Ownership Review of Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S GPS

Has it ever happened to you that you are navigating through unfamiliar roads and your smartphone runs out of battery? To avoid this, I decided to purchase the Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S GPS navigation handset.

The Zumo 395 LMT-S is a dedicated motorcycle navigator from Garmin. It offers a number of navigational aids and trip features at an affordable price for motorcycle enthusiasts looking for a separate navigation handset for long road trips.

Listed below are the specifications for those looking to understand the technical details of this device.

Display4.3 inches WQVGA color TFT with white backlight
Screen Resolution480 x 272 pixels
Internal Storage16 GB
Battery Backup4 hours
Water RatingIPX7
Weight8.5 ounces (241.1 g)
Dimensions4.94 x 0.98 x 3.38 inches
Bluetooth CallingWorks with BLUETOOTH®-compatible helmet, headset, or smartphone 
Warranty1 year

In this article, you will get to understand my thoughts about this product after owning and using it for last one year. As a result, you will be able to understand how the product performed over time and whether it was worth the money spent as time went by. 

I have added the various parts that come in the packaging of the Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S. 

Read on as the features section will help you understand the things that stood out about the device, with the pros and cons section summing up the good and bad about this navigation handset.

If you are looking for some guidance about what aspects to consider while buying a motorcycle navigation handset for the first time, then do check out the buying guide. Finally, the FAQ section answers the most common doubts that a number of customers have about the product.

Garmin Zumo 396 Review

I have always loved the motorcycle navigation GPS handsets that are manufactured by Garmin. However, one of the biggest disadvantages is the high pricing, which makes it difficult for a lot of riders to afford. 

The Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S was the perfect solution to this issue, bringing a number of the company’s groundbreaking features into a more affordable package. 

Garmin Zumo 396 Review

With a 4.3” touchscreen display integrated with Bluetooth, it was the perfect combination for both visual and wireless navigation.

While one may argue that there are more affordable options than this device, trademarks like Garmin software and connectivity ensure that it stays a step ahead of its competition.  

This is why I decided to go ahead and purchase a Garmin device, hoping it would be a great bargain in the long run.

After reviewing this product for a while, I was convinced that this purchase gave me the value for money I was looking for!

In the following section, I have described the contents that come in the packaging of the Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S. This will help you understand exactly what you are paying for when you purchase a new device.

What comes in the Box

The Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S comes with the product and a quick start manual to guide you through setting up your device. 

It also comes with the motorcycle mount and hardware like clamps, screws, and nuts required to install the product onto your motorcycle handlebar.

Garmin Zumo 396 Box Contents

The package also includes a motorcycle power cable that can be connected to the battery of your motorcycle. 

It also comes with a USB cable that can be used to transfer data and charge the device using a regular socket.

Features 

  • Build and display

The Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S has a 4.3” TFT display. It has an IPX7 rating that makes it resistant to water, dust, and fuel. The device is also designed to be lightweight, weighing around 240g (8.5 oz).

The first time I felt the Zumo 396, I felt it was built to last. Despite being dropped a couple of times, it did not get dented or scratched. It was compact, with a display that was optimized for viewing in the sunlight. 

However, I did have issues reading the maps when I had them aligned at the wrong angle, which was easy to adjust. 

The IPX7 rating allowed me to navigate offroad and on trails that included water crossings. A soft damp cloth was all I needed to clean any dirt that had accumulated and I was good to use the device again. 

One aspect that let me down was the battery life of this device. I was hoping it would get a bigger battery that would allow it to run for longer. As a result, I had to keep it powered from my motorcycle battery, which drained it faster than normal.

  • Software and navigation

The Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S comes equipped with the Garmin Basecamp navigation software. It also comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity that allows for wireless data transfer and map updates. 

Garmin Zumo 396 GPS Review

Rider alerts were one of the standout features of the software as they made me aware of weather and traffic in advance. However, it was let down by the outdated graphics and user interface of the Zumo 396. 

After getting accustomed to the crisp graphics of smartphone navigation like Google Maps, this product felt like a blast from the past.

While the Wi-Fi feature was useful to make quick updates to the maps, the Bluetooth was a lot more finicky. 

There were multiple instances when the connection dropped, which forced me to make an unscheduled stop to pair my phone and headset with the device.

Another useful feature that I enjoyed while going on group rides was the ability to share GPX files. This allowed us to take the same route as discussed beforehand without creating any unnecessary confusion in the process. 

  • Additional features

The Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S comes with an Incident Report feature that sends an SOS to the chosen emergency contact along with the location of the incident. This is activated when the bike comes to a sudden stop. 

While I did not meet with an accident after purchasing this product, I had a couple of instances when the device made contact with an insect and activated the mode as a result.

Garmin Zumo 396 fitted in a Ducati Motorcycle

The Adventurous Routing option allows users to choose twisty roads along their route. This was one of the most fun features to use, that made rides a lot more entertaining. 

One can also connect their smartphone or load an SD card with their favorite music, which can then be played using the music player feature on this product.

Other features like notifications when you connect your smartphone and hands-free calling were a lot more appealing while purchasing the product. 

However, I found relatively less use for them majorly due to the lack of a steady cell phone signal on a lot of my routes.

PROs & CONs

Pros

  • Rugged design for better durability across varying weather and road conditions
  • Sturdy mount design suitable for offroading, easy to install
  • Can be used with gloves for easier menu navigation
  • Bluetooth connectivity offers a wireless headset connection
  • Multiple Garmin features to ensure enhanced rider experience

Cons

  • Basecamp software UI is outdated
  • Battery life could be better
  • Screen visibility could be improved for bright conditions
  • Does not use commonly available micro USB or USB-C port

Conclusion

At the end of this article, I was quite pleased with how the Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S held its own even after putting through some rigorous testing. 

This convinced me that it was a good investment to make, with great returns in the long run for those looking to make frequent road trips on their motorcycle.

It has a lot of trademarked features that have made Garmin a leader in navigation technology. 

Adventurous routing and live updates ensure one can make the most of their motorcycle trip, be it a solo ride or one with a large group. It also comes with wireless connectivity for greater user convenience during and after the ride.

However, the device has a number of issues that include an outdated user interface and screen visibility issues. 

This can be especially annoying to experienced riders looking for a seamless experience. If you belong to this category, then you may want to spend more money to get higher-end products from Garmin.

I would advise customers on a budget to go for the Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S without a second thought. It is also a great product for motorcycle enthusiasts looking to go on their first road trip with a dedicated motorcycle navigation handset

Motorcycle GPS Buying Guide

There are a number of things you should keep in mind before making your purchase decision. In this article, we’ll go over some important points to consider when buying a motorcycle GPS device.

1) Check its waterproofing capabilities

Waterproofing is an extremely important feature of a motorcycle GPS device. Since motorcyclists often ride in wet conditions such as rain or road spray, water resistance is one of the most important features to look out for when buying a GPS unit. 

Some units may claim they have “weatherproof” capabilities, but without actual waterproofing tests, it can be difficult to determine whether or not that device will hold up in the rain.

So if you want a GPS unit that will work even in wet riding conditions, look for one with water resistance labeled as IPX-7 or higher. This means the device has passed endurance tests where test devices were held under 1 meter of water for 30 minutes.              

2) Determine its operating distance

Most motorcycle GPS units operate on Bluetooth 4.0 technology which offers an effective range between 10 and 100 meters (30 – 300 feet). 

The primary drawback with this current generation of Bluetooth is that while your navigation device may connect easily when stationary, once you start moving at higher speeds, the connection between your device and your smartphone will be easily disrupted.

You can check a device’s operating distance online or by checking the manual, but keep in mind that this does not represent an absolute number. 

It may be difficult to find accurate information on some devices, so you may have to get a feel for it yourself by trying out various devices at your local electronics store before making a purchase decision.

3) Check its mounting options

There are two main types of motorcycle GPS mounts from which you can choose: adhesive and strap-on mounts. 

As you would expect, adhesive mounts offer a more secure hold while strap-on mounts allow for greater versatility when attaching the GPS unit to the handlebar or any other location on your motorcycle.

But whichever type you choose, make sure to check out how it attaches to your handlebar because if the attachment point is not sturdy, the unit may rattle around while riding.                

4) Check if it has WiFi capability

Most smartphones nowadays have WiFi capabilities built-in so that you can connect them to wireless internet hotspots.

This has its benefits because it means you’ll be able to connect your smartphone to the internet without draining your battery by using mobile data. All you have to do is stay within range of a wireless network, and the GPS unit will automatically detect and connect to it.

There are two potential drawbacks with this though: first, not all motorcycle GPS units come with WiFi capabilities; second, even if they do, you still need to tether your device to your phone in order for the connection between the two devices to work.

FAQ

  • Is the Garmin 396 waterproof?

    No, the Garmin Zumo 396LMT-S is not waterproof. However, it comes with an IPX7 rating that makes the device resistant to water, dust, fuel, and bad weather.

  • How do I use my Garmin Zumo 396?

    The Garmin Zumo 396LMT-S is a motorcycle navigator which is primarily designed to help you find your way using the Global Positioning System (GPS). 

    You can use the display to visually navigate using the inbuilt maps or receive step-by-step instructions from the inbuilt voice directions using the inbuilt speaker or a Bluetooth-enabled headset.

    Other features include a music player and wireless connectivity like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi that allow you to connect to wireless headsets and helmets.

  • How do I charge my Garmin 396?

    The Garmin Zumo 396LMT-S can be continuously powered using the handlebar dock, which can be connected to the battery of your motorcycle. It can also be charged from a regular electrical socket or a computer by connecting the USB cable provided in the package.

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