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The Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx: An Easy to Use Handheld GPS Device

written by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 2/15/2011

Choosing an easy to use handheld GPS device will likely be a priority if you’re a novice looking to buy one of these nifty navigators for any or all of the wide range of outdoor activities they’re so useful for. Here is your best option along with links to other devices from different brands too.

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    Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx - Overall Assessment

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    GPSMAP 60CSx If you're a novice looking for an easy to use handheld GPS unit, the Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx is one of the best devices on the market today. We carefully weighed many of the options available to you and as you’ll see below, there are links to those other units sprinkled throughout the article you should check out as a means of comparison. However, based on the criteria most important to a novice user, including ease of use, versatility, an extensive feature set, and an affordable price, the GPSMAP 60CSx tops our list. And we are not alone in this assessment either; this offering from Garmin has received favorable reviews all over the Web, and has already been included on the list of the most user-friendly handheld GPS devices of all time. So in clear and concise terms, we'll explain exactly why that is.

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    User Interface

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    GPSMAP 60CSx Front Right out of the box, a person can quickly discern how to use the GPSMAP 60CSx to navigate wherever they want to in the great outdoors because that’s what it’s made for. The Top 5 Portable GPS Units for Outdoor Enthusiasts includes the 60CSx, eTrex Vista HCX, eTrex Legend, and Oregon 400t (all from Garmin) as well as the Earthmate PN-40 from DeLorme. First of all, the GPSMAP 60CSx is rugged and weatherproof which is worth noting here because it wouldn’t matter how easy it is to operate it if you can’t depend on it in all conditions. You can easily see the perfectly sized screen no matter where the sun is and its ideal for both land and marine use. It takes advantage of MicroSD cards which means you can simply slide a preloaded SD card into the unit with any maps you want (topographic maps, city streets, and nautical charts) or use the included USB cord to download and transfer waypoints from your computer.

    The series of buttons and Rocker Key Pad below the screen enable you to zoom in and out of maps, quickly navigate to menus that are clearly decipherable, mark your current position as a waypoint, and enter data. This design is similar to the equally capable Delorme Earthmate PN-40, although the user interface on that model has a longer learning curve and the screen is a bit small too. The GPSMAP 60CSx owner’s manual can be quickly downloaded from to review procedures on any operation. Once you get an understanding of the terms and icons, it’s simply a matter of using this easy to use handheld GPS to navigate anywhere you want to go.

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    Rating Average

    The SiRF III chipset is super-fast and highly sensitive so it can track your position under dense canopies of trees and in canyons. It comes with a barometric altimeter and an electronic compass which are both great to have for all your outdoor adventures. All Garmin’s use MapSource, and you can learn all about that software by reading Garmin handheld GPS maps, which can be downloaded via the Internet. But the built-in autoroute basemap also includes highways, exits, and tide data for the USA if you want to use it in vehicles to and from your adventures as well. Turn-by-turn routing capabilities will ensure you're going the right way in any wilderness setting. The 20 hour battery life is longer than many similar models and it has tons of memory for storing waypoints. It’s versatile in that it’s a worthy unit for geocaching, hiking, backpacking, and anything else you want to do out there. If hunting is your thing, you might want to read reviews of the best hunting GPS units to learn about the capabilities of the Garmin eTrex Vista HCX, Garmin Rino 530 HCX, and the Lowrance iFINDER Hunt C by comparison.

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    Price to Value

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    As stated earlier, we considered pricing important for novices since many of the handhelds on the market are considerably more expensive than the Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx. It's currently listed for about $200 on which is quite a bargain. And as we also mentioned earlier, we are not alone in recommending it. On the Amazon site alone, roughly 520 out of 590 customers gave it a 4 or 5 star rating, which says a lot.

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    All images courtesy of