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on December 18, 2010
I am currently deployed in Afghanistan and have used this GPS during my combat patrols for about two weeks now. I have found that it performs perfectly. It is easily configured for MGRS, the metric system, and the compass can be set for Mils which makes calling for polar fire missions very easy. I love the fact that I have a 10-digit grid on my wrist. It cuts down on weight, not having to lug a DAGR around, and as I am taking notes during Community Engagements I can grab the grid right off my wrist as I write. So far it has stood up to the insane temperature differences from day to night. It has stood up to the dust (which gets into EVERYTHING - and has ruined two of my digital cameras [including a so-called dust-proof one]) with flying colors. The batteries last about 8 hours and it takes AAAs which are easy to carry. You can easily beam waypoints from one GPS to another. Several guys in my platoon carry the same one which makes it very easy. I am looking forward to using this when I get home to track my runs. So far I have found nothing wrong with this to speak of. I would definitely recommend it for whatever purpose you would use it for. I haven't tested its water-proofness yet; however, it stands up to my sweat very well.
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on April 27, 2013
After combing through reviews for a good hiking GPS, I couldn't decide whether to buy the Garmin Foretrex 301 or 401, so I bought both. The reason I bought the 301 was because I had read a review from someone saying that the barometer on the 401 wasn't accurate and that this person had returned the 401 for this reason and bought the 301 instead, which is the older version. The 301 has not barometer, just a GPS.

After buying the 301, I realized that it was absolutely useless to me because it didn't track elevation change, one of the most important things for hiking.

I have been very pleased with the 401. I find the barometer and the compass to be extremely accurate. You can set both for automatic calibration but I usually calibrate the compass before each use for optimal performance. It only takes a few seconds. I haven't really needed to calibrate the barometer.

The 401 tracks elevation and distance very well. I took it to the Catskills last weekend, where max elevation was 3700 ft and it was dead on. It has a lot of cool features and you can change the items it shows you on the screen to fit your needs. The main page has a little map of where you've gone, the second page has the compass and average speed (customizable), then you have the screen where it shows you elevation change over a certain number of miles, which is pretty cool; and lastly you can see specific stats like elevation gain, elevation loss, moving speed, average moving speed, current elevation, moving time, stopped time, actual time etc.

When you're done with a hike or walk, you upload the data to BaseCamp, Garmin's free software, and it shows you almost minute by minute data on what elevation you were at, what time it was, and you're moving speed. You can also open your hike in google maps for a 3D view, which is pretty cool and save all of your information to keep track of what you've done and where you've gone.

GPS tracks really well even under tree cover in the woods. Had no problem connecting to satellites in the Catskills with no phone reception for 20 minutes around, for example. Didn't drop the signal once during the whole 8 miles we were hiking. Also has good reception when walking in the city, ie Brooklyn or Manhattan, though it does take longer to connect to satellite. Still under a minute though.

My only complaint is that I haven't been able to get the 401 to transfer wirelessly to BaseCamp but it's not a big deal. I just plug it in via USB. I'll update if I figure this feature out.

Battery life is good. I only go on day hikes so it hasn't been an issue. I've used it for approximately 10 hours this week and I'm still at two bars. Investing in rechargeable batteries is a good idea.

The wrist strap is pretty sturdy and the device isn't heavy. Really convenient way to be able to see where you are going/how fast/and at what elevation while you are moving or when you are stopped. I wear it higher on my wrist and find that to be the most comfortable way.

Another issue I should address is that a review I read was complaining that the GPS doesn't have a stop function, which threw me off when I was trying to decide whether to buy it. It's true that the GPS does not have a "stop" function to record when you aren't moving but that sort of function isn't necessary, precisely because it IS a GPS. It syncs with satellites so when you ARE at rest it ISN'T recording you. This makes sense because it's a GPS and it can only record you when you are moving. At the end, it even gives you total moving time and total time at rest, which is great. For this reason too, it is more accurate in tracking distance than devices like iphones or simple pedometers. When we're done, I can see the mileage for only the time we were moving without stopped time while my friends see both stopped and moving time, which makes their mileage inaccurate and always longer than mine.

Overall, I am very happy with the 401. I immediately returned the 301. I'd say strictly for hiking/walking purposes it is accurate and convenient. I love it.

Wanted to share my own experience for folks like me who are on the fence about which hiking GPS to buy and can't decide between the 301 or the 401 from posted reviews. Hope this helps!
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on May 10, 2010
I have not used this item extensively yet, but the setup process is quite simple. Im using this product for military purposes and finding which datum to put in was i a breeze (just read the manual) and i also verified. The 10 digit grid with a military map so i know it works. I really havent used any of the other features like the compass but ill update once i do. P.S. for ang other military grunts out there you'll want to set it to MGRS (military grid reference system) and for stateside use NAD27 CONUS (continental united states).
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on March 18, 2010
Fantastic - buy one immediately. IMMEDIATELY!!

Much smaller than you may think - fantastic.

GPS speed -- super fast, fantastic.

Display and controls -- absolutely fantastic. As simple as they can possibly be, yet does every single thing you want. See your exact miles/yards walked, exact time (both moving, stopped, average, etc etc etc) and everything else from sunset time to height climbed or whatever.

Battery life, fantastic, 15 to 20 hours.

Works with computers PERFECTLY. If you have basic understanding of computers -- so for example you do know how to "Open A File" -- you will have a ball with this machine:

The 401 is simply a USB hard drive -- just connect it to your laptop using a normal compact USB cable. (They pointlessly give you a cable for free with the 401 package...like you don't have ten laying around already from your video camera, USB drives and everything else.)

So, simply plug in the 401 to your laptop. You will instantly see a file "Current.gpx" GPX is the label for GPS files.

Now, open the file -- so for example launch Google Earth and open your "Current.gpx" file in Google Earth. You will immediately see the track where you walked shown as a blue line on the Google Earth map!!

Or, look on the web for one of the awesome track measuring applets (eg at utrack dot crempa dot net) and get graphs, etc, of your speed and the like.

It literally could not be simpler -- nothing to install, no passwords, nothing.

Once again assuming you "know how to open a file" you will have no problem.

TIP: the 401 uselessly includes a digital COMPASS, as a freebie (much like the digital compass in say an iPhone). Digital compasses are of little or no value; however they use a lot of battery power. Look through the settings and turn OFF the digial compass.

Note that, of course, like any GPS unit, the unit will flawlessly and perfectly show you your heading AS YOU ARE WALKING, using the GPS signals (nothing to do with a magnetic compass). But the actual "digital compass" (i.e., you are sitting by the fire and you want to see which way "North" is) is largely useless (not because of the 401 -- all digital compasses are useless), so just turn it off in settings to save power.

Tip -- if you want rechargeable batteries, buy the terrific LaCrosse smart charger, and some eneloop batteries.

Enjoy your hike! Buy one of these before Garmin changes it to something confusing and not so good.
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on April 22, 2010
Easy to use right out of the box. Gets a fix in less than 30 seconds and is water proof. This is a great piece of gear for any tactical environment or hiking and camping. I am currently using this in Afghanistan and would not want another GPS in this environment.
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on January 12, 2012
I found one of these laying in the road in my neighborhood and played with it for a couple days. I was able to find the rightful owner by scrolling through his waypoints. a little disappointed, i had to buy myself one! I use this all the time while mountain biking and hiking. very accurate, and you can import tracks from the internet to the device, and even from to the gps to google earth and other sites. great investment!
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on January 5, 2015
This is one of the best GPS devices I have ever owned. (I have owned 6 or 7 during the past 20 years)
I also have a Magellan Explorist 601 that has all the bells and whistles but goes through batteries like my wife goes through a box of chocolate.

I tested the 401 to see how long a new set of alkaline batteries as well as rechargeable Ni-Mh would last with continuous use.
The alkaline lasted 22 - 23 hours. (I didn't actually see when the unit shut down)
The Ni-Mh lasted 16-17 hours.

I was pleasantly surprised that after acquiring at least 3 satellites while out in the open, the GPS continued to track my movements while I walked around inside my home as well as when I was shopping inside Costco.

I wanted a GPS that was easy to use and program and get me back to a specific location like an Elk hunting camp. I don't need color or "topo" information for this. I need distance and direction to the next waypoint as well as a compass to help me get started. I can always turn on my M-601 if I want to know the name of the stream I just crossed, hoping I have enough battery power left.

The history and track information is accurate and plentiful if you need it.

Considering this cost me less than a third of what I paid for the Magellan 601 (not counting the $1 to $2 an hour of use for alkaline batteries with the M-601) this is a fantastic unit. Anyone that can't figure out how to use this GPS should consider using a paper map and a handheld compass.
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on June 13, 2010
This GPS is handy for equestrians for trail riding and competitive trail riding. Big, simple screen, yet GPS is small enough that it is worn on the wrist for easy viewing. Batteries last long enough for a weekend of riding.
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on June 7, 2015
I bought this GPS to use while hiking, hunting, and generally being outdoors. It works quite well. My only complaint was that it took about 1-2 minutes to acquire a GPS signal however it was always able to acquire a signal and it never lost it. I guess I'm spoiled by my phone which usually takes 30 seconds. The battery life seems to be about 24 hours with occasional usage of the user interface. The device is a bit bulkier than a watch but not so much that it's cumbersome. I wore it for about 8 hours while hiking through some pretty dense underbrush and it didn't bother me at all. It's pretty intuitive to use while you're out in the field and don't have the manual with you. It exposes most of it's data (waypoints, tracks, etc) as XML files on a USB mass storage device when you connect it to a computer. I was able to quickly throw together a script that imported my activity to Google Maps. Creating and using waypoints in the field is also a breeze. I would create a waypoint when I parked my car, before I left a marked trail, and when I found something interesting. Then I would navigate back to them using the map view. If I had to buy it again I would definitely buy it and I would recommend this unit to my friends.
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on July 17, 2011
I purchased this item a year ago and used it extensively in Afghanistan. For virtually any situation, it is, in my opinion, the perfect GPS. The beauty of this unit is that at all times, with zero waiting, you have a 10 digit grid on your wrist. If it only had that feature it would be well worth the price. But it offers a lot more.

It is extremely lightweight. I regularly wear it during runs now that I'm home, and do not notice the weight on my wrist at all. Durability is excellent. I have worn this in 120+ degree heat, sub freezing cold, and pouring rain. I smashed it in an armored door about halfway through my deployment, resulting in a darker spot on the screen, but it is still perfectly usable. The dust, which destroys electronics over there at an alarming rate, had no effect on it. I had heard that the foretrex series had a horrible wrist band, but that must have been fixed with the 401. I wore it constantly, and it got knocked around a lot, with zero issues.

Battery life with lithium batteries is amazing, and good with others. Signal reception is very good, I never had an issue getting a signal inside armored vehicles which is often a problem with GPS units. Offers a very impressive list of functions, which can be customized to give you various types of information. The compass feature, when used with programmable waypoints, is nothing short of amazing. Land navigation is made idiot proof. It has the ability to transmit its waypoints to other garmins, but I have not used this feature.

The only downsides I can think of are that the backlight is really a bit too bright, and because of the small size, and therefore few buttons, programing multiple waypoints can take some time.

Overall, I can't recommend this enough. By far the most useful piece of gear that I have purchased.
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