Garmin GPSMAP 276Cx

It has now been almost two years since I last wrote a Satellite Navigation article, so I thought it appropriate to start with a review of what I consider to be currently the ultimate 4×4 off-road GPS. This device has been created for the outdoors: it is rugged enough to take the knocks, yet is also user-friendly enough for street navigation.

Garmin GPSMAP 276Cx

A few years back, I wrote an article describing what I would consider the ultimate off-road GPS. The Garmin Montana was launched shortly thereafter, which met 85% of my criteria, desired features and functionality. Garmin launched the 276Cx about a year ago, but I have only now been able to lay my hands on one.

I can, in all honesty, say that it is most definitely an upgrade on the 276C. The stylish Cx looks and feels different, but its keypad is the same, and its user-friendliness and menu logic are very similar. It is rather like the older Garmin Montana (a 2011 model) but it is not  touch screen. In fact, I prefer the button- driven functions to the touch screen. I find it important that it has a large (five-inch) screen with 800 x 480 pixel resolution, as that makes it a winner with me, and adds a tick to my 4×4/off-road checklist.

Other features that contributed to my opinion (that it is an improvement and an upgrade), are:

  • Garmin have doubled the Track Log from 10 000 to 20 000 Track Log points (breadcrumbs).
  • The device now takes a standard Micro SD card – a big improvement on the old Garmin propriety card that was horribly overpriced.
  • The internal memory has been increased to 8Gb (expandable with a micro-SA card).
  • The dual-battery system can use 3 AA batteries (up to 8h of battery life) or the supplied 5000 mAh Lithium battery (16h of battery life). It also runs off the vehicle battery.
  • The device receives both GPS and Glonass, the Russian equivalent of the GPS signal. Note that this feature needs to be enabled.
  • This unit can take an MCX external antenna, which improves its operational ability in vehicles which have difficulty receiving satellite navigation signal through the front windscreen… which is more common than you would think.

The negatives?

An initial disappointment was the price (listed on the Garmin website,, at R12 499, but available from Navworld at under R10 000), but then I considered that it is similar in price to any of the previous devices in its class when they were launched.

My first Garmin StreetPilot, circa 2003, cost me R18 000… The small suction mount (same as the Montana bracket) has been retained. I believe it could have been made larger to carry the extra weight of this device. A larger suction mount is available, at a nominal extra cost of R200. Because of its size and weight, this is not a device that I would mount on my motorcycle or bike, and nor is it the ideal hiking device; but, as a 4×4 navigation tool, it has no current equal.


  • Altimeter.
  • 3D Compass.
  • 5-inch WVGA display.
  • Connected through Bluetooth®, ANT+® and WiFi®.
  • TTS guidance.
  • Preloaded with TopoActive Africa maps.
  • 1 year’s free BirdsEye Satellite subscription.
  • High levels of customisability.
  • Water-immersion-rated to IP67 standard.
  • Pairs to smartphone, to receive Active Weather Updates, enable Live Tracking, access Weather Radar data, update
  • Live Geocaching information and receive phone notifications.
  • Can store 250 routes, 250 tracks and 10 000 waypoints.

Dimensions: 191.5 x 94.5 x 44mm
Weight: 450g (including rechargeable battery pack)

If you have any further questions, contact Christopher Bolton at 011 791 0204/5.

By Kevin Bolton

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