Garmin Montana 680: Definitive Review 2020

A Fast And Accurate All-terrain Guide With Excellent Features
A GPS Designed To Awaken The Adventurer in You

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Table of Contents

30

Models Reviewed

19

Hours Of
Research

24

Field Test
Hours

59

Users
Surveyed

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Here is our Ultimate TopNotch Garmin Montana 680 Review 2020…..

In this comprehensive review we’ll cover:

  • Speed and accuracy
  • Display quality
  • Battery life
  • And Lots more…

If you’re looking for a dependable GPS with a brilliant screen and a camera, you’ll love this guide.

So here we go…

Reception
9
Ease of Use
8
Display Quality
7
Speed
9
Weight and Size
4
Versatility
7
Overall Score
73
  • Manufacturer: Garmin Limited
  • Display Size: 2 x 3.5 inches
  • Display Type: Bright, transflective 65k color TFT, dual-orientation touchscreen; sunlight readable
  • Weight: 10.2 oz
  • Average Battery Life: Up to 16 hours

Bottom Line : A powerful GPS with a large display that comes with many practical features

Pros


  • Fast and accurate reception
  • A large display
  • A superior 3 axis compass
  • IPX7 waterproofing
  • 8MP camera with automatic geotagging
  • A customizable home screen

Cons


  • The unit is bulky
  • Hefty price tag

Our Verdict: Garmin Montana 680

So you want a GPS with a great reception quality and a lovely big display?

What about an in-built camera to take and send pictures on the go?

Sounds good?

Great!

Now, the Garmin Montana 680 comes with all these features and the usual Garmin reliability.

Packed with advanced technology, it’s simply one of the fastest GPS we tested.

Moreover, the big screen means it can be used in cars and on motorcycles too.

The best part is, you can take a picture of a waypoint and share it amongst your group.

But there’s one problem.

The 680 is one of the bulkiest units we tested.

Also, it’s pretty expensive.

On the whole though, if you don’t mind the size, this is a really great GPS.

Otherwise, we have the TopNotch Top Picks to choose from.

So what do you say?

Shall we dig a little deeper?

Let’s begin.

Related: 10 Best Handheld GPS

Analysis Comparisons and Test Results

The fact is, while the TopNotch team loved the rugged, all-terrain reliability of this GPS it isn’t among our top three choices.

Why?

Just picture this…

You’re advancing across tricky terrain balancing on your hiking pole and need to check your directions.

You’ll need a GPS you can take out of your pocket easily.

The 680 just wasn’t very ‘handy’ like that for us.

Actually, this is where a GPS with features like the Garmin Foretrex 401 comes in.

Having said that, the 680 GPS does shine in its own way.

Let’s find out how.

Reception

Without a doubt, the reception quality of the Montana is TopNotch.

Firstly, it’s able to connect with both GPS and GLONASS satellites.

Next, there’s a WAAS-enabled receiver and HotFix Satellite Prediction that makes the connections even faster.

Even in deep forest, the unit was super fast to locate a signal.

Garmin Montana

Reception Rating

Garmin Montana 680 Touchscreen GPS
9
Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS
9
Garmin GPSMAP 66st Handheld Hiking GPS
8
Garmin GPSMAP 64st
8
Garmin in Reach Explorer+, Handheld Satellite Communicator
8
Garmin Oregon 700 Handheld GPS
7
Garmin eTrex 20x, Handheld GPS Navigator
6
Garmin etrex Touch 35
6

We tested the accuracy of the 680 on our testing trip which took us around the Glacier National Park.

The accuracy levels were within eight to ten feet even in covered areas.

We also tested it by tracking a few waypoints. The accuracy level was within 40 to 42 inches in all cases.

To sum up, this is a Garmin off road GPS that won’t let you down no matter where you are.

Now, combine the high accuracy with the 3-axis tilt-compensated compass and the barometric altimeter and you get superb navigation at all times.

We also used it for navigation in and around the city and the performance was first-rate.

The result?

It shared the top spot under this metric with the Garmin Foretrex 401, our Top Pick.

Ease of Use

Frankly, Garmin has kept it simple and easy with the Montana 680. All the controls are touchscreen-based with a single power button on one side.

Most importantly, the menu is simple to use and the large keypad makes typing easy.

You get 4GB internal memory with support for a 32 GB microSD card.

You can load all the high-resolution maps you need.

But wait – there’s more.

Garmin Montana

Ease of Use Rating

Garmin Montana 680 Touchscreen GPS
8
Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS
8
Garmin eTrex 20x, Handheld GPS Navigator
8
Garmin Oregon 700 Handheld GPS
8
Garmin in Reach Explorer+, Handheld Satellite Communicator
7
Garmin GPSMAP 64st
7
Garmin GPSMAP 66st Handheld Hiking GPS
7
Garmin etrex Touch 35
6

Adding maps is easy and you also get 1-year of BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription included.

If you’re traveling in a large group, sharing waypoints, tracks, routes and geocaches with other compatible Garmin GPS users is a breeze.

We really got into capturing images of our waypoints through the 8-megapixel camera to send to the rest of the team – pretty cool technology.

And don’t forget, there’s the Garmin BaseCamp software that allows you to plan your trip just exactly how you want.

Good news for geocaching lovers.

They can load GPX files directly from Geocaching.com

In reality, first-time GPS users will dig the ease of use of the 680.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is another metric where it scored the same as the  Foretrex 401.

Display Quality

Let me start with the details.

The Garmin Montana 680 has a 4 inch (diagonal) screen with a resolution of 272 x 480 pixels.

The display is a transflective 65K color TFT type and it’s readable even in bright sunlight.

And the readability is very good even when the light fades.

Garmin Montana

Display Quality Rating

Garmin Oregon 700 Handheld GPS
9
Garmin GPSMAP 66st Handheld Hiking GPS
9
Garmin GPSMAP 64st
8
Garmin Montana 680 Touchscreen GPS
7
Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS
7
Garmin eTrex 20x, Handheld GPS Navigator
7
Garmin in Reach Explorer+, Handheld Satellite Communicator
7

The display changes orientation automatically and reading high-resolution maps isn’t a problem at all.

Texts are perfectly legible from all angles.

What’s more, the screen survived a few drops during our tests – and practically no damage – we were impressed and very happy with that.

On the downside…

…we found the glare from the touch screen irritating, especially after dark.

All in all, the displays of some of the other GPS units were more gentle on the eyes than this.

In essence, we (our TopNotch testing team in Glacier) decided a compact handy GPS is overall better than one with a large display.

Speed

I already wrote about the excellent reception quality of the Montana 680.

In addition, it’s also one of the fastest devices we tested.

The GPS has a lightning-fast fix on any location no matter the terrain.

Garmin Montana

Speed Rating

Garmin Montana 680 Touchscreen GPS
9
Garmin GPSMAP 64st
9
Garmin Oregon 700 Handheld GPS
9
Garmin GPSMAP 66st Handheld Hiking GPS
8
Garmin in Reach Explorer+, Handheld Satellite Communicator
8
Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS
7
Garmin eTrex 20x, Handheld GPS Navigator
6
Garmin etrex Touch 35
6

Not only that but even when redrawing 100K resolution maps the performance was faultless.

Moreover, the compass and the barometer were super responsive no matter where we were.

Actually, when we tested multiple GPS simultaneously on the trail, the Garmin Montana was always among the fastest – without fail.

Point to be noted: We also tried the Garmin Montana 680T for good measure – it was also impressively fast and had pretty much the same features.

Just in case you need the speed but not the bulk, the Garmin GPSMAP 64st is the go-to choice in this category.

Weight and Size

As I mentioned earlier, this isn’t the metric where our Montana particularly shone out.

But first, let’s check out the dimensions.

The device measures 2.9 x 5.7 x 1.4 (W x L x B) inches…

So we could never describe it as compact.

With the lithium battery pack (included), it weighs 10.2 oz, which is on the higher side of the scale.

Garmin Montana

Weight and Size Rating

Garmin eTrex 20x, Handheld GPS Navigator
10
Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS
10
Garmin etrex Touch 35
9
Garmin GPSMAP 66st Handheld Hiking GPS
8
Garmin GPSMAP 64st
8
Garmin Oregon 700 Handheld GPS
8
Garmin Montana 680 Touchscreen GPS
4
Garmin in Reach Explorer+, Handheld Satellite Communicator
2
Undoubtedly, the Garmin Montana 680 is very well built. Drops and knocks won’t bother this tough guy.

But it will only fit into large pockets and sadly the manufacturer doesn’t offer a carabiner clip to attach it to your backpack – that would have been handy.

Keep in mind this isn’t the best GPS for people with small hands.

The point is, we wouldn’t use it for multi-day treks over rough terrains – it’s best suited for day hikes.

But…

…you can use a mounting dock to mount it in your car or motorbike.

It turns out, the Garmin Foretrex 401 and the Garmin eTrex 20x are the best performers under this metric.

Versatility

According to Garmin, the Montana 680 is suitable for use in ATVs, boats, cars, and also as a handheld device.

On the face of it, that’s correct.

But let’s not forget its size means it’s not the best hiking GPS.

However, we wouldn’t hesitate to mark it among the best GPS for ATVs.

garmin-montana

Versatility Rating

Garmin GPSMAP 66st Handheld Hiking GPS
9
Garmin GPSMAP 64st
9
Garmin in Reach Explorer+, Handheld Satellite Communicator
8
Garmin Montana 680 Touchscreen GPS
7
Garmin eTrex 20x, Handheld GPS Navigator
7
Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS
7
Garmin etrex Touch 35
7
Garmin Oregon 700 Handheld GPS
6

Apart from the lithium-ion batteries, it can also run on 3 AA batteries.

Fact check:

During the time we used it, the lithium-ion battery lasted for two days with circa 7 hours of thorough use each day.

When we shifted to AAs, the 680 lasted more than 20 hours.

This is in line with some of the other top Garmin products we reviewed in this category.

And remember, it’s also IPX7 rated – it’s fine to use in wet weather.

We used it in light snowfall and I found the touchscreen responsiveness good with only my light gloves on.

But with thick woollen gloves or in heavy rain, the screen stops being so responsive.

Overall, it emerged as a mediocre performer in this metric.

Conclusion: Garmin Montana 680

It’s time to sum up this Garmin GPS Review.

Is it really an all-in-one unit that hits the bulls’ eye like the hype would have us believe?

As you can see, it’s truly an exceptional performer with great features and superb reception quality.

We loved its amazing speed in practically any terrain.

Also, you simply can’t ignore the exceptional ease of use and the additional advantage of the camera.

Moreover, people who want a smartphone-like screen in a GPS will love it.

Once you get yourself a good mount – the Garmin Montana 680 is definitely the best GPS for ATV trail riding or for motorbike adventures.

On the other hand, as a handheld GPS, it’s limited by its size and weight.

Beyond that, the high price tag will drive away a few buyers and it doesn’t come with preloaded maps like the Garmin Montana 680T.

Look, I’m not saying that it doesn’t offer the right value. It does.

But for us, the cheaper and lighter Garmin eTrex 20x was the Best Value choice.

Ultimately, the TopNotch team decided that the Garmin Montana 680 does not match the overall versatility of the Garmin Foretrex 401 or the Garmin GPSMAP 64st as a handheld GPS device.

So now you have all the options on the table…

Over to you to make your choice…

Other Versions

The Garmin Montana series also includes the Montana 680t, the Montana 610, and the Montana 610 Camo.

Every GPS unit here shares the same features – a rugged design and a high-sensitivity GPS receiver for fast performance.

The Garmin Montana 680t is slightly more expensive and comes preloaded with US topographic maps of 100K resolution.

The 610 Camo is slightly less expensive as it doesn’t have the in-built camera.

However, it does come with preloaded maps.

Lastly, the Montana 610 comes without preloaded maps or camera.

topnotchoutdoor award

Garmin GPSMAP 64st
topnotchoutdoor award

Garmin Handheld GPS (Etrex 20x)
topnotchoutdoor award

Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS