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Navigation: Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx

by Tyler

The Garmin 60 series has been on the market since 2004. My very first GPS was the now discontinued 60CS model. I used it with great success for many years on road trips in the USA, both in a car and mounted to the handlebars of a motorcycle. The rugged, waterproof device easily withstood the beating of countless drenching rainstorms and numerous accidental drops (one of them into a mud puddle!).

Garmin GPSMAP 60CS

So, when preparing for our bike tour, one of the few pieces of gear I didn't research thoroughly was our GPS. I purchased the newest model, a 60CSx, after a cursory glance at the specs page to confirm it supported the use of some sort of memory card (it uses miniSD). At the time, I was consummate over-planner who researched every purchase over $50 to death and back (Tara's note: he even researched the under $50 ones!). This complete disregard for an entire market full of interesting devices says a lot. I don't regret my decision.

Tyler's Setup

Before we left, I prepared several miniSD cards with maps for the countries we planned to travel in using Garmin's Mapsource software. We traveled through all Western Europe using City Navigator Europe NT maps. For the rest of the world, we're using a combination of free maps I've found online and Garmin's WorldMap, which contains major highways and cities for the entire world.

To date, we've purchased exactly one paper map (of Tunisia) and we never opened it. These free maps were more than good enough to do the job.

Below is a screen capture of a proposed route through Romania in Mapsource:

Garmin Romania: Now With Bears

I originally planned to power our GPS with a solar panel. Unfortunately, the Solar Gorilla we purchased failed in the first month of our trip (intermittent connection on the USB port). When it worked, I was able to reliably power our CSx in rainy, cloudy England. After a long and arduous attempt to receive a replacement from the UK based Power Traveller, they sent us the wrong hardware, instead shipping us a Power Gorilla.

We've since switched to using rechargable batteries (the 60 series takes two AAs), which last three or four days on a charge. We carry eight of them, which easily gets us from one rest stop with electricity to the next.

Another cool use, though not limited to our GPS, are the route lines you see on our google map. They come from the tracks we download from our 60CSx every night. In fact, all of the stats about distance traveled, ascent, descent etc are automatically populated to our bicycle touring database by a small piece of software I wrote to read them. The whole process takes five minutes each night. Pretty nifty.

I really can't say enough good things about our GPS, it just works. I would buy it again in a heartbeat.

Tyler's New Set-Up (with Field Recorder)

The bar mounted field recorder was a very short lived experiment which didn't work very well at all!

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Hi Tyler and Tara,
Thanks for a BRILLIANT review about the Garmin GPS - I have been checking out GPS units everywhere... and then Paula suggested I just check out your site and bing!!! :)

It's probably very late notice for your power needs but we are getting the Dahon Reecharge to power all our USB chargable technology (uses a bike dynamo hub).
Lastly we arrive in Malaysia 08/01/2011 and would love to meet up with you both somewhere in Thailand/Malasia if possible. We will only be in Asia 6 weeks and are then going to England to buy our bikes and ride home.
Posted by Rik on November 25th, 2010 at 4:36 AM
My pleasure Rik!

We just passed the 600 day mark of near-daily use with our 60CSx, and it is still going strong. I just looked on Garmin's website to see what they were offering these days. Click here for a comparison of the only units I'd be considering for a trip like this.

The 3-axis compass alone is enough to sell me on the new one; I have our compass configured to shut off if we're not moving because it is so bad (unless you hold it perfectly level).

We'd love to meet up with you, but we'll be well on our way home by then :(

Good luck with the rest of your trip planning!
Posted by Tyler on November 25th, 2010 at 12:02 PM

Rik, actually if you're talking about January 8th, 2011, we'll be somewhere in Vietnam or Laos, and would love to meet up if you're in the neighborhood. But if you're talking about August 1st, 2011, we'll definitely be home. :-)
Posted by Tara on November 26th, 2010 at 10:02 AM

I've really enjoyed your site and read it thoroughly, especially the Southeast Asia portions. I plan to head over to do some touring by Brompton this winter at the end of the rainy season, mostly in Northern Thailand. My question is, what maps did you use for Thailand and how were they? Thanks for the great read.
Posted by Paul on June 14th, 2011 at 12:06 PM

Ack! I'm not sure how I missed your comment back in July. I suspect you don't need to know this any longer, but we used Rotweiler maps. I hope your tour went well!


They really are great devices. Our friends Andrew and Friedel bought the Garmin 62S and they are pretty happy with it too.
Posted by Tyler on February 13th, 2012 at 10:49 AM