Garmin Oregon 600 Fit for Purpose?


Garmin Oregon 600

Garmin Oregon 600

This is a quick post on my experiences with a Garmin Oregon 600 on a recent bicycle tour along the Munda Biddi Trail through the South-west of Western Australia, and the response from Mr Rob Grinter of Highly Tuned Athletes who until now I had never hesitated in recommending and was happy to have brought two Garmin GPS units from and a GoPro Hero 3 camera from. Regretfully I can no longer recommend dealing with Highly Tuned Athletes and personally will not buy from them again.

Garmin Oregon 600 and OpenCycleMap

According to Mr Rob Grinter most if not all the problems I had with my Garmin Oregon 600 recently occurred because I was using the OpenStreetMap OpenCycleMap. The problems listed below include problems which cause the unit to shut down. How the maps cause this is beyond me or for that matter any of these issues but there you go.

A lot of what I have experienced has been reported by others as well. For example at forums there are two extensive threads on Garmin Oregon 6XX problems [see here and here] and if you visit Garmin’s own forums you get posts from people experiencing some of the same issues I have. The best place I have howerever for listing and reporting problems with the Garmin Oregon series of GPS units is the Garmin Oregon 6xx Wiki. That is a beauty!  I guess all these people are using OpenStreetMap too :).

Mr Grinter referred to a OpenStreetMap’s disclaimer as his basis for describing me as being irresponsible for using it [when I was riding the Munda Biddi Trail] which I initially assumed was this one at their Wiki as justification for his position.  Of course I am well aware are of the limitations of OpenStreetMap and in fact contribute to the mapping program. I also use on rides such as the one that I completed where I had all these problems the appropriate paper maps.  However, it is a very long stretch of the imagination to try and attribute the problems with my Garmin Oregon 600 to OpenStreetMap.  I am curious to read Garmin’s City Navigator or Topo maps disclaimer to see if it is different from the OpenStreetMap’s disclaimer so if you can post the details that would be appreciated.

Here is an extract from Google Maps Terms of Use. Sound familiar?:

You may find that weather conditions, construction projects, closures, or other events may cause road conditions or directions to differ from the map results. You should exercise judgment in your use of this Content. (b) Certain Content is provided under license from third parties, including but not limited to TomTom Global Content BV (“TomTom“), and is subject to copyright and other intellectual property rights owned by or licensed to TomTom and/or such third parties. You may be held liable for any unauthorized copying or disclosure of this Content. Your use of TomTom Content, including but not limited to printing or use in marketing or promotional materials, is subject to additional restrictions located in the Legal Notices page.

Update: Mr Grinter has now provided further information on this aspect. To quote his email:

Fault found was due to Experimental maps being inserted by Customer which the producer of said maps specifies that they are known to have bugs/issues and are under development, specifically in the area of your complaint. Free map provider clearly specifies that the maps should be used at own risk and should not be relied upon.

and in a further email

In relation to reading your list of errors, in fact your statement could not be further from the truth [I commented that I felt they had not considered them at all given their blaming me for my use of OpenStreetMap]. One of my senior technicians has spent 16 hours on your device testing the unit, putting it through some of the most througher testing known. Also, no less than 3 staff have read your letter front to back, several times, including 2 meetings to discuss its severity. This to you may seem like special treatment, however it is in fact normal around here. In a sentence, your letter, its contents and each and every fault, was taken with the utmost seriousness and well beyond.

and then this comment …

The initial fault is not a major fault, it is probably not even a minor fault based on the abnormal manner in which it has been used, hence If you wish to play out this transaction and complaint via Consumer Victoria, then you are welcome do so.

So there you go. OpenStreetMap are responsible for tracking issues, GPS drift issues, the Oregon 600 shutting down randomly, not synchronizing with the GSC-10 etc. Damn pesky maps!  Unfortunately Mr Grinter seems to have a problem understanding the disclaimer or is deliberately misrepresenting it and in particular the difference between routing and tracking. The disclaimer is of course an appropriate one if you are using the maps for routing purposes, however they have no bearing on tracking other than giving you a visual of where you have been. If there is no road or track on the maps then of course these will not show and the tracking line will show as going as simply a line; exactly what happens when using Garmin’s own maps where it does not have tracks or roads included. To seriously try to blame the maps and use this disclaimer as justification for the issues that I experienced is very disappointing or a case of simply being ill-informed. Either way it was not a nice way for Mr Grinter to respond.

To describe the maps as “experimental” however simply shows a lack of understanding of what they are. For a retailer in this space Mr Grinter’s knowledge is seriously lacking and is a discredit to the hundreds if not thousands of community members who contribute to the maps.  A simple read of the OpenStreetMap Foundation wiki should have addressed his lack of understanding.

For the record I download my OpenCycleMap from Free maps for Garmin brand GPS device (“producer” refereed to by Mr Grinter). DCRainmaker (well known Garmin tester and blogger) has an excellent post on using these maps with Garmin Edge units if you are interested. Check out Ray’s blog anyway. It is an excellent read!

Garmin Oregon 600 Problems

I made an error of judgement and just prior to leaving on my ride of the Munda Biddi Trail in July 2013 I updated my Garmin Oregon 600 to the latest firmware at the time and didn’t have a serious chance to test all went well.  The first problem I noticed was that I lost my Geocaching profile, which whilst it didn’t stop the unit functioning was annoying for me as it meant I couldn’t easily display the information I wanted given my intended use of the unit.  I now believe that the firmware upgrade probably contributed to a number of the issues I experienced as when I returned from the ride I did install the firmware file provided by Peter at Highly Tuned Athletes (I didn’t have a computer with me on the ride to do the re-install prior to my return) and that restored at least my missing profile.  In hindsight that was probably an error of judgement on my part as I then sent my Oregon 600 off to Highly Tuned Athletes for warranty analysis.  They in turn determined there was nothing wrong with the unit and the story begins. I now wonder whether the replacing of the firmware contributed to that outcome, which in itself is a good one, but lead ultimately to a serious breakdown in the customer-retailer relationship.

That said this is what I experienced on the trail with my Oregon 600.

Here is one of tracks recorded on my Garmin Oregon 600 on my ride of the Munda Biddi Trail. This is typical of what I experienced every day of the tour. It is uploaded at Garmin Connect which allows users to select and use, you guessed it, OpenStreetMap, those same evil maps that apparently “caused” all 13 problems I experienced.

This day’s riding according to the Munda Biddi Trail map was 53 kilometres. Apparently I actually rode 83.75 kilometres and reached speeds of 151.9 km/h on my loaded touring bike.

Munda Biddi Trail - Lockyer Bay Rail Crossing

High speed touring bike – reaches speeds of 152 km/h apparently

For those interested each day’s ride log, the map distance and what my Garmin Oregon 600 recorded are listed below. I did some pretty amazing speeds apparently and rode some pretty interesting “tracks” and roads. You can see in the last few days of riding where I learnt to turn the Oregon 600 off every time I stopped. This helped to reduce the error levels over the days ride.

Day's RideMap DistanceGarmin DistanceError
Albany to Denmark74.85103.9329.08
Denmark to Jinung Beigabup Campsite41.5855.8514.27
Jinung Beigabup Campsite to Booner Mundak Campsite73.7558.53-15.22
Booner Mundak Campsite to Walpole52.3683.7531.39
Walpole to Kwokralup Beela Campsite30.5436.075.53
Kwokralup Beela to Yirra Karra Campsite49.5356.957.42
Yirra Karra Campsite to Northcliffe49.89444.2
Northcliffe to Pemberton ?44.4565.6621.21
Pemberton to Manjimup ?83.2877.06-6.22
Manjimup to Karta Burnu Campsite23.2230.016.79
Karta Burnu Campsite to Donnelly Mill23.536.3412.84
Donnelly Mill to Nannup37.331.29-6.01
Nannup to Jarrahwood26.7127.881.17
Jarrahwood to Donnybrook44.6147.522.91

If you have any suggestions as to how the maps caused these issues I would love to know or possible fixes of the problems I experienced please do let me know below.

The following list of my problems is taken from my letter to Mr Grinter.  It is interesting to compare my list to that provided at Garmin Oregon 6xx Wiki bug list page.  There are a few similar ones for sure.

  1. My Garmin Oregon 600 not synchronise with either of my Garmin GSC-10 sensors despite both advertising material and the manual indicating otherwise. Those same GSC-10 sensors synchronise with Garmin Edge 810 and previously with my Garmin Edge 800 so I know the issue is not with the sensor. Interesting the Oregon 600 will synchronise with my Adidas HRM strap. I consider this critical failure as it was one the features I lead to my purchase of the unit. Any replacement or repair must have this functionality working correctly please or there is little point in replacing or repairing the unit.
  2. The Oregon 600 has been inconsistent with its auto-pause function. Sometimes it will auto-pause sometimes it will not. The amount of tree coverage appears to have no influence on this. I have found that on more than one day, a day of riding could be recorded with approximately 60% being added to the day’s distance when compared to the map. I didn’t deviate from my planned route at all and hence this sort of error level is extremely concerning, more so if one is navigating and using distances as a critical navigation tool. I found the only solution to this was to physically turn off the unit whenever I stopped.
  3. In contrast to the issues raised in dot point 2, I found I could be riding along when the Oregon 600 would simply go into auto-pause mode. This was a known fault in early firmware updates of the Garmin Edge 800 and which was fixed so it is staggering to see it happening again now with a much more modern unit in the Garmin range.
  4. I found the Oregon 600 showings speeds up to 30 to 40 km/h when I am doing 10 km/h or less and again in situations where often there was little to no tree coverage. On one day it recorded a maximum speed of 90 km/h! I was riding a loaded mountain bike on dirt trails where my average speed would have been around 10 km/h over the day.
  5. The Garmin Oregon 600 route tracking gets confused following a turn in the road or trail and often then heads off showing me going well off-track and adding considerable distances to the day’s ride distance.
  6. On more than one occasion it would simply just recorded me heading off into the wilds for no apparent reason;
  7. My Oregon 600 regularly looses satellites even in clear tree coverage (e.g., riding in farming country). When this occurs I have to use the auto locate satellites feature to re-locate the satellites. When I do this the Oregon 600 finds the satellites within seconds. On some days this was happening up to 15 times over a six to eight hour ride. In my view this is a very serious concern as surly a company such as Garmin Limited with a history of GPS development should have such a fundamental functionality working correctly.
  8. If I switch to external power source (e.g., USB battery supply) it causes the Oregon 600’s screen to change to a different display and at times simply changes the chosen the profile! It simply seems to have a mind of its own.
  9. I found that a set of Duracell Ultra alkaline batteries I tried (fresh purchase) lasted no more eight hours which is well short of the claimed battery life. I was getting similar battery life times from a rechargeable batteries as well;
  10. My Oregon 600 will at least once a day randomly turn off;
  11. My Oregon 600 will lock up requiring the removal of the batteries to force it to restart again seemly on a random basis;
  12. Tones continue to sound even though they have been turned off in the settings
  13. Updating to firmware 2.8 resulted in the lost of the geocaching profile as per our email discussions.

I also notified Dr Min Kao, Executive Chairman of Garmin Ltd of my concerns including the non-reposone of Garmin support when contacted BEFORE going back to Highly Tuned Athletes. Of course I have not received a response from Dr Kao but did get an email from a Amador Leal, Tier 2 Support at Garmin Australasia on August 13, 2013 asking for the best time to phone me on August 14, 2014. I replied on August 13, 2013 with a suitable time to call on the morning of August 14, 2013 and of course Amador Leal didn’t phone.

I guess it is really too much to expect to actually receive customer service from Garmin Australasia. So much for Garmin Ltd’s value statements:

The foundation of our culture is honesty, integrity, and respect for associates, customers, and business partners. Each associate is fully committed to serving customers and fellow associates through outstanding performance and accomplishing what we say we will do.

Garmin Oregon 600 Fit for Purpose?

Australian consumer law is meant to protect consumers who purchase goods in Australia. Of course to get any protection the consumer has to jump through the hoops which can include having to go, in this instance I believe to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for a remedy.  That is the final solution, the first step is to raise the concerns with the retailer, Highly Tuned Athletes.  Regretfully their response is that it is my fault for using OpenStreetMap and that there is nothing wrong (which may in part be because I re-installed the firmware). I guess those track logs that I recorded are fictitious and I made up all the faults. Oh I even sent screen grabs of what I believe Mr Grinter refers to as my “minor issue” [post about this initial problem at Garmin forums] from my unit to Highly Tuned Athletes so I guess they are made up as well. The next stop open to me is either seeking a charge back via my credit card provider (online purchase) and/or seeking the involvement of Consumer Affairs Victoria. I have decided to see what happens when I get my Oregon 600 back from Highly Tuned Athletes and see how it performs in the bush over the next month or so before deciding how to go forward on this, if at all.  Whilst Amador Leal of Garmin Australasia did eventually contact me and offered a new replacement unit that offer has now been withdrawn as I sought a refund from Highly Tuned Athletes which was in rejected anyway.

I have been told that my Garmin Oregon 600 is being returned from Highly Tuned Athletes after a “hard rest”.  I was not exactly sure what a hard reset entails as it is not documented in the manual or the Garmin knowledge base but there is a mention of two master resets in the Garmin knowledge base which I assume is what is being referred to. The latest one is what I assume is the hard reset. Interesting this was added (or modified) to the Garmin Knowledge base on July 30, 2013 which was after I sent in my Oregon 600 to Highly Tuned Athletes.  The earlier on appears to be a soft rest but is also referred to as a master reset.

I did try a soft rest early in the piece with my problems but that didn’t do anything. I was not aware at the time of the hard reset option; it does seem to have even been in the Garmin Knowledge base.

In closing I am putting this out there as it stands; I will move on with my Garmin Oregon 600 and see what happens. If this post is of benefit, great, if not so be it.  I don’t know if I will buy Garmin again but I know I will never deal with Highly Tuned Athletes again.

I also acknowledge that having been told I was irresponsible by Mr Grinter on a phone call and being left without doubt that I was to put it colloquially “full of bullshit” I did get angry with Mr Grinter and one of his staff coped a short spray from me. I did not however swear or scream at Mr Grinter or his staff as claimed and I have never stated that he said I was liarer, implied it yes, stated it no. I have apologised to Mr Grinter’s and his staff for my outburst.  Mr Grinter however has not apologise for calling me irresponsible or implying I am a liaring about my issues, neither has Mr Grinter apologised for raising his voice at me on the phone (I was stupid and reacted to this). I acknowledge my stupidity and accept the negative outcome from it.

Have fun out there.

21 Responses to Garmin Oregon 600 Fit for Purpose?

  1. Marty 18 August 2013 at 7:04 AM #

    Garmin stuff seems to be hit and miss. I had six brand new Nuvi GPSs to set up for work, within a few weeks two of them had to be sent away and were replaced by “refurbished” units. All six are now happily working with OSM maps on them. The service section at Harvey Normans in Bunbury was very helpful. I have five Garmin GPSs of my own. I think the shop you bought yours from was wrong not to replace it. I’d even suggest taking your Oregon 600 to another dealer and see if you can get some satisfaction, even if you have to pay postage to get it sent away. Once it gets to Garmin they don’t seem to hesitate to replace them if they’re dodgy, in fact I think Garmin would go broke very quickly if they didn’t, as they seem to sell a lot of faulty units.

    • Andrew Priest 21 August 2013 at 4:34 PM #

      I think you have pretty much summed up Garmin’s business model Marty. With hindsight I should have gone direct to Garmin which is pretty disappointing as well. Anyway it has been returned so will have a play and see what happens. All part of life’s learning experiences.

  2. Steven Eerdekens 24 October 2013 at 6:07 PM #

    You should try firmware 3.30 as it solves lots of the issues you described here.

    • Andrew Priest 25 October 2013 at 8:26 AM #

      Thanks for the heads-up. I currently have 3.10 so will update, however, my point remains and that is it shouldn’t have gone to the market with these sorts of issues, e.g., the GSC10 connection issues. They where solved a long time ago with the Edge units; re-introducing them highlights serious internal management issues at Garmin.

  3. Ham 1 November 2013 at 4:04 PM #

    I think I may well stick with my Oregon 450 (not entirely fault free) until they sort this kind of stuff out – thanks for saving me a bunch of cash!

  4. Freddy 29 January 2014 at 4:32 AM #

    Hi Andrew,

    I have been planning to buy the Oregon 600 but I read about the locking up, GPS/tracking inaccuracy and short battery runtime issues not only in your writing but in many forums and user reviews. This keeps me away from buying it.

    Has your unit been replaced by Garmin? Have the above issues gone? Would you recommend to buy it now? My other option is eTrex 30 with a much lower screen resolution but I guess that would work for sure.

    Thank you in advance!

    • Aushiker 29 January 2014 at 9:05 AM #

      Hi Freddy. No the unit was not replaced by Garmin but I was able to solve the major issues by a firmware re-install. I suspect a lot of what I experienced was caused by the firmware version and the later one seem more stable.

      Would I buy one again? I doubt it. I really don’t think they are great unit and the screen size while nice is not enough to justify a purchase. I would probably consider a tried and true eTrex or a Magellan unit.

  5. Graham Spencer 9 April 2014 at 12:05 PM #

    Well done Andrew! A very interesting read. Your thoroughness throughout the whole ordeal has been written extremely well. I have been looking into buying the 600, but in trusting your story, have decided not to. All the best mate. Graham Spencer

    • Aushiker 9 April 2014 at 9:42 PM #

      Thanks Graham. I do believe that there are other and possibly better options even in Garmin land if not wanting to look elsewhere.

  6. Jorge 7 June 2014 at 12:40 PM #

    Garmin Oregon 6xx Wiki. I posted on this site with some complaints and they locked the thread..

    • Aushiker 7 June 2014 at 8:43 PM #

      Not sure why you are sharing this here. I have nothing to do with the wiki.

      • Jorge 8 June 2014 at 8:40 AM #

        I guess I was trying to make the point that when you make genuine complaints, you are deemed to be a trouble make and shut down, the frustrations that I have had with this 600 make me want to destroy the dam thing, the most expensive one I have ever bought and the least usable..

        • Aushiker 8 June 2014 at 9:32 AM #

          Thanks for the clarification.

  7. steveko 2 January 2016 at 10:54 AM #

    Hey, just curious whether these issues ever got better for you? I have an Oregon 600, and while there are little things I grumble about, I’ve never had any of the problems you describe. The GPS location has always been completely solid, no drift or anything. I don’t use the auto-pause function as I found it a little distracting, and am fine without. It occasionally crashes (generally while routing) but I’ve almost never seen it freeze (requiring removing batteries). I only use OSM maps.

    • Aushiker 4 January 2016 at 5:42 PM #

      Yes. An update of the firmware sorted it. I do use it now and then.

  8. rowena bellchambers 22 March 2016 at 3:09 PM #

    Hello, i am hoping someone on here will be able to help me. I have recently purchased a garmin oregon 600 t, i have downloaded a map from tas-maps however can not work out where i need to copy this map to on my garmin file to be able to access the file – where i purchased it has suggested custome map file ( i had already tried this and it never worked), then GPX folder, no luck there then they suggested not to place it in a file just save it straight to the garmin no luck there.

    If some is able to assist with what folder they save purchased maps from so they can then access it on there oregon 600 i would be forever grateful

    • Aushiker 23 March 2016 at 8:59 AM #

      Hi Rowena. I just added a map to my Garmin Oregon 600 last night. All I did was copy over the *.img file to the Garmin folder on the GPS using Finder (I am a Mac user). Once it was copied over, I rebooted the Oregon 600 and then went into maps setup to select the new map. Hopefully that works for you.


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