on January 16, 2008
This is my primary Geocaching GPS. The high sensitivity chip has the same strong processing power, and thus signal sensitivity and position resolution, as any of the more expensive units. It gives me excellent accuracy in areas where my older GPS units just give up, even dense forest cover. The software that drives the unit is the same as the older Yellow model (see below) and has stood the test of time.
If you're only interested in point to point navigation (geocaching, trail tracks or just finding your way back to the car or the ski chalet), then this unit will do a great job for a no-regrets price. If you're looking for road network navigation, then this isn't for you.
Be aware that this is the 'H', for 'High Sensitivity' unit, introduced in 2007. It's appearance is almost identical to older Yellow Etrex units, the difference being "High Sensitivity" in red letters just above the screen. Although the older units do work and may still be found, their worth is significantly lessened by the availability of this unit. That's something to keep in mind when looking at used or "new old stock" units at other venues.
One thing that other reviews mention is true - straight out of the box it takes a long time (hours) to acquire it's almanac (a digital description of where satellites are in the sky which is transmitted periodically) and then it's satellite signals. Mine took at least 3 hours and had me thinking it was defective until it finally locked in. Don't despair, this is a one-time thing - once accomplished, start-up time is about 5 seconds.
on December 9, 2007
As an avid Geocacher and teacher, I had to find out what all the buzz was about the H models. (I own a dozen regular ones that I use for instructional purposes) Everything is the same with features except that it is supposed to be able to get signals in heavy tree cover or in places with steep walls (like buildings) or in valleys, etc. When I used it for the first time, it took forever to catch the first satellite even though I reset the time zone right away. It comes with a central Asia time zone so be sure to change that. It lost power and shut off while trying to boot. It was becoming very frustrating. Took about 15 minutes. However, once it was able to find the local sats, it worked fine. Haven't tried in dense woods or valleys yest, but kept a good signal in woods regular park woods and gave me accuracies to less that 20 feet. The price is the same as a standard E-trex 100 but you get better reception. The down side is that you lose 5 hours of battery life (17 vs 22). I don't see this as a problem at all. And there is no cool globe logo on the front. I will buy more eventually.
Edited 8/6/09 -- Okay. This has become my standard GPSr but I no longer recommend it for the new cacher. I have gotten accuracies within 5 feet in the worst conditions. Although I still like it, the biggest drawback is that the downloads require a serial port. Most computers don't have these any longer which means you need a conversion cable ..another $35 .. if you can find one. For basic GCing, I now suggest the Garmin Venture. Same basic operation but uses a standard USB connection.
on August 7, 2008
I wanted a basic, easy to use, GPS that would allow me to hike in the wilderness and easily find my way to and from various places without fear of getting lost; and to always find my way back to my campsite or car. I also wanted to be able to save locations I visited as well as locations on the topo map I had not visited yet but wanted to be directed to by the GPS. In addition, I wanted to take a reading "in the field" and be able to find that location on a topo map. This unit does all of this perfectly. Unlike the experience of another reviewer of the eTrex H on this site, when I first turned this GPS on it initialized to satellites and my position in only a few minutes. The description of this unit should mention directly that you can use it to save locations you are not present at. It implies this by referring to Geocaching, but some people, like me, don't know what that is. And the description of how to do this in the owner's manual could be a little better. I am not very experienced in using a GPS with a topo map and I overlooked the need to program the GPS to the "datum" used for the map I was working with, which resulted in my readings being several hundred meters off. My biggest complaint about the owner's manual is that, while it tells you how to program the GPS for various map datums, it does not tell the "beginner" that if you live in the lower 48 US states, for a map that says "NAD 27" for the datum you select "NAD 27 CONUS" (for "Continental US"). I had to buy a couple of books on GPSs to find this out. Otherwise the owner's manual, while it is a little concise, is pretty thorough and easy to use. If your needs are simple, like mine, and you do not need to have topo maps loaded into the GPs, this is an excellent choice at a great price. (Even with a GPS it is always advised to go into unknown areas of the wilderness with a map and compass as well. If you work with a map, you will probably use the UTM system so you will need to learn how to work with that and get a plastic scale for reading meters in "grids". A good book on the GPS can be helpful in these regards - the owner's manual does not go into these details.)
on September 15, 2008
I was looking for a basic GPS unit to take with me when I solo backpack ... so I can find my car again, as well as some waypoints along the trail (like, oh, say, where I left my campsite before starting out on a dayhike. ;-).
There are more expensive GPS units that do more out there. I love technology in all parts of my life, but the reason I backpack is to simplify. The last thing I wanted was to buy a complex GPS that required the purchasing and loading of topo maps onto my computer ... and all the headaches and hassles thereunto. (Read some of the reviews on the pricier, more complex GPS models.)
I took this eTrex with me on a multi-day backpacking trip in Southern PA. I received the eTrex literally the evening of the day before I was to leave. I turned it on, watched a few on-line videos, and was off and running. (I even made copies of a few pages of the owner's manual to take with me, but found that the unit is so simple to use that I didn't need them.)
I gave it four stars because the owner's manual is very poorly written. This is my first GPS unit and some discussion of the basics would have been helpful. But with the help of a few videos on Youtube and other places on-line, I was able to get up and running fairly quickly.
As with other reviewers, my eTrex took a few minutes to find the satellites when I first turned it on at home. The other things new users might want to know is that if you drive several hours before turning the unit on (as I did), the eTrex needs a few extra minutes to "find" itself again. Not a big deal, but good to know.
Bottom line: If you want a simple GPS for backpacking, hunting or fly-fishing, then this is the unit to get.
on October 23, 2007
I definitely had problems with my original eTrex-H. First-time startup could not detect a navigable satellite signal; failed 6 times. I went so far as to climb on my roof; still no navigable signal detected. It eventually detected a navigable signal inside my house, at my desk (go figure), while I was searching for the software version needed by Garmin Customer Support online.
On two short hikes, less than 4 hours, my original eTrex-H shut itself off at some point during the hike. The "Backtrack" feature was obviously of no value.
The Garmin website is less than friendly; especially for customer support. Garmin online Windows open undersized from Amazon product links with no option to maximize or scroll. And, Garmin online has been unresponsive to my emails for customer support. I see this more as a website (webmaster) problem.
Ultimately, I connected with Garmin product support. Garmin authorized return of my etrex-H within the warranty period. It still cost me $13.00+ for shipping, and a couple weeks time getting Garmin repair authorization. Garmin finally replaced my etrex-H, with no explanation of what was wrong with the original etrex-H.
I have not tested my newest etrex-H on the trail, but it encountered no difficulty acquiring a navigable signal on first-time startup. (gp)
on May 23, 2008
I purchased this little guy after I borrowed my father-in-law's older etrex. Everything seemed to be going fine... it picked up signal quickly and said I had great accuracy. However, when I would walk/drive in a straight line, the heading would wobble plus/minus 15 degrees. This may not seem like a lot, but when you are moving by foot this means that the track you are following on the map is twisting back and forth, making it difficult to navigate. I sent one of these back for a replacement on Garmin's recommendation... the second one had the same problem.
Perhaps the issue could be fixed with a software update (I was running 2.6), but the cable is so expensive.
Update 4/6/2009: After complaining to Garmin technical support, they sent me a RS-232 to USB adapter cable and USB interface cable so I could hook this up to my computer and update the firmware. Now, with ver. 3.1 installed things seem to be working fine. If you plan on updating your firmware using one of these converter cables, be aware the process is not for the faint of heart. I am pretty techie yet I had a heck of a time getting Garmin's update software to recognize my unit!
on March 12, 2009
I use this unit for introducing students to GPS. With none of the distractions associated with many other units, it performs flawlessly in both terrestrial and marine environments. I own a variety of units, but this is the unit I take with me on sea kayaking expeditions worldwide.
Obviously, this is a basic unit. If you are interested in additional features such as mapping, route tracking to an on-board map, calling your mother, etc..., look elsewhere. However, be warned, most users use those features for about 20 minutes (on average) before forgetting they exist.
Four stars only because of the interface cable is not included and must be purchased separately.
on October 4, 2009
This is my first GPS. I am no luddite, I have built my own PC more than once, and am generally excited by technology -- when it works (don't get me started on the awful disappointment that is every mobile phone and mobile phone network on the planet). I am an avid mostly car camper/day hiker, though I have aspirations of weekend-long hikes (crowds do tend to chafe). In the Marine Corps, I was trained to actually use a map and compass (as in, "find the tree with an orange spot on it in the dense forests of North Carolina"). Though I'm a little rusty, I do exercise that skill once in a while, and philosophically, I prefer it. I'm a bargain-hunter. I hope to use this on hiking trails or in wilderness as a tool to keep me from becoming hopelessly lost, and I don't geocache.
1) Ease of Use. I've never had a GPS before, but it only took the short walk from the parking lot at Disneyland to the front gate to figure out how to mark waypoints, use GOTO and Trackback without the benefit of the manual or any quickstart guide. Button purpose was easy to intuit. Poking around randomly is an effective learning tool (the same can't be said for my mobile phone).
2) Accuracy. On said initial use, the device told me that I had returned to the front gate of Disneyland (waypoint #2), and when I had returned to my car (waypoint #1). In "Normal" mode, the "Skyview" screen normally displays an accuracy of between 14' - 20' indoors or in a car. I have yet to try to hide myself from the Sattelites in dense jungle (maybe a later review).
3) Ease of Use. Worth saying twice.
4) Durability. It appears that it will take a short drop or two, though I prefer not to test this personally, and there's no official statement of it's comparison to known standards (i.e., IEC 2060529). Garmin's website does state that the eTrex H is waterproof to IPX7 (within the aforementioned IEC 2060529), which means it is protected against temporary immersion in up to 1 meter of water.
1) There are no maps, though this could be said to be a "pro". I anticipate having a physical (most likely paper) map (as I usually do for use with a compass), so this isn't a big deal to me. If you expect a map you would be in for an awful surprise. Having no maps, however, isn't a torturous idea; you can successfully use waypoints, routes, and trackbacks to prevent you from getting lost, and your indicated lat/long (or grid coord.s) to let someone else know where you were if you needed to.
2) The screen is a little difficult to read without the backlight indoors or under cloudy conditions. There is a contrast adjustment, but there is apparently no adjustment for brightness. The resolution is fine (text and numbers are clear enough), but could be better given the small screen (some lines are too pixelated to be clear).
Overall, I'm very happy with it and I look forward to trying to get lost. I, unlike some others who've reviewed here, did not see the hours-long delay in acquiring an initial sattelite array; I was up and running in about ten minutes. I will not be transferring data to or from my PC, nor will I be geocaching, so the lack of a data cable or maps is in no way disappointing. I need it to work simply (which it does) and accurately (which it also does) in potentially adverse conditions (which I believe it will do).
on September 28, 2008
Garmin E trex H is a great little gps devise, I dont know much about geocaching or anything like that but I am in the military and need to know where I am and how to get to others during operations. At first I was sceptical because nowhere on any other reviews did it say it gave MGRS (Military Grid Reference) which is how us U.S. miltary navigate, but I gave it a shot because most garmin products come with MGRS.
The size is excellent can fit anywhere in my gear and works great under cloud cover and trees so far. The manual isnt so great but it is so easy I played around with it for about 10 minutes and figured it out. I gave it four stars simply because when you select MGRS, the numbers are small and it takes that extra second to read.
Hopes this helps out any other u.s. military interested
on July 29, 2010
I have been GPS shopping for a loooong time! I am only 15 so my mom told me I shouldn't spend too much on a GPS, for I would only be using it for geocaching.... Let me just say this is a GREAT starting unit! It took a while to get used to the controls and all but after a few minutes, my GPS and I are now acquainted. If you are looking for a GPS with maps and navigation, this is NOT for you. This is for people that simply want to go somewhere and get back. It is great for getting you back to your car! The only problem is the battery life because it is drained by the backlight which is ALWAYS needed to be able to see.