra topographic maps into the machine.

2) Monitoring

Within the discipline when I’ve ample battery energy, I depart monitoring on. This implies the machine will hold a file of my progress, which at all times provides me a simple breadcrumb path to observe again house. After a number of days of exploring a given space, the a number of tracks saved within the unit create an correct path map as properly.

3) Waypoints

I mark a waypoint to get me to (or again to) one thing particular like an ice fishing gap.

4) Sat Comms

The 66i has satellite-texting functionality that enables me to not solely talk with my spouse’s InReach machine, however I also can have interaction in two-way textual content messages with any mobile phone, and ship and obtain emails too. Emails and texts to cell telephones are despatched with an accompanying hyperlink that enables the receiver to view the precise location of the sender and observe his or her progress on a map. The 66i may even ship a map hyperlink and textual content put up to Fb and Twitter, permitting others to observe your progress as properly.

6) SOS

Doubtlessly the machine’s most vital save-your-bacon characteristic occurs to even be the one you by no means wish to have to make use of. If and when shit actually hits fan, you’ll want the interactive SOS button. This sends a sign to an emergency monitoring station that may facilitate a rescue wherever on the earth.


Jim Baird tests the Garmin GPSMAPS 66i while snowmobiling in the Yukon.
Jim Baird


This can be a rugged outside machine and due to that final sturdiness, its interface isn’t as user-friendly as a smartphone’s, for one. That disadvantage is principally as a result of it doesn’t have a touchscreen, so texting and map panning take longer. There’s additionally an odd glitch within the firmware, which signifies that each infrequently, you’ll want to flip it on and off to reboot. Be aware that this situation will possible not persist as new firmware updates grow to be accessible.

This machine affords extra piece of thoughts, however don’t let it offer you a false sense of safety whilst you’re within the backcountry. No machine (or piece of drugs for that matter) ought to take the place of experience and skill.


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