Nine-year-old GPS still going strong and continuing to take the punishment I dish out
I bought my Garmin 60CSX GPS back in 2006 and just wanted to re-review my nine year old GPS as it has been such a reliable and effective tool. I haven’t kept up with new developments but I am sure that are many newer and fancier versions out on the market today but I haven’t needed to keep up or up grade as the one I have has been so good.
This is an old review I used back in 2008 but I thought I’d add it to my new site and update it as my Garmin 60CSX GPS is still going strong nine years after I bought it. It is an amazingly rugged and reliable tool and if you treat it right it will last for a long time. And by treat it right I don’t mean baby it. My GPS goes with me everywhere and has been high in the Himalayas, to the volcanos of Kamchatka, through the untracked jungles of Madagascar, The Alps, the Australian Outback. It has been exposed to sand, rain, humidity, extreme cold, bashed around with the rest of my gear. I have protected it in a zip up hardcase. I look after my gear but I don’t baby it. It is a tool to be used and it goes everywhere I go.
I originally owned a Garmin Etrex Vista GPS but found that it had some severe limitations: weak signal in clouded conditions, under trees or in valleys, limited memory and it soon got shaken to death while using it on my mountain bike.
While researching the market I came across a couple of contenders which looked up to the job of helping us accurately and reliably pin point our location in the Himalaya. The one I came closest to getting was the Magellan Explorist series I think it was either the 500, 600 or 700.
The two biggest features that worked against the Magellan Explorist series GPS for me was the lack of an external antenna and their use of a proprietary battery design.
When you are travelling in remote locations the last thing you want it to be limited by batteries. On the other hand AA batteries, of dubious quality, can be obtained in some fairly out of the way village shops. Also, we were using solar panels to charge our batteries for various electronic devices – torches, cameras, gps – and we had to make sure every device ran on standard batteries.
I then came across the Garmin 60CSX GPS and it seemed to fit the bill perfectly: extendable memory, standard AA batteries, good battery life, external antenna and waterproof.
During the Trans Himalaya 2007 expedition we went through some very rugged country and had very bad maps so we had to make sure we had the best back up systems that we could. The Garmin 60CSX GPS stood up very well to the test.
Once the system was set to Battery Saver Mode, a new set of regular Duracell AA batteries would last for two days of constant use. If you use Lithium batteries, which I highly recommend, 60CSX will give you five days of continuous use, for about eight to ten hours a day. Lithium batteries might cost more but they are lighter and last a lot longer than regular batteries so on a trek this is a no brainer. All our equipment, and our bodies, got bashed around a lot. The GPS unit survived the mud, rain, scrapes and punishment and still works today.
I carried my unit in a crush proof hard case which was suspended on one of my rucksack straps. The case wasn’t waterproof and I did have to use the GPS in the pouring rain. I stuck a protective layer over the screen to prevent scratches.
The external antenna worked very well in all conditions and I never had a problem getting a signal in heavy cloud or jungle. There were times when the sat phone we used couldn’t get reception due to obstructions or cloud but the gps would get reception. In fact the 60CSX even gets reception indoors so there you have it – great reception. There was only a couple of sections where were in deep gorges where the signal got very confused but then again in a deep gorge you generally only have two ways to go.
Overall the unit proved to be very useful, versatile, accurate and rugged. I would definitely use it again on my next adventure, and have been ever since I bought it back in 2006. In the age of planned obsolescence and constant upgrades its a testament to Garmin that a nine year old electronic product such as the Garmin 60CSX can continue to perform reliably under harsh conditions in the world’s most remote and rugged conditions such as the Himalayas, Madagascar, Kamchatka and the Australian Outback.