eTrex GPS


Page Type Gear Review
Object Title eTrex GPS
Manufacturer Garmin
Page By jt_walsh
Page Type Mar 4, 2002 / Mar 4, 2002
Object ID 150
Hits 3286
eTrex packs full-size GPS features into a tiny, compact package for a low, compact price

Sleek in design and similar in size to many compasses, yet the display window is as large as most full-size units
Operational buttons are located along the side for easy 1-hand operation
Only 5 operational buttons--the ultimate in user-friendly design
Follow your route, marking up to 50 waypoints; find your way back with Garmin's exclusive TracBack™ feature
Store up to 500 waypoints with graphic icons
eTrex maintains tight satellite-lock, even through dense forest, by continuously tracking up to 12 satellites
Trip computer calculates current and average speed, sunset and sunrise, trip time and distance
Weatherproof case keeps eTrax functioning in wet conditions; waterproof to IEC 529 lPX7 standards


Viewing: 1-13 of 13

jt_walsh - Mar 4, 2002 3:45 pm - Voted 4/5

Untitled Review
I've had the eTrex for about a year. The unit has worked as advertised, no major issues with the exception of tree cover. It doen't work well in a heavy tree cover area. It didn't like the cold either. I took it on a backcountry trip to Lake Palcid in Feb. Experienced temps below -10 and the unit did not function properly. I have learned to use the GPS as a reference not the be-all for position. Always carry a compass!

bbense - Jul 18, 2003 4:43 pm - Voted 3/5

Untitled Review
I've been carrying one in my pack for 2 years now. I have

the summit version which includes an barometric altimeter.

In retrospect I would get the cheaper one and buy a watch

altimeter. The version I have is also missing WAAPS which is an FAA addition to GPS that can drastically improve accuracy in areas where it is available ( USA, Europe).

In playing around with it locally, I have had problems getting signals in deep forested valleys. However, every time I've REALLY needed it, it's worked like a champ.

schitthaedt - Sep 25, 2003 2:23 pm - Voted 4/5

Untitled Review
Does what it's designed for. Fundamentally it serves three purposes: it directs you to user-entered lat/long coordinates (trailhead, ridge, creek, etc), gets you back to marked waypoints (camp, water source, saddle, bergshrund crossing, etc.), and gives you quite accurate altitude readings with 5+ satellites locked.

Nice durable housing, compact but can handle rough treatment. The map is basically useless because it is too small and without sufficient resolution. But the eTrex isn't made for mapping. It does work in fog. It does not work in dense forests.

It has an extensive collection of map datum settings, and the ability to upload/download with a computer. It uses two AA batteries, making it heavier but longer-lasting than the new Gecko series.

Satellite aquisition is fast above treeline, about 15-30 seconds. Below treeline and in valleys, you will often have troube locking more than 3 satellites, which is the minimum number necessary for positioning, and will occasionally misdirect you. I usually don't trust the readings unless I have at least 4 locked for at least 1 minute.

I take it climbing for 3 reasons: to enter waypoints just in case I get off-track or lose visibility, to monitor my climbing pace by checking my altitude, and to check my altitude on the summit (shameless self-gratification).

Hack - Nov 21, 2003 10:22 pm - Voted 3/5

Untitled Review
I've had it for about a year now and have been quite satisfied. Picked it up for $20 at a REI garage sale and it worked great. Used it to navigate on some trips this past summer in the East Sierra and only had some trouble with getting good readings when I was in a deep valley or under significant tree cover. Has basic features found on most any GPS unit which is fine for the price, but I will eventually pay for a model with more features.

Nikolas_A - Dec 7, 2003 4:48 pm - Voted 5/5

Untitled Review
Higly recomended. It has all the features I want and none of the ones I wouldn't want to pay for. I like it mainly for its ruggedness (it survived my service in the Special Forces, only thing I had to paint it black) and light weight.

Tree cover problem is common for small receivers with internal antennas. As for the lack of maps, I find them useless for mountaineering use anyway.

I made a homebuilt connector for my PC (the original costs 1/3 of the receivers price, mine cost 0$)

Moni - Jul 7, 2004 3:29 pm - Voted 2/5

Untitled Review
This is the cheapest of the etrex line, and I found some major disappointments with it. The main gripes I have is that, first the coordinates do not appear on the main skyplot page (they do on the other models). You have to go to mark waypoint or some other screen (But which one I never located) to determine what your coordinates are. Secondly, this unit is not WAAS enable-able. For very little more, you can go up one model and get these 2 very important features.

I really like Garmin products overall, but think too many shortcuts were used on this model.

The Defiant One - Mar 31, 2005 10:23 pm - Voted 3/5

Untitled Review
THis GPS device is a lot cheaper than many others, and lacks some important features as others have mentioned. I use it in conjunction with a map and compass for backcountry travel, but i don't know why i even bring it. This model is not a supplement for a map/compass, more of a complimentary gadget.

It works well, and is well made.

More recently i've been using it trailrunning to track my distance traveled and altitude.

a fun gadget, if you can afford it, get a better one.

csmcgranahan - Jun 1, 2005 11:32 pm - Voted 4/5

Untitled Review
I've had mine for over three years and use it quite often as a backup to map/compass for my off-trail hikes. I use it to estimate distance hiked, average speed, finding waypoints and marking key points for future reference. At times I think I would have liked more upgrade features but for around $100 bucks it's tough to beat!

nebben - Oct 4, 2005 11:35 am - Voted 4/5

Untitled Review
I've used this GPS for a few years now, and it has saved my butt from getting lost a couple of times now. That said, it doesn't have much functionality beyond getting a fix on where you are standing right now. No moving maps, no topos, very low-detail monochrome screen...etc. If I'm in a forest, it wont pick up a signal unless I'm in a good sized clearing. If it is in my pocket, or in my backpack, it wont get a signal. I have to hold it in front of me for just about anything.

That said, using it to mark key positions along a not-so-obvious route is great. It is waterproof, the batteries last ~10 hours or so, and I haven't had to delete any waypoints yet. I primarily use map/compass if at all possible, and use the Etrex as a backup.

Dmitry Pruss - Jan 5, 2006 12:23 am - Voted 4/5

Untitled Review
I used two Yellow Etrex units in succession over the last 4 years. The biggest advantage is that it doesn' break your budget, and even losing it (as I once did) ain't a terribly big deal.
With topozone, terraserve,, google maps, or lostoutdoors, I don't find the lack of maps a problem. You can always print maps with preselected waypoints before you go, or plot your waypoints on a map after you're back. Little snippets of a topo you can see on a screen of fancier models aren't really hepful in the mountains anyway!
Moni - the coords are on a navigation screen (press Page twice, then Down 4 or 5 times, it will appear right under a "compass" dial).
My biggest gripes: low memory for breadcrumb tracks; slow data acquisition & hampered by canyon walls and foliage - I really look forward for Garmin60*x models now; after years of hard use, the display is so scratched up that it's hard to see things. It does work OK in my pocket BTW, which is essential when the temperatures get really cold!

dan2see - Sep 19, 2007 12:40 am - Hasn't voted

A True Story
This is not really a review, it's a true and amazing story about a GPS.

In October 2006, I borrowed my son's Etrex Camo, and visited Wasootch Ridge for the first time. This ridge is cool, and I was 2 kilometers from the trail-head, 300 meters above the valley floor. The terrain there is open rock, chossy gravel smaller than fist-size, lightly covered with juniper and other plants. I was playing on some "fins" of black/brown stuff, which I saw was coal-based methane. You can see bits of coal in the pockets, and it smells.

Wanting to take the waypoint, I discoveed that I lost the GPS! It had bounced out of my pocket somewhere on this playground. I spent 1/2 hour searching, but the Etrex Camo hides really well in the low-lying green-and-brown plants. I gave up and went home.

I was up there in March 2007 but the whole area was covered in snow.

Again in May 2007, this time I was heading back on this same trail, in late afternoon. I saw the sun was lighting up every stone on the ground, in bold detail. So I searched again and there it was! Half-conceiled under a juniper. It had spent the winter under the snow and leaves.

I turned it on, and the screen informed me it was "Tracking Satelites". The screen was fogged with moisture from the winter's snow, and it couldn't lock on. But it told the time and date correctly!

It's my son's GPS. He has it back, it works, he uses it.

stepho - Dec 1, 2007 7:36 pm - Voted 5/5

Very useful GPS. helps a lot.

FlatheadNative - Jun 4, 2008 11:23 pm - Voted 5/5

I primarily use the Etrex primarily for marking the location of my car before my off trail routes.

easy 2 use

Viewing: 1-13 of 13