This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. Find out more about how to manage cookies, or dismiss this message and continue to use cookies.

Pick Montana 650 or 650T?

I am having sticker shock on the Montana,but I am ready to order one. I read posts about the Montana, and I think garmin has worked out the bugs. If it is toublesome to use it please let me know. I wanted turn key operation.
I saw some camera shots from other hikers and they were pretty nice. I liked the idea of not carrying a camera, so it makes the larger GPS size palatable. Anyway I have topo 2008 disk for my HCX Vista and I wanted to know if that was good enough to skip the 650T model. I looked at the free maps and I don't know if they cover Pennsylvania in detail, or better detail that the topo 2008. I am a novice and while it may be described I lack the vocabulary to make a decision. I appreciate your help. Thanks.

I also wanted to know a value on a used Vista HCX and a good place to sell it. I think it would just sit around if I get a new Montana.


  • Welcome!

    I have Garmin Oregon 300,450,550t, and just last week a new Montana 650!

    While I am intimately familiar with the Oregons and their limits, I am finding a new learning curve with all the new functionality that comes with the Montana.

    The Montana is not yet "Turn Key", but it is a nice unit with great potential. I just sent a bug report to garmin with six problems I have found in the first week of use. As with the Oregons when they were first released, Garmin is releasing very regular firmware updates with bug fixes and functionality improvements for the Montana. You should expect some level of "Beta" testing and errors over the next six to twelve months with this brand new unit, minimum. The Oregons, however, have just finally become very reliable with very few bugs with the latest firmware version 5.20.

    If you must have the refinement now, I would suggest the Oregon 550, but if you can handle a few bumps along the way, you might be happier with the Montana 650 in the long run.

    It is worthy to note the immense size difference between the two units. The Montana is very large, while the Oregon fits snugly in an average sized hand. The Montanan has no carabiner attachment point, while the Oregon does, so depending on how you want to carry it, this may be important!

    As for the "t" units, they are pre loaded with Garmins 2008 USA 100K topo maps, which I find to be almost useless. In my area, they can be off by as much as 300 feet. I discovered this with my 550t when I was looking for a geocache in a park, and the "t" map showed me accross the street in a parking lot, but switching to a map from showed me in the correct location.

    Have a look around to see what they have for your area. The maps there are free to use (donations gladly accepted), and I find them to be much more feature rich than Garmins topo maps.

    The Montana 650/650T both have >3GB of storage, as does the Oregon 550t, while the Oregon 550 only has about 850mb. For me, this is not a problem, as I HIGHLY recommend keeping all your maps, tracks, waypoints, and photos loaded on a microSD card, regardless of which unit you choose. It is not an uncommon issue to have a unit completely lock up and refuse to boot due to a corrupted file. If that file is on the microSD card, you can remove the microSD and reboot, and use a host PC to repair the files. If the corrupt file is on the GPSr unit, you may end up having to send it to Garmin for repair/replacement. This happened to me with both my 300 and my 550t.

    You will likely be asking which microSD card to get for your GPSr, and most will work fine. I use standard 16GB microSD cards from PNY and Patriot. Higher speed cards seem to work OK, but do not load information any faster than standard speed cards.
  • Boyd 1853 Points
    Your topo 2008 disks will work fine on the Montana. However, due to technical limits with the way the DVD version is stored, you will not be able to load the whole US on your Montana at one time. Maps are broken into separate "tiles" and the 2008 topo contains ~6600 of these, but the Montana can only access 4000 tiles. The "t" model has the same map data but sliced into larger chunks such that then entire US only uses about 450 tiles.

    So if you want the entire US map to always be available, get the 650t. If you are content to only have, say, 1/3 of the US then get the 650. You could add the full US Topo to the 650 by purchasing the download or pre-loaded data card version.

    I suggest you download some of the maps from and see what you think of them.... it's free. :)

    Another option to consider would be Birdseye Topo. These are scans of the paper USGS 1:24000 maps, which some people feel are the "Holy Grail" of topo maps. $30 for unlimited downloads seems like a good deal to me:

    I usually give my old/unused GPS to friends... just gave away my old Oregon 400t in fact since I don't use it after getting a Montana 600. However, you might also consider keeping the eTrex as a backup if you don't already have one (I have a 60csx and Magellan Triton too :) )
  • Boyd, thanks for the comments. I boiled down my needs and passed on the Montana. I really like the screen but I did not like the weight and price. I really did not want it to fail when I was out hunting. Since the Oregon is a more mature product I picked one up at Bass Pro last night. I loaded a portion of topo 2008 and it seemed to be pretty cool. Now I have to figure out the best balance of detail and clutter with the many maps available.
  • Boyd 1853 Points
    Congratulations - you will be in good company with the Oregon 450 since it's a very popular model. Learn how to use the "profiles" feature. Basically, you just set everything the way you like it, then create a new profile. This will capture all of the menu options you've set.
Sign In or Register to comment.
↑ Top