Lost and found (Part 2)

In the first part, I was writing about, how can you be found if you are lost somehow. In the second part I would like to write about what I am doing to avoid being lost.

Back in 2013 I was looking for a GPS navigation unit to use on my motorcycle. Since my budget was limited, I wanted a unit which can be used on the motorcycle and, at the same time, suitable for hiking as well. After some “research” the Garming GPSMAP 62s got into my basket.


It turned out to be a very good choice.

  • It is compact, easy to find a place to mount it on the motorcycle and can be carried in a pocket on your cargo pants or on the backpack, but still enough large to read it when mounted on the handlebar. There are a huge variety of mounting hardware and solutions for the 62s.
  • It has a good battery life. The 62s can last for 12 hours on rechargeable AA batteries with the screen on all the time. If you set a timeout for the screen it can last much longer. I love the AA battery option. You can just swap teh batteries to new ones on the middle of novhere if needed. It is much more difficult if a built in battery runs out of juice and the unit is not wired to the electrical system on the motorcycle.
  • It doesn’t have a touch screen. Personally I don’t like touch screens. On a well designed user interface, you can get everything done easily with four direction and one enter/select button. The 62s has more buttons, but the design of the user interface meets my expectations. The buttons are relatively small, but still easy to handle, even with winter riding gloves on.
  • The screen isn’t the highest resolution, but you don’t need full HD picture to read out way point information, distance or compass heading. The screen also easy to read under direct sunlight.
  • One thing what I like the most in it, it just does the job you set on it to do. Although it helps you to navigate from A to B, it does not try to be smarty pants and not telling you all the time what you should do.
  • Very easy to import and export data from/to the device

Before rides, I always put together a route or just set a few way points what I want to visit on my trip. I am getting this done with QMapShack. I am not following these routes dot-by-dot most of the time. A routable full New Zealand map helps me to navigate even if I am off the planned track. A good quality and free map for Garmin GPS devices can be downloaded from the website of the NZ Open GPS Project. This map is updated roughly once every month which keeps it well ahead of commercial products.

Once you have a GPS unit and a map, the next important thing is how do you configure your device and the screen. I am sure we could argue or have very long discussions on the setups, but let me just show you, how do I use it most of the time. I am not saying this is the best way to use your Garmin, but this works the best for me.

Being an older fella and coming from the world of road books, I prefer a road book like setup.


On the top left corner of the screen there is the distance to the next way point. Right to it is a pointer, which is pointing to the direction of the next way point. The second row starts with the name of the next way point and the fourth field is showing an estimated travel time to the way point. The remaining space on the screen is used in the same fashion as a Tulip diagram.

If I am in the hurry or need to get somewhere in the city, the auto routing function still can be useful. If you let the GPSMAP 62s to do the thinking, it will show additional instructions on navigation at the top of the screen, just like on the above screenshot.

The Garmin GPSMAP 62s has a loads of options and data fields to customize the screen or create completely new ones.

What is my verdict on the Garmin GPSMAP 62s? I love it. But keep in mind, I got it almost 3 years ago and there are so many new GPS navigation units out there, and some designed specifically for motorcycle “adventure” riding. Very likely today I would chose something else, but I have no idea what. Fortunately the 62s is still serving me well and I hope, there will be no need to look for a new unit for a long time.