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The Garmin eTrex 20x is your greatest guess for a cheap, dedicated, outside ready mountaineering GPS. There are costlier models, and smartphone options, but for lots of hikers, the eTrex 20x offers you one of the best bang for the buck. Right here’s why I like to recommend it.
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- 1 What the Garmin eTrex 20x Is and Is Not
- 2 Garmin eTrex 20x Video Review
- 3 Why the eTrex 20x Is a Nice Hiking GPS
- 4 Comparing the eTrex 20x To Other GPS Options
- 5 Buying The eTrex 20x
- 6 Setting Up Your eTrex 20x
- 7 Easy methods to Use the eTrex 20x
What the Garmin eTrex 20x Is and Is Not
The eTrex 20x is a small, outside ready mapping GPS unit. You can comply with a pre-made monitor or route, or navigate to a waypoint. Or you possibly can navigate by wanting at the loaded maps on the small shade display. It’s waterproof, rugged, and outside ready (so in contrast to most phones, you’ll be able to drop it without shattering the display).
For those who learn the critiques for the eTrex 20x (particularly on Amazon), you’ll see that many individuals give it low stars and complain concerning the maps. Garmin’s advertising makes it look like you can begin mapping hikes out of the field with this thing, and it’s not true.
Garmin includes a base map, which can principally inform you what metropolis you’re in and what interstate is near you. It’s fairly worthless, BUT BUT BUT you will get free topographic maps and load them on the unit very easily. No want to purchase costly Garmin maps. And Garmin offers a free program referred to as Basecamp (Home windows and Mac) that’s an incredible software for planning routes and loading them onto the unit. I exploit it on a regular basis.
Right here’s an instance of the very detailed and free topographic path maps you will get for the eTrex 20x.
So with the free maps, and Basecamp for planning, the Garmin eTrex 20x is highly effective software. It’s small, rugged, and easily helps you navigate the trails. Each time somebody asks me for a cheap GPS suggestion, I tell them to get the eTrex 20x. I carry one myself and use it in addition for my Fenix and smartphone (as a result of I’m a freak about having backups).
Once I was youthful I’d’ve eschewed using one thing like this, but as I grow old, I respect understanding exactly the place I’m at any given time. I wouldn’t hit the path without it. – REI Reviewer
Garmin eTrex 20x Video Review
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Why the eTrex 20x Is a Nice Hiking GPS
The essential perform of a climbing GPS is to comply with and document tracks and waypoints, which the eTrex 20x does very nicely. No bells and whistles, simply you, a map, tracks, and waypoints. Skip the bluetooth, WiFi, and other stuff. Simply more issues that may run your battery down and/or probably fail.
There are some primary features that I look for in a mountaineering GPS, and the eTrex does all of them nicely. Right here’s what it does:
- Lets you comply with a GPX tracks that you simply’ve downloaded off the web
- Permits you to create your personal climbing tracks and routes in (free) Garmin Basecamp and send them to the eTrex 20x
- Marks waypoints to save lots of essential locations
- Navigates to a waypoint
- Tracks you progress, velocity, time and distance
- Permits you to save your hikes to your pc or on-line on Garmin Join
- Has map shopping and navigation capabilities
- Has 3.7gb of inner memory to hold loads of maps
Along with these primary features, the eTrex 20x has some bells and whistles that I like.
The GPS Is Strong
A GPS status display lets you understand what birds (insider lingo for satellites) you’re receiving.
A mountaineering GPS is basically only nearly as good because the signal it may possibly get, and the eTrex is strong in that department. It picks up a sign in a short time (truly quicker than a few of the costlier models that I examined). Along with normal GPS alerts, it also has WAAS, which may improve accuracy. You may also enable GLONASS help, which is Russia’s model of GPS. Enabling GLONASS allegedly improves your accuracy by as much as 20%. I enable GLONASS and WAAS and it really works nice. If you want to save battery, you can even turn these options off.
I didn’t have scientific method of testing the GPS versus other models, but I did do dozens of actual world hike spot checks on the eTrex 20x, Fenix 3HR, iPhone 7 Plus, and Oregon 700. Every time I checked, the eTrex 20x was within 20 ft or so of all the opposite positions, which is sweet. And I confirmed that GLONASS improved accuracy a bit. And just a reminder, until you’re geocaching, it’s not that crucial to know exactly the place you’re. I usually use it to see if I’m on the best trail, and that’s usually pretty obvious.
The Battery Works Properly
A d-ring twist opens the again panel the place you possibly can change the AA batteries. This image also provides you an concept of how compact this unit is (in comparison with the AA batteries).
First off, I really like that it uses AA batteries. Meaning you’ll be able to just carry additional batteries once you want more juice. They can be rechargeable batteries, or the identical previous AA you will get in any fuel station. No need for USB chargers, solar panels, or anything fancy. Carry some additional AA batteries in your pack and call it a day.
With regular alkaline AA batteries I get about 22-24 hours of batteries relying on my backlight brightness and how much I exploit it. Once I used Lithium batteries I obtained between 40-50 hours of use. The lower quantity appeared to be once I was in canyons the place it needed to work extra to lock onto a sign. The 50 hours have been in my “normal” mountaineering with better line-of-sight.
To maximize your battery life, flip off GLONASS, WAAS, and reduce the backlight.
Our eTrex 20x used just one set of AA lithium batteries to complete 93 miles in 9 days on the Wonderland Trail – REI Reviewer
Other Notable Options
You possibly can customise the info fields that you simply see, in addition to the order of the menu gadgets in order that your ceaselessly used features are up prime.
- It’s waterproof and sturdy. You’ll be able to drop it and the display gained’t shatter like a telephone.
- The software program and buttons are easy and straightforward to make use of.
- You possibly can customise the info fields.
- It has dawn and moonrise.
- The buttons are large enough to use when you could have gloves on.
- The display is straightforward to see in brilliant daylight.
- It’s cheap. In case you don’t need to spend a ton on a GPS but you still need a strong unit, the eTrex 20x is your transfer.
What Might Be Higher
- When you’re used to an Android or iPhone, the software program on this unit will feel like a step back to Windows 95. In case you spend 5 minutes enjoying round with it, you’ll determine it out.
- I get that Garmin sells maps, however at the present time, they should be free. Garmin would in all probability be served higher by having free maps and specializing in building great hardware. That stated, you will get loads of free maps to load onto the unit here.
- The display is a bit small. I wouldn’t use the eTrex 20x to plan all my routes, however you need to use it to try this. It’s a lot simpler to plan your routes in Basecamp and ship them to the gadget.
- It doesn’t include any mounts or a lanyard. Straightforward enough to purchase for a couple of bucks. I carry mine in the aspect pocket of my daypack. It’s sufficiently small to slot in your pocket.
Great if your a hiker of any types – straightforward to make use of, multifunctional, I like which you can replace it and load information on for journeys and change them out for other journeys, great that you would be able to load hikes from where you by no means been, good having peace of mind of not getting lost, batteries final a very good long whereas, not heavy and easily packable – Amazon Reviewer
Comparing the eTrex 20x To Other GPS Options
There are numerous GPS choices, which is a superb factor for us hikers. Right here’s how the eTrex 20x stacks as much as the other GPS options available on the market.
eTrex 20x or a Smartphone
The eTrex 20x subsequent to an iPhone 7 Plus with Gaia GPS.
Your smartphone is probably hundreds of occasions extra powerful than the eTrex 20x. The display decision in all probability leaves the eTrex 20x in the dust. However phones are only good if they work, and most telephones aren’t as rugged because the eTrex 20x.
First, cell phones are notorious for going lifeless, especially in the backcountry. What sometimes happens is that you simply lose a cell signal, then your telephone starts continually looking for a signal, which shortly drains the battery. You possibly can remedy this drawback by putting the telephone in flight mode, however some phones don’t permit the GPS to work in flight mode. So it could get tough. I sometimes use my iPhone in offline mode with Gaia GPS in addition to a devoted GPS unit just like the eTrex 20x. Should you’re excited about a Gaia GPS premium membership, HikingGuy readers get 20-40% off with this hyperlink: https://www.gaiagps.com/discounts/#_r_hikingguy.
The opposite challenge is the durability of a smartphone. In case your telephone isn’t waterproof, you might want to shield it from moisture (easily solved with a plastic sandwich bag). The larger concern for me is the display. Most phones aren’t shatter-proof, and my sweaty palms have dropped a couple of phones, cracking the display. I even tried rugged instances just like the Otterbox, and still cracked them. The telephone doesn’t need to hit the ground with drive to crack, it just has to hit at a certain angle or spot and a crack or shatter.
eTrex 20x or a Greater/Better Handheld GPS
Here’s a higher-end mannequin that costs lots of extra. In case you don’t have a need for the additional bells and whistles, it’s in all probability not well worth the money.
The great factor concerning the eTrex 20x is that it provides you the essential, most useful GPS features in a small, inexpensive package deal. In case you take a look at the costlier models from Garmin, and so forth., they bundle in additional features that aren’t essential for most hikers.
For example, check out the excessive end Garmin 750t, one other handheld mapping GPS. For about $350 more than the eTrex 20x, you get: a much bigger display (perhaps value it), a digital camera (which you in all probability have anyway), topographic maps (which you will get without spending a dime), WiFi/Bluetooth connectivity (who cares on the path), and another minor features. Now perhaps certainly one of these options is necessary to you for no matter cause, by which case go for it. However in case you simply need a strong GPS for hikes, you don’t actually need all the bells and whistles.
eTrex 20x or a GPS Watch
The eTrex 20x subsequent to a Fenix 3 HR.
My essential GPS gadget is a Garmin Fenix. I exploit it for primary navigation checks, and in addition as a strong workout tracker (I exploit it for operating, climbing, biking, swimming, and so on.). I also use the eTrex 20x. The eTrex 20x has a much bigger display, and is simpler learn and navigate from. It’s also a fraction of the cost of a GPS watch. In case you’re in search of a full featured system that lives in your wrist, the Garmin Fenix is the move. If you would like a primary GPS for the trail, go together with the eTrex 20x.
eTrex 20x or the eTrex 30x
The Garmin eTrex 30x seems to be equivalent (apart from the colour). Notice the detailed topographic map display that Garmin consists of of their commonplace product shot. If I noticed that on a product itemizing, I’d assume the maps got here with it too (the don’t).
These two models are virtually equivalent. The distinction is that the eTrex 30x has a inbuilt compass and altimeter, and the eTrex 20x doesn’t. The eTrex 20x makes use of the GPS and motion to find out your compass heading. When you’re standing still, you gained’t get an accurate compass studying. And the eTrex 20x uses GPS map knowledge to determine your altitude, whereas the 30x truly uses a inbuilt barometric altimeter. If those features are essential to you, spend the additional couple of bucks for the eTrex 30x. In any other case the models are equivalent.
There are additionally eTrex Contact units which have contact screens. I discovered the buttons on the eTrex 20x to work higher for me than the touch display, especially when my palms have been cold or moist.
Buying The eTrex 20x
REI is an effective choice to buy the GPS since you’ll be able to return it simply. You should purchase on-line or within the store, and you may return to either choice too.
I extremely advocate ordering your eTrex 20x from REI. You possibly can in all probability get it for a couple of dollars cheaper on Amazon, but that comes with a danger. Often the eTrex 20x is bought by means of a 3rd celebration on Amazon, and it’s arduous to return or get help on. With REI, there are not any problem returns, you possibly can go to a store and get assist utilizing it, and also you get the REI member dividend back.
5 star. Works great. Accurate. Great worth for value. – Amazon Reviewer
In case you’re desirous about shopping for the Garmin eTrex 20x, there’s something necessary you are able to do to help help this website. Merely click on the link under to REI and purchase the unit from REI online. I get a small proportion of the sale, which helps me maintain the web site alive and produce unbiased critiques and free climbing guides.
Take a look at eTrex 20x Evaluations and Costs at REI
Setting Up Your eTrex 20x
That is what comes out of the box, plus some paperwork and packaging. No mounts or lanyards are included.
Whenever you first get the eTrex, there’s not a lot to it, just a unit and a USB cable (it makes use of a mini-USB connector on the unit). If you would like a guide, take a look at the web version which is simpler to read than the miniature version they package deal with the unit.
Here’s learn how to get started.
- Head to Garmin Connect and setup an account should you don’t have one yet.
- Set up the free Garmin Categorical software on your pc (Home windows and Mac).
- Start Garmin Categorical, put batteries in the unit, and plug in the USB cable.
- Garmin Categorical should recognize the unit and ask you to register it.
Garmin Categorical asking me to register my system.
- Garmin Categorical will verify for updates and ensure your system is up to date. Undergo all these steps to update the software program (if prompted).
Use Garmin Categorical to verify for updates. To ship tracks and waypoints forwards and backwards to the gadget, use Garmin Basecamp.
- Obtain Garmin Basecamp and set up on your machine.
- Obtain free topographic maps from your area from GPSFileDepot (or leap ahead to the topographic maps I exploit at GMapTool).
- Comply with the directions on those websites to put in the maps onto your system. It’s totally different for Home windows and Mac, and totally different for each map service.
- After you go through those steps to ship the maps to your gadget, launch Basecamp, go to Setup > Maps and enable your new maps (and disable the default map when you don’t need to see it).
You possibly can set up a number of maps in Garmin Basecamp and simply change between them.
- Undergo the eTrex 20x setup and customize other features of the system in case you’d like. Listed here are some recommendations.
- Turn the Battery Saver on and set the display timeout to 15 seconds.
- Flip off WAAS and GLONASS if you want to save your battery.
- Verify that your models are set appropriately (consider mine came as metric).
- Make sure that your battery sort is about appropriately (alkaline, lithium, and so forth.)
- Customise the info fields.
- Disable the default map and allow your new (free) maps
Easy methods to Use the eTrex 20x
Works great after it’s setup and you truly discover ways to use it. – Amazon Reviewer
Not much to say right here, apart that it’s fairly simple to use when you get used to the buttons and menu. You possibly can customise things just like the menu order and knowledge fields proven. Right here’s how it works.
The joystick button is your important transfer. Use it to maneuver around the menus, and a press in on it selects an choice.The again button will walk you again to the primary menu. A brief press on the decrease button adjusts your backlight and exhibits battery and GPS degree. Long pressing this turns the unit off.The menu is old-school however easy and straightforward to make use of. You possibly can change the order of these things to place your steadily used features at the prime.
Planning Your Route
I highly advocate planning your route in your pc earlier than you begin. It’s much easier than planning a route on the small display of the eTrex 20x. I have an entire article on planning your hike right here. Upon getting your route or monitor, send it to your system.
It’s very straightforward to plan routes in Garmin Basecamp. The secret’s to download maps which are routable. It will permit Basecamp to mechanically snap tracks onto the twists and turns of the path.
It Works Like A Journey Pc
Should you’re used to a fitness mannequin of the Garmin, the eTrex 20x works in a different way. On a fitness mannequin like a Fenix, you hit start, and it tracks your activity like a stopwatch until you hit stop. The eTrex 20x works extra like a automotive odometer. Once you need to begin a brand new hike, you reset the trip pc and it begins recording whereas the unit is on. If you’re completed, you save the monitor and reset the pc.
The journey pc is often what I take a look at if I’m not wanting on the map. It provides me the essential knowledge like time and distance. You possibly can customise this display to satisfy your needs.
Following a Route
In Garmin Basecamp you possibly can create routes, that are just like flip by turn directions on an automotive GPS. You simply create it, ship it to the eTrex 20x, and then navigate utilizing the route. When there’s a flip or change within the route, the unit will wake and chime to provide you with a warning. I wouldn’t rely on this as your sole solution to navigate, nevertheless it’s useful.
Right here I am following a route send to the eTrex 20x. Once I strategy a path junction, the unit chimes and the display comes back on. It’s not as slick as a automotive GPS, however I can take a look at the purple route line and work out which strategy to go fairly easily.
Following a Monitor
You may as well download GPX tracks (like the ones from this web site) and think about them on your system. Send the monitor to the gadget in Basecamp, after which merely deliver it up on the system. In the event you’re on the purple line, you’re on the monitor. It’s useful whenever you come to an intersection and wish to figure out which strategy to turn. And (clearly) good when you’re navigating off path as properly.
Following a monitor is fairly easy, just keep on the purple line. I want this technique as a result of it’s easy and works. Once I come to a junction, I simply take a look at the display and see if I’m on my meant path. In this screenshot you’ll be able to see that I’ve strayed off the trail.
You’ll be able to set a proximity alarm for a waypoint. If you get near the waypoint, the unit will wake and chime. That is useful for essential places on the path, for instance, and unmarked flip.
That is what the proximity alarm seems like. You’ll be able to set an alert for whenever you get close to a waypoint. When the alarm goes off, you hear a chime and the display comes on (from sleep).
This can be a primary perform on most GPS models, and the eTrex 20x helps it too. You’ll be able to mark a waypoint the place you’re, or use the joystick to scroll around the map to mark a waypoint. You possibly can then navigate to any waypoint, with the unit’s compass pointing you in the proper course.
I’ve utilized by eTrex 20x for 2 climbing/searching/fishing seasons. It has proved to be a really rugged and dependable GPS. I bought it to geocache and it additionally proved to be very correct. For off-trail use in heavy PNW forest, it was indispensable. Obtained me back to the car every time. – Amazon Reviewer
Getting Help With Your Garmin eTrex 20x
Sadly I’m not capable of provide tech help for everyone who emails with an eTrex query. Right here’s the place to go for assist:
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