If you're passionate about outdoor sports and challenging activities, a reliable handheld GPS unit is an absolute must.
Instead of going anywhere without assistance or with just a map that isn't always up to date, you can count on the Garmin Montana 680 or the 680t.
Garmin introduced the Montana 680 model in 2015.
Presented as a versatile all-terrain GPS, with an emphasis on hiking, hunting and fishing, while also providing the function of almost any type of navigator, I decided to test this unit so beloved by hikers.
With a geolocation camera, a GPS and GLONASS receiver as well as exceptional accuracy and speed, the Garmin Montana 680t is a hiking GPS you can rely on in any situation. In fact, I think it's one of the best product on the market!
Garmin Montana 680 - One of the Best Hiking GPS
Touchscreen Hiking Handheld - GPS/GLONASS - Preloaded with TOPO U.S 100K maps - Includes a 1-yearBirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription - 8 Megapixel Camera
Last update on 2023-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Design and ergonomics of the Montana 680t
The Garmin Montana 680t weighs around 10.2 oz (290 grams). It is one of the largest hiking GPS units you can find - at least at Garmin.
So it's not the lightest or most compact device in its class, but it more than makes up for that with other more important assets.
Because of its size, it is also perfect for use as a navigation system for cars, motorcycles and mountain bikes. No other unit is as easy to use while driving.
Plus, it's waterproof so it can be used anywhere in any weather condition.
Its sophisticated 4-inch sunlight-readable touch screen is of high quality.
Its large format makes the display readable and easy to handle.
Moreover, the touchscreen is quite responsive with gloves, which is a huge plus. Some activities are practiced with gloves and it is true that it is quite tedious to always have to remove them.
Only one button is available on the device.
Like the Garmin Oregon 750, an 8-megapixel camera comes with this hiking GPS.
No, it's not just for taking selfies. You'll see, a little later, why a camera can come in handy on your hikes.
The battery life is quite extraordinary: 16 hours of runtime with the rechargeable Lithium-ion battery.
But that's not all, as it also provides a slot for three additional AA batteries - extending the battery life to almost 24 hours and making it equivalent to the eTrex 30x while offering more functionality.
Finally, the Garmin Montana 680t hiking GPS comes with 1GB of built-in memory and has an external memory card slot if you want to expand the device's capacity.
Precision and functionality
For its location data, the Garmin Montana 680t uses the standard GPS system as well as GLONASS satellites for its positioning. The combination of this dual receiver offers exceptional accuracy and coverage.
In fact, it proved to be the most accurate unit when tested against a number of other GPS units, including the Garmin MAP 64s.
Indeed, this navigation device offers an accuracy of more or less 1 meter while Garmin MAPS offers only 3 meters.
There is also an electronic compass and a barometric altimeter to increase the accuracy during your adventures.
Another interesting feature is the camera.
You can use it to take pictures of a place, a waypoint or monuments. The GPS then automatically takes care of geolocating and adding data to the picture.
This is quite convenient since every time you access the picture, you have the exact coordinates of the place where you took it to return to the same place.
There's also a search function - like that of a conventional GPS - where you can type in a name or location area.
Choose the map, zoom in or find topographic information about it: coordinates, color-coding for terrain height indications and even distance and elevation measurements.
Apart from that, this handheld GPS offers features that are quite visible on high-end Garmin models: paperless geocaching, hunting/fishing calendar, tide table, waypoints/points of interest marking, etc.
This GPS comes with preloaded topo maps (TOPO U.S. 100K maps and includes a 1-year BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription).
However, you can also upload the map of your choice, and it can come from several sources depending on your use.
For example, you can use a map loaded with City Navigator NT to get step-by-step directions for use in a car or BlueChart g2 for use with a boat.
In addition, a one-year birdseye satellite imagery subscription is included.
You can import the satellite images you are interested in without any problems. Of course, if you download the Basecamp software, you can also download the pictures with your route details.
You can then create a 2D or 3D map of your route, complete with topographical details and even satellite images.
This software is perfect for keeping which is equivalent to a detailed interactive map of your trip for future reference.
Basecamp also allows you to plan a route on your computer with all the above details.
This means that it is possible to mark waypoints to inform you of changes and dangers on your route.
Finally, with the Garmin Custom Maps function, you can transform paper maps into downloadable files and load them into Montana 680t.
Compatibility and application
When it comes to connectivity, you have several options.
First, you have the ability to wirelessly share waypoints, routes, tracks and geocaches with other users.
You can also transfer all your data using Garmin Connect to keep detailed track of your activities.
Finally, this GPS is also compatible with a wide range of mounting units, allowing you to use it in a car, on a mountain bike, a motorcycle, or even a boat.
2.9" x 5.7" x 1.4" (7.48 x 14.42 x 3.64 cm)
10.2 oz (289 g) with included lithium-ion battery pack; 11.7 oz (333 g) with 3 AA batteries (not included)
4 inches - 272 x 480 pixels, color touch screen, dual orientation display
Lithium-ion and/or 3 AA standard or rechargeable batteries
Up to 24 hours (when adding 3 AA batteries)
Barometric altimeter, electronic 3 axis compass, camera
1 GB with micro SD port (extendable)
10,000 waypoints, 200 trackas with up to 4,000 waypoints
- Accuracy of 1 meter and very fast functions
- Robust, large and waterproof model for all types of activities
- Super responsive touchscreen even with gloves
- Camera that allows you to easily mark locations and their data
- Possibility of mounting it on several supports
- Compatible with multiple map types
- Good autonomy
- No mapping of Europe, only country by country
- A little cumbersome for some users
- No Bluetooth
My verdict for the Garmin Montana 680t
If you are looking for the cheapest GPS unit, the Garmin Montana 680t is certainly not the best choice for you - I recommend the Garmin eTrex 10 in this case.
But if you're looking for a rugged unit with a lot of functional and useful features, then this hiking GPS is definitely the one for you.
I loved the versatility of this device. Many special features like the 8 MP camera and mounting options make it perfect for a wide range of activities.
As with the Oregon 750, I really liked the idea of being able to take a picture for a waypoint instead of having to enter descriptions by hand.
I thought this would be especially useful for large groups who like to share waypoints and navigation information.
I also liked the large display size and the easy to use menu. For beginners, it's pretty straightforward.
In fact, it's one of the most intuitive devices I’ve had the chance to use.
But that's not all, because the Montana 680t is also the fastest and most accurate of all. No waiting time between manipulations, the whole system is highly responsive even when moving.
Small drawback of the device, its weight and not being compact enough.
During long trips, it is not always practical to have such a GPS although it is super-efficient.
In addition, it does not offer Bluetooth connectivity which is a shame for this range of product.
In conclusion, I think this is one of the best hiking GPS you can find.
This unit is perfect for all activities: day hikes, fishing, geocaching, stand up paddle but also any kind of navigation: bike, motorcycle, car or boat.
Its incredible accuracy and versatility will surely please you.
However, if you're looking for a more portable model, check out the Garmin GPSMAP 64s (view details HERE), which isn't bad either!
Last update on 2023-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
I had a Garmin sat nav a while ago and I was very pleased with it. I am quite new to hiking but it seems that this is a bit of kit that I definitely need to consider
Garmin makes so many different models of GPS that you will easily find the one that is perfect for you.
Has anyone found a map for the Garmin that actually shows the hiking trails so we can follow the actual trail in areas where it is not obvious which direction the trail is headed? We have downloaded a couple of maps for our Garmin Montana thinking they included turn-by-turn when we were actually on the trail, but so far we have only been able to get the Garmin to show us how to get to the trail, nothing once we are on the trail
I understand your concern. I’d suggest you download some popular GPX trails online where you can actually track them directly on your Garmin GPS. AllTrails has probably what you need: https://www.alltrails.com/us
Thanks Lara! We’ll check it out.