Garmin Montana 680t Review

Garmin Montana 680t Review

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With preloaded TOPO maps to hit the trails and the ability to load the City Navigator maps for turn-by-turn riding directions—the Garmin Montana 680t is an all-in-one GPS built for every two-wheeled adventure.

If the Garmin Montana 680t were a motorcycle, it would undoubtedly be a BMW 1200GS. At home in whatever terrain or environment, it finds itself ready to conquer the world the moment it's turned on. Such is the flexibility of this GPS.

In our Garmin Montana 680t review we will take a closer look at the latest multipurpose offering from the leading electronic gadget company. The 680t is a highly sophisticated, 4'' display; touch screen sat nav that not only has a dual orientation display but is also glove friendly.

The unit weighs just 289g with the included lithium-ion battery pack and 333g with the three optional AA batteries installed. Measuring in at 2.9" x 5.7" x 1.4" the Montana 680t is a compact and lightweight device. Considering the 680t's primary use is as a waterproof, handheld unit for hiking in all weather, the compact yet robust design is a good thing.

Garmin has positioned the Montana 680t as a multipurpose all terrain action GPS, with an emphasis on hiking, hunting, and fishing. But, looking through its list of features, the case for using it as a motorcycle GPS becomes self-evident.

Menus and Navigation

Reading the high–resolution screen is no problem even in direct sunlight. The menus present themselves in a simple and intuitive way that allows for easy navigation and minimal downtime.

As previously mentioned, the screen is also glove friendly, which is a real plus for motorcycle riders. You can buy all manner of gloves these days with capacitive fingertips, but there’s no need to go to the extra expense with this GPS.

For its location data, the Montana uses the standard GPS system and the Russian-built GLONASS satellites for its positioning. The combination of the two gives exceptional accuracy and coverage.

Geotagging Camera

Garmin Montana 680t Geotagging Camera

One feature of the 680t that took me by surprise was the built-in camera. At eight megapixels, it's the same spec as an iPhone 6. I know you are most probably thinking, why the heck do I need a camera on a GPS?

You can use the auto-focus camera to photograph a location, waypoint, monuments or even for a selfie. The Garmin Montana 680t will automatically geotag and add time data to the picture. A handy feature which means that whenever you access the photo, you have the exact coordinates from where you took it to navigate back to the same location.

Basecamp Software

If you download the free Basecamp software, you can also download the photos along with details of your route. You can then make a 2D or 3D map of your route, complete with topographic details and even satellite images.

This software is perfect for keeping what amounts to a detailed interactive map of your journey for future reference. Plus, you can share your adventures with family and friends. Apart from the onboard memory, the 680t also takes an additional micro SD card, so there are no ‘memory full' worries.

When it’s time to get off the beaten track, the Basecamp software also allows the user to plan a route on their computer with all of the above details. Meaning, it's possible to mark waypoints, see just how steep the gradient is on those hills or check out actual satellite images of potential hazards.

Maps and Features

TOPO Maps

It does this by using the pre-installed TOPO US 100K maps and the free one-year subscription to BirdsEye Satellite imagery. Packed with so much information and great features the TOPO maps cover all of the USA from Alaska to Hawaii. So, you will never come close to exhausting it.

It has a search page layout like a conventional GPS, whereby it is possible to type in a name or area. Choose the map, zoom in or pull up topographic information about it.

It will show the location, give the coordinates, and use color-coded layouts to give height indications of the land and even measure distances and compass bearings.

On the subject of compass bearings, the Garmin Montana 680t has a three-axis tilt compensated electronic version. As the name suggests, tilt compensation allows its user to hold on to a heading when moving or on uneven surfaces.

The Garmin's barometric altimeter also gives pinpoint information of height from sea level, and its pressure sensors monitor changing weather fronts.

Navigator Maps

The City Navigator map package can also be purchased and loaded onto the Garmin Montana 680t for turn-by-turn directions on the road.

Battery Life

So, let's look at the stats. The battery life is quite extraordinary at a possible 16 hours for the rechargeable Lithium-ion battery. The Garmin also has the capacity for an additional three AA batteries which takes screen time up to almost 24 hours. This capability accounts for the extra width and is a feature worth its weight in gold.

Garmin Montana 680t Motorcycle Mount

You can mount the Garmin Montana 680t to your motorcycle’s handlebars with the help of two aftermarket accessories. You will need the following:

The AMPS rugged mount combined with the RAM mount will give you the ability to wire the Montana 680t directly to your battery for recharging on the go.

The mounting hardware does come with an audio-out jack for earphones so you can listen to the turn-by-turn commentary. Some users though, may not be able to get past its lack of Bluetooth or music capacity. Now if Garmin ever decides to add this feature to the Montana series it may well become the ultimate GPS.

Alternative GPS

If you are considering the Montana for your motorcycle, but you don’t require topographic information and satellite views—then you should also contemplate the Garmin Zumo 595LM.

The Zumo 595LM is a purpose-built motorcycle sat nav, which as you would expect, has lots of bike-friendly features including Bluetooth and MP3 playback. Like the Montana, it's glove friendly, but instead of detailed terrain data, it provides navigation features made for motorcyclists in mind.

Both models share the same IPX7 waterproofing certification, which means they can take on rain, snow and even falling into a meter of water for 30 minutes and still live to fight another day.

Obviously, the Zumo has turn by turn commentary, but the motorcycle specific mapping comes into its own when approaching complex junctions. Detailed mapping is where is scores highly with its lane assist view, removing the panic and guesswork out of taking the wrong off ramp.

Being Bluetooth enabled, the Zumo not only allows you to link to your smartphone but also access your music library. And its ability to pair up with optional tire pressure monitors puts it up there as the best motorcycle GPS available.

Conclusion

When it comes to choosing a GPS for your bike, everyone's checklist of requirements is going to be different. There are those who like in-depth information on the terrain through which they're traveling, and the peace of mind knowing they have two orbiting satellite constellations navigating for them.

Additionally, they may not be particularly bothered about answering their phone on the move or having a helmet full of music. If this is you and your two-wheeled adventures take you far into the backwoods, then the Garmin Montana 680t will be an excellent GPS for your expeditions.

Garmin Montana 680t Review
  • Navigation
  • Features
  • User Interface
  • Price
4.3

Summary

With preloaded TOPO U.S. 100K maps, a geotagging camera and the ability to track both GPS and GLONASS satellites—the Garmin Montana 680t is a sat nav that you can trust on every off-road adventure. Unfortunately, Bluetooth connectivity is non-existent and the motorcycle mount will be an additional expense.

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